"Public Body/Cuerpo Público" by Mariela Cordero, Translated by Aaron Devine

I don’t inhabit a country; I inhabit a body
meekly unfurling
over voracious ruins
and breathing the smoke of burnt days.

I don’t inhabit a country; I inhabit a body
without bloom
that suffers
stripped of respite
the indelible tremors
of the recently raped.

I don’t inhabit a country; I inhabit a body
flush with bones
like knives
that turn cruelly
against whoever dares
a tentative caress
across its devastated surface.

This body
does not recognize all that is not
a bruise,
an unclosable wound,
or an abrupt act of depredation.

I don’t inhabit a country; I inhabit a body
that dances with massacre
and, impregnated by the most wretched
of the rabid pack, 
only knows to birth death.

I don’t inhabit a country; I inhabit a public body
so diminished
that it’s hurt by my faint footsteps
and tormented by the murmur of my hope.

I curl into myself,
into a tiny docile place
from the irregular pulse
of its fabled, bygone beauty
as I devour
each detail of its meager heat.

I curl into myself
and hope that morning
astonishes us with proof
that both
this body I inhabit and I
the long night
            of the pack.


Yo no habito un país, habito un cuerpo
que se tiende con mansedumbre
sobreruinas voraces
y respira el humo de los días quemados.

Yo no habito un país, habito un cuerpo
sin flor
desabrigado de treguas
los indelebles temblores
de lo recién violado.

Yo no habito un país, habito un cuerpo
exuberante de huesos
como cuchillos
que arremete sanguinario
contra el que ose
una vacilante caricia
sobre su devastadasuperficie.

Este cuerpo
desconoce a todo lo queno sea
la magulladura,
la herida siempre abierta
y los abruptos gestos de la depredación.

Yo no habito un país, habito un cuerpo
que danza con la masacre
y preñado por lo más abyecto
de las jaurías
sólo sabe parir muerte.

Yo no habito un país, habito un cuerpo público
tan menguante
que mis leves pisadas le duelen
y el rumor de mi esperanza lo martiriza.

Yo me acurruco
en su minúscula zona dócil
por el latido irregular
de su antigua belleza de fábula
mientras devoro
las partículas de su exiguo calor.

Yo me acurruco
y espero que el amanecer
nos asombre con la evidencia
de queambos, 
este cuerpo donde habito y yo
a la larga noche
                       de las jaurías.

Translation by Aaron Devine

Translator’s note: “Public Body” strikes me with its visceral language and vivid metaphor. What does it mean to inhabit a public body? How does the devastation of a national body affect and find expression through the personal? Mariela Cordero’s poem has its articulate finger on the pulse and pain of contemporary Venezuelans uncertain of tomorrow’s body. Cordero’s details and precise language are morsels of hope; they are the poet crafting a space in which to survive.

Mariela Cordero is a lawyer, poet, and visual artist from Valencia, Venezuela. She is the author of The Body of Doubt (Ediciones Publicarte; Caracas, 2013) and The Identical Fire (Ediciones Movimiento Poetico; Maracaibo, 2015). Her poems have been published and won prizes internationally in Italy, China, England, Spain, Argentina and more. This poem, "Public Body" (Cuerpo Público), won first prize in the 2016 Colectivo Poetas Hispanos International Poetry Competition.


Aaron Devine is a writer, translator, and educator based in Boston,Massachusetts. He is the author of Wonder/Wander: 522 Days in LatinAmerica and translator of Qhapaq Ñan: The Inka Path of Wisdom (AmaroRuna Editions, 2007). He earned an MFA in Fiction (2013) and Certificate in Spanish-English Translation (2011) from the University of Massachusetts Boston where he currently teaches English as a Second Language.

Posted on August 27, 2017 .

"Refugee" by Huseyn Javid, Translated by Murad Jalilov and Kevin Rabas

Don’t hide. Stay! Who are you, and where are you from,
beautiful, unfortunate refugee?
Please smile, and let the light shine from your eyes.
In every mood, you are an angel, refugee.

The night holds your long curly hair, when it falls into your lap.
Your eyes are tender, your face like a blossom, long and thin.
You enchant my soul when you smile.
You are the shy doe of the mountains, refugee.

I want to laugh and smile my life away with you.
Tell me, what are your worries? Tell me your story.
Mercy, what happened? How did you fall
so far from your homeland?

When I saw you, I fell apart.
I fell for you like a drunk.
I am, like you, an exotic bird, an outlander.
Come with me, with your wounded soul, refugee.


Huseyn Javid (Azerbaijani: Hüseyn Cavid), born Huseyn Abdulla oglu Rasizadeh (24 October 1882, Nakhchivan – 5 December 1941, Shevchenko, Tayshetsky District), other spellings "Husein Javid," was a prominent Azerbaijani poet and playwright of the early 20th century. He was one of the founders of the progressive romanticism movement in contemporary Azerbaijani literature. He was exiled during the Stalin purges in the USSR.

Murad Jalilov has recently graduated with BAs in English and Political Science at Emporia State University and is a graduate student in the MA program in Russian and Eastern European Studies at University of Oregon. He has poems published in Quivira and is active in his literary community. He is fluent is Russian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, and English. 


Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019), Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks. He has seven books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. 




Posted on July 17, 2017 .