I’m a dark citizen
abandoned in the middle of the streets
by the knife without bread at noon,
homeless and withering away
like the steeple clocks,
with no other job except to wander among disguises.
I’m the relative in decline,
rooted in the taverns
and the complicity of thieves.
My voice shipwrecks on store windows.
and I’ve lost my sight in the newspapers.
But I have my feet firmly planted on the earth
and a pillow that flies through the hospitals
and rooms in the dark home that belongs to no one.
I’ve got a nice cell in the police stations
and I’m used to dancing in secret beneath the night
with my white shirt
and my tie stripped of its leaves.
I’m a dark citizen
misplaced by the world:
I pick up cigarette butts
and sing in the streetcars,
and I comb back my hair, valiantly,
to show my noble anonymous forehead
in the public bathrooms and circuses where I live.
I’m a dark citizen; I’m no one;
nothing distinguishes me from some other citizen;
I have grandmothers and relatives who’ve gone away
and a wide back digging
under the friendly walls of the beer halls.
I’m a wave among all the waves,
a wave that rises
at six in the morning because it can no longer
smell the dust in its house,
a wave, lifting itself, filled with joy,
toward the beaches
for an endless return to the center of things
where all the waves
push each other-
sterile and alone.
Because I am not worthy of my semen,
Lord, I’m nothing;
I’m in the middle of the streets
spinning like an organ grinder
with my worn, immovable shirt,
watching the tips of my shoes
in case someone wants to give me
a coin I don’t want,
even though no one has seen me go by
this afternoon or ever,
because I’m never anyone,
not even a dark citizen
brought back to life by hunger.
My voice has died in the store windows,
and my mouth is filled with surf, I’m drunk,
because I’m a wave among all the waves,
who comes to die on this sand of misery,
decently, with a flannel suit
and a blind tie
like the good man I was.
I was once a dark citizen,
Lord, don’t tell anyone,
and unemployed, that’s right!
So, this is where life ends up,
but remember after all:
I never asked for anything
because I had a white shirt.
In memory of Armando Rubio, who died in chile in 1980, at age 24. –Raymundo Rubio
Translation by Steven F. White, from Poets of Chile (1986), by permission of R. Rubio.