Translations in english



The poet Daniel Rodríguez Moya (Granada, 1976) is one of the most prominent new voices in spanish poetry. The mexican writer and  Cervantes Prize Jose Emilio Pacheco  has defined him as "an example of a transatlantic poetry as not been seen for a century, in times of modernism."

Defender of a poetry with a commitment to clarity and simplicity without ignoring the language and literary rigor, is a member of the Poetry facing uncertainty movement, which brings together spanish and latin american poets. His most recent book is The things said quietly (Visor, 2013).

He has also published books Subjects lost office, The New Now and Change of plans (Visor, 2008). In his criticism and literary research highlights the volume Twentieth century poetry in Nicaragua, published by Visor in 2010.


Since 2004 co-chairs, along with Fernando Valverde, the International Poetry Festival of Granada (founded by both).




The heart of a man shot dead

is like forests that grow inside

and then turn dark.


No one wants to go within,

walk on their damp branches,

roots consumed by moss

along indistinguishable roads

that ensure our becoming lost,

not finding a way out.


The heart of a man shot dead

is a strange path that other men

some time will have to travel

alone, with no more help

than memory’s stubborn heartbeat. 

(Translated by Gordon McNeer)







For David, Clara and Paula


I’ve called at that door many times

and no one from those days answers me.

But I can listen to the voices from outside

like a sound of childhood games.

My boyhood voice,

a faint thread that is faintly discerned,

I can’t understand it,

I don’t know what it is saying.

It’s autumn. School has begun.


Here I am playing with my brother.

The toys are cast about the floor

like future pieces of life.

He builds bridges

over precipices that don’t exist yet.

He imagines impossible routes

that sometime will be

a safe road for Clara and David.

In the street the rain beats on the windows

of a southern city,

and inside, behind the door I always call on,

a little girl combs her doll again and again,

cares for her in every way,

gives her a name: Paula.

I have called today once again at that door.

Another different sound, that is the same one, I intuit from outside:

David is playing on the &oor at dismantling a thousand times over
the castle that I attempt
with the pieces of an old domino set.
My brother accompanies Clara
on her !rst steps.
My sister no longer combs a doll,
she coos to little Paula in the living room
while my parents
search for likenesses of her in old photographs.


There are heard,
like the slow descent into an abyss,
the muffed voices of my grandparents:
strange faces, distant names,
that these children who disrupt the calm,
the silent hollow of the house,
don’t recognize
in the solemnity of the picture frames.


I have called again, I have insisted at the door,
and no one from those days answers me.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




I’m still hurt by
the wound in the damp earth
that you walked on until yesterday,
the houses and the smell of the fallen leaves.


Fear that no longer frightens children
is an every-day volcano.


The night becomes a continent
and you know that this sky
as missing more stars than gazes.


If you reject the voices that threaten your sleep
and you discover that now
the rain only serves as a pretext
for living a while with that monochord
you’ll see that I watch storms
from far away,
as one looks at a child and its sadness.


Don’t be afraid to turn your back on contradictions,
living is what that’s all about.


There’s a tree that grows without fear of heights.
Let’s embrace it.
The briars won’t keep it from caressing the sky.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




I told you that the ocean
is a blue moment over an eternity,
a slow breathing,
a breach in the time of one who waits.

I still carry in my pockets
a bit of an embrace and of silence,
a voice that is your name,
a fistful of sand that runs through my fingers.

I told you that winter
is a white road and a walk in warm light,
the sounds of a port,
the traveler who waits for calls.

I still carry in my pockets
the taste of mangoes and Spanish plums,
a child’s glance,
a trembling like a kiss, a return ticket.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




Broken Bicycles
(Tom Waits)

Against those white walls of what was once my childhood
pile up the ruins of my happiness,
complex mechanisms
with the dust from a time almost intact,
lingering solitude of my broken toys.

So many Marches passed over my innocent skin
and how many times did the wheel
of that bicycle turn blindly,
dismantled skeleton that now sleeps
the sleep of all that’s unjust
and of real life.

Who could know that those rusty axles
might turn at the same
                        speed as a dream.

Impossible to listen to the voice of the time
that has stayed behind.
Impossible to run, to feel the warm air
of summer’s end on your face,
at that moment of wonder before the road.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)





Take it as it comes
(The Doors)

From the things that will never
have a sterile touch of ashes,
an inevitable disappearance,
I prefer to keep my distance.

I’ll keep the days that don’t deny
their fragile fleeting calendar,
the tenuous and antique light of a candle
that knows it travels toward the darkness
and even so accepts it.
The trembling of a tower reflected in the water,
promises that have time as their witness.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




There are coasts that sketch out trajectories,
imaginary lines on beaches
always wintry, always opaque light,
and the smell of oil that persists
above and beyond the breeze.
And that’s how the rocks, the long-suffering rocks,
learned about water and its constancy.

It might be that the North Sea doesn’t distinguish
among the lights, the little blinking ships
in the salty quietus of Ullapool.

Calculating distances is something like surrender.

It’s best for us not to think.

As we become the darkness,
may the last burning atom of light
be retained in my eyes.
So that I can enjoy this loss forever.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




Pacted predictions are useless
if upon opening your suitcase
you find a lot less packed,
an unexpected space.

What’s the point of tearing up an almost written book,
of signing off on a conclusion that starts a new paragraph
of being certain that it is time
for a future fight
                  and for a change of plans.
The days follow each other like swallows
and suddenly a shot destroys that rhythm.
The afternoon wind knows that in its sound.


There’s a lake that can reflect
the anguish and the hope of its shoreline,
of one who has lost everything,
                       of one who hopes for it all.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)




What good fortune, yours, to be dead, Carlos Fonseca,
may the earth protect you and shield you.

Gioconda Belli

The sky looks beautiful this July afternoon.
The clouds aren’t threatening, and the rain has spared us.

The old cathedral still standing miraculously
no longer serves as a backdrop for newscasts:
Nobody shouts slogans, nobody raises flags.

The men rest under the chilamate trees,
the children approach begging for coins.
The heat of the yellow buses,
the peddler of cold drinks at the bus stop,
the perennial taxis with their centuries-old patience.
Managua without songs,
             without hymns that are already
out of date musical scores from the past.

A car goes by in the distance and someone speaking remembers
a wild anniversary party:
Silence is better than the dreams that one day
seemed possible.

Words that have lost their fervor and life
are useless this afternoon.
I say revolution and you say back to me:
It was nothing more than a flash,
one night of fire, so many years of smoke.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)



(The American way of death)

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I’ve heard of
Once in a lullaby.

E.Y. Harburg

But the horrible train has been stopping
at so many di'erent stations,
that she doesn’t even know exactly what their names were,
or the places, or the times.


Dámaso Alonso



For Claribel Alegría.


So cutting is the wind that it speeds
the progress of rust
over long rails,
                              rusty cross ties. . .
And how difficult it is
to ignore exhaustion, keep watch
from Ciudad Hidalgo
                         up to Nuevo Laredo,
on the ‘Chiapas-Mayab’ that the sun sets on fire.

Nobody sleeps in the train,
                     on the train.
                 Clinging to the train
                they all seek to reach the border,
a north star that often grows distant,
a dream outlined on a map
            with colored lines:
one long and blue that shines like a river
that drowns like a well.


Left behind are the children and their questions,
the ruined hands of the women factory workers
who with an unseen gesture
say good-bye,
         wait for me,
one day I might hop onto a freight car.

Behind lie Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador,
a heart of earth beating fast.

People congregated very close to the tracks
with a drink in their hands,
the smell of fried food and tortilla
as if it were a patron saint’s day,
waiting for the moment to get on board first,
and not be le$ behind on the dusty platform,
to ride on the “beast,” in the “death train”
or to wait hidden up ahead,
in the cane fields,
               with an anxious whispering.
              And to dodge immigration
to be able to count themselves
                among the narrow margin of the percentages,
among the four percent that, they promise,
make it to the end of the journey
more or less with the strength to cross a river.


After that, there will be silence for the rest of the day,
                                 an asphyxiating silence,
like an arched bow that hasn’t chosen a target
and the sadness
of a funeral without a body
                  and the peace of a cemetery.


It’s better not to dwell on the mutilations,
on the certain death that is behind a misstep.
Or on the tattooed faces

that like jaguars lie in wait,
take advantage of the night and its ghosts
and then everything is suffering and more tragedy.

Many tell stories about the ones that didn’t make it
                       about the ones that didn’t return,
but there are no desertions:
There’s no price too high if at the end of the road
you achieve the promise of a better future.
Even if you have to descend into pure hell
                   it will be worth the suffering.


The Mexican night passes so slowly. . .
                              Beneath the restless moon
a wound of iron and planks
sketches a dark outline,
a trail of blood to follow.

The smell of rain on the dry earth
is debased mixed with sweat and diesel.
It’s water that doesn’t clean, that doesn’t quench your thirst,
                                                        that spills its filth
down the openings of the old machine,
a dark metaphor for a sleeping animal.

At dawn, the warning comes.
You have to jump off to one side,
                              the last station is drawing near.


Written on a sign: “Nuevo Laredo,
                                           A place to explore!”
But there’s no time left
                              the coyote is already waiting
to cross the river,
                  to get across deserts,
to evade the check points, the border patrol,
the dogs, helicopters,
                       is that brilliance San Antonio?
the sun of injustice that pounds at your temples.

The cutting wind blows across the border
and another train leaves the Suchiate River behind,
the children, the factories,
                    the sand from an hourglass that turns to clay.


The cars travel through !elds
where the strangest flowers burst open.
Days and nights go by
like ropes of time in a circular movement.


Each mile won from the rails
leaves behind on the plains another southern station.


The machine moves slowly
                                with clusters of men on its sides.

The diesel smoke
softens a view that is lost in the distance.


"The beast” has passed by on the way to the border.
It advances toward the north
                              the old clickety-clack of
                                                          a freight train.


(Translated by Gordon McNeer)





Your five years
Splashing in the October rain,
Later knew that life
Is puddle-shaped,
With no precise limits and bright darkness.

Your five years,
Which gazed almost lightly at the sky,
Took a long time to realize
That the swallows that crossed
Dark avenues, sleepless boulevards
And a thousand aerial forests looking for shelter
Were not Becquer´s swallows.

You five years
Are now marooned
In the motionless dock
Of an abandoned harbour:




 * * *


The sea is a maze of mirrors
And the sky can barely reflect itself in it
Only on its edges
Which inflict incurable wounds,
Dangers assumed from the beginning
By intrepid travellers,
Eternal candidates to a glory
That wrecks and storms deny.

There are no Robinsons at these latitudes.
Only the dead lay on the shore.




 * * *




Houses that spread
Close to rivers
Generally display on their façades
A blurred stain
That sometimes reaches
The inner walls of the chamber
And stuffed bodies
That will not see the summer,
Becoming covered in moss,
Blending memory with water´s dream.




 * * *




Where are the limits,
Here where the city ends
And land begins?
Having passed the asphalt boundary
There remains the odd feeling of being
Outside of time,
In a different calendar of which I ignore
The cycles of the moon.

Where to aim my undstady
Steps that know not the ground´s lightness
And the outlined silhouettes
That are left behind along the way.

I could return, forever ignoring
That this boundary exits,
Though I know that, once visited, the abyss
Does not allow you to return.


 * * *





Back then it was only a fear,
Rumours of a city maddened
By modern times in movie theatres.

We thought Marilyn (or Norma)
Would leave the celluloid at one point
To call my name out in the silence
And ask me
At how many stills per second
Did I feel my life pass.