Jesús Sepúlveda

The Animal Hungers

The animal hungers

for light and strength

He hungers

.

Killing himself while hunting

Groaning

fatally and the last

.

Hunger springs

Sleepless

.

There are beasts without burden

that dance / grow fiery

They warily drink water

.

Famine distorts

Tea or sugar or bread

or fuel

or a tender hand?

.

The animal hungers

for goodness

.

The famished grow fat

leaving scraps for neither him

nor her

who remained with her cubs

.

The animal hungers

Tramps through trenches

.

up slopes

Sets out

.

He rears up on both paws and ransacks a beehive

Spreads his wings and throws himself from a cliff

.

The animal hungers

when he moves with the flock

or sells his lungs, his eyes

his goodness, his fury

hangs from meat hooks

.

There is no slaughterer without slaughterhouses

there is a journal. a story. a bus

.

and the barrio where he who writes grew up

.

There are massacres

.

Slaughterers dressed as generals in plastic aprons

or doctors in white coats

the chemists the priests enrobed

.

Or gold buttons / stripes

or suits

Bare-chested

or sweaty

.

When the animal hungers

Everything trembles

Books crumble

The earth quakes

.

Autumn flowers bloom in the garden

In the gazebo unreal and necessary

the breeze rushes

people stroll by

.

Home is one

who smokes sitting in the patio of his house

or in a hotel

or silently waits in the corner of his

infancy

or lingers outside

until they open the door

.

Hunger squeezes through crevices

Cuts grooves

Breathes

Climbs fences

Feeds

.

But the animal doesn’t wait

grows weak or devours

He is hungry

and cold

.

He doesn’t know how to live

with pain and anguish

but tries

.

He prepares tea / bathes

or doesn’t

.

He has had enough

.

Slurps

Dips his bread

.

Sits still a moment

Jesús Sepúlveda teaches at the University of Oregon in Eugene. He is the author of eight collections of poetry and three books of essays, including his green-anarchist manifesto, The Garden of Peculiarities, and his book on Latin American poetry, Poets on the Edge.

Translated from Spanish by Bill Rankin


Fifth Estate #401, Summer 2018