Manlio Argueta (El Salvador, 1935)
My country is a land of lakes, mountain and volcanoes,
|but youd better not come here|
|on our lakes.|
And the sun, the sun! If you arent careful
Youll fry like a fritter.
Kids and dogs pee in the doorways.
Beggars steal bread in the hotels:
|you can die of hunger|
|you can die of rage|
|never of death death.|
Dont forget the snipers, the car bombs,
|the exploding bridges.|
If you go out, dont take your wallet, dont wear your watch:
A thief might mug you
And snatch your lottery prize.
Oh, yes, be careful not call my country a shit hole,
well tie you to the lamp post on the corner
and rape you
and rip your guts out with one slash.
Make sure youre not around for a change of government,
I swear to God, you should stay home.
But my country is the land of lakes, mountains and volcanoes.
Drive two kilometers out of the city
And youll meet mountain lions and snakes,
giant wasps, scorpions, and spiders.
Best to stay in the city
|and fill your lungs with bus fumes,|
and street vendors yelling.
My country is a land of lakes, mountains and volcanoes
but don´t come here if you want to go on living.
|A snake might bite you.|
|A mountain lion might eat you.|
|or a hotel room.|
Or there might be a bomb, a stray bullet, a flower
And your bones devoured
And your and
Translated by Jo Ann Engelbert.