just a man

Santiago Vizcaíno

Translated by: Kimrey Anna Batts

Original text: " es solamente un hombre "

Artwork by the Broadbent sisters

once he spilled his lava over the white body of the chasm
he did not know that he had to breathe
and smile
in order for everything to be comfortable
he simply swallowed his pride
choked on desire like everyone else
looked up at the sky like everyone else
and realized that there was nothing
he is just a man
emptied of glory
ignored by history
he never knew that life was that which passed
while he was otherwise occupied

 he set to drinking
he beat his wife
like everyone else
he also had children who showed him the miracle
of the resurrection
but he did not educate them
nor did he know to tell them that love
ah, love….
and so he lost himself in the memory of others
a silence
someone who expects to tattoo his history
without pain
and sleep
take a nap like everyone else
he is just a man
who inherited misery
who understood that he had to be servile
always be vile
throw dirt upon his neighbour’s cloud
take up with other women
not doubt his sexuality
virility is a mark
like memory
at night he did not dream
why would he dream?
dream of what?
he is just a man
he also perceived the smell of death
understood that the day’s origin is pain
he also lied to himself to believe in something
because he was just a man
who came along to make a fool of himself
there will be fireworks
and rain.

Santiago Vizcaíno

Santiago Vizcaíno (1982) is an accomplished young writer and poet from Quito, Ecuador. His works have received numerous recognitions, including the Ecuadorian Ministry of Culture's National Literary Projects Prize and the Second Annual Pichincha Poetry Award. In translation, his poems have appeared in The Bitter Oleander Review, Chattahoochee Review, Connotation Press, Eleven/Eleven, eXchanges  and Ezra, among others, and there are bilingual editions of his poetry collection Destruction in the Afternoon and his book of short stories, Matar a mamá/Matricide. His latest collection of poems, Hábitat del camaléon (from which "just a man" is taken) was published by Ruido Blanco in 2015.

Kimrey Anna Batts

Kimrey Anna Batts (1983) grew up in rural East Tennessee and went to the University of Michigan, where she studied Anthropology and Latin American Studies. She moved to Ecuador in 2006, and her lifelong love of literature and language gradually blossomed into a career as a translator. In 2011 she went to Barcelona to pursue an M.A. in Literary Translation at University Pompeu Fabra, before returning to Quito in 2013. Her literary translations have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail (one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize) and will be seen in future editions of Ezra, The Bitter Oleander Review and Lunch Ticket.  She also translated Santiago Vizcaíno's short story collection Matricide/Matar a mamá (La Caída 2015).