A man walks by with a baguette on his shoulder


A man walks by with a baguette on his shoulder.
Am I going to write, after that, about my double?

Another sits, scratches, extracts a louse from his armpit, kills it.
How dare one speak about psychoanalysis?

Another has entered my chest with a stick in hand.
To talk then about Socrates with the doctor?

A cripple passes by holding a child's hand.
After that I'm going to read Andre Breton?

Another trembles from cold, coughs, spits blood.
Will it ever be possible to allude to the deep Self?

Another searches in the muck for bones, rinds.
How to write, after that, about the infinite?

A bricklayer falls from a roof, dies and no longer eats lunch.
To innovate, then, the trope, the metaphor?

A merchant cheats a customer out of a gram.
To speak, after that, about the fourth dimension?

A banker falsifies his balance sheet.
With what face to cry in the theater?

An outcast sleeps with his foot behind his back.
To speak, after that, to anyone about Picasso?

Someone goes to a burial sobbing.
How then become a member of the Academy?

Someone cleans a rifle in his kitchen.
How dare one speak about the beyond?

Someone passes by counting with his fingers.
How speak of the non-self without screaming?


                             Spanish; trans. Clayton Eshleman


Cesar Vallejo, Spanish, trans. Clayton Eshleman, Cesar Vallejo: The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition, Clayton Eshleman, ed., University of California Press, 2007.