Wednesday, July 7, 2010


by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

In my works the practice pours as cause and effect

as a rhombus, always present and in movement.

The desperate look of a detective

faced with an extraordinary sunset.

Fast writing rapid blur on a sweet day that

remains unseen.

But no bridge can lead the way or show

the exit from this illusory maze.

Perhaps invisible and armored rhymes about

a childish game, the certainty that she is dreaming.

Poetry that perhaps will speak for my shadow in coming days

when I am nothing more than a name and not the man with

empty pockets wandering and working in the slaughterhouses

of the old and new continents.

Integrity and durability to not ask for the romances

composed in the honor of certain young girls.

And pity for my years to come at 26.

Friday, June 4, 2010


by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

Strange fair trade Dropping hair

and teeth The old ways of education

Wonder at complacency (The poet does not want

to be more than the others) Neither wealth nor fame

nor even poetry Maybe this is the only way

to have no fear Settle into fear

as one who lives in mediocrity

We all have ghosts Simply

waiting in the ruins for someone or something

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Street Poem 2

The homeless sleep

In bags on cement

Encampments in parks

Or hidden urban lairs

Flopped, behind bushes

Beneath stairwells

Cushioned by cardboard

Strewn bits of paper and

Other small trash

This Is The Honest Truth

by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

I grew up next to puritan rebels

I have been criticized helped pushed by heroes

of lyric poetry

and the seesaw of death.

I say my lyricism is DIFFERENT

(it has all been said but let me

add something more).

Swimming in the swamp of pretension

is for me like a mercury Acapulco

a fish blood Acapulco

a submarine Disneyland

Where I am happy with myself.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sonnet I

I’ve seen meteors flash and fall from heaven.

In the Bible, the best angel was the first to go

And leave the rest to pale in remembered glory.

The mighty falls affect us, not because we fear descent

But because the impact shudder shakes us to pieces.

Dear Matthew, Dear Ronald, Dear Kenneth,

Your names ring like those of apostles;

But who am I? A sorry Christ to avoid crucifixion.

If I could raise you from the dead

Pick up your fallen stars, dust them off

And toss them back up into an empty sky, I would.

But miracles aren’t in my repertoire;

Only poems. And no poem ever raised the dead.

As no statue ever stepped down, to walk, to breathe.

Piggyback on Death, American Flag Number Five

She will clutch you, stamped with her number

Ride upon her black shroud, slumped, hanger-on

Relax. Take a nap even.

Death is wide eyed and knows where she’s headed.

She waves a flag in one withered hand

Does it celebrate some glorious pursuit?

No, it is ragged with its own number

Old Death, cloaked and harried

The lines on her face spell out her name:

Deep ruts, the cracks of dry earth

Ennui imprinted in her gaze, blank as a blue sky

Aged, as a care can age, yet remain eternal

Tight-lipped, to yield no secrets about the

Hereafter, where she bears her load, bent double.

Black Hole

My mother is a black hole

Face darkness once removed

With studded stars ornaments

To lure the next piece of meat

An aching abyssal mouth

Matter flows around to feed

Swallows every pill cock and heart

Feeble men ever offer

My mother is a black hole

Her roar in stasis in my head

Pitched a low register grinding

Turning wheels of immolation

She spewed forth dark materials

Into the void of her passing

Some collapse to suns others fragment

Well beyond the grasp of her horizon

My mother is a black hole, engine of creation

Yet God the father never showed his face

Mother’s spirit, far from holy

No triumph in the son’s martyrdom

Only the pain of driven nails and

The hanging body that smothers itself

My mother is a black hole, and I know the answer

That science cannot give: What lies behind?

All the light she ever swallowed

The ruined phantasm of a normal family

A boy who doesn’t have to make up stories

To paper the walls of barren space

Forest Fire

I had this really strange dream

About a forest fire that danced like windblown hair

Across the mountain ridge

Leaping tongues sang an apocalyptic serenade

Screams gave subtle counterpoint

As did the melting songs of birds

Like violence done to flutes

Heated trunks exploded to spit tobacco juice

Unexpected affinities occurred in disaster

A chaotic rendering in perfect harmony

That most dynamic phrasing all worked out

At Eternity's Gate

A man should weep for himself

But not his fate

When he stands at eternity’s gate

Black lines chart a path

Back to every misdeed

And he should weep for these

But not for his current place

There at eternity’s gate

He can not stand the sight

Of his own face

His rotten gut

And his heart misplaced

He can hide behind tears

Regret every lost year

But it’ll all finally be effaced

Once closes behind him

Eternity’s gate

The Snow Novel

by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

My literary works, April 10, 1980. Obsessed

with legs in bedrooms where everything is feminine

even I, who killed an air conditioner and mummifies

hounds. No writing in the rhythm of my days

without money, or love, or looks; only dark

bedroom secrets where I'm surrounded by silk

stockings, canaries, and slices of the moon. However

when I write I can say entertaining things

that interest people. Abstract pianos

in silent ambush, my own silence that

surrounds the writing. Maybe only the indiscriminate,

arriving at the terminal where "my talent"

expresses itself through the combustible cracks

of my neck in the snow novel.

Monday, April 5, 2010


by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

Believe me, I'm in the middle of my room

hoping for rain. I'm alone. I do not care

to finish or not my poem. Hoping for rain,

drinking coffee and seeing out the window a beautiful landscape

of courtyards, hanging clothes and quiet,

the silent marble clothes of the city, where there is no

wind and one only hears the distant hum

of a color television, watched by a family

that is, at this moment, gathered around

a coffee table: believe me: yellow plastic tables

are divided up the line of the horizon and beyond:

to the suburbs where they build apartment

complexes, and a 16 year old boy sitting on

red bricks contemplates the movement of machines.

The sky in the boy’s hour is an enormous

hollow screw where the breeze plays. And the boy

plays with ideas. With ideas and arrested scenes.

Immobility is a hard and transparent mist

that comes from your eyes.

Believe me: love is not gonna come,

for beauty has been stolen from the dead dawns.


by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

Hoping the anxiety disappears

While it rains on the strange highway

Where you are

Rain: My only hope

To erase anxiety

I'm betting everything on my part

My Literary Career

by Roberto Bolaño, trans. by D. Matus

Rejections from Anagrama, Grijalbo, Planeta, certainly also from Alfaguara, Mondadori. A ‘no’ from Muchnik, Seix Barral, Destino... All the editors... All the readers...

All the sales managers...

Under the bridge, in the rain, a golden opportunity to see myself:

like a snake at the North Pole, but writing.

Writing poetry in the country of imbeciles.

Writing with my son on my knee

Writing until night falls

With a roar from a thousand demons.

The demons that must take me to hell, but writing.

October 1990.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Whale

Trapped in the belly of the whale

Where the pigeons fly like doves

All left of women a few stray hairs

Orange warning lights

And pinocchio's faded grafitti

This belly where sequined walls

Catch the gleam of torches

That men use to read tales of Nazi heroics

Before consigning them to flame


Their shadows are the words that write themselves

At night they whisper of lost continents

Of bones that lie in fur and pine

Those Men who live inside the whale

Safe from the ever rising

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last Ditch Epiphany

Only the sea is chaste

Only the creeks, the stones

Never the alleys or streets

Never the laughter or sighs.

Only the sky is chaste

Only the clouds, the rain

Never the houses or shops

Never the talk or songs.

Only the land is chaste

Only the dirt, the grass

Never the wants or needs

Never you, never me.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Retaliation fantasies form in the breeze

To endow our fathers’ suffering with allegory

A snatch of sky seen through bars

Can satiate an imprisoned heart

As a breeze carries the smell of the sea a hundred miles east

Faint sigh, westward breeze to erode desolation

Where we are and where we’re going

Collides in every moment we remain stationary

Life eternal and an endless decay

Until our eyes shine like pearls

Obscured by the fog that weds heaven and earth

Sighs short and infrequent, gasps but for lack of energy

The way people talk in limbo, simple exhalations

A bare bleak pool of life

People alike in tastes, people alike in mind

Schools of tuna responsive to the mass movement

Towards safety, always safety

Nevermind those left behind

Those lives crucified in the daily news

Repellent in their agony, and now you know

Why people hold the paper at arms length

We understand suffering

But neither context nor degree make any sense

Deep down we see the sufferers culpable

Because we strong loathe those weak

Who hold our shared past in their cupped begging palms

To seek shelter in money in the search for sleep

But it whimpers all night long

That bloody thunder of pop culture

A rumble of wet voices

Youth as a festering wound that no longer heals

We trample salvation and never look at the ground

In Amerixa

Where life shines on the surface of days

And pop music is the soundtrack of our lives

We are all outcasts in Amerixa

The nature of our perceptions

Does not elevate the morality

Of the oppressed over that of the oppressor

How to live and die in a culture that denies humanity?

The isolation once felt by minorities

Now experienced by an intellectual minority

Emotion is the newest signifier of otherness

Meaning to be found in violence or stillness

Never easy motion

Let love be a gold blur around me

Like the halo of the moon

Words might not be worth much

But they’re a stable investment

Please help me Amerixa

I am fighting off a sickness

There’s a darkness on the horizon

Smokes pours from an abandoned factory

Awfully lively to be emptied of humans

I need no gurus nor their thick-soled shoes

I need you, Amerixa, to awaken to your dreams

Don’t just grab a bite to eat and steal a souvenir

There’s poison in our soil, and rotten planks in the ship of state

Nature has a language we’ve forgotten

Like the inexact memory of a beloved face

A smile half-remembered, but for how it made you feel

Where are the gentle baited souls always dreaming of death?

Where do they live in our asphalt brains?

A bullet would be innocent until soiled with our blood.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Standard Issue Manifesto


I’ve lost myself in a thinking well

Thrown off sided by a backwards remark
Culture slipped through my fingers

Broken down so fine it’s become nothing

All things new and equal

Do not speak to me of old men

Who have lost their fingertips

Fuck You. Wars revolve

Like disco lights in empty space

Red-faced, no money, walk funny

With my tale in the air

Advertising spring-time

Young thoughts that pour from an old cracked vessel

Is not the event itself or intention

A firing line that marks a boundary

Truth can be explosive

Or can die with one sad whimper

A firing line marks off property

In standard issue manifestoes.


Biscuits for puppies

Served with tea

Lace hanging from thigh

“Remarkable weather

We’re having.

Would love to eat your socks”

“So I read this article

In the paper about

How down is the new up

And I talked Paul into investing

In some of that down.
We want to be well-equipped for

Our golden years, you know”


The Alzheimic disassembly

Performed by minute elves

Santa scares the shit out of me

With his hoes, his bag of tricks

His ice-grill, slick racing kit

Going down in smoke. Coming up lit.

My memories screen in Technicolor

I write everyone into the plot

Because the doors of my perception

Have a twisted hinge and won’t

Shut all the way. There’s a draft

In my thoughts of a story with the worst

Kind of ending

When the howl of defeat becomes the clarion call

For a generation of subversives with no clear intent.

There’s a wind that creeps beneath my door

That carries in it the scent of fire, blood, and ash

And I carry on pretending

That I don’t notice it.

A blood-red disc

Of wheeling fire,

What was once called Pity

Ruthless and abstract

Cold iron black

Backwards walking

Into uncut time

Forever sifting

Kaleidoscope gel

One veiled layer and one

Of desire bursting


Bleating for your breast


Sad-eyed lady

With icy tears

Your wounded chest beckons me

I think I might have

Been born out of it

The daydream of your heart

A merry-go round of a million

Vapid lapidary lures

Black cages barbed

Black iron bars

I’ll lick you up and down

Flay your skin like flavor from gum

Julia O Julia

O Devoured Julia

Julia devoured Julia


Was there ever a face that spoke to me

With all the eloquence of an Elizabethan

Cast out of time or functionality

With the empty wonder

And graceless tremble

Of a flower in a gale

A young girl weeping

Sweet tears rolling

Cutting irrevocable routes

Into ruddy cheeks

Tender valleys to learn the rough hand of

Time her old Master

Weeping for love unrequited

Unremembered remote embers

Pale reflections of her lunar


A vagabond in empty space

With only recollections for landmarks

She charts a course between the stars

Armed with dissolution and an old hat

To fall at the feet of the ages

Cast in a gaping maw

The abyss of the sea of the abyss


drifting drifting

like a piece of driftwood



America, old England of my heart

With your stunted traditions and

Six-toed cousins

In-bred well fed cheap by the dozen

Bought for a dime and paid for with time

Every second of your youth

Ticked and bleeding onto a sponge

Three for ninety-nine cents

In this clearance of souls

Plus tax

So she drifts

Drifting like a piece of driftwood drifting

“It takes courage to drift”

She hears someone say

Time ticking on

Flickering time turning

Gyroscopes, Falcon’s Feathers

Descending through the Magnetic

Dance of electrons

To reveal the gray anatomy

Gyrating hips devoured

Jack in a box devoured

Slabs of meat in dress

She devours devours dreaming

Of being


Her smile belongs in pictures

Her brethren live in blinding lights

To wash out every flaw

Yet behind those smiles lurks

The black expanse of pasteboard facing

The effusions of her innocence.

Channeled in the blood of our cities

Emptied of all hope

Every morning about eight

Black expansive maw

Time is your music.

You must ride every turn exact

Leaned trusting into it

Play it like a symphony

Or don’t play it at all.

Those are the stakes.

We only play the game with those stakes.

Those are the highest stakes and those are the only stakes

Do not play it again for Uncle Sam

Do not play it again for the Master of Rats

The Builder of Dungeons

Out of the Dungeon and into the Labyrinth

The labyrinthine twining jungle

Dungeon of my desire

Acid rain eats away the Statue of Liberty

My heart weeps for her ugly stone flame

Crawl out of your impotent sterile sewers

Follow me on my merry pipe


Angel angel

I love your fist

As it closes round my wrist

To bring me unto you

I feel heartbeat

Blinking time

In fevered rhythm abreast to mine

Print a picture

There was no beauty not found

On your face

That I saw not wasted

By my tattered brush

Enshrine the lie in us.


I have created a hell for my lioness

Saith the Serpent

She shall dance and make merry

And love me in my brave disarray

Trees dance when the wind invites them

As flesh decays in the trap of old age

Caught in a will never endangered

By consideration

This inexorable will

Seen in death spasms

Hung by heartstrings


Dead men are heavier than broken hearts

Or photographs in an empty camera

I have a glove in my mouth and endless headaches

From that smile that your lips have forgotten

That fades in my memory like traces of a kiss


words words empty words

the electronic note

of floating (disembodied)

voices stamped faces


Flow is time and becoming

The beginning with no end or beginning

Rivers, sewers, lava

Semen, blood, bile

Thoughts, words, script

El Matador

To lay prone in a cave on the beach

Eroded by waves

In a moment eroded into time

Into our lives created slow

As a refuge for memory

Seagull like a gothic castle on a crag

That we once wrote a song about

The sound of the waves is

The sound of the Earth breathing

The sky admires itself in the sea

As I see myself in your eyes smiling

Hope rolls in with the tide

As the ocean caresses the land

Sand the color of your skin but not as warm

When I look into your eyes I see

Eternity, the sun mixed with the sea

God filtered through low clouds

A color as limitless

As an overflown horizon


when the morning light tickles my face

I crouch and seek sleep in your warmth

and the sharp and crude calls of birds

sound like the sweetest poetry.

judy blue death vessel, nothing is precious enough

to add to this moment, we would need to

sell the first-born we may never have,

this moment before landing wakefulness

passes blind on a curve, diving for your lips

the first immersion or real time only

where i seek something better than life itself.

we’ll lie still in softness and close

while the dawn outside fills with all the light

I care to ignore for your face


when something seen

or heard secures the soul in strident grip,

time moves and yet we do not perceive it.

the power that perceives the course of time

is not the power that captures the mind;

the former has no force - the latter binds

depths / heights

the stars up there attract prey

once stuck there’s no escape

heaven is a deep sea world

weird creatures in ghastly forms

souls wearing accursed shapes

as cities teeming with life

are sterile mineral monuments

seen from any great height


When the wind rises at night

I hear God in my thoughts:

Hi there? What for!

The engine that shall you

Will someday not

A weightless realm we’re carried through

Where no decision matters

I don’t know if there’s any time left

For fool’s wanderings; but I pretend there is

Rotting, dead leaves

Decorate lost shores

With all the dying colors of Fall


Scarecrow the only survivor

Once I lost you.

Saying hello to the honeys

In the end we were not

Run into the ground

So much as abandoned

To reality, raw and sensuous.

I slipped out to take a piss

And soaked our love

No matter. Least now

It can never burn.

Our eyes pretended to fidelity

Ears choked on lies

Lies that boiled like

Caught salmon in my head

But the fire got stamped out

As gathering clouds

Snuff the stars at night

To leave less love than ghost of love

To linger like smoke in our hair

Mt. Baldy

What did L. Cohen see

From the peak at Mt. Baldy?

Did he see the mist and horizon

A ski lift and mountain bar?

Pale-faced angels

Fat children hurling snowballs?

When his mind pondered eternity

Was he distracted by spinning tires?

The ground shines metallic

With wanderers in mufflers and sunshades

A ground so bright it splits open your eyes;

Bright like the epiphanies of L. Cohen?

A flash of awareness beneath the disgust

Drowns my vision

All the motes are swallowed

In the blank white expanse.

I glimpse what Cohen saw:

An irradiating silence.


To rise on wings

Feathered with souls

To walk into flames

With eyes wide open

To lose a hot pulse

In an absence of words

To float up in blue

Through sheer denial

To face one and all

With death in one hand

The I burning white

Coals cut like diamonds