Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The design (Designio)

One year ago I decided to pay tribute to my father by translating his literary work into English and sharing it on a blog with my world. What an experience! I learnt so much more about my best friend, my hero, my role model. I cried, I laughed, I struggled with words, but I did it. Thank you to those who read some of his poems, you helped me keep him alive, and hopefully he made you feel alive by awakening any kind of feeling in your heart.

This is it, the last poem of ‘mydadspoetry2011.blogspot.com’, from his book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).


The design (Designio)

You who return
from beyond the shadow,
from the outside,
from silence and solitude,
who comes from the deep abysses
where scorpions conceive
with sperm of hatred,
who inhabited the fictitious night
of the wetlands
and were tenant of the rain,
of the infected swamps,
of the deaf jungle noise,
of the mystery, of desperation
and madness,
you who walked wandering
on roads that you did not deserve
toward inexistent horizons,
you must tell us where it is
the invulnerable place of men,
the critical point,
the untouched Achilles' heel
that cannot be tarnished
by the shadows
nor silence or solitude or the abysses
or the rain or the blind sun
or the unlikely roads
or desperation or madness.

Which will be the secret lamp
that in the stubborn darkness
does not tire or extinguishes
and lights up the remote places where
the terminal points of man
and the sources of his anguish nest?
Where does the invincible energy live?
Energy that allows such fragile creature
survive under the weight of moral predicaments
and multiply its patience to wait for
the birth of light
between prejudice and darkness.
I ask you, my brother,
because I have loved life since the luminous days
and the nights radiant with stars.
I ask you because I only know
the surface of what you knew,
and I find in every drop of dew
the sign of God and in every rose that blossoms
I find the expression of hallelujah of his mercy.

Your silence anointed with tears
is yelling the answer.
My Lord, you are the foundation
where man can affirm himself
without annoyance or danger.
Nothing of what exists in Nature
can hold
the ethereal, magic and turbulent weight
that in an instant falls like a tombstone
over the scraps of our will.
In a moment of our path
we become a memory,
something that is not anymore,
something that once was
and is not now and will never be
in our confusion.

You are THE ONLY ONE that as quicksilver
take the shapes of the minimal cracks
to penetrate the most secret place
where the soul that thinks of you hides.
Or you arrive like a flash of lighting
and a spark falls off you
like a firefly dispossessed of its wings
and fires up the mysterious paths of the brain
to warm up with the heat of your mercy
the almost dead embryos
of Hope and Faith.
You arrive steadily in the middle of the night
and your pour out like the dew over the fields
without them feeling your presence.
And one morning at the first light of dawn
the imprisoned foretells that you are close.
Perhaps you took some of the gifts
that you gave us in abundance
to use them in other causes
and we did not understand your message…

Oh God of the clay
who shaped sadness
and the quiet days
and happiness
and bliss
and tenderness
and sorrow
let me understand the paths
that your infinite hands design
and help me in the hour that only you know,
the hour to ascend to the eternal reality where you live!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Blank canvas (Lienzo en blanco)

The past two years have been a mad ride! In a good way though: I quit Alumni Relations to be a full time student, started a PhD, taught at the Faculty of Arts at Monash, got my baby cat Alex, went to Colombia and farewelled my father, joined the most amazing choir (Low Rez), quit my PhD, met great people whom I now call friends, left Monash, went to Thailand, got a fantastic new job at RMIT, taught more Spanish at the CAE, translated over 200 of my Dad’s poems, shaved my head (again), left the choir (painfully), went back to life drawing and became a yoga fan, among many other things.

2012 does not look any quieter, but I’m ready for it. From my own book still untitled. Tomorrow will be my Dad’s last poem.

Blank canvas (Lienzo en blanco)

Like a blank canvas
with every possibility ahead
ready to burst into colours
afraid of the maybes
and trying to suck up the light
primed in previous occasions
and stretched to size
waiting for Chirico
or Miro or Magritte
to find a surreal dream
a dream that is as real
as the truth hidden
behind the painter’s brush.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Poem about Jesus (Poema acerca de Jesús)

Friendship is unmeasurable. Or at least I think so. Often we label friends according to the length of time we have known them for, or because we belong to the same generation, study or work together or frequent the same places. Nevertheless, from time to time, we bump into someone or some people who welcome you into their world, with open arms, with not prejudices or secret agenda, and you feel like you’ve known them for life and you want to know them for the rest of your life. In other words, it just feels right. I had that experience this Christmas and feel blessed for the best miracle I could ever receive, true friendship.

From my Dad’s book The celebrated afternoon (La tarde festejada).

Poem about Jesus (Poema acerca de Jesús)

You will be able to find him
in any corner of the world
where there is someone who suffers,
today, like yesterday and tomorrow,
in the early morning, at the edge of night,
in the sunset; you will find Him
in yourself, or far away, even beside you;
you will find him whenever you want,
He is your own voice, your now
full of defects and perspectives…
but you must feel him and see him and acknowledge
that it is Him, the One who 2000 years ago,
being the son of God took the shape of a man,
and became a man like any of us,
except for in him there was no sin.
He loved those who were sad, and wild flowers,
and the birds, he shared with the sinners,
cursed the fig tree and forgave trespasses;
reprimanded the winds
and he made furies obey him;
He knew how to hold in his arms
the tired and weighed down,
and He did not have a place to lean his head on.

Some were troubled by his words
and conspired against him,
and from the bottom of their confusion
they begged him to leave the village;
others loved him with tenderness
larger than their fear and kissed his feet
and found shelter under his tunic.

He is the same
who did prodigious things.

When he learned that a friend had died
he uttered to his inner self a profound cry;
Lazarus heard the scream
and startled resurrected.

Nobody knew who had provided
the scarce wine; He had transformed
the jars of water into carafes.

The fishing nets were full: He had shown
the path to the shoals of fish.

Amidst the storm and night
he built a path across the sea.

He drew lilies
on the skin of the leper.

He shared some bread and fish with those
who listened to him.
Thousands satisfied their hunger.

He wrote in the sand
the enigma of Oblivion. The poor woman’s soul
was burnt by a red sun. Then he was alone:
No one threw a stone.

He promised the Kingdom of Heaven
to those poor of spirit and those who cry,
mercy to the merciful,
the land as a legacy to the humble.
He left infinite wealth to feed
the hungry. He called children of God
those who believed in peace. He ensured victory
to the fugitive, the falsely accused and the wronged
and granted virtuous vision to those pure of heart.

Jesus, born in Bethlehem,
adoptive son of Joseph, of David’s lineage,
and of Mary, who conceived thanks to the Holy Spirit.
His science came from his Father,
and, Man and God,
he pastured his people
who loved him and crucified him;
but he rose from the grave on the third day
and lives today resurrected and splendid
in the hearts of men.