Poems in English

Gonzalo Márquez. Fotografía de Carlos Duque

English translation: Nicolás Suescún

A poet, fiction writer, essayist and publisher, Márquez Cristo has published four poetry collections, a novel and a book of short stories. In 1989 he participated in the founding of the well-known literary review, Común presencia. He is a director of the literary imprint Los conjurados and the weekly webzine Letra viva. His poems have been translated into several languages and included in 21 anthologies. He has received several awards, and his work has been reviewed by, among others, E.M. Cioran, Roberto Juarroz, Antonia Gamoneda, Roger Munier, Claude Michel Cluny and Antonio Ramos Rosa.


You believe so much in the thirst: in life . . . In the invisible. You sleep facing the east. You purify yourself in danger. In books you denounce time as if it were a stuffed verb.

In the wood an oak follows you. Light names you. When you choose the course of pain someone gives you a sip of water.

You wish: you always expect to be mistaken. You assume the tyranny of the eye called voyage and sometimes you attain the cure of the cold you feel with a face.

You know of a paradise that will never be memory.

You attend a masquerade of survival even though a far-away and voracious equator attracts your flight. Thus you achieve persistence.

Your words fall like handfuls of earth on a naked body.

Here the instant begins. Who claims? Who answers in the blood? Who discovers his or her incandescent shadow?

Let the cry always stop the wound!

Let the language be enough not to die!


Night freed your eyes. The young woman with the shaved head threw the snails and read the dream of the solitaries.

To an adolescent girl the fear of love was revealed . . . A stranger drank a face. We saw the man of the shared wife.

Delirium was the vengeance of the defeated.

I imagined a desire that was a nocturnal sea and I found my birth. Ardour rocked me. We were grateful to the wound.

I attempted the undecipherable. I felt the writing of the waves and I knew that in your body darkness stopped . . .

Inside you I feasted what was lost. I renewed my death and at the same time I felt I was leaving.

I escaped. My rapture stretched out my desolation. The vertigo hid ardour from me but did not abolish the deserts.

The body also was words.

We resisted the decline of the ritual and the beauty of he who never forgets to leave.

They told us the only meeting-place was death.

We sought the liberation of the origin.

I feel that the earth

answers all my questions.


I pretend that everything lost becomes a poem.

Wounds like hurricanes have a name. And even though I ignore that around me abysses are born, I was originally blemished by happiness, by its inclement summit.

The invading substractions of memory. The struggle of the root. The antiquity of silence . . .

I don’t put flowers in the cemetery of dreams, but I go on in spite of all the quicksands of the spirit.

The guilt that does not allow you to leave is love.

And now fog, rain, absence . . .

The unbalance called beauty, the terrible abandonment of the sacred, the igneous rose guiding me in desperation . . .

I know the path will end up finding me.

As all that becomes visible to die.


The night is my return. I go over the museum of absence.

All suffering is useless for those who do not pursue poetry, for those who do not feed eagles with their eyes.

I exercise thirst. I only love those whom I could not save.

There is no longer a darkness to guide our dreams or the phantoms of inconclusive desire; only the abject exchange that has replaced ritual.

I do not seek, I lose . . .

And I don’t even find a place for astonishment.

I can no longer forget. Nor do I pretend to know the three answers hidden by death.

Here nobody lacks the necessary hatred to recover paradise, or confess its rude fall during the day.

It must be shadow or shout. Return or birth.

Every origin will decree the abolition of the ego.

It is then that breathing will be green.

And even though I owe everything to pain . . . I advance, I fall. I choose the ways that have no end. Voices burn out darkness. The poem.

You know it, quivering body:

It is not in time where I have put my words.


For Pilar, a drawing in water
Aside from you, I only love what belongs to everybody . . .

I destroy my bond with the sun. My end will end up finding me.
Turned into fragments you guide me to the new flavour, the knowledge of water.
How many dreams have we not used?

You veer, you perfect yourself: you become vegetable. Your fingers fall like leaves . . .
A word is in agony. I turn blind.

None of my questions have answers, you say with amber voice. Not solitude, nor birth . . .

The eyes rebel. An ephemeral god that we must devour arises among us. Fearful, we hand over the names. We learn the first syllables. It is not possible to disbelieve in fear with its foundations, its sacred tunnels, its somber genesis, its ardent evasiveness . . .
Even though sometimes love separates us.

No one burns twice in the same fire.

Woman, bring the earth, warm yourself with its shadow. Renew yourself in the darkness, flee in your breathing . . . Do not substitute death with the writing of verticality . . .

Listen to time coming.


He had everything until the word arrived.

During the vigil I knew the blue cry. I tried on all the masks, even that of the inner you. I expected my poverty would make me free and I denounced the ones who decided to inherit the deserts.

I pointed at them with a hand of salt and I deserted from the light.

The revolt of desire left us in the open.

We imitated the paleness of the moon and we cured the wound of insomnia with the tremulous window of a naked body.

Tears, fear, visions, and all that will be remembrance, forced me to flee from my face.

The earth summoned her witnesses and the trees were read by the wind. Fire interrogated our dreams anew.

The blood of dawn fell on my breast and I endured the cruel reign of the hours.

I don’t know how much more I must lose for the poem to be revealed to me. I don’t know which is the thirst I must whet to continue breathing. I evaded the routes proposed by the sun. I baptised everything that was lost. I inhabited the Age of the Shout. I set out on the way to my voice.

And now, when I close my eyes, someone returns to life.


I will never stop pursuing you, sacred delirium. Not even when the peace of the unjust comes. Nor when I awaken in the darkness among the rubble of desire.

It is not in fire, not even in the earth, where time has written: I know its fugitive book.

All that I pretend to sing does not belong to life.

The tide goes on asking and I give rise to darknesses, until someone hands me over its limits.

I go on searching what I searched.

I don’t know whether the poem is useful against fear. I don’t know if some day there will be someone who can love those who reign. I don’t know if man will go on officiating at devastated altars.

But we shall begin to retrieve everything that silence owes us. We shall share our thirst.

The true deprivation is what leads us to the origin. Light is so recent.

My words fall like seed. My eyes have been sown. Here on my side, in this populous desert, someone ignores the hand needed to die.