Leo Zelada (Lima, Perú, 1970) is the literary pseudonym of Braulio Rubén Tupaj Amaru Grajeda Fuentes. Poet and critic, he studied philosophy at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and published the books of poetry Delirium tremens (1991), Diario de un cyber-punk (2001), Opúsculo de Nosferatu a punto de amanecer (2005), La senda del dragón (2008), Minimal poética (2010), the novel American Death of Life (2005), and the translation Antología poética del imperio inka (2007). This year he won the Poetas de Otros Mundos award, awarded by the Fondo Poético Internacional de España (2015). He lives in Madrid.
AmagiFilms documentary, “Leo Zelada. Underground Poet”
Journey toward Andromeda
I woke in a dream transformed
into Kafka’s beetle
after reading Borges’ Las ruinas circulares
in a cafeteria in Geneva
behind the ochre a red tree rises
I open my eyes, and now
another person inhabits my body
Heraclitus said “the apparent is the real”
and with that subtle argument
a reality was created for the world
and the world became
a faint transparence in a lake.
Vapour is tumult resounding in water,
fog and river do not alter the unchanging soul.
What is real is pain,
the pure silence only lovers hear.
I do not write to please people so they applaud, or to impress anyone with my poetry.
I write every day, but not for myself. I create several poems at night and destroy nearly all of them, since a poem is not to express a vain feeling, but something more.
I do not like to write long neobaroque poems, or to read poems full of false colloquialisms. I search for the precise word. Prose only emits noise.
The image is what draws me to the poem. My aesthetic is the mystery of water. I practice a minimal poetics. Poetry is a sacred act.
Underground blues for Jim Morrison
and on the radio a precise melody
projects your devilish arpeggios
old Jim Morrison
you bend your hips
your lips are sensual
and between filters of peyote
and cups of spirits
you hurtle dangerously
toward the end
— you light a cigarette
raise a glass of wine
and toast to yourself, to Blake,
to Artaud, your dark ghosts —
the lost look
the dry howl
no one understands the brutal yell
that tears the heavens in shreds
treacherous death dances
on your body
naked solitude on the middle of the stage
delivering in each concert
your most emphatic death throes
the king of lizards.
The breath of the cypress
provides me at this moment
For some time now I haven’t sat alone
on a park bench
It’s been too long
since I went out to fill my body
with the glimmer of afternoon
little by little
I have gotten used to being
a melancholy animal
of the night
I am bathed in the maternal
radiance of the moon
You have crossed the dark
pure as an ice floe
Now you possess
the serenity of the white owl.
Translations by Jessica Sequeira.