MANUEL TZOC BUCUP translated by NOAH MAZER

Crimen de un corazón que no recuerdo

1

I want to feel the serenity a normal person does when they walk along the beach or maybe hire a dream hitman

To everyone who had the misfortune of being born on my birthday
—i was born on march 24, 1982 at 5 a.m.—
and they flew black steamers from their windows
and they celebrated crying because blue mites were breaking out
ay! FREEDOM is being ALONE &… &… &…
and all the womens’ legs opened
to let out all the attempts of the poet in placenta
we dripped in red and sticky liquid 
stained/attacking/infecting everything in our path
screaming and asking ourselves what is this
that floats on the breeze and hurts so much
trickery in the air and rage in the words
i looked at the whole world silvered/shining
flaming with light and the multicolor hair cream burst in my eyes
i touched the sticky current of hate with my fingers
so as to be able to say the secret of the things beyond the clouds
the secret of my own life beyond this tattooed and useless body
“my love””i love you” bad tattoos on the sick skin of a bum
someone who loved someone or other in some cycle in their life
we’re all that cycle
we’re all that deserted love
we’re all that bad tattoo on life’s black skin
and i don’t know anything about this universal language i’m using
and drinking tea won’t calm me down AT ALL
and going for a walk won’t help me AT ALL
why lie if happiness is obvious in my eyes
in the last few days i haven’t finished any work at all
except this one
i don’t know where this one will end for me
where it’ll exterminate me
where it’ll take me
i want to kill this poem and i don’t know how
truly i want to delete it/erase it/liquidate it
maybe i’ll manage it by entering the sleep of my other poems
maybe by literally killing my other poems
maybe by hiring the dream hitman
i ask myself if i should keep writing
i ask myself i should keep living
if i should go on gathering words like fire
and blow them down like the big bad wolf in the 3 little pigs
so they can say SO SO SO MUCH

2

On how to box with the word and not die in the attempt

my poems are my children
and children bring trouble
that’s why you look for a wall in ruins
to cry a poem
to bleed a little too much
on public transportation and ignore the fare increase
for the fat lady who takes up two seats
and sweats like a sexual sauna
sometimes i can’t take the loneliness
of the passengers lying with their expressions
to the dead hope of the ex-cons
who get on the bus to ask for change
ask the sad driver for his extorted pay

and i go simply with my belly full
and my heart empty

3

And i hold my book of images against the chest
because it’s the only weapon i possess
my only shield to protect me against all of you 
animals of the tropical jungle
of the dementia safari
of the visceral jungle
i know what i say
i know what i say
but not what i do
I want to play in the casinos all night
bet this ruined life on the musical slot machine
pay the spelling mistakes in the poetry books
pay the overdue bills of the anesthetized memory
as children we were cruel with animals too
with plants and the other kids
as children we also touched our soft and intimate parts
as children we also drew black cats on the innocent walls
i know what i say
i know what i say
but not what i do 
………………………………………………….
I know what i’m saying i PROMISE
but i don’t know what i’m doing i PROMISE

4

god spit out sad toys for us
and pica-pica to play with at the lecherous CARNivAL 
machines of clandestine desire
intestine
destined
canine
ivagine that everything is an unmade world
and full of strawberry jelly mmmm…
where the macaques and the gangbangers drink cappuccinos
at saúl e.méndez
“me comprendes méndez
yo no sé por qué no entiendes”**
but surely there’s nothing you need understand
to go down this hallway, sticky with strawberry
that paints my skin as i graze the walls
full of jelly blood

but god insists on spitting out outdated toys
to be forgotten up on rusted-out tin roofs
or to be hurled at the public charity children 

god never forgot us
for us, he spit out broken and rusted toys

_________________________________

**Control Machete

5

It’s the way i turn the page
with my fingertips
as if i were opening the floodgates of a little hell
the birds died in my hands
that’s how tiny they were
as i felt the last throbs in their feathers
but it had to be like that
no other way
because you have to be where the blood throbs
where life’s boils and pus
come up and spill out over the pierced body

6

For the day / For the days

For the day I read El tiempo principia en Xibalbá
by Luis de Lión and it changed my life
for the day I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey
by Stanley Kubrick and it drove me crazy
I closed my eyes and walked in a starlit tunnel
for the day I read the works of Alejandra Pizarnik
and couldn’t sleep and cried much but wrote much too
for the day I put on the Kid A Radiohead cd
and burst my eardrums listening to it so much
for the day I became too happy
because a strange voice said to me “I miss you”

For the day / for the days
I watched the sun set in different countries
for the day maybe the only day
I felt complete looking at myself in the mirror
and went out on the street swelled with courage and pride 
for that sainted day that never came back
but that I wait for anxiously every day
for the day I saw Bosch’s paintings 
and stayed deranged for hours

For the day I wrote my first poem
for the days when I’ll write more poems
for the day when poetry won’t matter to me anymore
for the day for the good fucking day
on which I decided to come out of the closet and scream to the 4 winds
that I am a free fag “FREE” and constrained by this backwards coutnry 
for the day I decided to travel to Mexico illegally
I shat on the borders on the reserves on the soldiers on the immigration laws
but the good star of poetry watched over me guided me waited for me
dear god! for the days I don’t remember for the forgotten days
for the days I slept till 3 in a depressive hangover

for the day / for the days 
on which I feel utterly sad
for the day on which I’ll kill myself
for the day on which according to me love no longer mattered
because it never knocked on my door or appeared at my window
for the day on which I realized being indigenous was not a synonym for  inferiority
and being homosexual was not a synonym for sickness

For the day / for the days
I fight with this depression that soothes my days
for the day on which I say “I have to play I don’t know how but I have to play”
and I keep falling and falling back on those days and days and days 
on the days I squeezed out orgasms masturbating to my liking
on the day on whose dawn I read the PDF version
of Roberto Bolano’s Los perros románticos and I howled romantic at the night 
for the day I listened the whole way through to the two cds
of Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
and felt myself part of their melancholy sound
for those days I don’t want to get up because Baudelaire said it best: 
“sleep rather than live” “sleep rather than live”
for the day I located my house on google earth from my house 
and felt strange, watched by my shadow
for the day my father snatched a stick of lipstick
from my mouth when I was 6 and he was afraid I’d turn out gay 
for the day I spent in jail in Aguas Calientes, Mexico
for scandal in the public street
for the day an immigration agent boarded the bus headed to Oaxaca
and told me I could not continue my journey because I had no stamps in my passport 
for the days I was detained with the Central American migrants
and lived the powerful experiences of defrauded people devastated people modest people

For the day / for the days
I wrote all of the aforementioned and wanted to get more from the heart and failed
For the day I decided I liked what was sad what was utterly sad 
for the day/for the days/for this day that has no date or hour or being

7

New day: write a cold morning of an open and wounded window. Write all that your eyes can capture… and my friends and i float naked and drowned on dead seas to see marine wildlife or hermaphroditic plants. So it’s nice to know that writing is a waste of time to others. So I lose myself in the time of the dreams written by my amputated dreams. I give thanks for my possession by the strange ghosts of poetry for the temptations of writing for the phantoms of blessed literature. So it’s nice to know again that a poem dreams again if it’s read.

8

Now i remember them all
(my dreams)
i was a bitten apple
a cricket jumping in a kindergarten
these were my wet dreams
literally wet
i was my father asking the mirror
about his poet faggot son
i was a surprise gift, full of explosives
at a president’s door

Now i remember
jumping from a starship / 
with my multicolor parachute / 
i held my barbie tight / 
and she was screaming I’m scared! I’m scared! 

Now i remember
i had eyes on my fingertips 
my god! 
big ones
i was a sculpture made of eyes 
hangover eye
irritated eye
red eye
world eye
god eye
hate eye
i had eyes inside my eyes

now i remember

i had ants on my feet
on my hands and face 
i devoured them one by one
i dreamed i awoke in love with life
and it was a nightmare
a joke in bad taste
a half-truth
i dreamed of writing poems to the nation 
to the teacher
to the national symbols 
love poems to a young man
and this truly was a nightmare 
i’d rather dream of good poems that give you goosebumps 
of poems that wait quietly with an axe 
behind the door of your house
i’d rather dream of being a girl’s weeping
because her balloon has flown off 
and floats now between the clouds 
i’d rather dream that i can switch my eyes 
for lynx eyes or neon bulbs
and print millions of copies of my heart, shattered, in pieces
and hand them out to the walkers on the street

I remember well now
those weren’t my dreams
they were me


Manuel Tzoc Bucup is a Guatemalan Maya-K’iche’ poet and interdisciplinary visual artist.

Noah Mazer is a poet, translator, and New Yorker working in Mexico City.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.