Five Songs by Lorca
Poems from the Spanish, by Jason Francisco

blind panorama of new york

if these are not birds
covered with ashes,
if these are not laments wailing at the windows of the wedding,
they will be delicate creatures of the air,
springing new blood in inextinguishable dimness. 
but no, these are not birds,
because birds are on the verge of being plow animals. 
these might be white rocks, with the help of the moon—
and are always wounded youth, before the judges lift the cloth.

everyone understands sorrow sprung from death,
but real grief is not present, even in spirit—
not in the air or in our life here,
in these terraces filled with smoke. 
the honest sadness that maintains a wakefulness to things
is a small burnt infinity
in the innocent eyes of other systems.

an abandoned gown weighs heavily on our shoulders,
so much that the sky gathers us into tipping flocks. 
those who die in childbirth know in the final hour
that all rumor will be stone and all trace, howl. 
as for us, we don’t know that thinking takes hold in the outskirts,
where the philosopher is devoured by mandarins and caterpillars. 
and some idiot children find the opposite in kitchens—
small swallows, on crutches,
that know the pronunciation of the word love.

no, these are not birds. 
it’s not a bird that relays the confusing, swampy fever,
or the anxiety of the assassin that oppresses us each moment,
or the metallic report of suicide that quickens us each morning. 
the place where the whole world afflicts us is a capsule of air,
a small space alive to the manic unity of light,
an indeterminate scale where clouds and roses forget
the foreign wailing that boils through docks of blood. 
many times i have lost myself
looking for that burning that sustains a wakefulness to things,
and have found only seafarers hung over the railings,
and small creatures of the sky buried under snow. 
the honest sadness was over there, in the village squares
where crystallized fish were dying under tree trunks,
in the courtyards of a sky unknown to ancient island statues—
and their tender, volcanic intimacy.

there is no sadness in the voice.  all that exists is teeth,
but teeth that will silence isolation with black satin. 
there is no sadness in the voice.  here only earth exists—
the land, with its gates of perpetuity,
giving the blush of its fruits.

death of the petenera

in the white house,
human perdition dies.

a hundred ponies twist like the nautilus.
their riders are dead.

beyond the shaking stars of the lamps,
her moire skirt trembles between her copper thighs.

a hundred ponies twist like the nautilus.
their riders are dead.

long, sharp shadows cross the turbid horizon,
and the burden of a guitar breaks.

a hundred ponies twist like the nautilus.
their riders are dead.


a dark christ
from the lily of judea
to the carnation of spain.

look where he comes from!

from spain, a clean and dark sky,
a browned earth,
and riverbeds where water runs
so slowly,
a dark christ passes
with burnt shocks of hair,
cheekbones projected
and white pupils.

look where he's going!

little ballad of the three rivers

the river guadalquivir goes between olives and oranges.
the two rivers of granada descend from the snow to the wheat.

ay, love, that left without coming!

the river guadalquivir has garnet whiskers.
the two rivers of granada, one weeping and the other blood.

ay, love, that left through the air!

for boats with sails, sevilla has a passage.
through the waters of granada, sighs row in circles.

ay, love, that left without coming!

guadalquivir, high tower and wind in the orange groves.
darro and genil, little towers dead over the ponds.

ay, love, that left through the air!

who will say that the water carries away
a will-o-the-wisp of cries!

ay, love, that left without coming!

carry orange blossom, carry olives,
carry them, andalucia, to your seas!

ay, love, that left through the air!

and after

the labyrinths
that time creates

(only desert

the heart,
fountain of desire,

(only desert

the illusion of dawn
and kisses

only desert
an undulated