Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
 translated by Hardie St. Martin


one day i watched death going by / she wasn’t on horseback / she
was screaming
like the swallows circling santa maria maggiore / such
a death is sad / i really mean it and in case
anyone doesn’t know that such a death is sad

this one was screaming like one of the damned / of no help to her
the lovely summer the fountains the women she allowed to go on
their way
like heat fire or pity / this death
wouldn’t be worth a plugged nickel anywhere

to start off no one needed her / she wasn’t bold or brave /
sing / couldn’t make anyone else sing / she wasn’t wearing
blue stockings / her eyes
screamed like swallows slicing the afternoon around
santa maria maggiore / i’m telling it the way i saw it / this
death drew pity or compassion from coachmen gentle
horses in broad daylight / a death with such poor taste / alone /
unhappy / old death / unable

to fly / without a string around her small feet / screaming
in the middle of the public square

when she had gone by i felt scared
i never want to see that death again
cross my heart i never want to see her again
especially not on the day of my death

Notes  —  (Calella de la Costa, Paris Rome, August-October, 1979)
to Eduardo Galeano
          to Helena