Agustín Lucas, translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Agustin-Lucas author photo
From Jesse Lee Kercheval’s upcoming anthology of Uruguayan poets under 40 comes “El diez” / “Number Ten” by Agustín Lucas, an Uruguayan poet and the author of two books,
No todos los dedos son prensiles and Club. He is also a professional soccer player, formerly the captain of the Miramar Misiones, the Uruguayan Second Division team that won the South American Championships, and at this moment with the aptly named Argentinian team Comunicaciones. Other translations of his poems by Jesse Lee Kercheval have appeared in Diagram.

Agustín Lucas

El diez

                                                    Para Juan, el otro Morrón

Entre una y dos siempre elijo dos
y al fin termino cantando flor.
Contra, y me entrego
a mi sosiego, madrugador.

Me planto en juegos que ya jugué
en viejos trucos pal desamor.
Me subo a buses que andan de par
en par de voces del pormenor.
No entiendo como llegué a pisar
las horas bajas de un culebrón.
En fin perdí, llaves, tripas, corazón,
y en esa transa perdí también
mi encendedor.

Por eso ahora vuelvo a escuchar,
pedir la lumbre en un bulín
cansado de mil horas de trajín
un whisky malo puede activar
las ganas muertas de éste arlequín.

No creo en vos caja de cigarros
que me escuchaste hablar de par en par,
no creo en vos whisky barato, tuviste culpa también, ¡andá!

No importa de qué color sea el traje.
Estar ajado está de moda.

Pero repito no estás tan sola.
Tenés el gato.
Y yo,
yo tengo,
yo tengo

. . .


Number Ten
translated from the Spanish into English by Jesse Lee Kercheval

                                                       for Juan

Between one and two, in love and cards,
I always choose two
and in the end I end up cantando flor.
The other player calls contra, and I surrender
to my serenity, always the early riser.

I don’t want to play games I already played
old tricks that led to heartbreak.
I get on buses that run two
by two to the voices of minute detail.
I don’t know how I came to tread
the soap opera of the early morning hours.
In the end I lost, keys, guts, heart,
and in that last transaction I lost
my lighter too.

So now I go back to listening,
asking for a light in a brothel,
tired of thousand hours of coming and going,
a bad whisky might activate
the dead desires in this harlequin.

I don’t believe in you, cigar box,
who heard me talking on and on,
I don’t believe in you, cheap whisky, you were guilty too.
Get lost!

It doesn’t matter what color the suit is
to be wrinkled is in fashion.

But I repeat, you are not so alone.
You have the cat.
And I,
I have,
I have

. . .

 Many thanks for this feature to Jackie K. White, our new Translations Editor!

Jesse Lee Kercheval author photoTranslator Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of 13 books of poetry, fiction and memoir, including the poetry collection Cinema Muto (SIU Press, 2009) and the novel My Life as a Silent Movie (Indiana University Press, 2013). Her translations of the Uruguayan poet Circe Maia have appeared in the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Agni, the Colorado Review, the Gettysburg Review, Jubilat, Pleiades, the Cincinnati Review, and the Mississippi Review. She is also the editor of América invertida: an anthology of younger Uruguayan poets which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. She is currently the Zona Gale Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin.

Jesse Lee Kercheval’s Website

Agustín Lucas, translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval, at Diagram

Agustín Lucas at Uruguayan Football Academy

With thanks to Translation editor, Jackie K. White

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