Photographic Memory and Other Poems

Photographic Memory and Other Poems

Nacho Oliden


Cuando creas que algo detrás de ella palpita,

Se extinguirá la luz y con la luz tu ensueño.


The lighted window across the street

is inverted in this nocturnal puddle.

The things, like projected film,

just passing on the surface…

When there is no light to wait for me,

in memory she will be what she was in that puddle.


… si no era más que un frente eléctrico de lámina sin costados ni fondo, para nosotros la escena filmada vivía flagrante, pero no en la pantalla, sino en un palco…

QUIROGA: ‘El espectro’

Let me sit in my row and enjoy this human devilry that

resulting from the cult to the machine,

allows the presentation of souls.

As coming out of a high cauldron,

gas and ghosts confused,

souls shown to souls light the bodies.

The rolls of life are released, the destinies unfurled,

And as long as the light consents the spell,

I’ll be the other:

I’ll be the boy walking up the zig zag paths,

I’ll be Gena Rowlands amusing on the stage,

I’ll be Moreira, stabbed, staggering with courage,

I’ll be Hutter and I’ll be Wayne and I’ll be Django;

at every second, I’ll be Argos, recognizing my Odysseus.


The old gentleman claps the telescope to his eye, looks all round, sees nobody else in sight, stares at Tom again, and cries out very loud: Hal-loa!

DICKENS: ‘The Lamplighter’

To go out and wander

looking for that face untouched by the eyes

and unseen by the mind.

That face of mysterious and uncertain birth,

waiting at its table, in its corner and its shade.

To invent chance and fulfil the unalterable future,

for when the face, the crystal, and my eye align,

I’ll exclaim as I always do,

like the astronomer who clapped the telescope to the eye,

and found only a lamplighter’s face at 5 in the afternoon:

Hal-loa! Here’s an extraordinary fulfilment,

of a prediction of the planets!

Then the light and the ink will unite,

and the memory of the world will be enlarged.

Nacho Oliden

In charge, with Facundo, of the translation column Paraphrasis, I share hidden or forgotten treasures with the literary world. I find LPB an extraordinary point of encounter for cultures and arts, for discovering new authors, and for enjoying life in its poetic form, whether it be reading the submissions, or talking with the editing crew.

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