Beneath the streetlamps that dimly populate the strand, he delicately arched his torso


                  Sharp and sequential

                  He submerged his head [which inevitably will be lost between his supple shoulders],

as wind filtered through his porous body


                  And with open flesh –  like an eye –  

he twisted his neck against reality: the taut rope strangling in spiral


                  Until at last he entered a narrow room with scarce,




                  Icy and stiff like a dead man’s lips


                  He bellowed:


                  - I always spit- he said- my star-shattered words against the wind


                  (The metal spheres let their weight be felt on his shoulders)


                  He closed the door with a click

And pressed <play>: The tenebrous voice of a dark vocalist[i] crests that electric mountain which shakes the hypothalamus







                  Slowly he takes in the scene

                  [A black banner waving in the sector]

                  [The deep growl of engines]


                  And from the compact agglomeration of shadows, sways a voice - that could be a bell –:


                  –Heroes are born with a bullet between their eyes


                  Spun in the air like curtains which fall swirling and swirling in a whirlpool he arrived to kiss a dark ring – which could have been the mouth of a gun–


                  Then the drums rolled


                  (His veins open)


                  He raised his hands and extended them: three membranes distended.

White bones







                  And a violent sequence multiplying itself in his blood







                  Then, he wished to move the world between his thighs and give it a squeeze


                  He lit up a cigarette –because that’s how it was always meant to be – and the revolver’s thin lips trembled

                  And he trembled, too, like a wounded mortar


                  [I’ll stay and wait for an eclipse / pursuing an enigma to the tune of the hours/ drawing an ellipse (I’ll stay) between the sun and my heart][ii] he mused


                  Until at last everything darkened, as was foreseen


                  [His head rang like a bell tolling at the height of its own structure]







                  And a prayer rebounded from the sleeping one




                  5.0 A L O V E O F M O R T A L N E C E S S I T Y



                  Curvilinear, with soft skin and burnished hair, he pressed a kiss onto the black revolving chamber

                  A certain pain gnawed at him: the nerve, twisting, distended a vein


                  The icy lips

                  -Allow your icy mouth to touch me


                  The pallid skin, so radiant and pale


                  A suicidal tear venturing into the vacuum


                  -The weight of my temples,

the dagger that bends me down,

the spur that scrapes me

for your primrose breath- he recited, already dark


                  The one who had been his was satisfied,

                  And biting her swollen lower lips: you no longer exist




                  5.1 T O R S I O N



                  She watches the wheels spin and – on their axles – disintegrate, waving


                  Taken aback by the force exerted by the rigorous mechanism, she empties the enormous bags of rain that swell beneath her eyelids


                  Her earlobe swells


                  Her chest bursts


                  And with fleeting emotion –goodbye– a faint alveolar shine is lost beneath the rouge


                  -Dissolve two grains of salt, let them be shed


                  He travels with the white spheres

                  He is filtered, cooling his spinal cord


                  She lay down but continued to exhale

                  She saw her prayer rebound from the one asleep


                  And the dance exploded with the force that trumpets proclaim: she bends low letting scars escape as he spins, twists; takes flight and jettisons (V. cortejo funebre)


                  And, so,

it is too late: the watery prism disintegrates her gaze,


and in the form of a liquid kiss

spreads over the one asleep




                 5.2. S T I F F E N I N G



                 -Hit your mark,

skillful lady, aim well


                  (Tight held the candelabra, tense the myocardium) SHE FLIES:


                  Aloof to the asyncopated pulse

                  To the robin’s blue song

                  To the great sobbing of the opposite sex


                  (Slow the rupture, brief the stammer)


                  Between bell tolls

she ripped out a splinter

and expired on his chest




                   5.3. T H E R E C K L E S S S P I N O F T H E S E N S O R S [C o r t e j o F ú n e b r e][iii]



                   Black birds wriggle along pecking at the clouds

                   An elastic ray lashes the leaden hill


                   Wide are the drops that the sky discharges in thick crystal drops

                   Wide are the skies that fall on his blurry and fragmented body


                   With his face blurry, disintegrated, he raised a question: do you hear, up in the heights, the knife penetrating?


                   And then another: Do you shelter, Father, some Holy Pain in your chest?


                   (He collapses): Did some red rose, on your side, open its eyes? Is your sky-blue solitude as brutish as mine? Do you get red like this, when you love? Do you become gelid, do you stiffen? Do you really tremble?


                    Listen: Does gold pour from your eyes when you see me prostrated on the ground?


                    He lifted his lips and prayed: Only open a hole in the galaxy for clotting, far from your dreadful gaze, Lord of the Tremors


                    He lifted his lips and a grenade flowered on the tip of his tongue.



[i] Robert Smith:

Dropping through sky / Through the glass of the roof / Through the roof of your mouth / Through the mouth of your eye /  Through the eye of the needle / It's easier for me to get closer to heaven / Than ever feel whole again

[ii] Radio Futura

[iii] Greetings to The Eternal Fingers of the Cholo Vallejo




                  Arqueaba tenuemente el torso bajo las farolas que poblaban débilmente la extensión


                  Agudo y sucesivo

                  Sumergía la cabeza [que se perdería inevitablemente entre ambos hombros mullidos],

mientras el viento se filtraba a través de aquel cuerpo poroso


                  Y con la carne abierta – como un ojo –

torcía el cuello contra la realidad: la cuerda tirante estrangulando en espiral


                  Hasta que al fin pudo ingresar a una estrecha habitación de

aire comprimido,



                  Helado y firme como los labios de un muerto


                  Expulsó un bramido:


                  —Siempre escupo – dijo – mis palabras estrelladas contra el viento


                  Cerró la puerta con un chasquido

y apretó <play>: La tenebrosa voz de un oscuro vocalista[i] se levanta sobre esa montaña eléctrica que estremece el hipotálamo






                  Observa lentamente el panorama

                  [Una banderola negra ondeando en el sector]

                  [El grave roer de los motores]


                  Y desde la compacta aglomeración de sombras se descuelga una voz – que podría ser una campana –:


                  —Los héroes nacen con una bala entre las cejas


                  Giró en el aire como unas cortinas que caen oscilando y oscilando en remolino llegó a besar un anillo oscuro – que pudo ser la boca de un cañón –


                  A continuación redoblaron los tambores


                  (Se abre las venas)


                  Alzó las manos y las extendió: tres membranas distendidas.

Los huesos blancos






                  Y una violenta sucesión multiplicándose en la sangre







                  Entonces quiso poner al mundo entre sus muslos y apretar bastante


                  Encendió un cigarrillo – porque siempre tiene que ser así – y los delgados labios del revólver temblaron

                  Y él también logró temblar como un mortero herido


                  [Esperando un eclipse me quedaré/ persiguiendo un enigma al compás de las horas/ dibujando una elipse [me quedaré]/ entre el sol y mi corazón][ii] – pensó


                  Hasta que al fin todo oscureció, como estaba previsto


                  [Su cabeza sonaba como una campana que repica en lo alto de su propia estructura]






                  Y una plegaria rebotó contra el durmiente




                  5.0 U N A M O R D E N E C E S I D A D M O R T A L



                  Curvilínea, de piel lisa y bruñido pelo, imprimió un beso sobre la negra recámara giratoria 

                  Cierto dolor le fue lamiendo: el nervio, al trenzarse, le dobló una vena


                  Los labios helados

—Deja que tu boca helada me toque


                  La piel pálida, extremadamente radiante y pálida


                  Una lágrima suicida aventurándose al vacío


                  —El peso de mis sienes

la daga que me dobla

la espuela que me araña

por tu aliento primoroso —declamó, ya oscuro


                  Se relamió la que fue suya

                  Y mordiendo sus inflamados labios inferiores: ya no existes



5.1. L A T O R S I Ó N



                  Ella mira las ruedas girar y – en su propio eje – descomponerse, ondeando


                  Abatida por la fuerza que el riguroso mecanismo imprime, vacía las enormes bolsas de lluvia que se inflan bajo sus párpados


                  Hincha el lóbulo


                  Revienta el pectoral


                  Y con la emoción que huye – adiós – un tenue brillo alveolado se pierde bajo el rouge


                  —Disuelve dos trozos de sal, que se derramen


                  Él viaja con las esferas en blanco

                  Él se filtra enfriando su médula espinal


                  Ella se reclinó pero continuó exhalando

                  Ella vio rebotar su plegaria en el durmiente


                  Y con la fuerza que proclaman las trompetas estalló la danza: ella se ladea dejando escapar cicatrices y él gira, se retuerce; levanta vuelo y aligera (V. cortejo fúnebre)


                  Es, pues,

muy tarde: el acuoso prisma descompone su mirada,


y en forma de un beso líquido

queda extendido sobre el durmiente



                   5.2. R E C R U D E C E


apunte bien diestra señora

                    (Firme el candelabro, tenso el miocardio) VUELA:

                    Ajena al pulso asincopado
                    Al canto azul del petirrojo
                    Al llanto extremo del sexo opuesto

                    (Lenta la ruptura, cortos los balbuceos)

                    Entre tañidos

le arrancó una astilla
y expiró en su pecho



                  5.3. E L A L O C A D O G I R A R D E L O S E N S O R E S [C o r t e j o F ú n e b r e][iii]

                  Negros pájaros culebrean picando las nubes

                  Un rayo elástico azota la plomiza loma


                  Anchas son las gotas que los cielos en gruesas gotas de cristal descuelgan

                  Anchos los cielos que caen sobre su cuerpo borroso y fragmentado


                  Con el rostro borroso, disgregado, elevó una pregunta:

                 —¿Escuchas, allá en las alturas, el cuchillo que penetra?


                  Y luego otra: ¿Alojas, Padre, algún Santo Dolor en el pecho?


                  [Colapsa]: ¿Abrió los ojos alguna rosa roja en tu costado? ¿Es tu celeste soledad tan bestial como la mía? ¿También eres así rojizo cuando amas? ¿Te pones gélido, recrudeces? ¿Realmente tiemblas?

                  Oye tú: ¿Oro derraman tus ojos cuando, postrado, me ves en el piso?


                  [Proyectó los labios y oró]: Sólo abre en la galaxia un agujero para coagular, lejos de tu espantosa mirada, Señor de los Temblores


                  Proyectó los labios y una granada floreció en la punta de su lengua.

[i] Robert Smith

[ii] Radio Futura

[iii] Un saludo a Los dados eternos del Cholo Vallejo

Translator's Note

Notes and Reflections from the Sphere of Translation

Marta del Pozo & Nick Rattner


The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk is best known for his work on Spheres. In this trilogy, he develops a philosophical view of man as a being whose existential mode is sphereological, as opposed to modern alienating views of the subject where man has been imprisoned in an interior space. Sloterdijk writes, “To be modern is one who contests ever having been on the inside.” As an alternative to interiority, Sloterdijk proposes a Heideggerian relational mode of being in or being with the world, and, describing the nature of our relation, writes, “Individuals do not exist except as particles or as poles of spheres; all that exists are only couples and their extensions.”


Sloterdijk is not solely referring to the romantic couple. When he talks about couples, Sloterdijk refers to the curved psychic field space in which we live, always relational. In fact, for Sloterdijk ontology starts with the number 2, so 2 is the beginning of being, and a relationship between two people is the first mode of existence.


As you will see in this selection from Act Five of Czar (pronounce SAY zar) Gutierrez’s La caída del equilbrista (Fallof the Tightrope-Walker) these poems, in keeping with the work of his literary predecessor, Vicente Huidobro’s Altazor, can be read as an existential fall of man, as the breaking or implosion of the first sphere, which is the sphere of the Father. The book is an existential quest to reconnect with this Father figure (we could say this is the subject´s own psychic principle) as well as his female companion, and, on a cosmic level, it is a search for what Octavio Paz´s epigraph at the beginning of the book announces: a fraternity over the abyss. In Sloterdijk’s vocabulary: it is a sphereological search in a space of psychic resonance.


While translating Czar’s remarkable poems, we have immersed ourselves in Sloterdijk’s relation theories and discovered a strong resonance between his philosophy and the act of collective translation, which has taught us a great deal about the tuning of psyches in search of a word, a text, or even a poem that simultaneously resonates within two spheres.  Fraternity and solidarity are, therefore, key words for a sphereological interpretation of collective translation. Sloterdijk notes, “Whoever has received a minimum of good communitarian experience, whoever has been a member of a dense, religious or non-religious community, whoever has felt the way in which something like common intensive spirits are formed among political, artistic and theoretical groups. . . and thus whoever has had a clear experience of animation and solidarity, needs no long discourses in order to be converted to the mode of sphereological thinking.” (161)


Sphereology draws from Nietzsche’s idea of the philosopher as a physician of culture. Therefore, it has a specific therapeutic concern for the psychological sphere of man against the maladies of modernity: alienation, the lack of an interior space, the triumph of instrumental reason, the deprivation of the mythological sphere of man. All of this is what sphereology looks to recover.


The history of translation also starts with this premise, the healing of the “psychic” cataclysm called Babel. The Bible offers us the first instance of collective translation: the Pentecostal passage of speaking in tongues. By one account, this was a sphereological happening, a therapeutic one, which, in accordance with Sloterdijk´s media theory, would assume the mediality of individuals as beings of passage, beings as passages. Those tongues floating on the air would refer to those psychic principles vibrating in the same frequency, resonating with each other.


This is what our experience of collective translation was and still is. It involves finding rhythms, images, interpretations that resonate within both of us. There was always a verbal dialogue, but many other times there existed an intuitive accord, what you might call the non-programmatic recovery of relation. Maybe that happens because a shared unconscious mechanism has been triggered; in the end, the poetic sources and references that we have in mind are similar; perhaps this relation owes to similar educational backgrounds. We don´t know, but we remember what the avant-garde Russian thinker Filonov said: “Intuition is an analytical comprehension of the unconscious.”


We believe that analytical comprehension happens at all times, especially when one enters the realm of language, art, or poetry, when there is the common objective of privileging the original force which is the text, when the subject/ object relationship is totally dissolved and all that remains is an event, a text emerging through our tongues, which we consider not to be the infallible organs of speech, but those psychic principles that allow for wordless understanding. 


Our spherology has been infused by what the poetic I in The Fall of the Tightrope-Walker says at one point during his fall: I want to be fresh mouth, sometimes only rhythm.


[A previous version of this note appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Epiphany]




Marta del Pozo
Nicholas Rattner


In the Classroom