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Three Poems By Sergio Badilla Castillo

19 September 2018
Author :  

Sergio Badilla Castillo born in Valparaíso, Chile in 1947 is a Chilean poet founder of poetic transrealism in contemporary poetry. He spent a long period of his young life in exile during twenty years, mostly in the Nordic countries.

His publications comprise: Lower than my branch (1980), The abode of the Sign (1982), Cantonirico (1983), Reverbs of Aquatic Stones (1985) Terrenalis (1989) Nordic Saga (1996), The Fearful Gaze of the Bastard (2003), Transreal Poems and Some Gospels (2005), Transreal City l (2009), Ok Atacama (2010). The library at Ephesus (2011) Transtierra (2012), and two anthologies: The Year of the Reptile. /2016) and Arctic Wolves (2018)

Badilla Castillo resides in Santiago de Chile where he continues his writings. His work has appeared in English translations in three different publications, La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head (2012) and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows (2013), and The Library at Ephesus.(2015).



Heterogeneous man


I was an angel quarantined in the land of my fathers

a heterogeneous man incapable of miracles

painstaking at times under the stars

                                       totally unexpected in the dark.

I just caught sight of God going down the river by boat

as He conversed in Aramaic with some Syrian fighters

while two astronauts landed a Christmas rocket on the moon

and in the marketplace three mujahedin showed off

with their machine guns.

It was the fire that tore at the dermis of my face

and branded the atmosphere with alarming ferocity.

Here a volcano might settle or a wretched slave

trailing the cataclysm’s track.

I tried to set up a temple to Ishtar among the rocks

in the Atacama Desert:

It was the mischief of idle men on summer afternoons

with that earthly animal memory.

I was an angel quarantined in the land of my fathers

a heterogeneous man incapable of miracles.

Without a moment’s thought I became a hermit

a madman who imagines his homage credible

in mountain solitude.

Without a doubt – frenzy precipitates the stone’s blow –

in a den crammed with mythomaniacs.

Life sticks to the letter despite utopia

as stones glitter with a death wish.

The wounded are endowed with imaginary flight

to escape the nightmare unscathed.

The cosmos is curvature and perpetual expansion

and hence the North Star transits my galaxy.

I have Ahab’s obsession with the whale

and the hurried gait of Sasquatch in the Arctic tundra.

Here a maze might spring up or a jubilant love

in search of the path of a subtle inconsistency.

I was an angel quarantined in the land of my fathers

a heterogeneous man incapable of miracles.





That darkness caught us

                            in the forest

as it spread the night’s untimely filth 

and shadows suddenly broke loose

as if death had emerged in the branches.


What in the end will be left of me in this thicket of black tricks

when vain Sergio’s bright awareness clouds over

and I’m robbed of the legitimacy of appearances.                       

Between the integrity of the senses and my sense of self

lies an enormous uncertainty

an impenetrable blindness.


What in the end will be left of me

as your womb expands with my beautiful son?

The years leave scars you can feel in the ambiguous

coherence of the body

but right there inside the labyrinth there’s no validity

of any worth

              because in that darkness there is no room for bravery

                       just an impenetrable barrier blocking our way.


Suddenly darkness trapped us in the thicket

as night infected us with blackness

as if death had emerged in the branches.



Night of escape


They’ll never know what happened on that night of escape

into the darkness that caressed your body

when the road in the window stretched until

it touched the sky.

There was no route to take that didn’t break off

in a shortcut to the zigzag of the universe. Thrushes

with their enormous feet left footprints in the fleeting snow

and catfish embedded themselves in the rocks of the quagmire.

They’ll never know what might have happened

on that night of escape at the inn crawling with insects

when the fire dropped its dark smuts

on the secret of your breasts.


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