The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Don Cellini: 4 Poems Published

Candidates for Sainthood and other Sinners/ Aprendices de santo y otros pecadores. 

 Don Cellini (USA)cand Fer de la Cruz (Mexico)

Published in issue 32 of The Ofi Press.

This collection of poems explores the thin line between saint and sinner.  The poet asks the reader to consider, “Who is the saint here?  Who is the sinner?”    A few well-known people appear in poems as well as a few genuine saints, but mostly the poems explore the saints and sinners and everyday folks that we meet each day on the sidewalk, at work, the mall or on TV. 

 

The author collaborated with Mexican poet Fernando de la Cruz in recasting the poems in Spanish.  With Cellini’s originals in English and in Spanish, de la Cruz created a third version.  Sometimes these are faithful translations, but often they soar off the page and take on an identity of their own.

 

The poems are lean but, with a few pen strokes, Cellini creates sketches which suggest more than he writes.  Impressions.  Moments in time.  Bits of humor.  And de la Cruz has captured these same images in exquisite Spanish originals.  The work as a whole, then, is a collaboration which will please readers of English, readers of Spanish, and bilingual readers will have a double delight.

It was chilly and I woke before/ Había abierto los ojos con frío, antes de que

 

It was chilly and

I woke before

 

the alarm clock.

One dog sensed it

 

and came to lie

on my stomach

 

so I could scratch

his head

 

behind his ears.

The other stretched

 

out full length 

and pressed

 

herself tight

against me

 

under the covers.

You snored

 

comfortably

beside me.

 

I wanted

to turn off

 

the alarm

knowing that

 

the day

couldn’t get

 

any better

than this.

 

 

Había abierto los ojos

con el frío, antes de que

 

sonara

el despertador.

 

Al percibirlo

uno de los perros

 

vino a echarse a

mi estómago

 

para que le

rascara detrás

 

de las orejas.

Por su parte, la perra

 

se estiró a todo

lo largo

 

de sí misma, y

se echó

 

junto a mí

bajo las mantas. Tú

 

roncabas de lo más

plácidamente.

 

Quise apagar la alarma

al darme cuenta

 

de que el día

no sería

 

mejor

que este momento.

When he was in his 80's/ Cuando él ya había cumplido

 

When he was

in his 80’s,

 

my father

gave me

 

an overcoat

for my

 

birthday.

What

 

a strange

present,

 

I thought.

Worn along

 

the cuffs,

missing

 

a button,

exactly like

 

his own.

When he left,

 

he took it

with him,

 

a few coins

in the pocket.
 

Cuando él ya había

cumplido

 

ochenta y

tantos,

 

mi padre

me obsequió en,

 

mi cumpleaños

un abrigo.

 

Qué regalo

tan extraño,

 

pensé,

con las empuñaduras

 

desgastadas

y un botón extraviado

 

exactamente

como el que él

 

llevaba.

Al irse, lo volvió a tomar

 

consigo,

con algunas

 

monedas

en el bolsillo.

He's singing again tonight/ Canta otra vez esta niche

 

He’s singing again

tonight

 

from his favorite

bus-stop bench.

 

To those who

pause

 

or await

a bus,

 

he invites requests

and offers –

 

gift wrapped

in brown paper –

 

a swig from

his bottle.

 

Some nights

it’s melancholy

 

songs with a

country twang,

 

others sad, broken

love songs.

 

Tonight

he sings

 

old hymns

in Latin.

 

Nights when he

doesn’t sing

 

he just wipes his nose

on his sleeve.

 
 

Canta otra vez

esta noche

 

en su asiento favorito

en la parada de autobús.

 

Tiene regalos

envueltos

 

en bolsas

de papel:

 

una probada franca

de su botella

 

o complacencias

que les ofrece

 

a los peatones

o a los que esperan con él.

 

Unas noches,

la melancolía invade

 

con esa voz chillona

de las canciones country.

 

Otras veces, canciones

románticas, entrecortadas.

 

Hoy les toca

su turno

 

a los antiguos himnos

en latín.

 

Las noches

que descansa,

 

con la manga

se limpia la nariz.

In the hush after truth/ En medio del silencio, después de la verdad

 

In the hush

after truth

 

the poet

wrote:

 

stone is older

than word

 

but younger

than fire.

 

Wrote: there are

only five

 

words for

truth:

 

silver

firefly

 

laughter

mountain

 

salt. 

Wrote: silence

 

is the perfect

poem. 
 

En medio del silencio

después de la verdad,

 

el poeta

escribió:

 

más antigua es la piedra

que la palabra

 

pero más joven

que el fuego.

 

Escribió: sólo son

cinco palabras

 

que designan

verdad:

 

plata

luciérnaga

 

risa

montaña

 

sal.

Escribió: el silencio

 

es el poema

perfecto.

About the Poets

Fernando de la Cruz Herrera (Yucatán, México, 1971) holds an MA in Spanish from Ohio University and a BA in Philosophy. As an independent editor, writer, and cultural promoter, he has participated in cultural festivals, conferences, and book fairs in Mexico, Cuba, France, and the United States. His books include Redentora la voz (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), Aliteletras. De la a a la que quiera (Dante, 2011), Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martitologio (forthcoming from Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán) and the chapbook Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies (JKPublishing, 2008). He has received two national, one regional, and one state-wide poetry awards in Mexico. His main passions are poetry (which he often finds in theatre, music, film…), language teaching made fun, and the constant discovery of the flavors, shapes, and depths of human life / [email protected]

Fer has won 1st prize in the Premio Regional de Poesia Jose Diaz Bolio, 2011, sponsored by Patronato Pro Historia Peninsular, $10,000 pesos, his second time. The first was in 2003 and 2nd place in the Premio Estatal de Literatura Infantil Elvia Rodriguez Cirerol, 2011, sponsored by Instituto de Cultura de Yucatan, $5,000 pesos.

 

Don Cellini is a poet, translator and photographer.  He is the author of Approximations/ Aproximaciones (2005) and Inkblots (2008) both collections of bilingual poems published by March Street Press.  His book of prose poems, Translate into English was released in 2010 by Mayapple Press.  He has published translations of three Mexican poets:  Elías Nandino: Selected Poems (2010 McFarland Publishers); Imagenes para una anunciación / Images for an annunciation, the work of poet Roxana Elvridge-Thomas (FootHills Press, 2012), and Desire I remember but love, no / No recuerdo el amor sino el deseo, by Sergio Téllez Pon (2013 by Floricanto Press).  He is a recipient of fellowships from the King Juan Carlos Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  He is professor emeritus at Adrian College in Michigan.  View more of his work at: www.doncellini.com .