penned in by a semi-sick swaying
Woodcut by Heidrun Rathgeb, on show at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, London. Copyright Heidrun Rathgeb.

Language: Spanish
Poet: Julia Wong Kcomt
Translator: Jennifer Shyue Region: Peru

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amid altitude sickness and envy

A poem by Julia Wong Kcomt from her chapbook Vice-royal-ties, translated from Spanish by Jennifer Shyue.

Julia Wong Kcomt was born into a tusán (Chinese Peruvian) family in Chepén, Peru, in 1965. She traveled from an early age, and her perceptions of country borders, different cultures, and diversity in ethnicity and religion became a strong motivation to write. She is the author of 17 volumes of poetry, including Un salmón ciego (Borrador Editores) and 18 poemas de fake love para Keanu Reeves (Cascada de Palabras); five books of fiction; and two collections of hybrid prose. She currently lives between Lima and Lisbon.

Jennifer Shyue is a translator focusing on contemporary Cuban and Asian-Peruvian writers. Her work has been supported by grants from Fulbright, Princeton University, and the University of Iowa, and has appeared in The Arkansas InternationalNew England ReviewSpoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She can be found at shyue.co.

Siete

A Pavlo

 

De muchas maneras se ha explicado la permanente
fuga de las aves.

                   —Joaquín Giannuzzi

 

Si quieres que te hable claramente

como se enfrentan los perros callejeros
a su presa,

si quieres que no le ponga gomina al pelo tieso
ni justifique el azúcar en el té,

si quieres que te cuente cada hora
bajo un cielo de cobalto
en medio del soroche y de la envidia,
te amé, como de acuerdo al guión se ama lo
plausible.

Grito acorralado de vaivén casi enfermo.
Cráneo roto, mórbido. Quédate, ven, vete,
ilumíname,
apágame,
rómpeme,

observa que ni yo recuerdo en qué año he nacido.

Sólo correr, volar en aviones de sal,
aviones de caramelo, de dulce de leche, de desierto,
de papel fotográfico.

Y en esa huida sospechosa descansé en tu pecho de
tortuga.

Seven

For Pavlo

 

I’ve heard many explanations
for the permanent flights of the birds.

                   —Joaquín Giannuzzi

 

If you want me to speak to you clearly

the way stray dogs confront
their prey,

if you want me not to put gel in stiff hair
or justify sugar in the tea

if you want me to tell you once an hour
under a cobalt sky
amid altitude sickness and envy,
I loved you, since per the script, one loves
what’s plausible.

I scream penned in by a semi-sick swaying.
Skull broken, feeble. Stay, come here, go away,
light me,
switch me off,
break me,

notice even I don’t remember what year I was born.

Just running, flying in planes made of salt,
or brittle caramel, dulce de leche, desert,
photo paper.

And during that questionable escape I rested in your turtle
chest.

Vice-royal-ties © Julia Wong Kcomt, (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021)
Translation © Jennifer Shyue, 2021