Louis Bourne (Richmond, Virginia, 1942), poet, translator, Hispanist and sketcher, lived in Madrid for 32 years and now teaches Spanish and world literature at Georgia College & State University. He was Editor of The Carolina Quarterly and Associate Editor of the Fernando Rielo Foundation’s plurilingual poetry magazine, Equivalencias. As a translator, he published books by V. Aleixandre (The Crackling Sun, 1981), María V. Atencia (Selected Poems, 1987), R. Bordao (Libro de las interferencias/The Book of Interferences, 1995), Clara Janés (Huellas sobre una corteza/ Signs on Some Bark, 2005), J. J. Padrón (On the Cutting Edge, 1988, and Memory of the Fire, 2004) and Canary Island poets of the 20th century (1992); as a poet, Médula de la llama (“Marrow of the Flame,” 1981, Second Prize, Gules Awards), Lienzos en lo humano (“Canvases in Humankind,” 1986), Ráfagas de un signo (“Gusts from a Sign,” 1997) and poems in English, American and Canadian magazines (Illuminations, International Poetry Review, Prism International, Weyfarers, etc.). Bourne’s first poems in English were published by exiled Romanian poet Ion Caraion in his magazine, Correspondances (Munich, 1982). The University of Málaga published his study, Fuerza invisible: lo divino en la poesía de Rubén Darío (“Invisible Force: the Divine in Rubén Darío’s Poetry,”1999). In  2001 he won the William Arrowsmith Translation Award from Agni Magazine for his versions of Rafael Alberti poems. Obsidian Press published his translation of Escurriduras de la soledad/Last Drops of Loneliness (2008) by Rafael Bordao. 


Leaving Madrid


Are you coming to see Askar’s new nave?
Another space to sanctify the item?
No God springs up in primaveral grass,
but explosions of weedy growth
offset an old Citroën dealer with drab
green awnings drinking stained pools
of sleeping sun.
 If you call for a father
in the fields, you’ll face the twisted
metal of agave leaves, meaty fingers
from a god’s leather corpse, while yellow
broom flowers sweep away each breath.

Alcalá’s cypress-sworded cemetery
offers green swards to assuage still
blocks of brick. A playground restores
life’s human sprouts, boyish mats
of hair, thrashing legs, exerting smiles.

What we hope for in our deaths
is to be plowed over, under, up
till we dry into twinkles of mica stars,
scattered dough of some terrestrial
baker assumed in a chapel needle’s thrust,
pointing to where grit involves our ghost.


Reminder of a Respite

Did she slip past his door? He move hers?
They saw themselves historic, overlooking
cobbled streets. Where carriages stopped, 
horses seeded droppings, steaming reminder 
all their stars turned rural. She weds
the half he grows to, one fruit, while
branches twist in suns’ fatigue and fall.

None’s blessed by surety of choice.
He reached himself by what he wasn’t.
Maybe a sea fate’s one thing love returns
when a woman tills his passing lot.
Not bred to climb marble stairs, he swallows 
honed horizons where stalked light climbs,
clean growth swelling into silken waves,
ripeness foreboding fallow fields.

In his farmhouse tower, he dreams
the land is aching, goodness seeping
from the soil like a born bitterness
guiding grape, olive and almond,
goading virtuous fruit in rural thoughts,
annealing patience in metals of willing hearts.

Everything’s wanting, each creature driven,
walking the body’s dusk to reach the fold.



The Voice of Astringency


Little knot of yellow fruit,
acid sputum, leached earth,
you climb from bitter soil
and cry, anonymous
breast unsucked.

Little package of pores
hoarding acrid drops of truth,
becalm unquiet eyes
with your dazzling beacon
till you draw arms of tired sun
into dark bouquets of leaves.

Unlike others, you kept
your rue, your sorrow sour,
your concentrated tear, so we
could always taste dawning
sweetness in your look,
spurring pungency in salads,
refining oils of sea-born flesh.

I want to sip the source, forgotten roots,
see orchards waving scattered stars.
Here’s a liquor on which to thrive:
radiant milk sharper than whey,
lighting sallow strains of age. 


Olive Groves

Soft slopes,
                    pockets of green shade.
Back scratchers
                          for sheep,
boles for lichen
                          to infiltrate,
obstacle courses
                           for restive ants,
these trunks twist
                             into iron facts.
Afar, they stand
                          at attention.
Nearby, they
                     slouch, waver
in assigned places,
                              gnarled proof
no geometry of man
                                 orders earth’s
conniving course.
                            Guitar strings
strum the wind,
                          chords without plazas
or children’s cries,
                              fruit to oil pans,
feed an idle
                   appetite, or leave
a seed, a taste
                       of bone. Nuggets
with bitter juice
                          recall stern beliefs
in tolling bells.
                         The village converts
dry rows where
                         crickets, in waves,
telegraph wants,
                          and winds
dive through grasses,
            as over spindrift,
pleading for lost caves. 


Unexpected Opponent
(fragments of an elegy)

                                            To Adelina Rosales Martín (1951-2007)

A shadow cast its shade over our lives.
The echo of your step
in memory’s living rooms and landscapes,
and I stared Lady Death in the face.

On the second floor,
in a room in Anderson Hospital,
she died alive,
her face of tenderness astonished,
a look that mulls remembering in me.

Everything started in the trap of a mole,
in the spider of a sunbeam,
an ultraviolet instant,
a ghost emerging from the light,
leaving an ill-fated seed,
the birth of that obverse
monster of life,
probing among the cells of a foot.
O foot, surrendering its way,
beauty’s delicate passing.

A ray, a hidden leaf blade,
invisibly cast its dark light,
a nail in the heart


Copyright © 2008 Louis Bourne 

Louis Bourne 


Make a Free Website with Yola.