Episode 3: Carl Sandburg & Cesar Vallejo with Guest Reader Yago Cura

I Should Like to Be Hanged on a Sunday Afternoon
By Carl Sandburg

I have often thought I should like to be hanged
On a summer afternoon in daylight, the sun shining and bands playing,
In a park or a public square or a main street corner,
everybody in town looking on and talking about it,
Newspaper extras spelling my name in tall headlines telling the town I am getting hanged.

And I smile to the sheriff and say he will be laughed at if the rope breaks
And he goes puttering, solemn, doing a duty under the law,
Feeding the ropes, searching corners, testing scantlings.

And before the cap is drawn over my head
And before my feet are tied for the straight drop
When I am asked if I have any last word to say before I go to meet my God and Maker;
I speak in a cool, even voice, fixing my eyes maybe on some dark-eyed mother in the crowd, a grown dark-eyed daughter learning against her.
I speak and say, “I am innocent and I am ready to meet my God face to face…”

I have often thought I should like to be hanged that way on a summer afternoon in daylight, the sun shining and bands playing.


Piedra negra sobre una piedra blanca
by Cesar Vallejo

Me moriré en París con aguacero, 
un día del cual tengo ya el recuerdo. 
Me moriré en París ?y no me corro? 
tal vez un jueves, como es hoy, de otoño. 

Jueves será, porque hoy, jueves, que proso
estos versos, los húmeros me he puesto
a la mala y, jamás como hoy, me he vuelto, 
con todo mi camino, a verme solo. 

César Vallejo ha muerto, le pegaban
todos sin que él les haga nada; 
le daban duro con un palo y duro

también con una soga; son testigos
los días jueves y los huesos húmeros, 
la soledad, la lluvia, los caminos...

by Cesar Vallejo, translated by Paul Muldoon

I will die in Paris, on a day the rain’s been coming down hard,
a day I can even now recall.
I will die in Paris—I try not to take this too much to heart—
on a Thursday, probably, in the Fall.
It’ll be like today, a Thursday: a Thursday on which, as I make
and remake this poem, the very bones
in my forearms ache.
Never before, along the road, have I felt more alone.
César Vallejo is dead: everyone used to knock him about,
they’ll say, though he’d done no harm;
they hit him hard with a rod
and, also, a length of rope; this will be borne out
by Thursdays, by the bones in his forearms,
by loneliness, by heavy rain, by the aforementioned roads.

Yago S. Cura is an Adult Services Librarian at the Vernon branch of the Los Angeles Public Library in sunny South Central Los Angeles. He is a former N.Y.C. Teaching Fellow and A.L.A. Spectrum Scholar who also happens to publish the poetry, fiction, and prose of authors from las Américas in Hinchas de Poesía (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) with Jim Heavily and Jennifer Therieau. Along with Ryan Nance, he is the co-founder of the Copa Poetica (http://copapoetica.us), a three day reading series in Los Angeles on the rest days of the 2014 World Cup. His Spanglish blog, Spicaresque (http://spicaresque.blogspot.com), has had more than 58,000 visitors. Yago’s poetry has appeared in Huizache, KWELI, PALABRA, Borderlands, Lungfull!, COMBO, LIT, U.S. Latino Review, 2nd Avenue, Exquisite Corpse, FIELD, and Slope. His reviews have appeared in The St. Mark’s Poetry Project Newsletter

“Scotch Tape Releases X-Ray Power!”

--title of Oct. 23, 2008 article in Science section of the N.Y. Times

Devoid of purpose, porpoises trace the shoals.
Likewise, snipers always do their thinking in supple temples.
Even plumbers understand: natural gas mains quicken suicide allure.
And steaks: steaks don't understand na’fing but blanket sauce.
Photons create energy as they de-adhere, trust me, enough energy!
You can X-Ray your finger in the nimbus of the unspooling.
Byzantine charges don't alarm applicants with fetid credit.
They just slap them on like some caste patina, like lottosplooge.
You still haven't inquired as to the why, the what of this seedling.
This is a prerogative of unearned providence, a trophy-coated plaque.
It reads, Lies Sustain the Surely Seasoned Despite Surmise.
Maybe something I might make in my mind, a something short of nuance.