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Peruvian Poetry

Translated by Anthony Seidman



Carlos Oliva


On these streets where love is a word

which one doesn’t see


I discovered a state of being as beautiful as

a flower that is yellow by night: Anarchy

I had to lift myself above that dawn

and take some leaps as beautiful as a triumphant Nureyev

I had to rip my heart over the asphalt

drink alcohol at night

moan atop a body that was also moaning

my consciousness was the diamond that cut the waves

of a hellish sea drawing memory:

demons like angels sculpted in precious stones and fire

carved in bloody rubies

paintings extracted from some Dali delirium /

I have the voice of lost years

poetry is an integral state and verses are born in springtime

like precocious children from this era of intense velocity

your open spaces will be useful for containing the overflow

of my imagination that streams like bubbles in the blood

of my wound open to your eternity, O poetry 

you’re a mountain chain of beholdings

technology of an aesthetic chipped into memory


sleeplessness rage time

and so each verse has its past present and its future each

verse carries memories emotion hopes that wrack

my bones robbed like a fruit from the past

and the past is the recollection of a girl I loved

erratically and 

with the psychotic lucidity in the nights of Athena

when she stripped

intelligence and wisdom from a body as beloved as a poem

I have yet to write

and so I will go in search of that infinite verse

I will go like radiation in this restless night

like a brothel for the rich wherein pretty adolescents

are tried out for the first time /

everything must be destroyed

only I can intone these verses over the silence

because the perfect recital is found in solitude

without any listeners apart from my images

clinging to the present

where the ill-fated years hold off against the thrusts of the water

of these stormy seas from which

I emerge as pure

as a dinosaur that outlives the past.



A Mask's Confessions

Miguel Ildefonso


I cut off an ear in order to better hear the sounds of poesy,

and in order to seem a bit like Van Gogh.

I dedicated myself to listening to all types of music until I discovered

Schumman in that urban sprawl, La Victoria.

I chewed the fat with the whores, and visited almost all

of the Lima brothels, in order to acquire a philosophy as

stringent as Cioran’s.

One night, I ran across Pessoa exiting a movie-theater,

his face was thickly whiskered.  He remarked: Hey, it’s always

a good idea to set aside a few poems for posterity.

Saturday, I was off the shores of the Herradura, zipping along a chromatic wave and

Luis Hernandez surfed by me, reading Shelley and drinking an ice-

cold brew; I couldn’t make out the label on the bottle,

but I knew he was reading Shelley from that direct & easy

manner in which he did a hang-ten.

Poetry is written for your buddies.




The Secret Place of the Desert

Miguel Ildefonso


An entire forest of sadness is an apt phrase

for the feeling of being nobody.

But it might just occur that Holderlin walks

on this silvery shore

beneath the murmur of the forest.

Many dreams would come forth like beasts to console your cheeks

just like the strange glance that resides high up

over the rooftops.

On the shore of a tree, light and shade are meanings

that have taken on their immensity, not alone but accompanied

in the open field by birds fashioned from words.

Only after having closed the road, no longer aspiring, to arrive

at the house of aspirations, in the silhouette of an absent flower,

Holderlin reclines on the tense edges of the night

which do not succeed in

touching the dream because the dream has another edge

like fingers

of blood boughs from which a dry leaf falls, one which has strayed

from the route

Here we see him smiling in a photograph of a garden

which also is a photo of many birds.

The cacti can no longer tolerate the noise, they await any

vagrant shadow in order to ask that it carry them off.

To describe this garden is no longer a mythology, the years that slice

the cemetery

gave the trees a humble abode.

The windows darken, the doors open.

On the other shore, our old words rain,

and there’s a light at the end for those who pause in order to

contemplate the silence.

Holderlin enters the fire of the perpetual forest

and there’s no room for his shadow.

From the eclipsed drowsiness of things, the rose of the winds opens.

Blind, like a tree, the old man closes his overcoat,

coughs and sets himself

into his own center.  A  Lady stripped of tears

on the other shore

and her leaves of gold dissolve in the water.



Hector Ñaupari


I know that you must have awoken from a long dream

in which I was a shadow as watchful as

a tree’s, a tree which also dreams of you.

It could be that this tree is now a mast

guiding your sail through a sea that is never tempestuous yet never calm,

an ocean with waves like murmurs

where each drop is my body that rocks you from one side to another

like the bed in which you are, ab initio, a lily and, during love,

a hungry panther,

and I, far from being a hunter, am a deer devoured between your

arms as white as a piece of primeval ice,

though which I slip

lightly as I if had no weight.

In you I’m just barely a swoon, a sunray that faintly tries to melt you,

and turn you into roused water, love:

avid liquid that churns from the mountains and

never yields but falls and falls and falls

until arriving at the river whose channel am I once again, my love,

and in my fury that spindrifts over you, drowns you,

you abandon yourself

barely covered by the groans that run from your mouth

to mine

as when in the act of love

we are once again one

like the sun that is devoured by the sea

without igniting it nor snuffing it,

only making its temperature rise and

creating the clouds,

and those clouds are you, at times cumulus, at times cirrus,

and I, the azure-emboldened sky that always holds you up just

as I now hold you over the bed’s edge and lift your legs

in order to take you and

I lick your knees your crotch your thighs,

and you electrify yourself, you are rain, lightning-laden, falling over

my body,

and I am fertile earth my love,

grass burgeons, trees grow, birds, savage cats

that regard you with drooping eyelids while you fall, fall, fall

you fall like a porcelain doll among sheets of the girl who

you are anew, love,

you fall like your breasts over my chest, your legs chewing at my lungs,

I love you with abandon when you want to absorb me entirely, leaving me

without a thread of respiration, only to

spool it anew, threading it with your deep kisses, love of mine,

kisses on my face, on my lips, under my arms, 

and then you arise like a wind-swollen sail

or the tallest building in a city,

and I run through all of your streets, those most narrow and hidden,

those flooded with light, or shadow-webbed,

because the city is you,

and I am an errant shipwreck,

Malcom Lowry dancing in the volcano of your body,

drunk on you, and not merely tequila, peyote, but

Paul Gaugain painting you savage, elemental,

priestess of French Polynesia or

of this poet, taciturn, yet who recreates and describes you, dreams of you, and

writhes with you in sheets, just as in this poem.




Josemari Recalde


To learn how to place a period and a comma.

To learn how to consult the fragrances.

To learn how not to abuse the spiritual soul.

To learn how to in-differentiate the colors and to communicate with birds and trees.

To learn how to differentiate Chopin from Bach, and Amadeus from Vivaldi.

To learn how to walk in a simple manner, like omnibuses along the Express Way, or like dogs.

To learn how to caress.  


* Banisteriopsis caapi, also known as Yage, is a South American jungle vine.  It is used in preparation of Ayahuasca, a decoction used as a medicine and “plant teacher.”  It is cultivated and ingested by Shamans.  The reader familiar   with Ginsberg and Burroughs will remember their Yage Letters.



Sermonem ad Mortuos

 Josemari Recalde 


At the end of the myths,

when everything is de-invaded,

we’ll discover, who knows, a light; no,

no, I don’t want to

belong anymore to a true or

to a false reality,

and because of that

I light my body on fire. 



 The Fire’s Vertebrae

Harold Alva


Over your shadow, the eagle beaks bleed

the skull bones that frenetically tune my dreams,

this nightmare that launches me to the abbey’s attic where

your body stretches out safe and sound

your cat-like structure

your breath that enters my cell like a tornado

like a snake that turns the evening and its motives into stone,

the evening and this judgement hurling insults at the flight of gulls

the vapor trail that denounces your wildness

your blood that mixes with my wild heart

and crushes it like a leopard who intuits

the imperceptible shredding of these echoes

of these words that persist like

a riled leopard who runs across the savannah that ignites

the reflection rippling atop a spring’s water

where, like algae, all of my silences reside,

as well as the oneiric cathedral that acquits your absences

and the language of another tribe that yips like a coyote

And I await you

besieged by this labyrinth

by this flash of errors that unravels my name from your lips

the exquisite sea that attacks with its breeze

the probe that secures itself against my bones like a crocodile

like the malignant beast that reigns over my nightmares

the world where I chip away at this fire jawbone

this diamond jawbone this

tiger jawbone this music jaw that has snapped

the solitude of the equinox

and I await you

with my terror of daybreaks

with this fear volleying insults against building windows

and doors that open like nameless sluts

and I await you

and I chuck myself at your forehead

like some Telemachus who curses in order to

regain his Ithaca

And you:

venom of darkness from the cannibal Isle

you hold up your hands to the prow of Trans-Atlantics

and emerge like an angel that has transfigured its wings

Your voice returns

and the mountains are the same skulls that subordinate  

the language of this city

this heap of murder victims and concrete

Your voice pillages the bloody structures of this instant

the muscles of gorillas that shred the fertile fields

the plots where I have shed my skin

to the repertoire of other crows

and I await you in order to

tear down the fences and

the lurid framework of the stables

where a colt

has inked

your name across the border.

The Jivin' Ladybug- A Skewered Journal of the Arts
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