Featured poet: Roberto Contreras

Apr 13, 2018 Comments Off on Featured poet: Roberto Contreras by

Roberto Contreras (1975) is a writer, editor and professor. He has contributed to many magazines, helped found the publication La Calabaza del Diablo, participated in the collective Lanzallamas and directed the website Carcaj for the publisher LOM. His work includes Ahora es cuando (1998), Siberia (2007), Empleo mínimo (2008) and the journalistic pieces Domingo urbano (2014). He has written critical studies on the work of Carlos Droguett, Roberto Arlt, Manuel Rojas and Roberto Bolaño. Currently he works as a pedagogical consultant, as well as a promotor of reading throughout Chile.

The following poems come from the collection Pedazos de agua (2017).

*

One boy explains to another
the secret of a snail’s trace
on the grass.

*

You wake up. You slide open the curtain. You heat coffee. You grab some grapes. You leave by the back door. You skirt the bin of firewood. You find the hens’ hidden nest. You note how the frost has melted. In the ravine you see a dry plum tree and think of suicide from a tree. You listen to a wingbeat and imagine it belongs to a partridge. With no apparent motive you remember the words of Kenneth Rexroth, saying he had come to know the poems of Tu Fu better than his own. You let yourself get carried away and go back to the mid-’80s with your brother, amazed that roosters sing at all hours of the day. The caw of the lapwings makes you feel something flow through your veins. You still carry a grape in your hand. Something heralds that this too shall pass.

*

My cheeks burn
as I lead the mare and her foal
toward the manger.

*

In the shade of the cypress to collect pebbles
like jewels of a future memory.

In the shade of a cypress to continue the dance
of the branches swayed by the wind.

In the shade of the cypress
to feel the crackling of old embers.

In the shade of the cypress
to see the ashes swept away by the afternoon.

*

In the flight
of a bird
time
stopped

*

As some sparrows wet their wings
in the trough of the henhouse,
clucks celebrate their bath.

*

Pain
is a bridge
that we always cross

*

To write is to carve
to plough with a gouge
to advance through the cracks
to circle the knots
to polish the rough patches
with all the time in the world.

— translated by Jessica Sequeira

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