Pombero, Señor de la noche (Lord of the Night)
i – La mujer
A door shut, a machete dropped.
. You woke her up with strange noises,
drops of sweat covered her body.
. A hammock nestled her, legs dangling.
Some say you stole her barefoot that night,
. took her deep in the selva. Hypnotist
gaze, your hairy face uncrowned.
They say you forced her. She didn’t
. scream enough. You left her abandoned
under a knotted ceiba tree. They talked
. of tainted sperm. Her seven children
ugly as you. They smell alike. Spotted
. fruit for black bees to feed on. Scions
of half-moons. Their monstruos hands.
Lascivious nightjar, your illusive whistle
. echoes all that dies in the forest
a myth no one dares to speak of.
. Your forbidden name, peril hides
in every letter, a sudden call: their pit.
. Believers prefer to name you quietly,
but never—nunca! at night.
ii – El hombre
Will you turn transparent, Pombero
. lure him in, with your obscene dance?
He walked knowing something
. behind infested yataí trees.
They didn’t see him as he pleaded,
. no witness around. You opened him.
Then escaped into the form of a golden sicalis.
Slumped on dried salty mud, blooming
. pink Lapacho covered in honeyed milk
on his arse. The mark of an ambush
. he could not forget, as he returned
among buttress roots, his swollen eyes.
. As he tasted Pÿragué’s saliva,
a burning hymn on an altar fire.
Instead of coins, they leave you rum,
. fresh tobacco, molasses for you to snatch.
Burning incensed tapers for protection,
. a bad harvest beckons. Drink it all
Karaí Pyhare, you are the poor farmer’s saint.
. Instead of eyes, amber stones gleam,
you kneel down, kiss the ground.
iii – El pueblo
. Pombero, with just one stroke
you make them go mad, they lose
. all they have—their gods, their demons.
Your hairy palm unlocks the forest door:
. headless animals, babies upside down
hanged from trees, stolen novias in parts.
. Grinning trophies you dangle around.
They say you are lord of a silver mountain,
. that somewhere inland, in the woods,
rises a summit of pure silver—de plata.
. They say you are known to be generous,
that you’d gladly give me part of
. your treasure: a goodwill sign, a talisman,
some feathers. A silvered tongue.
Now that night has fallen, this Sylvan forest
. of yours grows ears, you are back
to bewitch them with your dog whistle,
. your echo of an echo. Beware
of scattered semen, it pollinates the jungle,
. seeds will spread, strangle the shallow floor
until all is spoiled. Cho Pombé’s gain.
iv – La invocación
You could name all the things inside yourself:
. a Universe going backwards
for a deathless ritual. You’ll promise
. to protect all passerine birds that land
on your cracked hand. They’ll be good
. to you, Pombero, to your tender outline
if they follow you around: You’ll be named.
They now say you roam the forest to save us,
. our thicket, el monte. You will ambush
the insatiable spoilers. Slaughter
. bird-catchers, fishermen, loggers.
If they can’t see you, where is your heart?
. Where the wild force that guides you?
Selva’s eyes have opened, she woke me up.
Pombero, come close to me. Strip me
. of skin, bones, precious stones
as I invoke you, your unholy tail.
. Furtive figure, no shadow disappears
but footsteps, crushed wet leaves
. suffocate the poisonous dawn.
Then a sudden knock at the door. There!
Leonardo Boix is an Argentinean poet, journalist and educator. He is the author of two collections in Spanish, most recently Mar de Noche (Letras del Sur, 2016). His poems have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, The Rialto, Magma Poetry, Litro, The Morning Star, as well as in anthologies, including Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe, 2017). Boix is a fellow of The Complete Works scheme.