The American Journal of Poetry
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José Manuel Cardona

Translated by Hélène Cardona

Poem to Circe XVII

 

And I remain alone and amazed.
The wonder is announced in the throat
Of men who suffer. Storms
Have covered the steps of my temple
With anthills, and the rubble
Remains on the shore like a naked
Body. Porters have descended
With their black canticles and the aroma
Of the voices burned like incense.
I clasped their hands one by one,
They were open and rugged hands.
Coarse hands of relentless men.
I will not explain the clamor of drums,
The clamor of the jungle when the blind
Traveller passes between the lindens
And the silence spreads out and never ends.

Circe, you recognize, you decipher
Enigmas and the color of the omen.
I always await the revelation.
I am among those who believe in magic.
I want to see the mask and pulp.
I scratch the bark and bite the stem.
I created you, Circe, and I don’t ignore you.
My drums follow you through the forest.
I ripped the eyes of thousands
Of slaves to ensure your steps.
I cut the hands I love most
And you take them with you and they protect
You from other blue and curved hands.
I left my friends footless
So you can walk better through the desert.
There is a chorus of voices repeating
Your name with their severed voices.
I've sown the jungle with idols
And burned the tribes and the bonfire
Rose in bronze, perpetuating
Your figure with its ardent clamor.
I have bitten the sexes of women
Like columns and the spasm
Raged in your image, it raged
Until the flesh exploded, mutilating itself.

Lion claws - their victims’
Blood still fresh - engrave
Your name in marble and guard
Your effigy in their murderous paws.

I carry on in this island whipped by typhoons
Chained to the sea when the waves
Crash against the dam, and I proclaim you.
I scream, until hoarse, your beloved name.

 

From The Birnam Wood (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007) by José Manuel Cardona.
Translated from the Spanish by Hélène Cardona

 

José Manuel Cardona

Poema a Circe XVII

 

Y permanezco solo y extrañado.
El prodigio se anuncia en la garganta
De los hombres que sufren. Tempestades
Han cubierto las gradas de mi temple
Con hormigas vivientes, y el despojo
Permanece en la orilla como un cuerpo
Desnudo. Han descendido porteadores
Con sus cánticos negros y el aroma
De las voces ardía como incienso.
Sus manos he apretado una por una,
Eran manos abiertas y rugosas.
Manos ásperas de hombres implacables.
No explicaré el clamor de los tambores,
El clamor de la selva cuando pasa
El caminante ciego entre los tilos
Y el silencio se extiende y nunca acaba.

Circe, tú reconoces, tú descifras
El color del augurio y los enigmas.
Yo espero siempre la revelación.
Yo soy de los que creen en la magia.
Yo quiero ver la mascara y la pulpa.
Yo araño la corteza y muerdo el tallo.
Yo te he creado, Circe, y no te ignore.
Mis tambores te siguen por la selva.
He arrancado los ojos de millares
De esclavos para que velen tus pasos.
He cortado las manos que más amo
Y las llevas contogo y te preservan
De otras manos azules y curvadas.
He dejado sin pies a mis amigos
Para que andes mejor en el desierto.
Hay un coro de voces cercenadas.
He sembrado de ídolos la jumgla
Y he quemado las tribus y la hoguera
Ascendía en el bronce, perpetuaba
Con su fuego clamante tu figura.
He mordido los sexos de mujeres
Como columnas y el espamo
Se cebaba en tu imagen, se cebaba
Hasta estallar la carne y mutilarse.

Hay garras de leones con la sangre
Aún fresca de sus víctimas que graban
Tu nombre sobre mármol y custodia
Tu efigie entre sus zarpas homicidas.

Yo sigo en la isla que azotan tifones
Encadenados al mar cuando las olas
Se abaten contra el dique, y te pregono.
Grito, hasta enronquecer, tu nombre amado.


 

José Manuel Cardona, El Bosque de Birnam (Consell Insular d'Eivissa, 2007)

 

 

 

JOSÉ MANUEL CARDONA is a poet from Ibiza, Spain. He is the author of El Vendimiador (Atzavara, 1953); Poemas a Circe (Adonais, 1959); and the anthology The Birnam Wood (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007), published by the government of Ibiza. He co-edited several literary journals and wrote for many publications. He participated in the II Congreso de Poesía in Salamanca and wrote his thesis on the Mexican revolution at the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica de Madrid. The Franco regime forced him into exile in France. He is an attorney (University of Barcelona) and holds PhDs in Literature and Humanities (University of Nancy), and Political Sciences and Economy (IHEI, Geneva). He worked for the United Nations most of his life, in Geneva, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Belgrade, Sofia, Kiev, Tbilisi, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Panama, among many places.

 

 

HÉLÈNE CARDONA is a poet, literary translator and actor, the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Hemingway Grant and the USA Best Book Award. Her books include three bilingual poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), and Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry); and two translations: Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016), and Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne). She also translated Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for the Iowa International Writing Program’s WhitmanWeb.
She co-edits Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, is Co-International Editor of Plume, Essay contributor to The London Magazine, and co-producer of the documentary Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling. She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & Loyola Marymount University, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Irish Literary Times, Dublin Review of Books, The Warwick Review & elsewhere.

 

 

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