The First Letter From The Astronaut Poem by Javier Campos

The First Letter From The Astronaut

It's ages since I've been
Walking in this unknown valley
I'm the moon-colored character in a silent film
Who climbs in slow motion down from his space ship
And stares at himself in the shop windows on these streets

I'm nothing but a shade in a plastic suit
A somnambulist in a dream wearily getting off a train
Who goes into invisible houses and talks with ghosts of the past

I'm the astronaut from a space ship in ruins

They destroyed all my belongings
And allowed a fleet of missiles to fall in my yard
Acids by the ton
Bacterial matter
They went into my house to look through my letters
They descended by the millions from the frigid mountains of the galaxy
They massacred all my childhood memories
Hid them in unseen computers
Now I'm the astronaut of a darkened house
That travels under this bombed-out city

The trees are so old on this Avenue
The street vendors who pursue me are ancient
The solitary pairs of teenage lovers
Are frail birds of the dark who spend their lives
Freezing on park benches

The posters for millenarian picture shows are falling to pieces
The face of a famous villain
Whirls in tatters through the air, up against walls
Like an invisible, yellowed photograph gone berserk

I'm the astronaut who floats through a city
Made into a wide-screen TV

Then I see millions of beggars
Run past in the corner of the screen
Teenage women dancing naked
in an iron cage
Caressed by dark, happy characters
Who jump unexpectedly out of flaming automobiles
and disappear

I'm the astronaut who comes down from a ship
To look at his house emptied of furniture
His yard smoldering
His possessions charred by the radioactivity of forgetting

I'm the astronaut who's looking for something
To rip open this burning suit of exile
This screen that appears and disappears before my eyes
Full of women who wave to me
From a non-existent window

I'm the astronaut
Who wants to be a mirror of fresh water
To find his lost letters in the basement
To see the almost invisible likeness
Of someone who only once swept sweetly into our hearts
And never returned to sing for us again

I'm the astronaut in delirium
Who's always banging on a locked door
Where nothing will never ever be again

I wish someone
Would let me fly into my real house
Open up the closed train station
In the middle of the night
Relieve me of all these sour fruits
That grow in the interminable forests of this ship

I'm the astronaut who arrived in a country that no longer exists
A white train full of nuclear arms
A ship wreck
Traveling under ghost towns and ghost cities

I'm the astronaut who only hears the cold winds
Of a land he came from, where he now returns

This city exists no longer
It's an abandoned airport with crumbling planes
A station where trains are made of ice and snow
A plaza full of dead pigeons
Besieged by the perfume of fatigue
Guarded by the demented passion of an impossible love
Assaulted by flames of volcanoes on the sun
A bone-dry garden of forgetting
Covered by the yellow desert of absolute nothingness

This city is a lonesome house that goes circling the moon

I'm an ashen bird
Who sings before dying and looks out
From this ship where he travels sealed in
The one who hears his house from the past
His window on the future
Crash down into rubble
That old landscape now filled with black meadows
Whipped by snow
By the plagues and torments of Hell

I'm the astronaut
Everyone takes for an old man
Who came back from other planetary cities
The letter carrier with amnesia who walks with a white cane
Who gestures so somebody will help him off with his snow-covered suit
So somebody will destroy this ship
Put a torch to it forever after

I'm an invalid passenger on a rusted train
Traveling perpetually through an unreal city
While I write out these images of annihilation
And contemplate the yellow countryside
The burned trees
Through the windows of the wrong house

In a city covered by the dark ruins of nostalgia.

(Translated from Spanish by Nick W. Hill)

Javier Campos

Javier Campos

Chile, now in USA
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