Kiran Bhat

Vok’el, Unen Tseb, Chal Tijmembele, Lioyote, Ts’unel, Vilan: Candelaria Alvarez, translated by Kiran Bhat


Sk’uxul vok’el
schik’ ti jbek’tale
manchuk, oy snichimal ti jkuxlejale.
Xu’ chi ok’
xu’ chi avan
xu’ chi cham ta sk’uxul.
Ja’ sjob sakil osil
ja’ xch’ulel ak’ubal
jchabiel amtelkutik
te k’usi snichimaj ta vayele,
te buch’u ch ayan ta k’anel bail.


The pain of childbirth
burns my belly
and nonetheless
there’s peace in my soul.

I could cry,
I could shout,
I could scream in pain.

It’s the semblance of a day’s clearness.
It’s the illusive spirit of a darkened night.
And yet we as women remain guardians,
of the flowered dreams
born out of love.



Kunen tseb mu xa ok’ tajinan ta nak’el bail ¡nak’ aba!
Ti ta anil cha staelot.
Kunen tseb, anilajan ta pamal osile
ti ba beintes axanobal
chakux avo’onton ta juju p’ej nichim, ti anak’ubile jujun yanal.
¡Ta anil kunen tseb! Liketajan
xu’ me chabat
li’ me laj ti tajimole.


Don’t cry, my girl
we’re playing hide-and-seek
go hide yourself!
I’ll find you soon.

Go run in the fields, my girl
it’s where your path will come from,
as each of the petals of the flowers holds a piece of your heart
and in each one is your hiding spot.

Quickly, my girl!
the game has finished.


Chal ti jmembele ti yik’ vaje toj smuil xlok’ ta jtojoltik.
Skoj ti k’obale oy sk’anel ta spasel ti ixime ja’ jchi’invanej yu’un.

Chal ti ta sleb k’ok’e xp’ileltik jk’aneltik,
te ta p’ine xlok’ slekil job k’anel bail,
yu’un x’ik’vanik batel ta chotlej ta muk’ta mexa.

Ti jmembele oy yich’el ta muk’
yu’un ch’ul ixime xchi’uk muiltesbil ta jme’tik balamil.

Ti jmembele stam sve’el ta snak’obal sch’ulel.


My grandmother says the smell of my tortillas is exquisite
It’s as if it came out from our people’s hard work.
It’s because your hands descend from the maize.
You don’t need to learn it.
The recipe was born inside of you.

When you make the tortilla,
they say from the flames under the pyre sprout the histories of your ancestors,
and in the clay pot evaporates all love,
it’s part of the invitation of the ancestors to their grand table.

My grandmother, blessed by the sacred maize,
is illuminated by the earth’s flavour,
and is nourished by its cosmic secrets.



Ta slajel jvayeche
bein yalel ti jsate
xk’ak’ ti sk’uxul li ko’ontone.
O’ote ¿bo’oyot o?.

Xlamet ti sna’el sk’ak’al ak’obe
ti yik’ roxox xlok’ ta abek’tale
jk’anoj ono’ox slekil yets’al ak’ope.

Manchuk ja’ no’ox jk’anoj ti li oyote.



I had my last dream
and my face was falling apart
my heart was burning painfully.
And you, where were you?

I remember the warmth of your hands,
the smell of the roses on your skin
and I yearned the sweet sound of your voice.

I wanted you.
Nothing more.


Ants jok’o k’al ta yut
cha ts’un slekil vayech,
ta atojol apetoj avalamtak.

Chamak’lin smuk’ul ch’ul o’ontonal
ta kuxlejal xlok’ jset’ atalelal
yu’un ti mu’yuk alajel.


Woman who is unearthing yourself,
sowing fertile dreams,
gathering your offspring in your bosom.

It’s in your breasts you nourish the heart’s greatness,
split yourself into many parts,
and make yourself eternal.



Vilan jpepen
mu xa komes aba
ta yan vaech ti jk’el jbatik
ta yak’el ya’lel jsatik
ti k’usi xch’ies ts’unubiletik ta sba banamile.

Te avok’ele ja’uk sk’anel snichimal k’anel bail.
Xchi’uk ta jujun avilel xa vak’yalel slekilal ach’ulel.

Jme’tik pepen, vilan, vilan batel ta nichimal osil vinajel.


My butterfly is flying
don’t stay here
we’ll find each other in another dream
so that we can shed more tears
the same ones which allow the seeds of the earth to bloom.

Our laments are a plea to our love.
Each time you fly,
you spill a bit of the smile of your soul.

Jme’tik pepen, fly towards the horizon,
fly towards our florid future.

Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American author, traveler, and polyglot. He currently lives in Mumbai, but he has been to 141 countries, lived in 25 other places on the planet, and dabbles in twelve languages. He is known as the author of we of the forsaken world…, but has published books in five different languages, and has had his writing published in journals such as The Caravan, The Bengaluru Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Brooklyn Rail, 3:AM Magazine, SOFTBLOW, and many other places. You can follow him on Twitter at WeltgeistKiran.