Four Poems


Ti tsebe xchi’uk sk’ob
sluch sloktabe sp’ijil sjol yo’nton mol me’eletik
yu’un sk’u’iltas tu slumale. 

Ti me’ele xchi’uk sp’ijil sjol yo’nton
sluch stsatsubtasbe yip tsajal o’ntonal,
sluch ta yaxal kuxlejal ti ach’ jnaklejetike,
sluch ta k’anpomanil no ti lametel sikil osil k’ak’ale. 

Sluch slok’ta ta lajelal 
ti stsatsal yip ach’ jch’iele,
ta ik’mach’an ni ti slajeb skuxlej ti me’ele. 

Ta spixbe sbek’tal stakopal
chavo’ antsetik ti osil k’ak’ale 
ta xlikatik muel ta ik’ ta tok
xtoyatik batel ta yoxlahun kojal osil balumil.



A young girl’s hands
embroider her grandparents’ knowledge
on the traje of her town. 

In her mind an old woman
embroiders a heart in red threads,
her descendants in blue threads,
this silence in sepia. 

With signed threads
she embroiders a young woman’s heartbeats,
grey threads an old woman’s pulse. 

Time peacefully enters
the bodies of two women
bearing them
towards the thirteen heavens. 


Membelil p’in

Chanav tu yutsilal li k’in
chak’sba a’yuk te snatil ch’enal jaytike.
Kejel sk’elbe yav yok
a’biltik slok’taojsba te ch’ut semet. 

Cha’i epal mantal jelumtasbilik
te yak’ot ach’elal ts’i’etik, mutetik xchi’uk bolometik.
Stsom li mantal ts’ibabilik
te smuktikol e poko’ p’intike.

Stsombe sk’ejimol yunenal xch’iel
te mukta kelemal yav pom.
Xtavanik te ik’el snuk’ilal li lo’iletik
nakajtik te yon’ton balamile. 


Grandmother Jug

She walks in a music resounding
from the depths of old gourds.
She bends and takes in the stains
years have painting within the comal’s womb. 

She hears the multitude of messages present
in the dancing of dogs, birds, and tigers shaped in clay. 
She gathers the wisdom written 
on the lips of old jugs. 

She places the song of her youth
in the rooster-shaped incense burner,
calling upon voices and words that rest 
in the Heart of Earth. 


Ts’ubil tseb

Yunenal ulsat malob k’aka’l
Ta sjax jik’abil k’obaletik,
Sikil ach’el sk’otsansba lo’il kuxlejale.
Slok’tasba tsumute’tik te k’ib.

Xnichinaj k’ok’ te kejlebal.
Ibilajesbil lok’tombailetik xchi’uk li si’e.
Te epal te tos bon k’uk’umetik snak’oj
Li tajimoletik spasoj xchi’uk li stse’ej sate.

Li sbek’ sate chmukul lo’ilaj
Xchi’uk li mut chlok’tal te ch’ut p’ine.
Li yunen yolk’obtake spasbik svilel mutetik.
Te k’anal ach’el xch’ay te yon’ton yunenal.


Girl of Dust

Daughter of the weeping afternoon,
she caresses her drowned hands,
bathing history in cold mud. 
Doves take shape on the jug.

Fire blooms in the oven
its writing sprouting from the wood. 
The games she molds with her smile
hide among the rainbow flames.

Her eyes speak silently
with the bird being born in the jug, 
her small fingers forging its flight.
In the yellow clay, she’s no longer young. 


Jpas p’in

Spich’be stse’ej ts’ubilal untik
te yut xchikin poko’ mol p’in. 
Te sbon ch’ul k’ok’ sbon
sp’ijil snak’oj te stumtunel yon’ton.

Xcha’bi li xch’iel slupinel
sbech’sbaik te t’uxul ach’ele.
Li yach’el k’obe stsob ch’uch’el
poko’ ch’ayem lo’il te osil k’ak’al.

Li ich’ mul xchi’uk chanel p’ijilale ba sa’
k’ak’al te yut yon’ton k’ib.
Slok’ta mantaletik te sat banamil:
xtoybatel xchi’uk xambal li ch’aile.



She molds smiles on the faces of dusty children
in the old jug’s hollow ears. 
With the fire’s color she paints
the knowledge in her heartbeats.

She watches the little ones grow,
enmeshed in the wet clay.
Her thick hands remove shattered
histories devoured by the time. 

She looks for suffering, for life 
in the depths of the three-handled jug.
She draws her wisdom in the earth, with the earth,
and it rises on the smoke’s winding path. 

Translated by Paul M. Worley


Number 8

The eighth issue of Latin American Literature pays homage to Nicaraguan writer and politician Sergio Ramírez, winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize and an important voice in a country currently gripped by crisis. We also feature poetry from Octavio Armand, as well as special sections dedicated to four indigenous writers of Mexico and Guatemala, bilingual sci-fi from Worldcon 76, and the poetry of Marosa di Giorgio, Olga Orozco, and Elena Garro. 

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Sergio Ramírez

Dossier: Octavio Armand


Latin American Science Fiction

Indigenous Literature





Nota Bene