Poems by Cesar Vallejo
Translated by Patrick Meighan
One drinks breakfast … Damp graveyard earth
smells of beloved blood.
Winter city … Mordant crusade
of a cart that seems to drag
an emotion like a fasting in chains.
One wants to pound all the doors
and ask for, I don’t know whom; and next
to see the poor, and softly crying
give bits of bread to all.
And to sack the vineyards of the rich
with the two saintly hands
that with a blast of light
blew off unnailed from the Cross!
Matinal eyelash don’t rise!
Give us our daily bread,
All my bones are of all others;
Maybe I stole them!
I took for myself what was perhaps
and I thought that, if I had not been born,
some other poor soul would have this coffee!
I am a bad thief … where will I go!
And in this cold hour, when the earth
smells of human dust and is in this gloom,
I want to rap on all the doors,
and beg, I don’t know who, for pardon,
and bake him fresh bits of bread
here, in the oven of my heart …!
If it rains tonight I’d pull back
From here a million years,
Better a hundred, no more than that.
If it happens I am fleeing toward nothing
I will still give you the account.
Or without mother, without my beloved, without quarrel
To stoop and inspect the end of it, purely myself
That night, much like this one, carding
The Vedic fiber
The ancient Hindu wool of my final end, thread
Of the devil, a trace of its scent
In the nostrils,
Two clappers keeping discordant time
In the same bell.
I imagine the account of my life
Or I imagine having never been born
Nor having won my freedom.
It will be as if I had not even existed, but
What arrives already has departed,
What arrives already has departed.
Patrick Meighan teaches a poetry workshop at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. His poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Inflectionist Review, Flash!Point, Wilderness House Literary Review, Alexandria Quarterly Magazine, and others. He co-edited “Images from Ruin,” an anthology of 9/11 poems, and his chapbook “Jurisprudence” was published in 2014. Patrick received his MFA in poetry from the low-residency program at New England College.