The Shadow of a Western Tanager in Chelsea, by Rhododendrites via Wikimedia

Like ash or nearing the fabrication of mirrors

                                                                             or alcoholic drinks,
like extinguishing fire with water stained by dead leaves,
like a precise attempt to trap the unviolated
                                                                             regions of oblivion,
vacate your body and arrive at the emptiness
                                                      in which the vastness blurs and drowns.
                                   You must clamor for the empty,
and forget the purity of the sphere,
but remember that fullness is a property of the distinct forms
                                                                                 of imagining hollowness.
                                           (I imagine them sad,
                                           —fragmented unity,
remnants, or rather, that which burned in the night and burns still,
but indeterminate and lazy.
                                                         I imagine them thus,
almost ethereal, spectral,

with skeletized faces and hands that hold nothing,


Then the crystalline makes its noise,


or merely humming its pain like a tiny sweet bird

and its manner of warning that is

                                                                     like contorting the fingers

or to intimate that it’s afraid

and the crystalline blares and hides out

                                                       and becomes self-absorbed silence,

                   violent light,

(capacity of the entrailed and the glassified to withhold love,

                                          to give cold).
Light in clarity,



light that astonishes and gives shade to the shadow

                                                                                              of errant bodies,

gone bodies as if swallowed by time,

                                                                   assimilated by time,




like a total emptiness replete with emptinesses,

a fullness of emptinesses undigested by coarse offal,


with a magenta choler or atrocious bellow

                                         that dusts off the walls with its fear,


profoundly null to be groped,


absorbed by a shadowy light that will not stop illuminating them.

be bonfires and fabricate the alcohol necessary to withstand

                                                             survivance without their song,

without the torments that unfold as you burn

your generous forms and that escape on arduous steeds

or slow diving bells that are burned in black dresses,

scarlet guardians that squeeze shadows and deny

                                                        any attempt to save the soul.

but don’t confiscate the dream of the madman that searches for you

and loses more of the little insanity that accompanies him

                                                                                                in his final moments.

Sustain him in spite of the doors’ demolition

or on the biggest scaffold rented in the circus

for the juggling games and let him come down on his own,

                                                                                                              without his bones

or bricks that, perhaps, would want to detain him.
There is nothing except disjointed frameworks or canticles

                                                                                           of anguish that nobody hears

nor rehydrates their bottles

                                          with the maximum punishment of getting drunk with the dryness

that was left of water when the dust got lost

                                                               in the dilemmas that death poses,

the end riddle for the spectre that is-not

                                                                but still doesn’t comprehend it,

or doesn’t want to accept it and continues in its useless battle,

its endless tussle against him and his minions

forgers of tricks that drag him,

like ash or a doctrinaire chamber replete with mirages

or alcohols that originate nightmares that are there

                                                      but only after everything ends

and Everything begins to circulate anew.

Max Rojas

Max Rojas is considered in Mexico to be a true poet’s poet, in addition to being a recognized essayist, literary critic, and novelist. Rojas was born in 1940 in Mexico City and studied philosophy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. At eighteen, Rojas joined the Communist Party, beginning a lifelong commitment to the labor movement. He also served as director of the Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky from 1994 to 1998. In 1971 he financed his first book of poetry, El turno del aullante, in a print run of 100 copies, later republished in 1983. In 1986, he published his second book of poems, Ser en la sombra, before falling silent for over twenty years. He re-emerged in the late 2000s with the first installments of Cuerpos. Rojas’s poetry was relatively unknown throughout most of his life, though his early writings were popular with members of the Infrarealist group, including Roberto Bolaño and Mario Santiago Papasquiaro. After Cuerpos received the Carlos Pellicer Iberoamerican Prize in Poetry in 2009, his singular style attained some notoriety, making him a more influential figure in contemporary Mexican poetry. Rojas died in 2015 at the age of 74.

Zane Koss

Zane Koss is a poet, scholar, translator, and resident alien living in Brooklyn, NY. His critical and creative work can be found in tripwire, Asymptote, Chicago Review, the /temz/ Review, and elsewhere. He has published four chapbooks of poetry, The Odes (incomplete) and Invermere Grids (above/ground, 2020 and 2019), job site (Blasted Tree, 2018) and Warehouse Zone (PS Guelph, 2015).

Gerónimo Sarmiento Cruz

Gerónimo Sarmiento Cruz is a humanities teaching fellow at the University of Chicago and editor of Chicago Review. His translations, poetry, and criticism have appeared in tripwire, Denver Quarterly, Asymptote, La Tempestad, and elsewhere.