Poems From The Life Assignment

By RICARDO ALBERTO MALDONADO

Join us as we celebrate The Common contributor, Ricardo Maldonado’s, Pub Day with poems in both English and Spanish from his debut book of poetry, The Life Assignment.

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 I Give You My Heart

I find myself on my feet with fifteen leaves.
Everything carries its own light on the walls.

I woke up to slaughter, my heart opening
to cemeteries of moon—

the parasites, the drizzle. The mud crowning
the undergrowth with immense sadness.

I knew death when I dressed
in my uniform.

I found the index of solitude: my country
in its legal jargon, its piety, its fiction—

Yes. It loves me, really.

I give my blood as the blood of all fish.

 

Os Doy Mi Corazón

Me encuentro de pie con quince hojas.
Brilla todo en los muros.

Desperté en su sacrificio: mi corazón se abría
entre cementerios de luna—

los parásitos, la llovizna. El lodo coronando
la maleza con mustios grandes.

Supe de mi muerte al vestir
de uniforme.

Encontré el índice de soledad: mi país
en su jerga legal, su piedad, su ficción—

Sí. Me quiere, de verdad.

Doy mi sangre como la sangre de todos los peces.

 

I, Ricardo, Detached from the Human Ricardo

In youth, they left by onion
roots to draft an inner life
as reserve for the state—

with a deep throbbing I deviated,
I feel from dignity and calm. I,
anxiety grabbed me

with sciatica, although I recited poems
at a stone’s throw, inside the machine

elevator. The clattering of the empire / its capital
an arsenal of pain, it made for a rough

odor. Now can you see the monument? I pored over
the fuselage, going on in a gray suit

toward roses. I breathless (meanwhile) the air
from the head itself, I breathe—

((Radio Oro. Son las 5:27 en San Juan.))

They gifted me from previous life
an illumination inside the chest.

 

Yo, Ricardo, Separándome del Humano Ricardo

Cuando joven, me dejaron que entre cebollas
se formara en mí vida interior

como reserva de estado,
con los latidos siento que desvío
de dignidad, de calma. Yo,

la ansiedad me agarró
con dolores de ciática, aunque recitaba poemas
como guerras a pedradas dentro de las ascensores
y máquinas. El parloteo del imperio / su capital
un arsenal de dolor, pero de mal olor

hecho. ¿Puedes ver el monumento? Vertido sobre
el fuselaje, yendo de traje gris a atrapar

rosas. Yo sin aliento (mientras) aire
del propio cráneo respiro—

((Radio Oro. Son las 5:27 en San Juan.))

Dejaron en mi vida anterior
una iluminación dentro del pecho.

 

“I Give You My Heart / Os doy mi corazón” and “I Ricardo Separated from the Human Ricardo” from The Life Assignment (c) 2020 by Ricardo Alberto Maldonado. Appears with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.     

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He is the translator of Dinapiera Di Donato’s Collateral (National Poetry Series) and the recipient of poetry fellowships from Queer|Art|Mentorship, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and CantoMundo. He is managing director at the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center.

Poems From The Life Assignment

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