Mistranslations from César Vallejo's Trilce
Steve Gilmartin


Explain it to me.
How it laces me into my temperament.
How it has the manner of oil on the skin of trapezists.
How it muscles its way in like brutal mail.
How it has a peg leg and lichen on its teeth.
How it pretends to be sentient before arriving.
No way, I said.
Listen, Trujillo is coming to Lima.
You listen, you'll need five souls to make old age.


Brainiac. What if you're full of engines,
and nothing more. Yes, you are. On the other hand
you are a verb
even while sleeping in your clothes like a sideman.

Braincase. First-time caller.
Yes, you are.
In fact, you've transformed me into swampland,
as easy to do as lying on your side.

To me, you dress like a black-sheep aunt
saying yes to truth and eccentric underwear,
everybody's vices having gathered in you alone
in your sweet belly,
and nothing releases me like its mourners
they sculpt me with ululations.
But you know all this.

Irksome wiseass.
And yes your dance smell is good, but phew!
No one will be able to guess
how much deep green you carry around.