The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature 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



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



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



Quise apagar la alarma

al darme cuenta


de que el día

no sería



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





a strange



I thought.

Worn along


the cuffs,



a button,

exactly like


his own.

When he left,


he took it

with him,


a few coins

in the pocket.

Cuando él ya había



ochenta y



mi padre

me obsequió en,


mi cumpleaños

un abrigo.


Qué regalo

tan extraño,



con las empuñaduras



y un botón extraviado



como el que él



Al irse, lo volvió a tomar



con algunas



en el bolsillo.

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


He’s singing again



from his favorite

bus-stop bench.


To those who



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.



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



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



stone is older

than word


but younger

than fire.


Wrote: there are

only five


words for










Wrote: silence


is the perfect


En medio del silencio

después de la verdad,


el poeta



más antigua es la piedra

que la palabra


pero más joven

que el fuego.


Escribió: sólo son

cinco palabras


que designan










Escribió: el silencio


es el poema


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 /

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: .


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