I who have never had a trade
who before any competitor have felt weak
who have lost the best qualifications for life
who as soon as I arrive at a place already want to leave (thinking that moving is a solution)
who have been denied in advance and scoffed at by the fitter
who lean on walls so as not to fall down
who am an object of laughter to myself
who believed my father was eternal
who have been humiliated by professors of literature
who asked one day what I could do to help and the answer was a guffaw
who will never be able to set up a home, nor be brilliant nor triumph in life
who have been deserted by many people because I hardly speak
who am ashamed of acts I didn’t commit
who have nearly started running down the street
who have lost a center I never had
who have become a laughing stock for many because I live in limbo
who will never find anyone to put up with me
who was passed over in favor of people more wretched than me
who will go on like this all my life and next year will be derided many times more in my ridiculous ambition
who am tired of receiving advice from others more lethargic than me («You’re very slow, get a move on, wake up»)
who will never be able to travel to India
who have received favors without giving anything in return
who go from one side of the city to another like a feather
who let others sway me
who have no personality and don’t want one
who keep a lid all day on my rebellion
who haven’t gone to join the guerrillas
who have done nothing for my people
who don’t belong to the FALN and despair over all these things and others it would take forever to enumerate
who can’t get out of my prison
who have been discharged everywhere because I’m useless
who in reality haven’t succeeded in getting married or going to Paris or having one serene day.
who refuse to recognize facts
who always slobber over my story
who was born an imbecile and worse than an imbecile
who lost the thread of the argument that was being worked out in me and haven’t been able to find in again
who don’t cry when I feel like it
who arrive late for everything
who have been ruined by all those marches and countermarches
who long for perfect immobility and impeccable haste
who am not what I am nor what I’m not
who in spite of all am satanically proud although at certain times I’ve been humble enough to match stones
who have lived fifteen years in the same circle
who thought I was predestinated for something unusual and have achieved nothing
who will never wear a tie
who can’t find my body
who have perceived my falsity in flashes and haven’t been able to knock myself down, sweep all away and create from my indolence, my floating and my straying a new freshness, and obstinately commit suicide within hand’s reach
I will pick myself up more ridiculous than ever to go on mocking others and myself till judgment day.
What I took for victory is only smoke.
Failure, rock bottom language, trail from a different more demanding place, your handwriting is difficult to make out.
When you put your mark on my forehead, I never thought about the message you were bringing, more valuable than any triumph.
Your blazing face pursued me and I didn’t know it was to save me,
For my own good you’ve pushed me into corners, denied me easy successes, deprived me of ways out.
It was me you meant to defend by not granting me brilliance.
Purely out of love for me you’ve manipulated the emptiness that on so many nights has made me speak feverishly to an absent woman.
To protect me you made way for others, led a woman to prefer someone more resolute, removed me from suicidal trades.
You’ve always helped me out.
Yes, your ulcerous, spat on, hateful body has received me in my purest form to hand me over to the clarity of the desert.
Out of madness I’ve cursed you, ill-used you, blasphemed against you.
You don’t exist.
You were invented by delirious pride.
How much I owe you!
You elevated me to a new rank washing me with a rough sponge, throwing me on to my true battlefield, assigning me the weapons left behind by victory.
You led me by the hand to the only water that mirrors me.
Because of you I don’t know the anxiety of playing a role, using force to stay on a rung, climbing by me own effort, quarreling over status, inflating myself till I burst.
You’ve made me humble, silent and rebellious.
I don’t sing you for what you are, but for what you haven’t let me be. For not giving me a different life. For hemming me in.
You’ve offered me only nakedness.
It’s true that you taught me roughly –and you cauterized me yourself!– but you also gave me the happiness of not fearing you.
Thanks for taking thickness from me in exchange for large handwriting.
Thanks to you who deprived me of swellings.
Thanks for the riches to which you compelled me.
Thanks for building my home with clay.
Thanks for pushing me aside.
Let each word carry what it says.
Let it be like the tremor that sustains it.
Let it maintain itself like a heartbeat.
I may not put forward ornate lies not apply doubtful ink nor add shine to what is.
This obliges me to hear myself. But we’re here to tell the truth.
Let’s be real.
I want terrifying exactitudes.
I tremble when I think I’m falsifying myself. I have to bear the weight of my words. They possess me as much as I possess them.
You who know me, if I can’t see, tell me my lie, point out my imposture, rub in my fraud. I’ll be grateful to you, seriously. I want madly to correspond to myself.
Be my eye, wait for me at night and spy on me, examine me, shake me.
Let’s come to an agreement, poem.
I won’t force you to say what you don’t want
and you won’t be so reluctant to do what I wish.
We’ve wrestled a lot.
Why are you so determined to be my likeness
when you know things I don’t even suspect?
Free yourself from me.
Run and don’t look back.
Escape before it’s too late.
Because you always outdo me,
you know how to say what drives you
and I don’t,
because you’re more than yourself
and I’m only the man who tries to recognize himself in you.
I take up the space of my desire
and you have none,
you only advance toward your destination
without looking at the hand you move,
that thinks it owns you when it feels you sprout there
like a substance
that stands up.
Force the writer to go in your direction, he
only knows how to hide,
cover up what’s new,
What he shows is a tired
keep me away from you.
Translated by Rowena Hill