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March 21, 2021 by The Citron Review

by Salvador Villanueva

Translated from Spanish by Gustavo Rivera


I used to always bite my nails
I sat in front of a mirror deep into the night
I held my chest
I asked for forgiveness
I recognized myself in front of all
I said please to them many times
I tried to see clearly
I listened to them time and time again
I tried to talk
I held my tears
I threw all of my stones
I felt myself more execrated each time
I imposed on myself the patience of a spider
but I was deteriorating at an augmented pace
I one day couldn’t take anymore and snapped
I started to stammer
me morewhenwillthedaybe
me whatelse
me tillwhen
I no longer said words
I spent five years of my life teaching.


Yo pasaba mordiéndome las uñas
yo me sentaba frente a un espejo a altas horas de la noche
yo me tomaba el pecho
yo pedía perdón
yo me reconocía en frente de todos
yo les dije muchas veces que por favor
yo traté de ver claramente
yo les escuché una y otra vez
yo intentaba hablar
yo contuve mis lágrimas
yo tiré todas mis piedras
yo me sentía cada vez más execrado
yo me impuse una paciencia de araña
pero yo me estaba deteriorando a pasos agigantados
yo un día no pude más y me salí de madre
yo empecé a balbucir
yo máscuándoseráeldía
yo quémás
yo hastacuándo
yo ya no dije palabras
yo estuve cinco años de mi vida dando clases.


Salvador Villanueva, born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in 1947, studied philosophy at the University of Puerto Rico. He co-founded and co-directed the poetic journal Ventana and the literary journal En el País de los Tuertos; he was a co-founder and co-editor of Ediciones Ricardo Garúa. He has published the following collections of poetry: Poema en alta tensión (1974), Expulsado del paraíso (1981), Fin (1987), Libro de los delirios/La comatosa noche (1989), El corazón en huelga (2009), Jodido (2012).

Gustavo Rivera is a radical educator, writer, translator, literary agent, publisher, Boricua Bestial, and former Master Courier, with recent work published in Apogee, Misery Tourism, and others. He directs SVPRESS, teaches in CUNY colleges, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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