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  • Quail, and: Tiger, and: Saturday Shroud; Carnival Irons
  • Liuvan Herrera Carpio (bio)
    Translated from Spanish by Katherine M. Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez


A downpour of decapitated quail stone the hunger of those crossing the desert. A rain of headless birds is a headless rain. What forest was left with no song, what forest with no spring?While the pilgrim defeathers the drops, the sand is as happy as a dog taking in the bird petals slowly plucked.The pilgrim is the desert sailor. After the quail storm he shipwrecked: he hasn't been able to stand so much sand midflight.


for Virgilio, before being devoured

The tiger skin is a trap. When my son opens his eyes, like a shriek before the animal, he doesn't realize that behind the double trellis the tiger skin isn't painted. Tigers eat poet flesh for breakfast: the tamer punishes the legumes offering them up like a garnish for this exquisite Blake arm we now see being wolfed down.The tiger's digestion is patient like my son's eyes, like my son's orphan eyes. [End Page 43]

Saturday Shroud

When hanging out the sheetslike newly drowned bodiesan adjacent shirtshrugs its shoulders.The anointed one, no name worth remembering,offers up to the sun a cadaver from the marriage bedwhere her son, each night,lets God extractan irretrievable rib.God wrings outdeath over the sheet,but my mother's tirednesswon't let her make out the miracle.Don't blame her, man of the cross,when she challenges the sun with a formidable dampness.You strung the hours up like a hanged manand God wrung out your bloodfrom his height.She hangs the sheet out as a gesture of surrendering.Who does my mother lose heart to each week?What enemy forces her to retreatno victories to nourish?I'm ready to close my eyes:now I feel the schism of God in my belly.The starch, just father,silently covers up a shroud. [End Page 44]

Carnival Irons

Forged in clandestine smithiesthey travel on ominous trailersthrough the national scar,artifacts for amusement,in neighborhood carnivalsassembled in just an hour.Pieces of old sugar millsmarinated for years in syrupalcohol,now they take their seatsin flying chairs and onboats suspended in the arcof their journey.Those who never witnessed the splendorof electric parkswill find herean unfaithful imitation.Say good-bye to your child whilehe fights back his vertigoin the small cagesof "The Exterminator."Let's ride "The Dragon"when its badly drawn eyesees nameless beer spilled,lingering in wineskins made of a strange nickeland argued over by knights with a medieval thirst.Standing on the roller coaster's carpethearing the brakes of the Ferris wheel grindI told you: this country is so sad."Have fun," was the answerwhile you got me somecotton candybrought from grand Brazilin the dark holdsof luxury ocean liners. [End Page 45]

Liuvan Herrera Carpio

Liuvan Herrera Carpio (Fomento, 1981) is a poet, literary scholar, critic, and editor. He received a degree in literature from the Central University in Las Villas and in Latin American culture from the University for the Arts. He is currently a professor at the National University of Chimborazo. He has published four books of poetry and two books of essays. He lives in Riobamba, Ecuador.

Katherine M. Hedeen

Katherine M. Hedeen's latest book-length translations include night badly written and tasks by Cuban poet Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, and Nothing Out of This World, an anthology of contemporary Cuban poetry. A two-time recipient of a NEA Translation Project Grant, she is a professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez is one of Cuba's most outstanding contemporary writers. He has published more than thirty books of poetry throughout Latin America and Europe and has received major awards all over the Spanish-speaking world. He divides his time between Gambier, Ohio, where...


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