The Poetry Project

Three Poems

Osvaldo Lamborghini (trans. KM Cascia & Garrett Phelps)

Born in Buenos Aires in 1940, Osvaldo Lamborghini was an unpublishably obscene and untranslatably brilliant writer of poetry and prose, a queer icon, and a leading figure of the Neobaroque movement of the 70s and 80s. The three books of his work that appeared during his lifetime—El fiord, Sebregondi retrocede, and Poemas—had a devoted and often fanatical readership, which included novelist César Aira, who has since played a major role in Lamborghini’s posthumous reputation. He spent his final years in Barcelona, working on Teatro proletario de cámara (“Proletarian Chamber Theater”), an immense cross-disciplinary project composed of writing, painting, pornography and photographic collage. He died, in exile, in 1985.

— KM Cascia & Garrett Phelps



Accused of complicity with the common ossuary

“you did not want each body to be distinguished

from its neighbor, crowned by a decent cross,”

I couldn’t

I couldn’t deny the accusation.

Certainly I licked my lips

thinking of this idea

of the common ossuary.

I kept walking

Like a good streetwalker.

Life you can lose, easy as teeth.

I kept on, on the street and in motels

all the same to me

a few drugs a lot of alcohol

going to the doctor every chance I got

to act like I wanted to be cured,

deceiving no one, an actor.

But I like hospitals and clinics

the doctor’s white hands

exempt from eros

and even their prescription calligraphy.

Taken, their medication

became my own.

It’s all so simple it’s

even a bit embarrassing.

Ahh, but talk of grand love is lacking

and having even (even) a

tender word for the little dears.

Cut (but)

The verse

Where there’s no cutting:

I couldn’t deny that either.

—“If you can’t write, you don’t. Stay calm: don’t lie to yourself

I know what I’m saying. I understand me

There are magnificent poets,

read them;

that’s how you don’t deceive anybody,

that’s, that’s how hard it is,

and you lot

you make me swallow the potato

which even (shit) catholics despise.

For me, there came the moment of “pure” chat,

accused of complicity—click—desire

for concentration camp

for cattle prod

for maximum security prison walls

color storm gray

accused: well, yes,

I wanted to be sure.

Now I’m sure.

I tell you all:

Lose no time

deceive not yourselves with these syllables

because everything they chain is true

Because all they do is chain things.

Catalepsy, religious and senile,

those are,

that is.

I demand a chair in the Academy of Letters

or a stable, “chronic” bed

in a psychiatric hospital.

I demand a cigarette.

I demand Erdosian’s black house

and a sex change.

A bottle of milk breaks against the pavement

and the cat slips, trots, or flings itself

toward a nearby empty lot


What a stench

what a mess I am. I selfsatisfy

in selfsympathy.

Or better still, or maybe,

screwing over whoever


at any time maintained

there was nothing to hope for, from me.

And in free verse.

In verse cut

with brute ineptitude and distilled tears.

A pen.

A notebook.

I’m sad and drooling

in this motel

called “Dallas”

in the city of Silver Sea.

His balls shriveled—it said—

that lunatic Van Gogh.

Though I understand nothing of what I read,

understanding occurred when

when I brought home the bacon

and made my wife

Garba orgasm

and I even had a farm,

kids and a wife.

And I even played

word games. And I even

had the rhetoric

of sovereign

guard towers.

And now what have I got?

Rhyme, Purée Chef, Psychopharmaceuticals.

I got dressed to write this

(it rained) soaked to my sack, I came back.

I got undressed, back to bed again

again back to bed

Suspense: again but now

with notebook and pen.

I soak myself I’m so excited. The

drool drips:

my blue Bic with blue ink

with a white cap like a little flag


lined notebook, spiral,

América brand

—and the handwriting slanted right

infantile, for example.


I know,

all the bad faith

the pimping out

the ampersand

& Lacan

& Lévi-Strauss

Telling us, once again, the Tale

Narrating it.

And now in my new job,

pin-setter in a bowling alley

from which I’ll be fired, for sure

for showing up drunk down to my zipper

or not telling them my father died

the day I didn’t show.

It would’ve cost nothing to call them:

nor would it have cost

the Clown

the old man

anything to wait

for another time

to hand his ass over to a nurse and a monitor.

Dead in intensive therapy.

They even massaged his heart.

He was skin, eyes, and bones.

Result of sex,

masculine, very

stripshow, very

prologue: whe-

re he could

The total mass of the cadaver looked like

a lump, a nut

no longer sensitive since dispersed.

And this, surely, has nothing to do with the universe.

I saw his white pubes

and the members of senectitude.

Woman is the body without organs

but unfortunately organized


Narrating it

And there too shall come

Demystifiers of me

Of the Tale

The State is blue

And when it laughs

Like a sword among the unarmed

The sweet fire of home

Warms feet damp with rain

Coffee steaming in the cup

Cigarette in lips

Something’s about to happen

Match burns fingertips

Is tossed in anger

And another struck

Because the cigarette has gone out

(I repeat)

It’s not good business.


What does it mean to be homosexual?

If I turned myself into a woman

it would be a joy for many

while others would suffer

like an animal

like in a soap opera

or the most sublime

works of art.


My head feels empty from all the torture.

A sharp emptiness

like when (I’m hungry)

the sphincter ends up

kind of half-crazed

after prolonged diarrhea.

Stupid reasoning:


time I wrote

now I must

go on writing.

An alternative?

I have none.

The body

they put their hands on today

was already mutilated, deformed.

I’m tired.

Effect of the sedative.

But if I sleep

tomorrow I’ll wander around with my balls in a knot:

more wandering,

more knot.

from ‘Alvear to Freud’

Madness is a second youth

to say nothing of childhood

(I had a friend...)

: like in chess

occupying any square

all the positions are awful

: Baudelaire was more concrete

he spoke of the irreparable

Skin begins to glow

pure milk and roses

twice-aryan love in solitude

(Cupid shall miss us all)

an actual young lady

: the franco-swiss

drawing professor

----- And I’m gone

If I came back to this place it was only for a moment

my former colleagues the poets will know how to forgive me

: I came to smoke a cigarette in the dressing room

and casually

annotate a phonebook:

the diva loved me in a different time

and can now only offer me pity

and good

pitifully thirsty

I’d long been longing for such pity

Troy Helen—Helen

Troy: pit stop in a dirty war

My word

—the only—

can yet herd sheep

and take it as dogma

lamborghinian koan:

everything is simpler than you think

my friends: gravestone

We have to round up Germán

: we deserve no better

-------------------- Hartz

from ‘Die Verneinung’

for César Aira

Prologue, or Conclusion

What twists of thought,

what absurd pigeons

how stupid, walking.

A naked heap, nothing in its favor.

No intensity. No salt.

What mid-dream commotion,

at odds, yet again, with the crucible of deeds.

And no daring in the summer sandpaper

where angle turns (changes) through empty

and the stump of knowing, through earned

agricultural terror: flesh from the furrow.

An eternity (sigh and aye).

Monumental inefficiency.

----- Two bodies drank the same potion,

were a single passion in the organs of

union with death.

----- The Book bedunes into the desert.

That’s how it is, or will be.

No daring, either, in the tabula rasa

nor the parsimony of colliding iron.

Canvases exhibited on the wall. Music,

hidden behind a screen.

But why is the body sated

though no potion remains?

Model of emptiness held aloft on a hook—

the other wall, goosebumps on the plaster—innocent.

----- Stilled, quiet wool in every suit,

impossible to grasp along the axis

any salary long lost. Coin,

good work and even bad novels:

bitten into a wooden volume

or landscape tableau in spoon shape—or grey.

And rice fields planted by grammarians,

eyes weepy from the lack of response.

Let them be, oh gods, by their own hand freed!

They shall always love their own evil.

Cross the patio weeping, sequins or graffiti

and sleep in the bloom of pity

while tree clamors to sky

satisfied by lightning.

This is chanson de geste, mío

Cid> beneath the swordstrikes of an orifice

impreterite or anal. Back, back,

But one must point to

the body parts.

----- I lived, wrapped

in a diamantine transparency of gin

when the war came to confirm

my most desired ghosts:

the most persistent, most beautiful.

And how I chased them!

----- Far, far away

(like clouds)

Closer: like a fleeing traveler

Each lack will be declared:

announced and laughed about.

Two bodies the mortal foe

of a silk fan posed between them

for a portrait.


----- Long years we waited for those lips,

our nipples plastered with jewels, with gold.

With a bra and even (yet or still)

high fishnets.

Long years.

Lips and the painting of those lips.

Long years.

A pose, another.

An accent between two wings, circumflex.

A kiss.

----- And now that we’re in each other’s arms

damp with mutual puppet sweat, now

a giraffe peeks over the altar:

we can’t substitute the question

sated by the scarce thing now, either.

Substitute: neither one for the other

nor vertigo for a fairy tale.

The plumes of this army, more than sparse.

And still, quiet arms,

in infinite pose:

the one told those long years and,

and the rouge. As they say:

—The thirsty young man tips his elbow.

Or swordstrikes (declared translucent long before the fall).

Refrain like recovered money, blank check.

In a desolate field, they dig their own grave

—a stone between shoulders in place of a head—

because they know they need not die.


they dig

when (and if) the urns are overturned

there will be laughter.

----- The poison poses for an irregular line

because art comes down like that,

as extinct ritual.

----- But art is hemophiliac.

Between them (art and line)

sterility quiets the voice

and sodomizes in error.

----- Finally,

executions for pleasure among the legions.

Occipital spelling

and Ohm, the duke of,

affirms the chestnut dressed in silk

intelligently stained with purple

and winged

(the earth cannot support him, the sky

cannot marry an hourglass ass)

a symbol of Zeus Bigshit

able to self-castrate with a smile

ear to ear.

A toilet, basically. Prayer, the duke of Ohm.

The shabby, torn paper of grammarians.

----- They don’t build systems: they’re stubborn.

Still one can see that these iron bars offend the park

and perpetually pull at them from the other side.

Time, condemned to an ornamental cave.

And the face slams against it, injures itself,

lacks imagination, even for protest.

But obtained, all in order.

Obtained, with letterhead

with letterhead

with the prison’s watermark.

#275 – Winter 2024