The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


José Manuel Cardona

Translated by Hélène Cardona

Poem to Circe XVIII


I’m going to leave behind the promontory.
When they ask I will answer: No one.
My bedroom has no roof, no beams
holding up the walls, nor ornaments.
The navigator ignores walls,
I know of no country nor seek one.
I belong to no one and leave
the home that is not mine, the crops,
fruits and things that men
exchange, that giants
distribute as spoils of war.
The powerful say they are theirs.
All is divided, everything belongs to someone.

I don’t belong to a race of giants.
I don’t want to take anything in my hands.
I abhor the whip and spur,
the almighty who dispenses
poverty and hunger hand over fist.
I never sat between tyrants
but would sit with thieves
first and kiss the lepers
and be happy with their wives.

I am of those dying in agony.
Circe, you recognize my sandals
when I come back tired; you recognize
my face among thousands, my smile.
You kiss the hand that shakes hands
with the disowned and you smile.
If they ask me what is my name, I will
answer, No one. My name is No one, No one,
and I own nothing, and it doesn’t hurt me
because this way I walk with less weight.



José Manuel Cardona

Poema a Circe XVIII


Voy a dejar atrás el promontorio.
Al que pregunte responderé: Nadie.
No tiene techo mi alcoba, no hay vigas
Que sostengan los muros, ni ornamentos.
El navegante ignora las paredes,
No conozco ni patria ni la busco.
No pertenezco a nadie y abandono
El hogar que no es mío, las cosechas.
Los frutos y las cosas que se cambian
Los hombres entre sí, que se reparten
Como botín de guerra los gigantes.
Los poderosos dicen que son suyas.
Todo está repartido, todo es de alguien.

No pertenezco a raza de gigantes.
No quiero tomar nada entre mis manos.
Abomino del látigo y la espuela,
Del todopoderoso que reparte
La miseria y el hambre a manos llenas.
No me he sentado nunca entre tiranos,
Pero me sentaría con ladrones
Antes y besaría a los leprosos
Y sería feliz con sus musjeres.

Yo soy de los que mueren en suplicio.
Tú reconoces, Circe, mi sandalias
Cuando vuelvo cansado; reconoces
Mi rostro entre millares, mi sonrisa.
Besas la mano que estrecha las manos
De los desheredados y sonríes.
Si preguntan qué nombre tengo, “Nadie”,
Responderé. Me llamo Nadie, Nadie,
Y no poseo nada, y no me duele
Porque así puedo andar con menos peso.



JOSÉ MANUEL CARDONA is a poet from Ibiza, Spain. He is the author of El Vendimiador (Atzavara, 1953), Poemas a Circe (Adonais, 1959), and El Bosque de Birnam: Antología poética (Consell Insular d’Eivissa, 2007).
He was co-editor of several literary journals and wrote for many publications. He participated in the II Congreso de Poesía in Salamanca. The Franco regime forced him into exile in France. He is an attorney (University of Barcelona) and holds PhDs in literature and humanities, writing his thesis on the Mexican revolution at the Instituto de Cultura Hispánica de Madrid. He worked for the U.N. most of his life, in Geneva, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Belgrade, Sofia, Kiev, Tblisi, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Panama, among many places.


HÉLÈNE CARDONA is the author of six books, most recently Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves (both from Salmon Poetry); and the translations Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), winner of a Hemingway Grant, Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne); as well as Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb. The Birnam Wood, her translation of El Bosque de Birnam (Consell Insular d’Eivissa) by her father José Manuel Cardona is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2018.
She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne and has contributed to The London Magazine, Washington Square Review, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Brooklyn Rail’s InTranslation, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Asymptote, and The Warwick Review. Acting credits include Chocolat, Jurassic World, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Hundred-Foot Journey, etc. For Serendipity, she co-wrote with Peter Chelsom & Alan Silvestri the song Lucienne, which she also sang.



Previous | Next