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).

Monday, June 20, 2011

The train (Ferrocarril)

With my respect and admiration, I dedicate tonight’s poem to Bruce Mortimer: a great leader, a devoted singer and an amazing friend. From my Dad’s book Elementary motherland (Patria elemental).

The train (Ferrocarril)

On the days around that furious month of May,
was the first meeting of the surviving
members of the planning committee
for the construction of the railway.

Only a short time had passed since that fateful eighteenth.
The noble ruins were still burning.

Guzmanes, Garcíaherreros, Undas, Paz,
Manzzei and Añez, Vásquez, Bertis, Pérez,
Arochas…many names have been lost
in the fragility of memory,
names who bound their effort to the reconstruction.
Sowers of a strange seed: hope.

Among chaos and anarchy as the norm,
the powerful males resumed
the committee meeting initiated
before the tragic events.

Along the path of San Buenaventura,
that was its name, the rails shone
under the harsh sun, months later.

The engines of the train glided harmoniously,
singing the ballad of the  vestibules,
the hymn of the steam boiler, the song of progress,
on the following December.

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