Three Poems

By Rafael Courtoisie
Translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong


An absolute requirement

inhabits the stuff

of voice


the look listens

color sings.



It rains

not in space

but in the wind’s tongue.


A corporeal thought

fills the silence, overruns it.


Water from the words

naked in the mouth.


The sound and the fury:


sweet fury

red sound.




Prudence to penetrate the night

and gentleness to leave it




I don’t listen: I drink

as if your words

were water.


Kiss my thirst.



The answer invents the question.


Sun, night.


Caress is the answer

to skin’s question.



The animal of serenity

strikes, an ochre

lightning bolt in the mind.


The night goes out

the body remembers.



The rocks are voices

fossils of a dead language

high words stripped of flesh

shouts of bone.



The word “moss”


the word “sun.”


The shadow illuminates





Soft is a word. Ship

a stone that sinks

Soft walks

your word, ship

in my port. Soft

the ship sinks

in the word, my hand

in your ship.






Not poetry, but its slow cause.

Poetry’s cause, not its effects.

Oranges and cats.

Oranges that breathe.

Fresh cat juice.


Poetry sand, angel excrement

secret shit, poetry rain

aerial liquid, irresponsible birds.

Death’s narrow path.


Not poetry, but concrete silence

petals of stones

grave marble flowers

statues and silence.


Not poetry, but its cause.

A shoe without a foot, a foot without a print.


Rafael Courtoisie Beyhaut is one of Uruguay’s leading writers, with work published around the world. The author of four novels, eighteen volumes of poetry, and eleven story collections, Courtoisie has won many prizes, including Uruguay’s national prizes in both narrative and poetry. He teaches screenwriting at the Escuela de Cine del Uruguay in Montevideo.

Anna Rosenwong is a translator, poet, editor, and educator. Her publications include Roció Cerón’s Diorama (winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award), José Eugenio Sánchez’s Suite Prelude a/H1N1 and Climax with Double Cheese, as well as an original collection of poetry, By Way of Explanation. She is the translation editor of Drunken Boat. Her work has been featured in World Literature Today, The Kenyon Review, Translation Studies, The St Petersburg Review, Pool, and elsewhere.