Posts in Category: Poetry

Should we stop to breathe as we open a parenthesis in the dream

Four poems by Kepa Murua translated by Sandra Kingery.

Circumference. Poetry in traslation


Writing Fatigue
by Kepa Murua

Because it is so difficult to unravel
what we feel inside as unique,
we find ourselves despondent in a life
where nothing is celebrated
except abandon.
Because it’s so hard to explain
that which only happens to us
accumulated fatigue conquers us
in the face of others’ happiness.
What causes this lack of control
over spoken words,
exaggerated gestures
and multiple hugs?
Have we gone crazy
wanting to be happy at all times?
It’s this way of life
that exhausts us at work.
That kills us at home.
That distances us from the sea and from love.
From fine rain and from tenderness.
From grass and from hope.
From a kiss that’s given at first light
and from the morning sky.
It’s this servile way of life
where nothing more than serene dejection
is celebrated
and the undaunted annihilation
of all that surrounds us
which leads us to hide at home
and disappear into a map
where the route of men
follows the lost trail of animals.
Why mark a territory
that will never be ours?
Why draw a house
with a fireplace and a little path
that takes us to the school?
A tree that gives us shade,
a sun that lights our way,
a bird that sings?
And why say finally
this is mine, this is yours,
if we cannot leave a path
where we look each other in the eyes
like a cat does at a fixed point
or a tiger with a point that is closer by?
Will we once again stride from one side of the cage
to the other, from one side of the cell to the other,
because of the need for fresh air
in a space that opens at our feet?
Should we stop to breathe
as we open a parenthesis in the dream
which pursues the life we want
while it is the fatigue that writes
about love that’s confused with desire,
need with hope
or fear with abandonment?
It is the sketch of the days of childhood
when not seeing the true meaning
of what attracts our attention.
The liberating shout of youth
when not understanding what’s happening
around us.
Not finding the precise words
—at the precise time—
that which we experience as unique
and that only happens to us.  

translated from Spanish by Sandra Kingery

Writing the Anniversary
by Kepa Murua

If all dates
are a number on the calendar
not every day passes by the same
just as a sincere sob  
and false breathlessness    
do not signal equivalence.  
We thought we had lived it
or we thought we had lost it
but once the storm passed
life pursues memory
when you cross paths with a person
and your heart pounds
in an unerring sigh.
This was a day like any other.
A day without importance.
But it was wrapped in an ephemeral
light in which we believed
and with which we toasted
so as not to collapse
and to continue onward.
And we did so with a kiss
and two glasses that clinked
very softly.
You could say it was eternal.
You could say
that just as no one
believed in us
no one would dare break it.
But, as you see, life has that duplicity
that awaits us between the days
that are marked or erased on the wall
to save the happy moments
as we try to bury in our memory
those who caused us so much damage.
What are we talking about?
About love?, tenderness?
friendship smashed to bits?
About something real that no longer remains?
What were we talking about in the meantime
while the numbers passed
their empty signal behind our backs
and we wrote
the lower case words bigger
so they were given more importance
and we would be heard a bit farther out?
Writing an anniversary isn’t easy.
Writing the ritual that throws us
against the center of the calendar like puppets
is not easy. Some relate it
to the death of their loved ones.
Others with losses that are confused
with discoveries.  But all of them
—like the days that are erased
or the ones marked in red—
cannot be lived again
no matter how much a person reminds us
of a noteworthy day that seemed
more important to us than life itself.  
On a date like that when there is no longer
that feeling that makes us collide
against everyone—sometimes gently
and others very hard—
the body that is dedicated to a time
impossible to forget resounds. 

translated from Spanish by Sandra Kingery

Writing Memory
by Kepa Murua

I am sitting upon my memories.
The blue bedspread.
The red carpet and the chair
that was also blue
next to the window with two doors
that look upon the balcony.
The place has changed so much
I don’t recognize it.
I can’t find the street to the school.
I can’t find the entrance to the cinema.
I find so little I can’t even find
the number or the name of the street.
The hidden house
looks like a buttonhole on the pocket of a coat.
I should, like he does
when it comes to getting dressed, call
someone and ask for assistance.
Ask where
the sweet shop is.
And the little plaza.
And the alleyway
that leads to the avenue.
I can still hear
the sound of the train in my head
and feel how things move at home
when it passes.
How the lamp slides over
or the floor creaks with its weight
in that shoebox
so close to the rails.
But as one knots a tie
after twenty years
I must remember more:
the sound of the stairs in my room
when someone was bounding
all the way down to the entrance.
The white sky of winter.
Or the intimate blue of summer.
And the first lobster my mother showed me
or the first alley cat that approached me
on the terrace.
The rose bushes on the terrace.
An old pedal car with number thirteen.
I’ve always liked that number
I think it makes me lucky.
Remembering while you get dressed
has those things:
the clock in the sitting room sounds.
The piano lid is closed
but life continues on
in the midst of the death
that awaits us around the corner.
I hope when it arrives it finds me dressed
dreaming that I remember
those things I thought forgotten.
I hope it finds me sleeping
with my memory still misplaced.

translated from Spanish by Sandra Kingery

Writing While Standing
by Kepa Murua

Writing while standing
is listening to music
while swaying your body
from side to side.
You can’t walk quickly.
You can’t rest fully.
You can’t look into someone’s eyes
or touch with a hand
your chin from the chest.
It’s forgetting what you have in your hands.
Strolling through the voices of the desert
upon the sands of doubt.
Saying life’s like that
that keeps us glued to the ground.
Writing about love
while thinking about abandonment.
About abandonment
when you think that every day that goes by
you’re more alone.
It’s not asking many questions
and answering what you see around you
with your eyes
like a partial voyage
in slow motion.
It’s feeling the chill
in the middle of summer.
Covering yourself with a hat
that hides the rays of light from your eyes
and drawing a sun
in the middle of the ocean
that bathes with your feet
and in a millisecond
what remains of the desert
in the palm of your hand.
It’s walking along the wrinkles of the skin
like one does in sand
very slowly with bare feet.
Touching up its veins
if you write about love
and don’t live it fully.
Lightening the sorrow.
Freeing its chains
with the pride of being the same
even while appearing different.
Writing while standing
is like doing so sleeping
without knowing that you’re alive.
Like leaving the muddle of the world
in the depth of your dreams.
But it’s doing it
with your head held high
and telling life
that even if it disguises its beauty
in melancholy and brusqueness
you are there
to decipher it
in order to stroll down its streets
with an invisible bike
in the depths of a song
that you hear from an open window.
It’s talking differently
while running slowly.
Listening in another way.
Feeling what is lived very deep inside.
Feeling free.
And after taking the blindfold off
flying very high. 

translated from Spanish by Sandra Kingery


On the day that I die
do not bury me with my people,
let them be in peace.

Let the Aurizeneas, sporting their timidity,
their beauty and the family name,
reach the top of that hill.

Let the Muruas rest at last
with their intelligence
and their noisy eyes.

Let my friends continue resting.
And let the bones of my enemies
be eaten by worms.

Enjoy the party the day I die.
Forbid funeral rites, deny my good name,
drink a glass of wine.

Read something, perhaps a poem, but not mine.
And fleeing my memory
with a flare beyond the horizon, forget me.

Cast off my ashes on the day that I die
in a circle turned into silence.
Rest that day and leave me.

And if anyone cries
tell him that if the memory is sad
life was worth it.

Señor, You who gave

Señor, You who gave
name to the light,
give me a body
that reflects my mind
and give me a mind
that dignifies my body.
Give me the understanding
to understand
what I do not comprehend.
The vision to see
what is beyond me.
The transparent sky
inside my body.
The uncertain destiny
that breathes
in my thoughts.
And do not abandon me
to words without meaning
and do not isolate me
in the invisible, strangest,
most lasting
Give me strength
to combat
the emptiness that tempts me
and that I don’t deny.
Give me new reasons
to discover
what confuses me.
And give me peace
in the face of uncertainty
and life with a meaning
beyond death,
just as you give me
the air I breath
or you whisper
with a benevolent smile
the poems that I write.
Give me faith in love,
happiness in suffering.
Estrangement to leave
this confusion behind
and overcome such a mystery,
to rest in the end
facing what I don’t understand
and facing what could be seen
that I still don’t see or understand.
And in the strange silence,
the hardest
and most lasting,
give me a breath of air
before what can seem
a last moan
and seem as if I weaken.
A ray of light at least
when I turn
in a last gaze
before becoming empty
and out of breath
with my name stretched
across the stone of the path.
Across the shadow
of my misfortune
in the midst of my destiny.
Lord, You who gave
names to things
and filled the words I pronounce
with air,
give me solid ground
that withstands my luck
and give me a meaning
that dignifies my soul.
The understanding
that I am sometimes lacking
to understand
what I don’t comprehend
and that is so sure
when I wonder
why it is happening to me,
since the world and the man
in which I live
and into which you have made me
is eternal and fragile.


You emerged from a light that showed you the path.
From the shadows you turned
listening to a voice that was telling you:
I want to be happy.
You covered that distance
that describes abandon,
the injustice of one’s own heart
that is often mistaken,
but feels a thousand affronts
like a liquid of red lead
running through one’s veins.
No one told you how life was.
No one explained to you what happens in these cases
where noise doesn’t let you hear the calm
and the whirlwind of a thousand black fishes
devours your gaze
and shakes water from your ears.
But the buzz won’t last forever.
The confusion isn’t eternal
and you could intuit that the sea wasn’t far
and remember that you sometimes stepped from the bath
with the windows uncovered
like you abandoned yourself to love
with the invisible curtains of modesty
and the shadow of your body
naked before other people’s eyes.
Blank–that atmosphere
in which there’s no space or time
and you abandon your body to other people’s hands
with the confidence that you’ll awaken
at some time
–some not very distant day–.
What taste did your mouth have
when it articulated words
you didn’t manage to hear?
What type of cloud did your eyes see?
What surrounding color
if green is the color of hope?
Do you remember?
You emerged to another world
through a door that appeared false
but was true
because only you knew
how to choose–among the many
that rushed forward in your wake–
the true hand.
For a reality similar to the previous one
–like breathing naked–
because the noise that was changing you inside
had disappeared.
You emerged from yourself
and once again heard a voice that was telling you:
I want to be happy,
a sound inexistent for many
that still gives you the shivers
because you remember again
the wake of a naked body
moving to the window.
How can you confess what you felt?
Why pay attention to others
who will not believe what you saw?
Do you remember?
When your pupils began
to unite the landscape of life
and knit all the tesserae of light
as the present does with the past
and vision with objects
a voice told you: it’s over now.
It took your hand
–you had never in your life
felt anything like it–
with so much affection, with such softness of skin,
with so much force and weight at the same time,
like secrets that can never be told
that are one day put away forever
–a day that you should never convert
into some not very distant day–;
and when you were told time to live
then you understood.


And your eyes will come
to show me the light
in the midst of the chaos.
And your words will come
to gather me up.
Your arms to circle back
to where I got lost.
Like mud in your hands
I will set my water-pitcher soul on one side
of the forest of truth
my warrior body on the other
with a sword incapable
of cutting the brush from the path.
I’m not surrendering
but I’m exhausted.
And your hands will come
to touch me in the distance
because I got lost
in the thicket that covers desire
until I thought I didn’t believe in love.
I toughened up and stopped laughing.
Perhaps it’s the way it should be, you tell me.
I know that certainties
end up ceding to the violence of the ocean.
That the ocean returns everything
with its waves and illusions
—a unique world—
so that light
is reborn
because there’s nothing left to do,
fighting this battle is no longer necessary
when one always, yes, always,
ends up losing.
Freedom is choosing a path
it is misidentifying destiny
with those who cannot and know not how to join us.
Freedom that is so afraid
of loneliness.
The loneliness that is so mistaken
when it is desire that is in control.
When obsessions with love
are what govern the beat of feelings
in the face of an old man
where once there was a child.
Where there was sea and now only desert.
Where one sees heaven
and no one knows it.
Where there was something and now it’s different.
And your hands will come
to show me the path.
Your arm to remove the bewildering vegetation
that grows across my eyes
while watching the world pass by
seated in an armchair in the room
that no longer has a window
because the few that existed
have been painted black.
Were you truly in love?
And if you weren’t
why did you not know what could happen
in the dark vegetation
that dominated your whole body
and placed its certainty at the feet
of the most unlikely blows?
We hurt what we love
while pain shelters its seed
in our hearts
and is born at the wrong time
and everything becomes a hard shell.
But your words will come
making me doubt everything.
What I was and did.
What I am and do.
To tell me, no, don’t,
don’t think about it anymore now.
And give me your hand, OK?
And in my answer
—that could only be a stammering—
you’ll come tell me:
yes, I’d like you to do it
while holding me tight.
I cannot write at this distance
the words that I said,
only the ones that came to see me:
I’m kissing you too
not hard, but slowly.
Perhaps then we would have to wait
for the wall lizards to illuminate
the path of that night
where there were so many mosquitos
and the butterflies accompanied the light
to its destiny, even dying.
I too fall asleep with my eyes open.
Will you let my hands close them for you?
And your eyes will come to mine
so I can sleep easy.
And your hand will come to mine
so that sleep
can draw the path
that is now uncovered.
And your nocturnal silence will come
to be a word that only I
—for now—can hear.
Relax now, my love, relax.
Because even though you’re still fragile
the tiny light
will be able to break your shell.
Relax now, my love, relax.


Like a singer who lightens
the most delicate poem
to make his voice heard,
I listen to the repeated murmur
of silence between your hands.
All those who look the other way
know not what they’re missing.
They look at breasts and the air
of masculine desire appears.
They look at the face and the delicate kiss
at unearthly hours.
They look inside and the body
dictates passion unrestrained.
They look at legs and see
how the eyes stroll
in the middle of the face
after an ephemeral rest.
But when you look at the voice
you hear the movement
of breasts, of legs,
of hands and eyes
like a unitary reflection
of the beating of the heart.
The gaze is not elusive
or furtive or contrived.
It is not just any call.
It is not a scatterbrained bashfulness
but calmer than most,
a major surprise.
Someone who tells you
a secret or a dilemma
either with a closed mouth
or with open lips.
Love rarely has
a more profound seal
a more delicate lock
than the one evoked by the throat
when it says anything
with an instantaneous weight
without that being the intent.
At that moment
–tender and delicate at once–
those who hear it
feel a shiver running
down their backs.
But only at times
only at times does it portray
the person on the other side
how the declaration is signed
who makes the pronouncement
because in the tone that it’s said
or in the beating heart of what is heard
appears the eternal struggle
of the silence of things
next to the truth
that no one but the one who listens
can comprehend on the spot.
If you want to fall in love some time
don’t look where everyone looks.
If you want to find yourself alone some time,
with love, for example,
don’t look at how men walk
with their hands in their pockets
or how women do
with a freedom that conceals
their impertinence toward the world.
Look at how feeling modulates
the secret voicelessness of words.
Listen to the profound silence
of the unspoken truth
in the midst of the nature
that makes us most human
in spite of frequently howling
like animals in heat.
Listen to the silence of the plants
in the mouths of birds.
And give thanks with your eyes
when you look elsewhere
and the tongue is what says
what you really think
if they close on the spot.
At that moment
a puff that you still recognize
as someone else’s and that time
will make your own
traps you on the most beautiful side
in secret and with caution.


When my heart was outside of me
I could never write a poem.
I tried, but I couldn’t.
Neither could I write a letter
to my mother for example
telling her I loved her.
Nor could I write a note
to my closest friend
telling him that the keys to my house
were on the red flowerpot
next to the front door.
When my heart was lost
in the immensity of time
and eternal indifference
I couldn’t write a word.
To my love for example
telling her I missed her
and awaited her return
like rain that arrives daily.
Nothing. Not a poem, not a letter.
Not a note, not a forgotten memory.
I could do nothing but wait
for her to come home
to write this verse now
where I say that I truly love you
even if I’ve never told you before
feeling my miniscule heart
as I never felt it before
when it was on the inside.


Not everyone uses the same words.
No, not everyone pronounces
unfulfilled promises the same way.
Words including those that justify us,
including those that die upon being pronounced
and upon opening our mouths
the ones that simply disappear
do not make us guilty or innocent
of what is going on in the world
or responsible for what happens to us.
The ones that’re wrapped in plastic
the poisoned ones, those that cannot be found
like the ones that are not thought but are said
like the ones that are not felt but are said
these are the ones that live among us.
Among the words, pain.
Among life and death, words of affection.
Among the words of silence, words of love.
No one like you to pronounce my name.
No one like me to know what you feel.
No one among the words
you pronounce daily.
And no one like us to repeat
the ones that do not belong to us
when we write them in silence
in a blank notebook.
In a notebook blank
as the snow that falls
or the frozen hand that caresses your face.
Among the words, deception.
Among pronounced words, the most beautiful lacking meaning.
Among silent words, the ones that are true.
And the authentic ones, the ones of thwarted silence.
The ones that are felt approaching
like nonexistent knives.
The ones that without denying what they said
simply rise up into heaven.


I don’t know whether to return to the past
and see myself at the end of a distance
that freezes time
and quiets the stabbings of the heart.
Behind insipid gestures
the truth of things.
Then calm arrives
the fluidity of future itself.
The word sustains silence without knowing it
and silence drills the pulse of poetry
in our palms.
I don’t know whether to turn my head
in the instant when the shadow turns
to count steps
that place us one in front of another.
It’s February and in the mail
a handwritten letter
from someone I rejected.
Is it righteous or resigned?
It is repudiation.
It is permanence.
It is nothing when you begin.
Time while you are.
Something when you arrive.
Being a name when you die.
But more difficult still:
a man when you’ve lost everything.
Someone when it’s hard
to even open your mouth.
Just like the words that are said
and not heard.
Just like February that stops us from seeing
what is there beyond our shadow.
Just like silence without even trying.
Reducing life to a gesture is insanity.
Translating life to a month can’t be done.
Nor summarizing its steps in a book.
But shouting, shouting can.
While light advances
toward the inside of my eyes
in this letter I read
someone dares do it
and writes it out by hand
as if writing in my name.
I don’t know if it’s worth
placing oneself in an ending
as other people see us.
In a dark time
when the names
that were written on walls
fall of their own weight.
Being how we think we are
is entirely good.
But being different from others
is too daring
if in daily gestures
the truth of things is concealed.

Ask the men if it is right

Ask the men if it is right
to renounce everything in love as well.
Ask the children if they agree
with what they’re being taught.
Ask the mothers if they love
the life that they have.

Ask the women of course
if they carry flowers in dreams
and if they bleed in the midst of dreams
when they awake.
Ask the gods
if they have met.

Ask the poets
if the song is music
and if thinking is the end
or the beginning of thought.
Ask the lovers
if they’re conscious of their wealth.

Ask dreams if freedom
feels what the eyes can see.
And if it’s wise to be silent
or preferable to flee
from the word that is spoken
until its true echo resounds.