Three Poems by Henry Alexander Gómez, Translated by Olivia Lott

Bessie Smith

I plunge my head into water and a teardrop of music forsakes my body.  To carve up emptiness.  Trace with a finger the course of a leaf splitting in the wind.

Is it inside stone’s wound where the shapes of dreams rise?

John Lennon

It’s the fire, the abyss, and between the folds of wind we’ve tucked away the most simple and puzzling of words.

Perhaps the blow from a flute dissolving in night will make possible a vision from long ago:
A chord to measure silence.  A keyboard of rains to discover the faraway geometry of sand.

Together we must pray to come to madness.



Janis Joplin

It’s pointless to travel among the scent of ash, to lay poppies to rest in the blind angel’s jaw.

Song of childhood: smoking skin’s opium and drinking the last drop of a blues from the darkest bottle in a Louisiana bar.  Lung muzzled while the gramophone plays Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday.

A barefoot print gives her away, her clear shadow gives her away.

A crevice rummages in the penumbra.  Find yourself powerless to count the assortment of clouds at your fingers.

It’s beautiful to watch over the sun, naked, when night falls: the orgy of her voice low, curved within the earth.

Bessie Smith

Sumerjo la cabeza en el agua y una lágrima de música abandona mi cuerpo.  Tajar el vacío.  Delinear con el dedo la trayectoria de una hoja que se quiebra en el viento.

¿Es en la herida de la piedra donde ascienden las formas del sueño?



John Lennon

Es el fuego, el abismo, y entre los pliegues del viento hemos ocultado la más sencilla y compleja de las palabras.

Quizá el golpe de una flauta que se disuelve en la noche hará posible la antigua visión:
Una cuerda para tomarle la medida al silencio.  Un teclado de lluvias para explorar la geometría distante de la arena.

Debemos orar juntos para alcanzar la locura.

Janis Joplin

Inútil es viajar entre el olor de la ceniza, sepultar amapolas en las mandíbulas del ángel ciego.

Canción de la infancia: fumar el opio de la piel y beber la última gota de un blues de la botella más oscura de un bar de Louisiana.  El pulmón amordazado mientras el gramófono suena a Bessie Smith o a Billie Holiday.

Una huella descalza la delata, la delata su sombra transparente.

Hurga una grieta en la penumbra.  Descúbrete impedida para contar la multiplicidad de las nubes de tus dedos.

Es bello vigilar desnuda al sol cuando anochece: la orgía de su voz baja cóncava al interior de la tierra.

The Poet

Henry Alexander Gómez (Bogotá, 1982) earned a degree in Social Sciences from the Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas and is currently studying for his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at the Universidad Central. He is the director of “Ojo en la tinta” Literary Festival. His book Cartografía de la luz won the Universidad Externado de Colombia’s 26th National Contest for Poetry and he was also awarded the Casa de Poesía Silva’s national prize for “La poesía de la vida cotidiana.” His book Georg Trakl en el ocaso won second prize in the 9th Bonaventuriano Poetry Contest. Among his books of poetry are Memorial del árbol (2013), winner of the 4th National Contest for Unpublished Works of Poetry, Diabolus in música (2014), winner of the Ciro Mendía Poetry Prize, and Teoría de la gravedad (2014), published in Quito, Ecuador. He also forms part of the editorial board for the Latin American poetry magazine La Raíz Invertida.

The Translator

Olivia Lott is the recipient of a 2015-16 Fulbright grant to Colombia.  She recently graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Literature in Spanish where she completed an extensive translation project of Colombian poet Raúl Gómez Jattin.  She will begin a PhD program in Spanish in Fall 2016 and will specialize in contemporary Colombian poetry and literary translation.

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