from Heritage: Selected Poems (1956-1978) by Abigael Bohórquez

Works from Heritage: Selected Poems (1956-1978) by Abigael Bohórquez
Translated from the Spanish by Eloisa Amezcua








At midday, the water,

lit within,

folds itself waters below

the surface;

the sun sets in the mirror of the depth,

and the water returns it


The swan

falls and doesn’t lose

its bewilderment.

The wind has gone

because it has;

a tree without space, without wind

is worthless;

the wind knows sorrowisnottheworstafterall its happiness

but there you are, by the light;

the wind sleeps

an ancient shuteyed rigging,

but there you are,

and the water takes back

its blue vigor, boy,

my love.













if I was quiet;

if I got serious;

if I let

that sacred modesty

hide this sweet mercy;

if I remained as from here to oblivion;

if my face decayed and I grieved,

and quietly contained,

not revealing the unexpected grace;

if I hid it;

if I were face down on top of myself

and I gave up my own name

and I was the forgetfulness of a flower;

if night fell,

and no word of mine gave faith of the miracle,

for the trance of dying is so quiet;

if I objected to declare;

if I refused to deny

that nothing, nothing is true, except I,

sweetly I, punctual with my skeleton,

and I would accept this glowing fear

to confess:

what am I, who am I then,

who I’ve always been, the same,

the one who’s only spoken the truth

and nothing more than the most cruel


the one who today has woken

glowing of old age,

delighted to return,

the one who, today,

plain and simple, gets up,

fixes his beat-up chest

and declares,

with a trembling voice in what is left of words,

the nineteenth of January, two dots,

it’s just that

I love you.









drink after drink of memories

I go, walkingdead, the heart,

the wine,

the pain,

the sour night,

the secret brotherhood;

I don’t always hold back;

if I ask for no one I call to everyone;

I take my rage for a walk,

my miserable eyes,

my crippled pride,

my radiance lost.

but it’s a lie that I be here;

you are this terror

and I’m in the dark…


boy of tepid tricks,

officiant of distress,


clearer corner,

now that you’re gone:

let’s undress.







nothing over here, nothing over there;

nothing in this hand, nothing in the other;

an eye,

two heads,

three arms, four feet;

the drowned,

at dawn,

still want to swallow


and the dove of noah,


even a serenade.










we’re face to face.

the silence, my love,

wins us over for good.

don’t speak, oh, dear head,

flower of this old tree.


let yourself make words.




from a distance.













Al medio día, el agua,

luz adentro,

se tiende aguas abajo

de la orilla;

el sol baja al espejo de la hondura,

y el agua lo devuelve,


La golondrina

cae y no cae

su azoro.

El viento se ha ido

porque sí;

bien vale el árbol su sitio

sin el viento;

el viento sabe soledadnoeslopeordespuésdetodo su alegría,

pero estás tú, a la luz;

el viento duerme

un antiguo cordaje sestecido,

pero estás tú,

y el agua recaptura

su poderío azul, niño,

amor mío.






si me callara;

si me pusiera serio;

si dejara

que el sacrosanto pudor

recatara esta dulce merced;

si me fuera quedando como de aquí al olvido;

si decayera mi semblante y me apesadumbrara,

y sosegadamente contenido,

no revelara la inesperada gracia;

si lo ocultara;

si me fuera de bruces sobre mí mismo

y me diera contra mi nombre

y fuera la desmemoria de la flor;

si anocheciera,

y ninguna palabra mía diera fe del prodigio,

por tan callando el trance de morir;

si me opusiera a declarar;

si me cerrara en negar

que nada, nada es cierto, sino yo,

dulcemente yo, puntual con mi esqueleto,

y aceptara este resplandeciente temor

a confesar:

¿qué soy, quién soy entonces,

qué he sido el de siempre, el mismo,

aquel que sólo ha dicho la verdad

y nada más que la más crudelísima


el que este día ha amanecido

fúlgido de vejez,

maravillado de regresar,

el que, ahora,

simple y sencillamente, se levanta,

compone el pecho desvencijado

y declara,

con un temblor de voz en lo que queda de palabra,

diecinueve de enero, dos puntos,

sólo era que

te amo.






a trago y trago de recuerdos

voy, muertoandando, el corazón,

el vino,

el duelo,

la ácida noche,

la hermandad oculta;

no siempre me contengo;

si pregunto por nadie llamo a todos;

salgo a pasear mi lividez,

mis ojos miserables,

mi tullida soberbia,

mi resplandor perdido.

pero es mentira que esté yo aquí;

eres tú este terror

y estoy a oscuras…


niño de tibias maquinaciones,

oficiante de la perturbación,


rincón más claro,

ahora que no estás:







nada por aquí, nada por allá;

nada en esta mano, nada en esta otra;

un ojo,

dos cabezas,

tres brazos,

cuatro pies;

los ahogados,

al alba,

todavía querían tragar


y la paloma de noé


con las mañanitas.











estamos frente a frente.

el silencio, amor mío,

definitivamente nos congracia.

no hables, oh, cabeza querida,

flor de este árbol viejo.


déjate hacer palabras.






a distancia.















Translator’s Note:


Abigael Bohórquez was born in Caborca, Sonora, in 1936 and died in Hermosillo, Sonora, in 1995. Despite living in Mexico’s capital city for many years, he is little known or studied outside of his home state until recently. A poet, playwright, journalist, actor, cultural ambassador, and more, he overcame many barriers faced by gay men in the Mexican socio-political climate at the time. In poems deliberate and innovative, it is easy to recognize that regardless of geographical location, all people desire freedom: freedom of expression and freedom from oppression. His is a poetry of necessity.


With an arsenal of ample lexicons, Bohórquez blends languages of Spanish past and present. Through archaisms, neologisms, and dialects, his work is linguistically receptive and sensitive. It is a language all his own, created from the fringes of society that did not understand or accept him.


While my background is incomparable to that of Bohórquez—I am a straight, cis-gender woman born in the United States to Mexican immigrants—I feel a kinship with his poetry. He lived in my mother’s hometown of San Luis Río Colorado for a few years. My grandmother remembers meeting him at parties. The landscape of many poems is the same landscape I’ve visited hundreds of times in the Sonoran Desert.


His poems are like photographs piecing together the life of a man who always on the periphery, in a geographically literal sense, with nothing but language to make sense of his experiences. Bohórquez’s work demonstrates that the bleakness and abandon of a life in the desert is not only geophysical, but bleeds into art and literature, in word or image, in one’s perception of oneself.



Abigael Bohórquez (1936-1995) was a Mexican poet and playwright from Caborca, Sonora. He studied theater and playwriting at the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA).  Spending much of his career outside of Mexico’s literary circles, he held teaching positions at the Universidad de Sonora, Institutio Nacional de Bellas Artes, and others, and published over a dozen collections of poetry and drama.
 Eloisa Amezcua is an Arizona native. Her poetry and translations are published or forthcoming from Poetry Magazine, The Journal, Prelude, and others. She is the author of On Not Screaming (Horse Less Press) and the founder/editor of The Shallow Ends. You can find her at

Original Artwork by Sarah Mazzetti at

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