Cuando desperté en la oscuridad,
Junto a mi sueños, todas las promesas del cielo
Y todas las amenazas del infierno
Se evaporaron ante ti, presencia dormida.

Ah, lo real es pasajero -
Nuestras torpes, pequeñas vidas y el vasto
Amor nacido de nuestra desesperanza.

Haré una caverna luminosa, querida mía,
y me esconderé ahí hasta que a los dioses,
les de vergüenza existir.

When I awoke in the darkness,
Along with my dreams, all heaven's promises
And all the threats of hell
Evaporated before your slumbering presence.

Ah, what's real is passing -
Our bumbling little lives and the vast
Love born of our despair.

I will fashion a luminous cavern, my darling,
And hide you there until the gods,
Discovering you,
Are shamed into existence.


Poetical ironies?  Well, for one thing, I don't speak any Spanish (though I hear it all the
time as I stroll through uptown New York).  But these poems, on the subject of love and
belong in the language of Goya, of Granados, of  Garcia Lorca (the painter, the
composer, the writer, not the bean company, the city, the shortstop).  So I composed
them in English, but hastily, without much concern for sound and rhythm, and discovered
they read like prose translations of  Spanish verse, beautiful but non-existent.  So I asked
a friend to make of these English sketches richly colored Castilian frescoes, which he
has kindly begun to do, thanks to which, whereas it is normal, even inevitable, for a poem
to suffer some loss of music or meaning in the passage from one language to another, in
this case the translations increase the beauty and clarify the expression of the originals.  

At the same time I find myself born again (again), as I was through Ofterdingen the
musician, through Schnee the blind painter: you can call him Pablo Cookie, if you like -
this un-me, this hot-blooded counterpart to my polite persona, this mask I make and wear
and become - and why not, having "plumbed the depths of my soul and found nobody's

But do the poems sound special if you're Spanish, or is it only the allure of the exotic I
find appealing,  just as the sound of Latin, once the common tongue of the Roman
Empire, has for me immediate and inescapable associations with the Catholic Church.  I
also wonder what you will think of my decision to put in the hands of others the final
forms of my poetic sketches.  Is this a laudable innovation whereby a new kind of artistic
collaboration is fostered, or is it just another sign of that insouciance, malaise, inertia, I
feel creeping over me?  Am I finally learning to let go, to follow the Tao, or am I burnt out,
artistically bankrupt, perhaps even on the verge of some embarrassing collapse?  I'm
prone these days to inexplicable urges to travel to sultry lands, to breathe the air of
another planet...

So it's ironic, as I was saying, that a poem can improve through transposition.  But there
are other and greater ironies here.  For instance, the pessimism that permeates these
verses amounts to a kind of existential outcry, and lies in contradiction to my true nature:  
I feel these things very deeply, but I don't really mean any of them.  

she - my  lady love - does: it's her despair, the song of beauty and innocence
betrayed by time and fate, that finds in these lines a voice.  And this, of course, is the
fundamental irony that colors my existence with humor and sadness: the luminous cavern
I wish to construct she would disdain to enter, and the words through which I desire to
dignify her suffering she will never read.


Sálvame del ritmo del reloj,
Del ritmo de la ciudad y todas cosas impersonales,
Aquellas campanas de perdición
Que ven pasar mi vida en días y horas perecederos.

Déjame nadar en el ritmo del mar:
Soy feliz ahí, me recuerda mi hogar
En la revuelta oscuridad de la mente de Dios.

Cántame en el ritmo de los árboles agitados por el viento invernal,
O con la impaciencia del canto de los pájaros que tropieza
Agradeciendo por la generosidad del verano:

Sálvame, con el don del amor,
Del ritmo de las máquinas.

Save me from  the rhythm of the clock,
The rhythm of the city and all impersonal things,
Those bells of doom
That parse my life into perishing days and hours.

Let me swim in the rhythm of the sea:
I'm happy there, reminded of my home
In the churning dark of God's mind.

Sing to me in the rhythm of winter's windswept trees,
Or with the impatience of birdsong that tumbles
Forth in gratitude for summer's bounty:

Save me, with the gift of love,
From the rhythm of machines.

Estoy pintando mi propia mitología
Y cuando termine será cierta.
Estoy haciendo un lugar en el cual morir
Y soñando mi nacimiento desde el vientre.
En este lugar que formo me encuentro a mi mismo,
Y en el encuentro de este lugar soy formado.

I am painting my own mythology
And when I am done it will be true.
I am making a space to die into
And dreaming my birth from the womb.
In this place that I form I find myself,
And in the finding of this place am I formed.


No hablaré más en lenguas modernas,
Pero como un trovador, con arpa en mano,
Cantaré en Occitano de tus ojos esmeralda,
Tus dientes tu pelo tus melodiosos muslos:
Desde anoche, cualquier día, amor, podría morir.

I will not anymore speak in modern tongue,
But like a troubadour, with harp in hand,
In Occitan sing of your emerald eyes,
Your teeth your hair your smooth melodious thighs:
Since last night, any day, love, I could die.


¿Soñaste lo que yo estaba soñando?
Hay rasguños en mi cara en el espejo matutino.
¿Soñaste lo que yo estaba soñando?
Un mechón de hierba está enredado en tu cabello.

Did you dream what I was dreaming?
There are scratches on my face in the morning mirror.
Did you dream what I was dreaming?
A tuft of grass is tangled in your hair.


Coraje, amor mío: te encontraré.
Ve silenciosamente, como lo harías en un tren,
Encontrando un pequeño rincón y allí componiéndote a ti misma,
Evitando los ojos inquisitivos, las voces murmurantes.

Rápidamente vuela el cardenal
Sobre mundos laberínticos,
A través de incontables peligros, miríadas de deleites,
Incansable a través de la eternidad,
Siguiendo la diminuta, clara y distante
Nota de su leonada pareja.

Courage, my love: I will find you.
Go quietly, as you would upon a train,
Finding a  little corner and composing yourself there,
Avoiding the inquisitive eyes, the murmuring voices.

Swiftly flies the cardinal
O'er labyrinthine worlds,
Through countless dangers, myriad delights,
Untiring through eternity,
Following the tiny, clear and distant
Note of his tawny mate.


Te he visto parada en el almacén,
Como una madona de mármol asiendo los globos de cielo y tierra,
Paralizada en la contemplación de dos mangos.
Sé que comprar sandalias
Te puede costar tantos dólares como días de preocupación
(Aunque escogiendo, inevitablemente, te arrepientes de tu elección).
Tu eres, me parece, incapaz de decidirte
Sobre cualquier asunto, grande o pequeño – excepto en esta única cosa:
Que tu amor me sea concedido solo a mí y para siempre
(Y por este milagro alegremente me atengo a todo lo demás).

I've seen you standing in the grocery store,
Like a marble madonna grasping the globes of earth and heaven,
Transfixed in the contemplation of two mangos.
I know that buying sandals
Can  cost you as many days of worry as dollars
(Though choosing, inevitably, you regret the choice).
You are, I think, incapable of making up your mind
On any issue, large or small - except this one thing:
That your love be given to me alone and forever
(And for this  miracle I gladly abide all the rest).


Floto en mis sueños entre nubes de años,
Inseguro de edades y nombres.
¿Soy padre o hijo?
¿Eres amante o madre?
Los muertos viven de nuevo, y hablan,
O me miran fijamente.
Y ustedes, pequeños niños,
Ustedes que han muerto en la adultez
En cumplimiento de mi deseo:
¿Qué los conduce a devolver,
las pequeñas obstrucciones de suciedad ya en sus oídos?
¿Es en conmemoración de los millones de sueños
que dejaron no vividos
por escoger lo que son?

I float in my dreams among clouds of years,
Uncertain of ages and names.
Am I father or son?
Are you lover or mother?
The dead live again, and speak,
Or stare at me.
And you, little children,
You who have died into adulthood
In fulfillment of my wish:
What drives you to return,
The little clogs of dirt already in your ears?
Is it in commemoration of the million dreams
You left unlived
By choosing what you are?