A gentle snake
Indulgent, she was so gentle
to show me her long back,
the deep beauty of her igneous scales
still summer burning under the April cold.
I was lost under my own spirals
that surrounded the frozen and ingenuous land,
like all our other silly problems
thought at least to cover the surface
of all that is handed out by that conforms
the political division of all creation.
She, an indifferent gem in front of my stupid problems,
yelled at me and whispered: I am the Alpha and Omega and also
this simple snake and all that I am as a matter of fact:
I felt understood at the simple gesture of her undulating tongue.
Between both fields the absolute curve of her favorite
sign was placed,
the avid interrogation that seemed to be, really was:
her thin body traced a mute question,
and all that surrounded me consisted of the question in itself
that the sign of the snake closed before
the all knowing God.
John Christopher’s skunk
He was just a kid, when his path crossed mine
and he kept stubbornly as a prisoner
-always tied up with a dog belt-
that beautiful black and white animal
that he naturally called with a ridiculous name
and he smiled and said that his father
(an indecent veterinary)
had taken out “the poisonous glands”.
John Christopher’s skunk,
that amputated beast
at his prisoner’s suit
was biting all gardens’ rose
as if he envied their perfume
and smelt everything he found
perhaps looking for his own
definitive odor that he lost for ever.
He was hated by everyone
because his sharp claws destroyed the flowerbeds
and turned upside down the bricks that had been put there on purpose
to walk on them to cross the earth streets
when the rain flooded the paths of the village.
That alone and the bad press of being a skunk
are enough for calling the hate of the crowds.
We all have once been John Christopher’ skunk,
a motionless hairy ball deprived of all weapons.
A farmer shot him one afternoon
when his God, the kid
was sleeping: we woke up in a dream
where the little animal did not exist anymore
and he saw me and cried,
not for the helpless animal,
but for all that his childhood had lost.
Offspring of another stronger animal
than a helpless skunk
he blamed him without knowing
that he had hurt him
upside down near a fence
that was crowding with flees
a final evil is walking among things.
Little brothers of the brawny lions
and old predators of our species,
the second ones of the elastic race
are not done of spots,
but of the plain yellow
where they hide and conceal their certain identity:
it is, that they take advantage of the best
tints of the shades:
is any other animal best hidden than a yellow one
under the rain of spots that he pretends? A leopard
is a beast that always is under the rain.
During the plain noon
that have been left to him by habit
the extent room of the jungles.
If we see them bicolor it is simply
another demonstration of their slyness,
appearances are always
the corporeal trick of all small ones.
Neither the arrogance of the tiger that does not need
our short imagination to be entirely
in this word, tiger;
nor the firm and lazy architecture
that stands up before us, showing
the hairy majesty of the sheet;
the leopards that emigrated to the top of the trees
are ethereal and fatal shadows,
the flight that splashed with yellow color
with a duly founded whim the rainforests.
They are the minimum possible for the language of the death
at their lineage of muscles:
the come closer than the tiger
because they are not the felt one, they are a danger that does not weight,
the silence, the surprise of a leap that chooses before,
a plush strategy that slides
lethal and gentle, metaphor and flesh of the time
through the slim corridors that communicate
(and this has always been silent)
the calm world with the happy nothing.
An upsetting sound, that is filtered by the walls
It is like a purring, it does not reach a humming,
because this precaution is dictated by an antique rule,
that nevertheless says that the human enemy
will lose the battle due to that discovery:
behind the walls millions of invisible ants
cross infinite maps against infinite transversal maps.
They are in each alteration around us:
our imprudent prudence serve us
as an ignorant wisdom: when it moves
without moving it is a neglect of its general grave things.
And under the beneath there is more:
we never understood its parallel world,
that together to ours has prospered
with advantage and tapestry of life
the several deep layers of the Earth.
The ants have their Historians
and their poets, that sing the hereinbefore
called victory by some far away prophets,
prior to us and to the plants with flowers.
In your world the time has a scale
where we just are another animal
that the anthills see come into the world and die.
And underneath, always under the surface of the Earth,
rivers of real continents, not the superficial quarters
that we barely see crossing the garden,
that claim new Republic and new innovation,
incapable of being imagined and that barely are the possible
to catch a glimpse in a sphere that the human mind
stupidly sure of itself
watches absent minded in its frontiers and believes he dominates.
And in a different scale from that we call conscience,
making fun of this week animal
that slips away through my hand
serves in its way to the power of an empire
that according to our ignorance, all its life does not know.
Sparrows from all parts
And in what part these little boasting,
pompous and heavy little birds
in their tiny continent,
peck from the streets the remains
of a time that does not go away
not only but also due to them?
Is there not in the space that they occupy
one aura that some see
where other buildings and even
other landscapes of fields and woods
of Europe and Asia come to occupy
-invading the minute-
this American safety
that everything is in its time and its place
when it would not be by the upsetting sparrows
that invade with other scenes the scene?
Subtle power of birds
that weight twenty grams
and nevertheless sink underneath
the length and the width of this time.
Is he not in that Paris
that wanted to execute Villon
for plundering a church
and that saw him like I am seeing him now,
jumping quickly and not flying,
from the ground up to a balcony
and from this to a tree planted in this world?
This other does not make any shadow in Iran,
on a yard surrounded by lions,
and he is not a king that runs behind the silks and the golds
that cloud the splendor of its pace,
only for contemplating its grace
exclusively alert for the crumbles of a bread
baked nearby the Euphrates?
The closest one to me
does not look at me, but fears
the presence of a child
that points out at him with his sling,
while from outside the Alhambra
he come to both the muezzin of the afternoon.
What do those birds say
of anything that persists and does not go,
what uses them for asseverating
their continuous miracle and at the same time,
only of questions it is done
and with questions returns
and in one sole question
is contained and expanded?
Little birds that always are returning
and flying from the one to eternity,
merely with your same ignorance,
living, hopefully we also are signs
of that you are
the senses, the shapes and that rotund,
formidable, architectonic continuity.
Luis Benítez was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1956). Member of the Latin-American Academy of Poetry, the International Society of Writers, the Argentinean Society of Writers and the Argentinean Foundation for the Poetry. He has received the tittle of Compagnon de la Poésie, from La Porte des Poétes Association, France. His 9 books of poetry, 2 essays and 2 novels were published in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela. Between another local and international awards, he has received: La Porte des Poétes International Award (Paris, 1991); Biennial Award of the Argentinean Poetry (Buenos Aires, 1991); Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Foundation Award of Poetry (Buenos Aires, 1996); International Award of Fiction (Uruguay, 1996); Primo Premio Tusculorum di Poesia (Italy, 1996) and 10me. Concours International de Poésie, accesit (Paris, 2003).
Poetry books by Benitez:
Poems from the Earth and the Memory (Buenos Aires, 1980)
Mythologies/The Ballad of the Lost Woman (Buenos Aires, 1983)
Behering and Other Poems (1rst edition, Buenos Aires, 1985; 2nd edition Mexico DF, 1995)
Wars, Epitaphs and Conversations (Buenos Aires, 1989)
Fractal (Buenos Aires, 1991)
The Past and the Eves (Venezuela, 1995)
Selected Poems (USA, 1996)
The Mare of the Night (Chile, 2001)
The Venenero and Other Poems (Buenos Aires, 2005)
The Elephant´s Afternoon and Other Poems (Venezuela, 2006)