Peruvian Graffiti flag image
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Antonio Cisneros

On the Commonplace

Translated by Michael L. Smith

It's not my fault if it rains and my hide is the only wall
that holds back the besieged city,
the cold, the shadows
and the speeding cars with their headlights shining amid the waters
like the eyes of the cat
0like regiments in Flanders:
provisions, cannons, catapults arm an encampment in cattle fields
0and the hills,
0 the state of siege
is an image of courtly love and in the pictures of the insane
0 is the image of the soul
0and the eyes of the cat
always shine when the air is black and everybody already knows it
0and at night there is no one who would confuse them with dogs,
0girls escaping from home,
0between the rain and the liver
there's no room for ice and shadows if one doesn't speak of the Tropics,
0of the besieged city
there's no one who speaks, on both sides of the high wall
0 they bury their dead with no ceremony at all,
0under the water
the drums beat prudently, the soldiers urinate in the weeds,
0with the wind, nobody worries about the flaming arrows,
0about the vat of boiling water,
0death, agedness
and in general the things that have to do with the end
0are represented by tranquil drums, the flapping of the owl
0that settles down
0pauses and silence
to bury the dead, here the symbol says that
0our sane half helps or eliminates the battered side,
0thus salvation
is this sun that circles over the roofs like a picture of Turner,
0it's not my fault, Nordic, drenched,
0the winter lights
high, curious, oblique, admired, always arrive suddenly
0and almost always in time
0with death
the images run dry but it's beneficial to note
0that in these lights there is no door or stairs ascending to Paradise,
0popular image
of Saul, of Elijah, of Jacob, Assumption of Mary,
0Ascension of the Lord,
0it is the orange tree
that fattens in the land of men that have died,
0symbol of Materialism, and stuck their foot
0where they can't get it out:
there's no symbol, no name for this.

Like a Figtree on a Gold Course, 1972