Some poems

Here like there
happiness seems a never-seen fleeting
shadow, since I know you,
you have forbidden the writing of letters,
you are right, yes, you are right
why write, since we know each other
but you know often the best known
will also be the most foreign,
the nearest, the farthest,
a fleeting shadow
there like here the I
the I and fracture, fissure
there certainly like here
blood soon flows from you
there, in my interior exile there must be
one like the one who writes this,
there must be a shadow that bears my own name
but because it doesn't favor pastels
one that is distinct from my own character.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Gaupasak [Up All Night], Susa, 1991.

How many names does death have
days of abundant measure, summer
making summer summery, winter ripening the cold
the heart ripening in the hearts
a harvest of suffering
and the mirror will show you
a different you your own host
the writer of all lost things

Perhaps you will have
lifeless spaces, yesterdays always and
fleeting time
time all is prophesied, you, soft,
introduced at dawn
in a thousand

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Gaupasak [Up All Night], Susa, 1991.

Because of the lack of rain and problems of life
demographic feeling
has become terribly scarce
an abundance of arrests
from night to night
letters from jail
of a profusion of hazy days
some meager lines arrive with difficulty
from time to time
like a weak howl
then silence
refugeed to distant towns
-- an insubstantial land of different perceptions --
floods of extraditions
death penalties are tiring
the black broom of our self-love for example
lies in a common grave
with the loose threads of suffering
desire in the teeth of night
barely returns
only to flee immediately
let them not cheat
the blame that is our sustenance
it had to be hidden in the darkest corners
like the last hero
the deed is forced to suicide
because of the lack of rain and
problems of life
demographic feeling
has become terribly scarce
to live in an occupied land
to be an occupied land.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Gaupasak [Up All Night], Susa, 1991.

We sold it sold
house, livestock, land, our land
we are but a host of the sold
if we knew that paradise did not
inhabit our hearts
we had land of our own
the proof songs a dance
legends stories
like a whole people
a gathering of facts to prove we existed
until they made us a child of history
making a treaty to name our duty
needing to remember being in order to be
the people set off jumbled to their hearts
home was everything
seek in books
forget about life
it was when branches blackened the weather like the earth
when the step was decisive
the only error fatal
trees alder poplar oaks
heroes our Selves
beasts wolf bear ice
paper tigers
it was near the end tribes of whales
moss the past time
a landscape that took us onto its lap
men women remains
guardians of mistakes
the drawing room they built willingly
a mirror to look in
what were our people made of... Dissolved
was it a northern tribe
would next spring's births be of the tribe as well?
living was not enough
we needed answers
after running a hundred meters which desert
did the dead travel to?
schizophrenia - a sickness invented by this people?
where did the dynamiters put the bombs
in their hearts or
on the borders, in the lands beyond?

And maybe that's all there is: I am from here
tomorrow it was hot
all is green

We sold it sold
sold house livestock land our land
we left
like American Indians to the reservation
bare-handed cold dark
in search of ourselves
from bramble to bramble, from heart to heart
children in our arms, the old limping
an obedient effort, instincts a river
under the gaze of a still afternoon
that the thing to be found was murky
that the epic poem was paradise to us in the passion of fate, the rules
of the road creating cadavers
treason desertion heroes
war and pestilence
fire frozen in duality
some time in the eternity of being
then made into a labyrinth

And the path planted petrified trees like people
packages traveled like a burden of life
other paths and those who wanted to return
when fallen never to gather their afflictions
by chance the vendors
they: the old
and their descendants: grave-diggers
our hearts changed with the passion of the journey
they dreamt of the north
there somewhere we left our house
but we had no house by then
it had been sold

Later in the tiny hearts of the northern tribes
a sold being
later in the tiny hearts of the northern tribes
in competition with a vendor

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Gaupasak [Up All Night], Susa, 1991.

Time left rotten stumps
some wrinkled bark and extinguished fires
the foreshadowing fear of the house hanging
decisive sentences a saying of life

A swamp populated by dissected astonishment
some names memories of a stone wine press
seeking from hand to hand burnt
and firm weakness when the rain comes

Emotions like a long necklace
dead trees in search of perception
a coyote at the border arrivals
no news waiting for the rain

Incomprehensible enigmas like glances
a few bare teeth a reflection of grass
a few new days laden with smoke
and dried up rivers of desire.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Gaupasak [Up All Night], Susa, 1991.

Joxerra Agirre on the Basque Country

It's snowing. Nothing is
as it seems. Dusk has silenced
the bustle.
The forest laments from
afar. Life has passed.
Houses sleep
ghostly, deep.
It falls softly.
The whitened benches in the plaza
wait for an
alleged arrival, cold.

He could arrive, marring
the snow in the plaza with footsteps,
look at the benches,
go into the house, stop by the fireside
stop and be fully Basque,
a trade for mutilation.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Bizi puskak [Pieces of Life], Susa, 1996.

Xabier alive

Perhaps they are wrong,
who knows? So many years
cracking the silence of dungeons
prison, closed, prison.
Drawing impossible geometries
with square pieces of sky,
they would sicken, perhaps,
dreaming of patches of life.

Perhaps they are wrong
in there, in jail
condemned to be symbols,
but they gave their lives
on behalf of those who believe.

Here outside on the street
who could say as much?

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Bizi puskak [Pieces of Life], Susa, 1996.

Martin Mann (Berlin)

You will say
what was a German doing
there in a place called the Basque Country
around 1942?

Deserting the horror.
It wasn't the best place, I know,
but what Hitler didn't achieve
Franco wouldn't achieve.

I fixed radios, going
from town to town, from house to house.
I was young and
having saved my skin
I fell toward life.
There is nothing like risk
to ripen the prick of passion

She was beautiful
and I brought her flowers
with my young promises. When it stopped raining
we walked along the edges of the flood
looking at the fleeing clouds.
The war ended
and I returned to Berlin,
with the promises I thought at the time I had fulfilled.
The time after the war was harsh
very harsh.

Berlin was a cemetery of foot soldiers,
people walked the streets
scattered, looking for bread
and eating their guilt.

She may still be alive;
and who knows,
under the mask of night
lying beside her husband
she holds me in her mind
lightning bolts, for a brief moment,
lighting a closed room of the past.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Bizi puskak [Pieces of Life], Susa, 1996.

Miren Yoldi Gomez on her sister's love

Did they love each other?
It could be too much to say they loved each other.
They married. In a civil ceremony
and before God.
Sister pregnant, brother-in-law
like a young bull going to slaughter.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it" my sister said to me
on her wedding day. Later means
let it be, I thought.
And we all went there
mother, flowers, banquet
rotten happiness, there is nothing more rotten
than decreed happiness.
Did he hit her? I don't think so.
Did he have a mistress? He's not man enough
for two women.
From the wedding day
they arrived the border
like seeds on concrete.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Bizi puskak [Pieces of Life], Susa, 1996.

Debra Woolf (Alabama)

The clock is ticking,
the comings and goings between the convalescence of the absurd
and calm exhaustion
don't let memories gather,
as though sometimes, like
a blind abrasive sword,
disturbed by you sharing a needle
with a stranger.
Pamplona, in Spain, you told me.

Look at Montgomery. Never
has this city had this
calm breath.
Sit in the park. The bench seems
a tame animal at rest. Look
how the houses swing
the silhouettes of the ash trees,
precarious trunks, naked branches,
leaves fallen to the ground, whirling,
point the path to winter.
Sit on the bench and look, those
are clouds and this moment can
last forever. Immerse yourself in the blue,
the blackbird flies beautifully
fleeing the cold, seeking another land.
Don't listen to the babble. Don't remember
the sweetness of summer when
you made love with that boy on the beach. Shoo the memories away
and be consoled: those who don't know
are not at fault, and you, then,
didn't know about your illness.
Forget and immerse yourself
in the generous blue.
Keep in mind fate makes us the reason
for no reason.
In Baiona, in the Basque Country, you told me.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Bizi puskak [Pieces of Life], Susa, 1996.

Ana Yoldi to her ex-husband Andres Basterra

Why forget
If death follows
Let's be friends you said
and left.
And I stayed there
pus dripping and dripping
as I watched you go.
You couldn't, you couldn't
it is a denial of reality
a skillful defense mechanism,
but not worth much.
Pus dripping and dripping
as I watched you go.

Then I had the telephone line
from the line where I lived on a line
life, if you can call that life.
I ran calling after you,
a plea dripping from my mouth,
let's run away, let's run away,
but you saw your destiny clearly:
for you no, it was a no,
but for me, suffering.
I ran calling after you,
a plea drippping from my mouth

Next time I had to kill you,
your death was my life.
And I went to you there
a stab to your chest
(figuratively, of course).
Take that you bastard, take that you bastard,
I spattered your brain.
You were dead and I alive.
How can we be friends?
(figuratively, of course).
I prefer the living for friends.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Puskak biziz [Living in Pieces], Susa, 2000.

Ana Yoldi

It is part of the laws of the market of love
even if we don't want to believe it:
the choice of a single object
is temporary. Then it leaves.
And when it has left, oh, love!
It is part of the laws of medicine:
close wounds, knit bones,
measure each person's dose...

What scars! But the trade,
the trade of each day can be learned,
it is merely a matter of modifying the laws of life:
contemplating the finest afternoon
for an hour seems long to anyone,
you can live without a single truth.
It goes on for a long time. As long as life.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Puskak biziz [Living in Pieces], Susa, 2000.

Joxerra Agirre going for the AIDS test

My life is like this waiting room.
Faces like empty dawns
look to the table in the middle of the room
or seem to be looking out the window,
but nerves, tapping feet,
make it clear: tense, waiting their turn,
the clang and clatter of time, praying for good luck.

You have to hold everything in when your turn comes.
Rise and disappear through the door,
hope in hand. Will. Destiny.
But you must prepare yourself in advance,
practice what will be said, gather your strength
for adversity. The worst?
Even thinking is to summon bad luck!

Magazines talk about life,
the sun leaves a beam on the tiled floor,
but looking like they caught us red-handed
won't bring good results.
Frozen lives... Even though everything is white,
it is the red of blood that is measured here.

The echoes of promises to renounce wicked things
still persist here in fearful eyes.
Complicity. All of us here belong to
a sort of secret society of sinners,
our death can occur because of an action
performed against advice,
numbers and tables can command when,
a virus decide how, but
it will happen since it happens,
even though everyone here pretends not to know:
since death comes to us all
it belongs to no one.

Only when they call someone
is the silence broken. Trembling
lips, weak legs,
apparent impassive concern in others' eyes
and, worried, they predict
who will pass through that door.

Life is a waiting room
"Let's see, Jose Ramon Agirre please..."
but of life itself.

© Olasagarre, Juanjo. Puskak biziz [Living in Pieces], Susa, 2000.

© Translation: Kristin Addis