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Translations by Sesshu Foster

by Roque Dalton

What happened was that my nose was broken,
that chump Pizano got me with a brick
because I would say obviously there'd been a penalty
and he would say no there aint no there aint no there aint
never in my life will I turn my back on a
soccer-crazy chump
Father Achaerandio just about died of fright
since at the end there was more blood around
than on an Aztec altar
And later what happened was that Quique Soler got me
in the right eye
with the most perfectly thrown rock that can be imagined
of course we were trying to reenact the taking of Okinawa
but for me it resulted in a rupture of the retina
a month of absolute immobilization (at age eleven!)
a visit to Doctor Quevedo in Guatemala and Doctor
Bidford who wore a red-headed wig
and that's why sometimes I squint
and come out of the movies looking like a disheveled
drug addict
and then there was the bottle of rum
Maria Elena's husband planted upside my head
when in reality I had only the purest intentions
but each marriage is it's own world
and realizing that he believed that I was an
Argentine diplomat
we have to give thanks to God
the other time was in Prague where you never would
have thought
I'd be beaten up by four delinquents in a dark alley
two blocks from the Ministry of Defense
four blocks from Police Headquarters
on the eve of the convening of the Party Congress
because of which someone said it had been an act
against the Congress
(in the hospital I found myself alongside two other
who had arrived each after their respective assaults
more cranky than ever)
another thought it was a plot by the C.I.A. to get back
at me
for having escaped from death row
others believed it to be yet another act of anti-latin
american racism
and some just the universal temptation of robbery
before going to protest to the Ministry of the Interior
in the name of the Soviet Party
Comrade Sobelev came to ask me
if perhaps I hadn't pinched the ass of an escorted woman
but finally not a single clue turned up
and we have to give thanks to God once again
for me carrying on as the victim to the very end
in an investigation in Kafka-land
in every case of which (and for me is the main interest
the results were
double fracture of the lower maxilla
severe cerebral concussion
a month and a half in the hospital
and two months more devouring liquefied steak
and then there was that last time in Cuba
going down a hillside in the rain
with an M-52 pipe in my hands
during which a bull came from I don't know where
tangling my calves in the underbrush I began to fall
that big mother of a bull played with me for some time
but wouldn't come back to finish me off
but that wouldn't be necessary in any case because
as I would later have to say I fell on top of the pipe
as if I didn't know how to do anything else than
bounce back
like a revolution in Africa
breaking my zygomatic arch in three pieces
(very important for the esthetic resolution
of your cheekbones)

Which explains in part at least something of my problem.

translated from the Spanish by Sesshu Foster

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