Jose Alvarez Escontrela
The Word Dolor
Spanish is a language defined by nuances
and the capability of stretching words
as the tongue of giraffes,
I can say amor, amorcito, amorsote and superamor
I can stretch, and stretch and stretch, endlessly
until I get tired of it.
But there's a word you can stretch,
believe me, I have tried,
and it is dolor, pain, who resists the efforts of language
suffocated against the bone she has gnawed;
you can add things to it to soften his pulse
but you won't be able to seclude the weight of pain, dolor.
La palabra que cantan los llanos
The word, dolor, that has endured time
after time, after time
and broke wits and whips of perched resistance
in a dehydrated shout in oblivion.
I wish the language was able to change
what cannot be changed
other than transform what cannot be transformed;
and use the word pain, dolor, without the fear of his weight.
What can a number say about you?
I am from the 2000 census,
so my number rises above 20 million.
That says I'm from the generation of people
who live under the defoliating tree of rotten pears
with a silenced scream in the middle of our throats,
anxiously waiting for the fire to come to burn it all from the roots.
The same way a number
on a black and white striped shirt
marks the moment you're no longer a person
a suddenly become a thing that can be bought,
eighty kilos of matter, moving
over the resinated floors
where the cicadas come to die in agony.
The big iron coated back of Raúl
melt under the hot sun in a weird rainy day
boiling water comes from the sky
with the rage of a speared lighting.
I can barely hold my breath as
the legs of the man around me begin their decline
into the hot sand, where their hands start to dig
like a row of shovels, moving the soil
where the blood of their fathers rests.
Everyone is silent
as the bodies jolt with tears
the sheet that will cover the coffin
of 'Las dos hermanas'.
"The little one had her mother's eyes"
everyone repeats with the dull voice of mourning as the rattling wood box comes down in front of us
as the last tear of Raúl comes down his cheek.
The paved silence becomes noise
as everyone moves a far from the site
avoiding the dragging strength of poured blood.
Cold Sleeper in the Night Sky
A meek night comes as it does every day,
always calm, unstressed,
the crickets stun the ear as always too.
As the sound of the bullets past
the calm rises again as it always does.
Fearing nothing as the precarious child I am,
I visited the corpse lying on our sidewalk,
cold and lonely as he came to wack the liquor store.
All the blood covers his body
as the newborn he is lying in there,
a night tulip covered with a mist of red rain.
The lips already dry,
yearning the ichor in the shelves
so close to his hands, pallid by fear
and longing to taste the lips
of the forgotten lover
sleeping softly at home.
The body bag comes strong
to lift the weakness of a man defeated,
and we go back to our homes as we always do.
My body anchored
to the garments of thin white mists, the brown mangroves,
behind the mountains cannot be heard the nearby sea;
like the slow time in prison,
we wait as time folds itself upon us,
the corpses lying in the same paths
where we walked through moons,
and the tiered sea still
performs the grandiose symphony you detested
behind this rifts.
This years lack of mythology
we stay in the same place
of tonnage and ruled stars;
while the land beneath our feet shakes.
Jose Alvarez Escontrela: "I am a student of Literature at the Central University of Venezuela, working in my Bachelor's dissertation, with a Creative Writing Minor degree from the Metropolitan University and ICREA. I was part of the anthology Poets Night I of Diversidad Literaria press (Buenos Aires, 2015). My poems will appear in MásPoesía (2019) and in Inkwell (April 2020) as the winner of the National Literature Day poem. I have published non-fiction articles for Problemon (2019)."