In the Middle of the Road by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Leonard Durso

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there as a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

translated by Elizabeth Bishop

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Black Stone Lying On A White Stone by Cesar Vallejo

Leonard Durso

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris–and I don’t step aside–
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.

Cesar Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him,
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also

with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads . . .

translated by Robert Bly & John Knoepfle

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Jorge Luis Borges on fantasy writing

Leonard Durso

Interviewer: There is an element of fantasy in your work, then–which leads me to ask you about the fantastic. You use the word a great deal in your writing, and I remember that you call Green Mansions, for example, a fantastic novel.

Borges: Well, it is.

Interviewer: How would you define fantastic, then?

Borges: I wonder if you can define it. I think it’s rather an intention in a writer. I remember a very deep remark of Joseph Conrad–he is one of my favorite authors–I think it is in the foreword to something like The Dark Line, but it’s not that. . .

Interviewer: The Shadow Line?

Borges: The Shadow Line. In that foreword he said that some people have thought that the story was a fantastic story because of the captain’s ghost stopping the ship. He wrote–and that struck me because I write fantastic stories…

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dreams vs reality

Leonard Durso

there will always be
the dreams
and those ghosts
who inhabit them
playing out scenarios
of what if
almost
could be
lives reinvented
on the page
as part of
a human comedy
to keep oneself
amused
a fanciful rendition
of lives lived
somewhere else
on a border
where separate realities
converge
to clamor
for attention
in the dark

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