Oracle by Ulalume González de León – translated by John Johnson

In the Butterfly Book
      W.J. Holland
writes more or less:
“When there is no moon in the sky
When the midday sun is a dark cherry-red
When the seas are frozen and still
When the polar ice caps have advanced to the equator
When nothing remains of dead cities but dust
Then there will be
on the bare rock near the eternal snows of Panama
a tiny insect
perched on a bit of lichen 

It will move its antennae
                                         in the dim light


Poet, essayist, writer and translator, Ulalume González de León (1928 – 2009) believed that “Everything has already been said,” and thus each literary creation is a rewriting, reshuffling, and reconstructing of one great work. For this reason, she chose the title Plagios (Plagiarisms) for her book of collected poems. Her poetry and other writing earned her many awards, including the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, the Flower of Laura Poetry Prize, and the Alfonso X Prize. Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz called her “the best Mexicana poet since Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.”

John Johnson’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Boxcar Poetry Review, Clade Song, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Web Conjunctions. He is a long-time student of the Spanish language, and has studied letter-press printing with Iota Press of Sebastopol, producing chapbooks and bilingual broadsides.

Nancy J. Morales, a first-generation American of Puerto Rican parents, earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, a master’s in teaching English as a Second Language from Adelphi University, and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She has taught at Dominican University, College of Marin, Sonoma State University, and other schools, from elementary to graduate levels. Currently, she is a board member for the Northern California Chapter of the Fulbright Alumni Association and teaches Spanish to private clients.

Terry Ehret, one of the founders of Sixteen Rivers Press, has published four collections of poetry, most recently Night Sky Journey from Kelly’s Cove Press. Her literary awards include the National Poetry Series, the California Book Award, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, a nomination for the Northern California Book Reviewer’s Award, and six Pushcart Prize nominations. From 2004–2006, she served as the poet laureate of Sonoma County where she lives and teaches writing.