Benjamín Prado

Jack Kerouac in the Burning House
(Kerouac in the Sky with Diamonds)

(versión en español)

Jack Kerouac comes walking up between red factory buildings,
he moves with
the strange motion
of a garden, he's like a world
that comes on slowly,
all in a dream.
His dreams are like shadows.

with the rain-soaked trees that are our destiny,
in the cold streets,
lonely hotels,
rooms with beautiful blue birds,
he thinks: any story
can be told just like it was the only one,
while the hours pass by

among courthouse clocks that mete out their justice
like rivers of darkness,
like afternoons that wait
for that immense creature to take shape in the sky.

In the tiny rooms filled with blue birds
there are lonely men,
and in their dreams there are statues that return
from snow's cold nature:
Diana the huntress beneath the trees,
like melting snow
that escapes death transformed into an archer.
Jack Kerouac thinks: sometimes
at night
it isn't easy to tell trains from rivers,
the net, the cage,
where they are locked up,
the net, the cage.

In the wind there are creatures of darkness,
where the sky
builds its hospitals,
the sky with its dolphins,
the sky made of frozen fountains.

The wind in the garden,
red roses pigeons pursued by fire.
Or to say something clever
for example
my ear
is a box full of lobsters
to explain the sound of trains going by.

When you awake, your hands
spring forth from the depths of your own hands
and you think: the words
of a book are like the body's breathing,
why did André Breton say that the bathers'
faces are the death of the wolf?

I open a book,
The Burning

someone says
what good is the word now.
40 years later
the man is dead,
40 years after asking
what the word now is good for.
But before that, one
summer day,
the last time, it was still his poem,
with that look of his
so soft and so deep
that it seemed his eyes were filled with fire.

Near you,
your window,
the garden grows like the words in a book,
like the creatures of darkness that draw near
the light
sent from the sky,
while I hear the rain,
the sad rain beating on the parked cars
with its transparent angel,
with its empty hands
that search out the hearts of the sleeping men.
The damp earth flows
with the smell of lions and the loneliness of rivers.
The summer rain

that breaks in on our peaceful days with its swords.

I picture myself-like someone who meets up
with a stranger-a few years ago:
a different city
with canals and boats ablaze
on the water-as if the angel of cold
had already stolen
my heart for another man's dreams-
while I hear the rain,
while this hard rain falls on the two cities,
on the great rain-drenched trees
that are our destiny.

Translated by Gordon McNeer

Benjamín Prado has published over 15 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including his prize-winning volume of poems Cobijo contra la tormenta [Shelter from the Storm] (Hiperión 1996) and the novel Raro [Strange] (Plaza y Janés 1995), which won several awards and was a best-seller in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina. Two novels have been published in English: Not Only Fire (Faber and Faber Ltd. 2002) and Never Shake Hands With a Left-Handed Gunman (St. Martin's Press 1999).

Gordon E. McNeer received his doctorate in Romance Languages from Princeton University in 1976. His doctoral thesis explored the life and work of the Spanish poet José Luis Hidalgo, author of the book of poetry Los Muertos. Dr. McNeer has taught Spanish at numerous colleges and universities, among them the University of Florida and Agnes Scott College. He has lived and traveled in Spain on many occasions. In 1998, he was Director of the International Institute in Madrid. At present, he is an Associate Professor of Spanish at North Georgia College and State University. Dr. McNeer is the author of several articles on Spanish poetry and bilingual editions of Spanish poetry. He is the authorized translator for the poetry of José Hierro, poet laureate of Spain. His bilingual edition of the Cervantes Prize winning Cuaderno de Nueva York / New York Notebook is in a third printing. His edition of Hierro's Agenda was published in October of 2001, and a bilingual edition of Hierro's Book of Hallucinations was published in the spring of 2003.


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