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PACHECO, José Emilio

The Octopus

Dark god of the deep,

fern, toadstool, hyacinth,

among stones unseen,

there in the abyss,

where at dawn, against the sun’s fire,

night falls to the sea floor and the octopus sips

a dark ink with the suckers of its tentacles.

What nocturnal beauty its splendor if sailing

in the salty half-light of the mother waters,

to it sweet and crystalline.

Yet on the beach overrun by plastic trash

this fleshy jewel of viscous vertigo

looks like a monster. And they’re

/ clubbing / the defenseless castaway to death.

Someone’s hurled a harpoon and the octopus breathes in death

through the wound, a second suffocation.

No blood flows from its lips: night gushes

and the sea mourns and the earth fades away

so very slowly while the octopus dies.

High Treason

I don’t love my country. Her abstract glory

eludes me.

But (this may sound bad) I would give my life

for ten of her places, for certain people,

ports, pine forests, fortresses,

for a ruined city, gray and monstrous,

for several of her historical figures,

for mountains

(and three or four rivers).

In Defense of Anonymity

Letter to George B. Moore:

I don't know why we write, dear George.

And at times I wonder why we publish

what we've written later.

I mean, we throw

a bottle into a sea filled

with garbage and bottles full of messages.

We'll never know

to whom the seas will deliver it, or where.

What's most likely

is that it will succumb in the storm and the abyss,

in the sand below that is death

I keep thinking

that poetry is something else:

a form of love that exists only in silence,

in a secret place between two people,

almost always between two strangers