Farewell Poems by Manuel Iris and Pauletta Hansel for Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month Project

Poetry Month is over, our friends. It has been a moving experience to read and share your words, and to revel in your encouraging and compassionate responses to each other. We wanted to end this correspondence by each sharing a poem of our own with you. We encourage all of Cincinnati’s poets to keep writing about our lives during these challenging and historic times, and to stay in touch. And a reminder, too, that all the Postcards from the Pandemic published during Cincinnati Poetry Month can be accessed from this page. Be safe, friends!

Por Manuel Iris

Obligados a asistir al simulacro
de nuestra propia extinción
podemos afirmar con absoluta confianza
que nuestra ausencia caerá sobre el mundo
como lluvia fresca,
como el acorde necesario para abrir
la sinfonía del futuro.

Da gusto la presteza
con que el planeta puede sanar
del daño que le han hecho
sus inquilinos humanos:

luego de un par de semanas sin turistas
los canales de Venecia tienen peces.

Un jabalí camina con sus hijos por las calles de Roma.

La renovada pureza del aire
en el mismo pueblo en que inició la pandemia
podría salvar la vida de miles de personas.

El cielo, otra vez, le pertenece
sus legítimos dueños.

Naturalmente, el mar
tampoco nos extraña
ni lo harán las montañas, el desierto,
la selva o la tundra.

Nuestro planeta seguirá su baile
sin nostalgia.

A nadie le hará falta Debussy.

El Guernica será masticado
por alguna cabra silvestre
y convertido luego en abono para plantas.

Es decir: convertido en vida.

Disculpará quien me lee
que tal metamorfosis no me parezca mal
puesto que el tema, el terrible
tema humano de ese cuadro
será obsoleto en ese nuevo,
primigenio mundo,

y porque nadie puede lamentar
que se pierdan los motivos
para pintar el Guernica.

Porque debe celebrarse el milagro
de toda la belleza que nunca merecimos.

18 de marzo, 2020

By Manuel Iris

Forced to attend the drill
of our own extinction
we can affirm with absolute confidence
that our absence will fall upon the world
like fresh rain,
like a chord needed to set in motion
the symphony of the future.

One can be glad to see how quickly
the planet can heal
from the damage inflicted
by its human tenants:

in two weeks’ time without tourists
the canals of Venice are teeming with fish

A wild boar walks with its piglets through the streets of Rome.

The renewed purity of the air
in the town where the pandemic started
could now save the lives of thousands.

The sky, once again, belongs to
its rightful owners.

The sea—naturally
does not miss us
nor do the jungles, the desert,
the mountains or tundra.

The planet will continue to dance
without nostalgia.

No one will need Debussy.

The Guernica will feed
some wild goat, to then
be turned into fertilizer.

This is: turned into life.

The reader may excuse
that such a metamorphosis
does not seem so bad to me
since the subject, the terrible
human subject of that painting
will prove to be obsolete in that new,
primeval world.

Because no one can grieve
the loss of the reasons
to paint the Guernica.

Because there should be a celebration
for the miracle of all the beauty
that we never deserved.

March 18, 2020

Manuel Iris of Clifton is Poet Laureate of Cincinnati. He is a poet and an educator who has received Mexico’s national award of poetry. His recent books include The Naked Light; Before the Mystery; and his first bilingual collection of poetry, Translating Silence/Traducir el silencio.

Pauletta lives in Paddock Hills. The poem above was published along with a recording of Pauletta reading the poem online at The Cincinnati Review. Another of Pauletta’s Postcards can be found at The New Verse News.


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memoirist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2016-March 2018. Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. Her writing has been featured in Rattle, Still: The Journal, The New Verse News, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily, among others. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is managing editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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