THE TRIBULATIONS OF DON DIEGO (in the style of Eliseo Diego)

By Domingo de Ramos

          On the road, smoky, more like oily
from Altamira where the little light
forms dreamy partitions in the dust
I grew up one of a kind on the ground-level trembling
grainy abolished and fictionalized
without opal to polish myself
I pulled myself up like a house under the moon
and I said to Diego Is this island or sea?
pointing to the scale model where a recently cut
breadcrumb was floating
No- he mumbled moving his pearly snout
it is Altamira and palpitating cherubs
getting submerged in the glow of streetlights
that turned the air into the mist
of cinemas paradisos and Diego who was more
profound than silence grabbed the whirlwind
demonized from fictions and his city imagined
his equestrian statue among the heaps
and in a click pushed away what was overwhelming him
It was hugging woods that the ocean was throwing
It was Altamira’s solitude more real than the breeze
of the Origin Diego closed his eyes like
a wandering ingrate raven in the shadows
and his head gets lost in
the clear foliage of his fingers
and I said beheading! beheading!
and the echo of a laugh contained me
Diego cackled from the tunnel he was at
“Road of Altamira the kingdom my true dream
you understand me” then everything oscillated in seconds
and I abstained from taking a wee, does
Altamira really exist or was it part of my denial
or was it an evil eye the product of my scanning
mathematics from this cutting-edge technology
opening me up like a damaged cyclone?
but Diego always attentive returned
to the blood circulating
What the fuck is this? he grumbled knocking everything down
like a useless thing with ether and he says it is only turmoil
turmoil the work of some plutonian burn
turning to flames the resinous chromosome genes and
neurons to end it all with the Origin
with the molding with the dome of the world
And God knows that he has time to teach me
“the clear flip-side of death
weekdays for eternity
the unstanchable song of the spheres
On the road from Altamira
my custom overwhelms me
and I answer everyone Nevermore Nevermore
I have become sullen baleful gloomy and hateful
and I want to rest take a look
over these brittle streets
and like that the waves could be brown forever
and the world could rotate like the river of the river itself
to be blinded and blinding at the same time
erasing my footprints as I pass by
waiting for the day
with one foot messed up and the
other foot pointing to the south
pushing those wind machines
like a warped piece of wood
when I saw that
Diego turned red and upon his transformation
I read him drinking troughs that I found
at The Bus Stop
“Oh Prophet –I said– or elf more prophet in the end
whether you are Bird or Devil–I now send your house receipt
you will fend for yourself with the south-west wind
swept across this desolate beach
But dauntless you found this city of Altamira
You who has raised the deed the perimeter
the phosphorus boundaries You who loved the beautiful
indigenous Eleonora of the big breasts
You who committed blasphemy for her  
and you spit from the balcony clean to the river
Tell me what sturdy impatience consumes you
What about your Hispanic ugliness
Tell me what black God hurts you
what little boat brought you this way
almost singed
almost I say
tell me already dude
to you
to you
put out the candle
so drunk”

(From: Las Cenizas de Altamira, 1999)

(Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Ward)

Domingo de Ramos’s first bilingual anthology China Pop was published in English-Spanish by Cardboard House Press, 2015.

This poem has just been translated into English.



Domingo de Ramos is from Peru. He was born in the town of Ica in 1960. During his university years when he studied sociology at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marco in Lima he became known as a poet. He is now considered one of the premier poetic voices of Peru. His poems have been translated into English, German, Italian, Finnish, and Danish.

Domingo de Ramos was in fact a founding poet of the Kloaka Movement (1982-1984). Some of his poetry captures the social tension of Peru’s Internal Conflict, which began in 1980, and claimed over 70,000 lives. Many of the lives lost belonged to indigenous peoples targeted by both sides of the civil war: the Sendero Luminoso guerilla force and the Peruvian military. De Ramos was an up-close witness to the generalized violence of terrorist strikes, blackouts, assassinations, police actions, and curfews that defined life in Lima, Peru, in the 1980s.

Domingo de Ramos has published many books: Poemas (Paris, 1986) Arquitectura del espanto (Lima, 1988); Pastor de perros (Lima, 1993); Luna cerrada (USA, 1995); Ósmosis (Lima, 1996); Las cenizas de Altamira (Lima, 1999); Erótika de Klase (Lima, 2004); the anthology Pastor de perros (Lima, 2006 ); Dorada Apocalipsis (Lima, 2008); Demolido Fuego (Arequipa, 2010); Cartas desde la azotea (Lima, 2011); Este Viaje (Madrid / Lima, 2011); a Spanish-Italian bilingual anthology Lima Pop (Bologna, 2012); the anthology  Banda Nocturna, Intermezzo Tropical (Lima, 2012); and his collected works In-Sufrido fuego, issued by the Press of the Congress of the Republic, Peru, 2014.

Two of his books have won prizes, Ósmosis the COPE Poetry Prize in 1996 and Erótika de Klase, the “Carlos Oquendo de Amat” poetry prize of 2004.

Recently, China Pop (2015), a selection of his poems appeared in a bilingual edition released by Carboard House Press, edited and translated by Thomas Ward, the translator of “The Tribulations of Don Diego” included here.

Thomas Ward teaches the Latin American essay, novel, and poetry at Loyola University Maryland. He occasionally publishes creative work. Some of his short creative prose pieces have appeared in No Magazine, Amelia, and Ouroboros. This last magazine published three of his translations of poems by Luis Wainerman. He has published Pumping Images, a concept poem, with Minerva Press (London, 2000). His most recent book The Formation of Latin American Nations is due out Fall 2018 with University of Oklahoma Press. Since he first read Domingo de Ramos’ poetry, he has been addicted to it.