Three Poems by Jaime Sabines



for you to make me
perfectly happy,
dearest: drop dead.


I HOPE TO BE CURED OF YOU one of these days. I have to quit smoking you, drinking you, thinking you. It’s possible, following the moral guidelines of our times. I prescribe time, abstinence, solitude.

Would you mind if I loved you for only a week? It’s neither too much nor too little. It’s plenty. In a week one can gather up all the words of love that have ever been uttered and set them ablaze. I’m going to ignite you with this bonfire of burned-out love. And silence too. Because the finest words of love are between two people who say nothing.

We will have to burn this other lateral and subversive language of the lover as well. (You know I am really telling you I love when I say: “It’s getting hot,” “Give me water,” “Do you know how to drive?”, “Night has fallen”… Among the people, in the midst of your folks and mine, I have said to you, “It is late,” and you knew that I was saying, “I love you.”)

One week more to gather up all the love of time. To give it to you. So you can do whatever you want with it: keep it, caress it, throw it away. It serves no purpose, that much is certain. I only want one week to figure things out. Because this is a lot like leaving a lunatic asylum to enter a graveyard.


I LEFT MY BODY at the edge of the highway and came crying for myself. The city is huge like an enormous orphanage. Cold and comfortable, dark and lit-up like a penitentiary.

I came in search of love. I thought that love was my only refuge against the night-time bombardments. And I discovered that love could not be salvaged. Love lasts a mere instant. Corrupted by time, it does not suffer absence; it stinks with the hours, it is subject to the glands, exposed.

My little garden was full of worms. Nothing of what I left behind, I found—not a petal nor a breath of air.

What am I going to do now? I feel like, I am, crying. I want to gather up a few of my things—some book, a box of matches, my cigarettes, a pair of pants, a shirt maybe—and go. I don’t know why or to where, but I want to go. I’m scared. I don’t feel right.

What will become of my children? I hope they grow up indifferent or blissfully ignorant. We all need our distractions. That’s why it’s good to rock ’n’ roll, do the twist, get down and Mozambique.

Should we live drunk on something, as Baudelaire said we should? But this lucid drunk of time and people, isn’t it a bit over the top?

I love you! I love you cockroach, Maria, Rosa, leprosy, Isabel, cancer, hepatitis, Gertrudis, apple, butterfly, yearling calf, walnut tree, river, meadow, cloud, drizzle, sun, beetle, cardboard box, I love you painted flower, feather duster, my sweetheart! I love you. I can’t live alone. I’m gone.

Re-printed with permission of the publisher from Love Poems, by Jaime Sabines, translated  by Colin Carberry, Biblioasis, 2011.



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Jaime Sabines

Jaime Sabines was born in Chiapas in 1926. He attained a stature achieved by few poets in their lifetimes; his collected poems sold out a print run of half a million, and audiences whispered along with him at readings. His first collection appeared in 1950 and over his career he was awarded the City of Mexico Prize, the National Prize for Literature, and the Belisario Dominguez Medal of Honour. Sabines died in Mexico City in 1999. Colin Carberry is a Canadian poet and translator. He lives in Mexico City.