Today’s Poem

Nobility

Álvaro Lasso
Translated from the Spanish by Kelsi Vanada

When it comes to decapitations I just have to say one thing:it’s tough to learn to perfect a smile for the executioner.The executioner’s nobility, like a beauty pageant, has beenforged by long tradition.Also present is the public, they haven’t paid admission,they’ve endorsed justice without understanding it. Theylisten to the leader’s voice without any sign of approvalwhatsoever, just waiting to find out what a body withno head is like.But the show lasts only seconds. They know this: thinkabout second chances, about past lives, parallel worlds,the beyond, and meanwhile, all the great ideologies can fitinto a refrigerator.That’s why a poem isn’t a poem if it doesn’t know how tosuspend death. That’s why the axe never makes it to theneck, but it’s there, at the point of dismembering it. 

Títulos nobiliarios

Sobre las decapitaciones solo tengo que decir una cosa: es difícilaprender a tener la sonrisa perfecta para el verdugo. La nobleza delverdugo que toda la tradición forja como un certamen de belleza.También está el público que no ha pagado entrada, que se hasumado a la justicia sin comprenderla. Escucha la voz del líder singestos aprobatorios, sólo esperando saber cómo es un cuerpo sincabeza.Pero el show dura segundos. Lo saben: piensa en la  segundaoportunidad, en las vidas pasadas, en los mundos paralelos en elmás allá, mientras las grandes ideologías caben una refrigeradora.Por eso un poema no es un poema si no sabe congelar la muerte.Por eso el hacha nunca llega a su cuello, pero está ahí, a punto dedesmembrarlo.

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Álvaro Lasso was born in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in 1982. At ten months old, he was relocated to Peru; he studied Hispanic Literature at Peru’s Pontificia Universidad Católica. He founded the poetry festival Novissima verba, the poetry magazine Odumodneurtse!, and the Libromóvil project. He is founder and editor of Estruendomudo, one of the most important independent publishing companies in Latin America since 2004. Lasso has published Dos niñas de Egon Schiele (Egon Schiele’s Girls), The Astrud Gilberto Album, and Izquierda Unida (United Left), republished in Spain by La Bella Varsovia in 2016. He lives in Santiago, Chile.

Kelsi Vanada’s translation of The Eligible Age by Berta García Faet was published in 2018 by Song Bridge Press. She writes poems and translates from Spanish and Swedish, and has recent and forthcoming work in The Iowa Review, The Bennington Review, The Literary Review, and Anomaly. She holds MFAs in Poetry (Iowa Writers’ Workshop) and Literary Translation (The University of Iowa). Kelsi is the Program Manager of the American Literary Translators Association.

31.2 Summer/Fall 2019

Houston, Texas

University of Houston

Editor
Justin Jannise

Managing Editor
Paige Quiñones

Poetry Editors
Josh English
Devereux Fortuna
Nicholas Rattner

Begun by Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate, Gulf Coast is the nationally-distributed journal housed within the University of Houston’s English Department.

Gulf Coast is still student-run. We seek to promote and publish quality literature in our local and national communities while simultaneously teaching excellence in literary publishing to graduate and undergraduate students. While we are committed to providing a balanced combination of literary approaches and voices, all of the editorial positions are two-year terms, thus ensuring a regular turnover in the specific personality and style of the journal.

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