Roberto Bolaño

Godzilla in Mexico

Hear me, my son: bombs were falling
over Mexico City
but no one noticed. The air spread poison through
the streets and open windows.
You’d just finished breakfast and were watching
cartoons on TV.
I was reading in the next room
when I knew we were going to die.
Despite the dizziness and nausea I dragged myself
to the kitchen and found you on the floor.
We hugged. You asked what was happening
and I didn’t tell you we were on death’s telethon
but I whispered: we are going on a journey,
you and I, together, don’t be afraid.
When it left, death didn’t even
close our eyes.
What are we? you asked a week a year later,
ants, bees, wrong numbers
in the big spoiled soup of chance?
We’re human beings, my son, nearly birds,
public heroes and secrets.

Version by B. H. Boston


When Lisa told me she had made love
with another, in the eternal telephone booth of life
in the market in Tepeyac, I thought the world
ended. A tall thin man with
long hair and a long cock, didn’t wait even
one night to penetrate her to the core.
It’s nothing serious, she said, but it
is the best way of getting you out of my life.
Parmenides Garcia Saldana had long hair and could
have been Lisa’s lover, but some
years later I saw he’d died in a mental hospital
or committed suicide. Lisa didn’t want
to lie any longer with losers. Sometimes I dream
of her and see her happy and cold in Mexico
designed by Lovecraft: We listen to music
(Canned Heat, one of Parmenides Garcia Saldana’s
favorite groups) and then we make
love three times. The first time he comes inside of me.
The second time inside my mouth, the third, hardly a thread
of water, a short fishing line, between my breasts. And all
of that in two hours, Lisa said. The two worst hours of my life,
I said from the other end of the line.

Translated by Mariela Griffor and B. H. Boston