I see him arrested
in New York, while a whore
with a magnificent face looks away
and men, mid-poker hand,
say, Ave Maria, why does somebody
always have to lose?
With the others in his holding cell,
he wakes bluely
to more blueness, to the tune
of rodents nosing at soup cans
and a cellmate playing his elbow
against the prison bars.
A man with the wrong look about him
is arrested. His name is César.
They call him indio narigón
and he does not resist.
The words remind him of Lima,
which he’s been missing.
Idra Novey is an American poet and translator. Her first book of poems, The Next Country, received the Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books and was included in Virginia Quarterly Review‘s list of Best Poetry Books of 2008. She’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers Magazine, and the PEN Translation Fund. Her most recent translations include a volume of poems by Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros, Birds for a Demolition, and Viscount Lazcano Tegui’s Argentinean cult-classic novel On Elegance While Sleeping. She teaches in the MFA Program at Columbia University and at NYU. (updated 11/2010)