Tag Archives: Javier Etchevarren

Javier Etchevarren

Translator’s Note:

With only 3.4 million people, Uruguay is the smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America, but it has always been well-populated with poets. On most nights in Montevideo, there are poetry readings at multiple venues ranging from the national library to neighborhood bars. This poem is one of many works selected for América invertida: An Anthology of Younger Uruguayan Poets which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. 


Javier EtchevarrenJavier Etchevarren (author) was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1979. He is the author of the poetry books Desidia and Fábula de un hombre desconsolado. His poems will appear in América invertida: An Anthology of Younger Uruguayan Poets,forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. His poems have appeared in Palabras errantes and the Notre Dame Review. 


Don Bogen (translator) is the author of four books of poetry, including his most recent book An Algebra. His versions of the work of contemporary Spanish poet Julio Martínez Mesanza have appeared in Boston Review, Pleiades and other journals. He is the Nathaniel Ropes Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati and the poetry editor of the Cincinnati Review.



the worn-out arteries of the city
spew copper
there are families who live off that death
they live in the toxic cloud
with no more protection than their skin
the metallic smoke strips away their profiles
a toxic shout deafens their sense of smell
and they live off that death
near a blaze of tires and rags
it’s their job to gather up wire
at sunset other twilights take their toll
living off that death
they cough in their dinner plates when night comes
they’d like to remove
the copper that accumulates in their lungs
because it’s worth eleven pesos a kilo
and these folks live off that death



las arterias caducas de la ciudad
derraman cobre
hay familias que viven de esa muerte
habitan la humareda tóxica
sin más resguardo que la piel
el vapor metálico les desagarra los perfiles
un grito tóxico ensordece los olfatos
y viven de esa muerte
con un fuego de neumáticos y harapos
obligan al cable a reunirse
tributan al ocaso otros crepúsculos
viviendo de esa muerte
llega la noche y tosen frente al plato de comida
quisieran arrancarse
el cobre que se acumula en los pulmones
porque lo pagan once pesos el kilo
y ellos viven de esa muerte