Renato Sandoval

Poems, Renato Sandoval: Translated by Roxana Peramás


in the word I have
no age, no more nor less,
neither skin nor open bone,
no folds or wrinkles,
no height or smallness,
no depth or surface,
nothing of vastness
or narrowness, even less
a wound or marrow
that resent the firmament.
I am just a glimpse, a gasp,
a breath, hardly a hint
about what will never
be said nor thought.


Music hears me, wrinkles me,
strips me, only creaks
and a lean tremor exudes
from my teeth. That
mutilated flute, the mermaid
of the hours announcing
what is unknown or no longer
understood, steamed termites
and the lifted note in the window.
One word, all words, some, none,
nothing of me hears the music
when I still breathe.

FOR SU TUNG PO (1036-1101)

Wine spilled on the harvests
and blackbirds in gatherings celebrate
the return of the winds. A scale of absinthe
sleeps at the foot of the slope and night
comes and widens its measures. Who wanders
among the pines and disturbs the peace
of the ferns. A hare peeks among
bushes and in a nest a diamond
is broached. It is autumn and finally
the horizon appears.

FOR PO CHU (772-846)

I ascend the mountain of dream
and the sweat of its stones stifles me.
The square still asleep on the hillside
is the night after night vertigo
repudiating the dawn.
A mockingbird deals perjuries,
a voice of shadows
crowns my temples.

FOR WANG WEI (701-761)

The sun burns mercilessly
but the wind is autumn breeze
on the shore of boredom. Only
streets widen the scream
in perfect insomnia. Windows
enclose a desire that bit by bit
sneaks through the slots of the
scraggy doors. Nothing disturbs
the nap of fools in this barren
and business day, hardly
the bank man smacks
its rheum or the dew
that still persists
in the geraniums.


Tea is amazed at who drinks it,
its distant taste slips in two anxieties,
there is no lip that raises it among
the ferns nor peony so dull or submissive.
The sun is a wicked dream in haven.


What face did you have before birth?
Did you then look at mine squatted
in your eyes? Was it night traffic
entering into snowy and uneven forests?
A glade in the middle of the crossroads
of subways and trams? The question
hung on the scaffold of night?
Was it you?


Absolute compassion
on the other side of the summer;
a forehead of blood
illuminates the path
that today oozes into
the sea. Not to fear,
not to laugh, not
to silence the constant
name that collapses now,
to pick up with
the erudite eyelid
the stealth of the hour,
the uncompleted fall
of who stings so much,
not to quarrel, not to graze,
not to sanctify the father
nor lie, never in the glory,
not to be silent, not to see,
no longer be here, no.


I look at the door
I knock the door
I scratch the door
I open the door
I push the door
I half-close the door
I cross the door
I close the door
I close down the door
I kick the door
I force the door
I step on the door
I destroy the door
I burn the door
But there is no door
There is no door
There is no door


Here I wait for health,
tall, beardless, strong,
yet worthy and prompt,
in sunshine, in paleness,
hourly, no minute
or second that hurries me,
just a tic, a slight gesture,
a brief call, an attention
whistle, a careless hiccup
or a help murmur under
horns and airplanes
frolicking among trees.
I am an excuse to any delay,
a look at the clock from time
to time, although health delays
its arrival in this corner
where anguish, a dull
breath, a head cut down
from so much waiting,
intersect and crush.

Waiting Room

You get up and look around
You wait for the phone to ring
But you only find yourself with
the succession of echoes
left by each word
At other times feeling yourself
the last to be named
you end up waiting
seated in the middle of the room
And thus crossed by that light–
You imagine a dream
and the worst you could do
is realize it
because without more
we spend our existence desiring.
We are creatures of hope
Space would break up
without interminable hope.

Renato Sandoval Bacigalupo (Lima, 1957), studied Hispanic Literatures and Linguistics (Master of Arts) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and completed his doctoral studies in Romanic Philology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has published in poetry: Singladuras, Pértigas, Luces de talud, Nostos, El revés y la fuga (Failure and Runaway), Suzuki Blues -the last three gathering in Trípode (Tripod), Prooémiun Mortis, Atajos a la nada (Shortcuts to Nothing, 2017) and Odiario (Diary of Hatred). His poems have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Danish, Portuguese and Finnish. As an essayist, he published El centinela de fuego (The fire sentinel), a book dedicated to the symbolist poet José María Eguren, and Ptyx: Eielson en el caracol (Ptyx: the poet Eielson on the Snail). He has translated, among others, Pavese, Quasimodo, Tabucchi, Arnaut Daniel, Tieck, Rilke, Kafka, Södergran, Ågren, Haavikko, Saarikoski, Dinesen, Boberg, Drummond de Andrade, Lêdo Ivo, Paulo Leminski, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Sylvia Plath, a couple of theatrical plays in French by César Vallejo and an anthology of short-stories from Quebec entitled La mano de Dios (The Hand of God). He runs the Nido de Cuervos (Crows’ Nest) Publishing House and Evohé and Fórnix, international literary magazines. At the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, he lectures on Nordic Literatures, as well as Hispanic, French and German Medieval and Contemporary Literature. Yet in Peru, he also teaches English, Spanish, French, German and Italian at the Faculty of Humanities and Modern Languages ​​of Ricardo Palma University. He has been director of the International Poetry Festival in Lima (FIPLIMA) and director of the Editorial Fund of the Ministry of Culture of Peru. In 1988 he obtained the first prize of “El cuento de las mil palabras” (The 1000-Word Short Story Prize) of the weekly Caretas, in 2016 won Copé Bronze National Prize for Poetry, and in 2019 was granted with the National Literature Prize with Special Mention in Poetry.