Poems by Carlo Acevedo, translated from the Spanish (Colombia) by Kelsi Vanada

Secrets of Time by Edward Lee

The smoke now dispelled by the breeze—the revelry of lights and explosions over—the star I see every night from my balcony flickers.


Ya el humo disipado por la brisa, acabado el jolgorio de luces y explosiones, titila la estrella que veo cada noche desde mi balcón.

The one who has felt the brush of true calm has managed to take a step after the snow.


Quien ha sentido el roce de la verdadera calma ha logrado dar un paso después de la nieve.

My grandfather Virgilio calls to me from the boundaries of my childhood. He demands I be a man. What is it to be a man? I ask him.


Mi abuelo Virgilio me llama desde las linderas de mi niñez. Me exige ser un hombre. ¿Qué es ser un hombre?, le pregunto.

At six in the morning the almond tree is yet an almond tree and the page where I haven’t written my poem defies me still.


A las seis de la mañana el almendro sigue siendo almendro y aún me reta la hoja en la que no he escrito mi poema.

Blake wasn’t wrong: a paradise fits in a butcher’s knife, a robin’s red breast would rattle the Buddha’s noble truths, a child who kills a fly silences the song of a cherubim, the rage of an ox can tame the most high and mighty of nights.


Blake no se equivocó: un paraíso cabe en el cuchillo de un carnicero, el pecho de un petirrojo haría temblar las nobles verdades del Buddha, un niño que mata a una mosca acalla el canto de un querubín, la furia del buey puede amansar a la más altanera de las noches.

Heraclitus said it is not possible to bathe in the same river twice. The Buddha Shakyamuni, like the lotus flower opening above the murky waters of the marsh, crossed the remaining distance. It’s not possible to bathe in the same river twice. Nor is it possible to bathe twice.


Heráclito decía que no es posible bañarse dos veces en el mismo río. El Buddha Shakyamuni, como la flor de loto que se abre sobre las aguas turbias del pantano, atravesaba la distancia restante. No es posible bañarse dos veces en el mismo río. Tampoco es posible bañarse dos veces.

My shadow throbs with the tide: bursts of white foam, islands of bubbles scattering, and the gentle undulation of the surface, laden with the gravelly color of the sand of the seabed. The cycle repeats. Never the same twice. Always equally perfect.


Mi sombra palpita según dispone la marea: ráfagas de espuma blanca, islas de burbujas que se dispersan, y el ondular sutil de la superficie, cargada con el color cavernoso de la arena del lecho. El ciclo se repite. Nunca dos veces igual. Siempre igualmente perfecto.


Carlo Acevedo is the author of Fortuna del día (Day’s Fortune, Pre-Textos, 2019), which won the fortieth Arcipreste de Hita (Archpriest of Hita) Poetry Prize. He holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing in Spanish from the University of Iowa. His poems have appeared in different national and international anthologies and selections of his poems have been published in English and Italian. Currently, he is a PhD student in the Humanities program at the University of California, Merced.

Kelsi Vanada’s book-length translations include The Visible Unseen by Andrea Chapela (Restless Books, 2022); Damascus, Atlantis: Selected Poems by Marie Silkeberg (Terra Nova Press, 2021), which was longlisted for the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; Into Muteness by Sergio Espinosa (Veliz Books, 2020); and The Eligible Age by Berta García Faet (Song Bridge Press, 2018). She published Rare Earth, a chapbook of poems, in 2020 (Finishing Line Press). Kelsi holds MFAs in Poetry (Iowa Writers’ Workshop, 2016) and Literary Translation (The University of Iowa, 2017), and works as the Program Manager of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) in Tucson, Arizona. She teaches classes on literary translation and writes reviews of poetry in translation.

Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging FlySkylight 47Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  He is currently working on two photography collections: Lying Down With The Dead and There Is A Beauty In Broken Things. He also makes noise music under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.