Día de los Muertos 2020
Max and his uncle Joe
death’s many signatures in Sicily’s quicksilver seas
the moon and its argent micronauts
uncounted in the recesses of Sierra Madre
actors with faces of timeless burros
named Cárdenas foraging in sugar cane
coldness at the center of the sun
seventeen years or forty-nine years
the instant is the same for whatever happens
the body is only the thought of the body
incense and wharves of the conquistadores
liana and ivy snares at the hour’s second end
how often this occurs and cannot recall
the why and which the who and wherefore
the canals of Tenochtitlán lose their way
among withered rooftop garlands
I remember nothing after pushing the green button
but salutes of armless angels the rose
through which a river pours and summers that
belong to memory’s only syllable and heat
the roar of Aetna’s ovens twenty marigold flowers
Narcissus and Hyacinth eye and pulp of
repercussion blindness of water and depths
where night’s riddle threads an unheard harp
calacas y calaveras ! thousands at play
with missing fingers nameless deities
in a single afternoon making rosaries of light
smoke snaking through vowels of perpetuity
toys that imitate sleep’s small noises
tender the hair that falls around the wing
shimmering hues of nacre consonants
why is speech so difficult today ?
colibrí ! ruby-throated messenger of death
clouds the size of silence and glass
motion and gravity have lost all sense
evening fades in the vestibule of echo
one hand seeks the other
in an abyss of shape
darkness of words
dos mariposas de la noche !
Ivan Argüelles is a Mexican American innovative poet whose work moves from early Beat and surrealist-influenced forms to later epic-length poems. He received the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award in 1989 as well as the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 2010. In 2013, Argüelles received the Before Columbus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Por/by Rafael Jesús González
Consejo para el peregrino a Mictlan
(al modo Nahua)
Cruza el campo amarillo de cempoales,
baja al reino de las sombras;
es amplio, es estrecho.
Interroga a los ancianos;
son sabios, son necios:
— Señores míos, Señoras mías,
¿Qué verdad dicen sus flores, sus cantos?
¿Son verdaderamente bellas, ricas sus plumas?
¿No es el oro sólo excremento de los dioses?
Sus jades, ¿son los más finos, los más verdes?
Su legado, ¿es tinta negra, tinta roja? --
Acepta sólo lo preciso:
-----lo que te haga amplio el corazón
--------lo que te ilumine el rostro.
Advice for the Pilgrim to Mictlan
(in the Nahua mode)
Cross the yellow fields of marigolds,
descend to the realm of shadows;
it is wide, it is narrow.
Question the ancients;
they are wise, they are fools:
— My Lords, My Ladies,
What truth do your flowers, your songs tell?
Are your feathers truly lovely, truly rich?
Is not gold only the excrement of the gods?
Your jades, are they the finest, the most green?
Your legacy, is it black ink, red ink? --
Accept only the necessary:
-----what will widen your heart
----what will enlighten your face.
Note: Mictlan is the Nahua people’s name for the land of the dead.
Rafael Jesús González is a poet and essayist, known worldwide for his writings and efforts to promote peace and justice. © Rafael Jesús González 2018.