John Wendell’s Poems

Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
translated by Hardie St. Martin

CCLXI:  These poems

these poems this batch of papers this
handful of fragments still trying to breathe
these soft rough words i’ve put together
will be the end of me
sometimes they’re worse than actions or closer to the truth
time passing doesn’t polish or improve them
it shows up the cracks in their flaking walls
their ceiling is caving in and it’s raining

and they can give me neither shelter nor defense
i actually avoid them like cities cursed in ancient times
destroyed by plagues and disasters
by magnificent foreign kings

worse than pain are these
ruins i’ve built while living and letting live
moving between two waters
between this world and its beauty

and i’m not complaining for in
writing poems i sought neither gold nor glory
neither happiness nor unhappiness
neither home nor forgiveness