English Translations

The 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar includes three poems written entirely in Spanish—and another that switches frequently from English to Spanish. Beneath each poem here, we provide a translation.

From the Week of March 27

el amor de la noche

no puedo vivir
sin ti
no puedo vivir
sin tu amor
todo el cielo descansa
en tus brazos

el sol escucha
para tu dulce voz
la luna siente
por los palpitaciones en tu pecho
las estrellas miran con resplandor
adentro de tus ojos

también, ellos no pueden vivir ni por un momento
sin ti

y yo, no puedo vivir
sin ti
no puedo vivir
sin tu amor
no, no puedo vivir
sin la luz de tu alma
en mi corazón

John C. Mannone


The Author’s Translation:

Love of Night

I cannot live
without you
I cannot live
without your love
all of heaven rests
in your arms

the sun listens
for your sweet voice
the moon feels
for throbbings in your chest
the stars look brilliantly
into your eyes

In the same way, they cannot live, even for one moment,
without you

and I, cannot live
without you
I cannot live
without your love
No, I cannot live
without the light of your soul
in my heart

John C. Mannone

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From the Week of August 7

Note: Beneath each line that uses Spanish words and phrases—in parentheses—you will find the English translations.

La Lengua

     (The Language)
¡Ay! This language asks so much of me.
The profesora says “Don’t speak English,”
Then asks me nosy questions.
¿Cuántos años tiene? ¿Cuántas personas hay en su familia? ¿Dónde vive usted?
(How old are you? How many people are in your family? Where do you live?)

Then I learn el carro for car
And emit a sigh of relief. But then she says “el coche.”
Or maybe it’s carro in Mexico and coche in South America.
¿Quién sabe?
(Who knows?)

Sometimes I reluctantly speak; she nods her head to encourage me.
I think, yes, I know you now, I trust you.
But then she replies
As if she’s on speed.

La lengua takes off like a Mexico City cabbie,
Careening off sidewalks,
Radio blaring mariachi music.
When mixed with diesel fuel, it leaves me breathless.

I’ve wandered Spanish speaking cities, asking directions, consulting my map,
unable to distinguish derecho from a la derecha.
(straight ahead; to the right)
One time I ended up at a papelería instead of the panadería,
(stationery shop; bakery)
What’s a woman to do with a language like that?
But what can I say? I can’t stay away.
Next summer I’ll eat black beans with every meal.
“Me gusta frijoles negros, gracias,” I’ll say to our host with a smile on my face.
(I like black beans, thank you.)
Or is it me gustan?
(they are pleasing to me)

But late each night, my husband and I close the door on that foreign world
and whisper sweet nothings in our own native tongue.
Just when I thought it was safe to relax,
I long to hear “Te amo.”
(I love you.)

Joanne Holladay

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From the September Overview

El Poema de Mil Caras

Este poema se titula
marinero del golfo,
y si empiezo a recordar
se llama mano de tigre.

Cuando me siento en el suelo
pensando en los zapatos que usaba de niña
se llama abuelo de humo,
también se llama así
cuando encuentro una caja
de Raleigh en el suelo.

Este poema se llama la historia incompleta,
se llama el regreso, el regalo de la memoria.

Cuando escucho el grito de la gaviota
este poema se llama lancha azul,
se llama trapiche corta raíces.

Cuando pienso en el futuro
este poema se llama las historias invencibles,
se llama conocerme por medio de tus cuentos.

Este poema tiene mil caras
y al verlo de frente me dice,
“No hay fuego que arda más que la distancia.”

Y el recuerdo hunde su mano en mi corazón en llamas.

Rossy Evelin Lima

The Author’s Translation:

Poem of a Thousand Faces

This poem is titled
sailor of the Gulf,
and if I begin to remember
it’s called tiger hand.

When I sit on the floor
thinking of the shoes I used as a little girl
it’s called grandfather of smoke,
It’s also called this
when I find a box
of Raleigh on the floor.

This poem is called the incomplete story,
it’s called returning, the gift of memory.

When I hear the seagull cry
this poem is called blue boat,
it’s called uprooting press mill.

When I think of the future
this poem is called the invincible past,
it’s called knowing myself through your stories.

This poem has a thousand faces
and when I come across it, it tells me,
“There is no fire that burns more than distance”

And the memory sinks its hand in my burning heart.

Rossy Evelin Lima

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From the Week of November 27


para Frida Kahlo

Encarnada con labios de rosa
piel de la tierra
ojos de luna nocturna
flores en su cabello
como una reina estrella
acuamarina amarilla
emergiendo de la tierra
como una fuente de aliento,
de vida, de calor, color
arte de ojo a ojo
de ceja a ceja y después
al universo nacida y creada
entre mazorcas y el maíz,
crecida de la tierra
morena como el color de su piel

Raúl Sánchez

The Author’s Translation:


after Frida Kahlo

Incarnated with rose petal lips
earth colored skin
eyes like midnight moons
flowers on her hair
like a star queen brilliant
yellow aquamarine
emerging from earth
a fountain of hope
life, color, heat
art from eye to eye unbound
from eyebrow to eyebrow
born and created into the universe
among corn plants, husks
grown from the ground, our earth
brown as the color of her skin

Raúl Sánchez

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