Mario Licón Cabrera: Poems and translations – Curated by Michelle Cahill

Biographical Note


At The Domain

Soft fine and fresh
rain falls over the Domain.
The extended lawns and
the Morton Bay figs
with a silver liquid glaze,
a shiny overlay to the overcast sky:
green and black and just a bit of blue.
My steps remembering those days
crossing the Río de Sonora’s death bed,
I always longed for a gentle
tree shadow and just a bit of rain.
Almost impossible to believe that
kind of landscape: not a tree in miles and miles –
rows and rows of dwarf houses
big black buckets on top of flat roofs.
No rain, no shadow
only dust and the sun blazing above.



Today’s wind is not

Ehecacoatl / la serpiente de viento
the wind-snake god that
announced by the frogs / las ranas
comes with la lluvia / the rain.

Today’s wind is Ehecahuacqui / viento seco
dry wind – the snake that crawls turns hisses
blows and knocks
doors, roofs and windows as if
to bring them down.

Trees lie down while
you walk along calles solas, vacias
lonely, empty streets.

Tonight the sky will be
a sea of thousands of stars
un mar de miles de estrellas.



From a window in Marrickville
– For David Malouf

A good deal of time passed before we
met again. That night

at gleebooks –before you began to read,
with a hug and a warm smile you said to me:

“ I went to Guanajuato and Puebla last year –
what a wonderful colours!”

Now – recalling your
deslumbramiento mexicano
makes me think

of the dark side of my country
and I’m so glad that you saw those
blue pink and yellow flwwes and walls and

not the dry umber of the blood rivers
that flow from border to border and
coast to coast.

Will my cony country’s fate be this –
always thwarted by the wrong doings
and excesses of corruption?

Will my countrry’s fate be this –
marked by deep sorrows and longings and
always under the spit of spurious politicians?

Through my window I can see
big black storm clouds coming down.


Desde una ventana en Marrickville
– Para David Malouf

Había pasado un buen tiempo antes
de volver a vernos. Esa noche

en gleebooks – antes de que empezaras a leer,
con un abrazo y una amistosa sonrisa me dijiste:

“ El año pasado fui a Guanajuato y Puebla
¡qué maravillosos colores!”

Ahora – recordando tu
deslumbramiento mexicano
me hace pensar

sobre el lado oscuro de mi país
y me alegra que tú hayas visto
el azul el rosa el amarillo de flores y paredes y

no el rojo seco de los ríos de sangre
que corren de frontera a frontera y
de costa a costa.

¿Será este el destino de mi país –
estar siempre asediado por los agravios
y desmanes de la corrupción?

¿Será este el destino de mi país –
siempre marcado por la profunda tristeza y la añoranza
y siempre bajo el escupitajo de políticos espurios?

A través de mi ventana puedo ver
enormes nubes negras de tormenta acercándose.


Hermosillo City Blues

Those nights in Hermosillo, rather than walk
all the way down to my sister’s place,
I would sleep under Yucateco trees
on steel park benches or just over the mosaics
of plaza’s quioscos,

like a real loafer.

This was nothing, I bypassed a long hike
In a high risk area.
Public transport stoped at ridiculous hours.
There I slept in the city’s core

amid the night birds’ songs and the cars skidding past
and some trios rehearsing for a serenata near by.
Memories arrived, memories from a distant childhood
and so on to memories of an, oh! So distant Sydney.

I’ve seen myself selling catholic neswspapers at the Cathedral.
So many long marchas against university rectors.
Reaching the Palm Beach light house.
Downloading a ten-ton-truck packed with clay bags at Newtown.
Dancing over the ferry on the way back from Mackerel Beach.

I’ve seen myself climbing El Tepozteco, the holy mountain.
Walking through pitch-black nights amongst enraged dogs.
Missing Hermosillo, Sydney and Tepoztlán, and all at once.
Missing the near by, the far away and the very-close- and all at once.


Hermosillo City Blues

Esas noches en Hermosillo, en vez de caminar
hasta la casa de mi hermana
me quedaba a dormir bajo los Yicatecos
en bancas metálicas de los parques o sobre los mosaicos
de los quioscos de las plazas.

Lika a real loafer.

Eso no era nada, evitaba una larga caminata
en un área de alto riesgo.
El transporte público paraba a horas ridículas.

Dormía allí, en el corazón de la ciudad
entre el canto de pájaros nocturnos y carros deslizándose y
algunos tríso ensayando para una serenata cercana.
Las memorias llegaban, memorias de una infancia ya distante
y memorias de un ¡oh! Sídney tan distante.

Me veía vendiendo periódicos católicos en la catedral.
En largas marchas en contra de rectores de la universidad.
Llegando al faro en Palm Beach.
Descargando una troca con diez toneladas de barro en Newtown.
Bailando sobre el ferry al regreso de Mackerel Beach.

Me veía ascendiendo El Tepozteco, la montaña sagrada.
Caminando a través de noches oscuras entre perros rabiosos.
Extrañando Hermosillo, Sídney y Tepztlán a un mismo tiempo.
Extrañando el cerca lo lejos y el junto a un mismo tiempo.


Casa Efímera

Before the renovation of the ex-convento begun, Don Salvador, the doorman, allowed me to spend as much time as I liked wondering around corridors chambers terraces and gardens of the almost four-hundred-year old building.

Bypassing the first patio with its dry octagonal fountain I was sorrounded by one-meter-wide adobe walls and arcades – thick and high- ending in concave cellings filled with cracked patterns.

In fact there were patterns everywhere – clusters of patterns showing off under layered dusty patina. Patterns and symbols that related to the ORDO PRAEDICTARUM.

But I wasn’t there seeking for Saint Dominc’s protections but for a place – different , as far as possible, to my ordinary house. And there it was. I felt more than protected and isolated from the outside world by those fresh and aged walls and doors, deeply sunken into a tempting silent penumbra.

Though the entire space had seduced me, over the turn of days I had found three favorite spots:

A very small look-out-like chamber with a half- open stone wall framing the entire valley spreading out –and far beyond, the two vulcanos, calling at you with their icy-ashed-deep voice.

Opposite to the look-out – at the end of a long, low, tunnel-like dark corridor there was a wooden door with heavy iron-work that lead to a flat terrace layered with volcanic broken tiles, at the end of this extended terrace there was the mountain – a mysteriously sculpted ancient inmense wall.

Downstairs, in the back garden, I used to lean against a limestone block and from there I stared at the huge back wall of the chapel patched with strokes and spots of dark-greys, old-whites, oechers, pieces of bricks, stones, plaster and large strips of metal and timber, holding together long and deep cracks. The rounded top of the wall breaking through the intense blue.

The firsts long tolls for the Angelus were the signal for me to get out from my ephemeral house.



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