Goodbye to You: Five Poems by Miguel Ángel Bustos, translated by Lucina Schell

          Die. Return to dust.
          Revive in my blood.
          (Medieval exorcism)


The spell breaks
ah. A month ago in Lima Cristina
left my heart.
A door opens among the flowers
someone comes
someone goes ah my heart goes.
It feels as though the waterless clouds of Lima
accompany me
but not you not you to the flowers
my agony, my clean overnight in Lima
at five thousand kilometers altitude
you remain.
Who knows if by heaven you are to return
as I eat with both hands
I kissed you.


Goodbye to you
realize my tongue lives
for you
it no longer knows how to talk.
Leave me Lima leave Cristina
leave like smoke
I’m cold inside bring the fire
of your voice
you know the elastic band snap
the arc of your voice.
Clearly Cristina
give me the light that never
ever says I’m leaving you.
Clearly Cristina in peace.


Hello my
don’t make bad blood
make an ocean of common blood.
You cry so well
you tell me
waaah with your mouth
to top it off you’re running out of mouth
with your back into it, it’s savage what you can
Do me a favor
seek out a simple mouth
to kiss me look at me
cover me
if you can’t hello if you can’t through your
your voice will rise.
Hello where
my love
I can’t hear your back can’t hear your voice
for the love of god make a
body of common blood.


You tucked your legs
torso all your skin into bed
but not me
so you closed your eyes I left.
From old metal bell peals
to your poor heart.
There I screamed how I screamed
through the dust you closed closed
your eyes opened.
A man is used up by the end look at my wings.


Lord Lord why have you forsaken me
if I was inhumane
but prayed every Sunday.
I tried to be an altar
seven weekly communions for me
your blood a singular gold.
Now I give myself twenty-four bell peals
and sleep like a clump of earth.
When I die
beneath the inhumane song of my
I’ll be a relic urine smell.
I’ll remain in my bones for all
      eternity. Amen.
Miguel Ángel Bustos (1932-1976) was a major poet of the Argentine Generation of 1960, an illustrator, and a literary critic. Among his five published books of poetry, Visión de los hijos del mal, with a prologue by Leopoldo Marechal, won the second Buenos Aires Municipal Prize for Poetry in 1968. Bustos became an early victim of the military dictatorship, which ushered in decades of censorship of his poetry. His collected poetry was republished in 2008, the first time it had appeared in print in more than thirty years. Bustos’s remains were identified in 2014 by forensic anthropologists.
Lucina Schell works in international rights for the University of Chicago Press and is founding editor of Reading in Translation. Her translations of Miguel Ángel Bustos appear in Lunch Ticket, The Bitter Oleander, Drunken Boat, Ezra Translation Journal, and Seven Corners Poetry, and her literary reviews appear in Ezra and Jacket2.