Isabel Fraire, Mexico: The Housing Complex, Complejo habitational!

A moment Captured by a Japanese Painter of the Eighteenth Century Seen in a Moment of the Twentieth Century in a London Gallery.

a plump black
not very attractive
head feathers bristling
from cold
or wind
forcefully clings to
a nearly vertical branch

his posture tells us
that the branch
is being stirred by the wind

the bird
with small black eyes
like seeds
or buttons
at something
outside the scene
we cannot see


the minute the sun comes out
.      everything is beside the point
.                 it is enough
.                               to open your eyes
.                             to stretch your limbs
.                                     like a cat


Housing complex

morning rises slowly like a mist climbing
.                 and spreading through the air

a child crosses             squares of green grass
.           running            jumping          running
.                  carrying
.                          a shopping bag in its hand

the apartment buildings
.                           present flat rectangular            surfaces

.           the windows are equipped with fray steel shutters
.           that close   or open
.                               like lids
.                                                    each room a box

the garden           of smooth green grass              like a new carpet
.           is framed by regular rows of identical trees
.                        that cast an oblong shadow
.                                     like a wall

no one speaks to each other here                  a neighbour tells me
.           breaking the rule
.                                  after a year
at predetermined hours
.                                    two or threw old men and a child
.                                        take their respective dogs out for a walk
.                          one of them is in the habit of
.                                                        letting the dog run loose
.                          the others stop
.                                each time
.                                                        the dog stops

usually silence prevails
.                                 broken only by the noise of traffic
.                   that swells
.                                 at the hours when offices open or close

but occasionally
.     through paper-thin walls     one overhears
.               a bitter violent               discussion
.                                                full of resentment
.                                or a ruined life
.             melodramatic panting
.                                          background music
.                               from the television set
a block away
.            large bulldozers
.            busily demolish a small grove
in order to erect a mass of buildings
.            exactly like this one



If you want an easy, fun, interesting, cool book of poetry and you don’t normally read much, this is your book. Together with the Anthology of African American Verse. It’s like reading short Facebook updates.

Thomas Hoeksema translator

The Oxford Book of Latin American poetry, a bilingual anthology, ed. Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon-Grosman.

NEW at independent bookstore:


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