In this constellation of screams,
this swing-and-sway of diverse human tides,
I search for the crisp current of your saliva,
that salve sizzling with words and wild laughter.
I strip off shirt, fear, and shoes,
and rise through scales of air and nothingness,
to tackle and deflower
the stripped-bare truth of your desires.
I bombard the night
with my trepidations of a firefly,
and my hands plunge underwater
to sabotage the red blaze of your legs.
Unexpected, I arrive searching for your saliva,
assuring it won’t senselessly gush
into that vortex where all is lost,
or to moisten the earth
where grass and winged swallow
become siblings from thirst and death.
I search for your mentholated saliva,
to stick back heads
dropping from the bodies of children,
and to nourish the cells
of lepers seeking shelter.
To open the eyes of kittens born
beneath the wild rails of the sun,
and remove the stamps
from censored letters reaching me
from diverse, distant ports.
I know all the other lovers arrived
to kiss the rosy scars of your lips,
to extract the juice from your ripe lemons,
to wound your flesh and inflame your arms.
Yet I have arrived searching for your saliva:
your saliva that cures blindness,
your saliva that can burnish metals,
your saliva that relieves my sore limbs,
your saliva that drowns the rage of viragos,
your saliva that washes the shirt of god,
your saliva that softens one’s conscience,
your saliva that opens holes in stones,
your saliva that is fragile the moment we embrace,
your saliva that is perfumed, colorless blood,
your saliva that is the seed of saints and prophets,
your saliva that is salt and holy water
extinguishing the wrath of demons.
All the other lovers arrived searching for your flesh;
instead, I writhe searching for your saliva
to inject into this sick animal
which I lug imprisoned in my shirt.
Antonio Gamero (1917–1974) was a Salvadoran poet. Gamero created a startling poetry commensurate with the Vanguards of Europe and the rest of Latin American. The poem Buscando tu saliva was considered especially salacious and caused a scandal upon its publication. It was included in his first of two collections of poetry: T.N.T. (1948). Apart from the notable presence of Nicaraguan poets in anthologies of Latin American poetry, many Central American poets are not visible in the panorama of Latin American letters, dominated by poets from Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina. This predicament must have been even more glaringly obvious for a poet from El Salvador during the 1940’s. Gamero’s T.N.T, as its title emphasizes, is an explosion of humor, eroticism, neuroses, surreal and militaristic metaphors, and allusions to the war taking place at the time of its composition. As translator, I sought to recreate the oneiric ecstasy and electric anaphora of the poem which seems to draw its energy from the long lines and catalogues of Whitman, the Bible, and other literary movements from Europe which were slowly, but surely reaching El Salvador.
Anthony Seidman is poet translator from Los Angeles. His most recent books are A Sleepless Man Sits Up In Bed (Eyewear Publishing, London), Confetti-Ash: Select Poems of Salvador Novo (The Bitter Oleander, New York), and a translation of J.M. Servín’s memoir of life as an undocumented immigrant, For Love of the Dollar (Unnamed Press, Los Angeles). He has recently published poems, reviews, and translations in World Literature Today, The Black Herald, Poetry International, Huizache, among other journals.