“Cray Z Gurl,” “The Ruin of Your Name,” and “My Cabin” by Carlos Ríos, translated by Elisa Taber.

“Cray Z Gurl”


In prison
she learned to read
each line
pulled by the hair
—if love stories
begin backwards
obviously: she changes
the endings.


She’d say, “come”
today we have terror and mystery
or fables, depending on your hair
when you look at it.


Come, cray z gurl.
Read my hair, they’d say.
In a bucket of freezing water
midst a transboreal winter
covered in oil and Wellapon
the hair was left
and ready
for reading.


She loved them all.
And they loved her
passionately and madly.
Read me in the tomb, they’d say
(the tomb is the prison)
and she’d warn them:
you see, in tombs
hair grows and grows,
the novels are long
equal to or longer than nails.
I hope you won’t get bored.


After serving her time
her absence was felt,
no hair left worth reading.
She patiently taught them
but though they tested it
on the maximum girls
they only found
a moth’s wing


They stop you on the street
¿Why did you shave?
¿Because it disgusts you?
No, you answer. I shaved
against the cops
and for the love of reading.
Let’s build a library,
no one in this neighborhood
can “read you.”


The hairdressers closed
after the pandemic
they became poulterers
(she does not read feathers).
Now they call hair a mane
and when things go right
by a small margin
people say
“a hair’s breadth.”


She misses prison,
reading in jaded hair
stories of love and madness
loose mares, freed
and with all the world’s desire
to be, at last, truly free.


In the guilty prisoner’s hair
tiny letters like ants
and she, the “cray z gurl”
wears her antenna
and transmits
what’s written
in the thicket of History.

“The Ruin of Your Name”

Your misspelled name on the useless neon signs, the revelation in an obscene orthographic error. Ghost alphabet, syllables extracted in times of exchange during war. The ones you read are not yours. You recognize yourself in the nearly dismantled writing: the ruin of your name.

HO_3L ADR__nN_

Barely a sign skimmed by the wind. The surfaces converse. The chapter of your life in a book closed forever. There were thirty blades in the kitchen, according to the inventory that remains in the hands of officers. In the auction you got less than half. The rest became property of a retired officer. He wanted to buy your portion at double the price you paid. Tried to seduce you. Almost set a price on your body. You said no to everything. He did not recognize the lineage of his worst enemy in your name.

The horses enter the meadow and disappear, absorbed by a wave of reeds. In another time, you could recite the names of a herd without fearing a mistake. Now you do not know your own name. Those who call you by it ignore that the word does not correspond to the person before them. If you respond to the call, it is to make clear that you will never be that original figure. Your security inhabits the potential of that clone. You wanted to be an animal and almost became one.

In the buildings’ ruin you read your name applying the method of those that read infernal texts. Inverted uppercase letters: ignored. Deaf fonts where syllables mark territory fed by nausea and forgiveness. Promise of abandon in suspense, still legible on the billboards which prohibit sales, extractives actions, and refuge.

Seated on a stone, the young smoke and calculate how many enemies you must kill to declare victory or amnesty. They could not care less about the pandemic. Argue, they are not our dead. They gather the bodies and drop them from the cliff into the sea, there they navigate the ashes of the governor’s family.

You wrote a book no one will read.

The body resting on a cement bench is headless. Disappointment is prompt, the figure is a mannequin. The desire to talk to the headless disgusts. Vengeance follows and you throw that body into the void. There is a second disappointment: the body of the mannequin sinks vertically; its resemblance to the vertical fall of the poems written during the months of exchange and war does not console you.

You had to carry a red suitcase because the wheels broke after rolling on asphalt. As flights were suspended, you returned to the city to isolate yourself for the duration of the pandemic. It does not matter that the last hurricane bit off a piece of the shack’s roof. The ruin of your name matters less, carried mouth to mouth by the survivors to justify the breadth of the disaster.

You and your name, so incapable of exchange.

“My Cabin”
[a memoir]
Lon Chaney

“‘Lon Chaney’ dies. He
“It’s fatal. We wait for the doctor.”
“But it’s not fair that ‘Lon Chaney’
dies! It’s not fair! Not
fair! It’s not fair!
—Juan Filloy


though silent films are my thing
I have many things to say to you


Discord and Harmony
The Lamb, the Woman, the Wolf
The Forbidden Room
A Ranch Romance
The Lion, the Lamb, the Man
Her Escape

among others


king of silent films
son of deaf parents

[my cabin]

everyone speaks
of Thoreau
and who speaks
of my cabin?

go to Big Pine
then, tell me

[Encyclopædia Britannica]

horror movies are
always about you

[the past can no more become
the future than the future can
become the past]

the young
listen to
“Lobo-hombre en París”

a stamp

“he brings that part of you out into the open,
because you fear that you are not loved,
you fear that you never will be loved,
you fear there is some part of you that’s grotesque,
that the world will turn away from”
—Ray Bradbury

[the peak of terror]


a motionless clown
on the threshold