Juan Andrés García Román

Chapter 00. From The Birth of Melancholy

for Laura


She’s my Coney Island, Baby

Tom Waits




I move my shoulder closer to your body so the ants pass “over me, too.”

—You said this. Your beginning was like this, you didn’t come from

the neon pink rib of Adam,

but you were born out of me like some intense solidarity.


Soon enough we were in the morning like a group doing tai chi in a park.

Our bodies were simple

and carried out repetitive movements in order to acquire a soul.





Your childhood was celebrated

and I wanted to get to the bottom of “that”

giving myself poetic license to enter.

We poets were a group of academics

who hadn’t finished our degrees

so instead of a bowtie we wore a maggot around our neck.

In those times being modern consisted purely in being ironic.

(For example, if something hurt or caused us a lot of pain

we always tried to smile anyway.)

And you were the object

Dear little you, I’m so sorrowful sorry,

guilty like spring wind on a plastic flower—:

We put on lipstick and begin

to kiss your school notebooks with only the upper lip,

this way sealing your innocence with something like a moustache.


I spoke cruelly

to the girl you were. I said Snow White,

today you’re going to hear a true story:

When the princess kissed the frog, it became a prince.

When the princess kissed the prince, he became two princes.

And when the flustered princess kissed the two princes

all of them turned into one dead body.


I told you that earthquakes were God’s way

of rocking the cradles of orphans .



Because I was motherless in the world and I gave you poems that made you cry.

But your crying couldn’t make me surrender my new, sporty gaze:

our school had a pinball machine

and I asked you: When your tears

cross your face

and pass right over your moles… do you get points?

tell me, SnowWhite


But Snow White didn’t let me continue.

Snow White took me by the hand and showed me

how to write poems of irregular width like the bodies of earthworms,

to paint the gold doorknocker’s fingernails red if it was summer

or dress it with a glove if it was cold.


Snow White took me

at midday to a sea covered with an infinity of red Chinese lamps.

And one day in March when the snow melted on the street,

Snow White showed me the skull of a snowman.

Snow White told me that the woman with two orthopedic legs was a siren.

Because Snow White was a girl who said, God save the Queen of the honeycomb! before eating a spoonful of honey.


And when the birds saw Snow White , they said prettythingsprettythings.


Snow White , Snow White , the little men have come to say littleIloveyou.



Translated by Curtis Bauer

“Chapter 00. From the Birth of Melancholy” is from La Adoración [The Adoration] (DVD Ediciones, 2011).


You can read and listen to the poem in the original Spanish here.