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  • Writer's pictureVigilance

The Decapitated Country

Forward and Translations by Dylan Brennan

Foreword to the chapbook República del excremento Proyecto Editorial La Chifurnia, El Salvador, 2017

“Heridas”, “pus”, “necrosis” —from the beginning of Miroslava Rosales’s exquisite selection poems, one thing is clear, we are in for some uncomfortable reading. Words of destruction and decay permeate these poems from the beginning. This is a poet who is not afraid to stare into the abyss for the benefit of her readers. No, not an abyss but a whirlpool of flesh, blood and violence, from which she reports back, without fear. I first heard Rosales read her poetry at the International Poetry Festival in Granada, Nicaragua in 2015 and was immediately struck by the difference in tone from the other poetry I had heard. This was a writer willing to focus on the substances of this life, the fluids and sediments of which humanity is comprised. This was a writer uninterested in describing butterflies in the ether.

“país país país país país” —her country is the República del excremento, a place populated by «madres decapitadas y ninfas sarnosas» where life is cheap and depravity is king. Yes, this is poetry that has a social element. The kind of poetry we had forgotten about, poetry that has something to say. Something that needs to be said. Sometimes the metaphors and allusions are useless and the poet needs to simply state the facts as they are. In “Keysi en el barrio El Calvario” Rosales does just that:

En el barrio

el cadáver pequeño de un ángel es encontrado

envuelto en una sábana

This is what happened. This is where it happened. Don't you dare turn your eyes away from this. Rosales forces us to confront reality, something necessary in a world ever more easily bypassed by online trivialities. But there is beauty here too. “La visita íntima” reminds us that, though we must not fail to acknowledge the horrors that surround us, we must also go on living and, indeed, loving:

¿Por qué no besas mis pezones

y los muerdes

como manzanas en fiesta de año nuevo [...]?

The invitation to love takes the form of a question and questions are central to these poems, for it is in these questions that we find the other themes of Rosales’s work, namely love and hope. In “Niña con caramelos y albahaca en el corazón” the young woman who “sabe del peso de la noche y del semen” asks:

¿Algún día morderé la paz?

¿algún día seré un melón luminoso en el centro de un jardín?

The question does two things. It contrasts the beauty of an imagined alternative with the harsh desperation of reality. However, it also presents the possibility of future relief. In intensifying pathos it also depicts the potential for overcoming suffering. Rosales loves her characters, loves her country. For that reason she depicts it as it is while allowing for the possibility of hope:

¿Cuándo serás la música del alba y no de la rabia endurecida?

Make no mistake, Rosales’s voice is her own, but somewhere, no doubt, Roque Dalton is reading, smiling and approving. A fantastic collection of poems.

By Dylan Brennan


País mío no existes

solo eres una mala silueta mía

una palabra que le creí al enemigo

Roque Dalton

Porque el plomo de la mentira cae, hirviendo,

sobre el cuerpo del pueblo perseguido

Efraín Huerta

I'm from a decapitated land

My land

our land

it's all just a heap of your wounds and pus

so many centuries

under the sign of necrosis

that you no longer recognise a symphony of the most intricate tenderness

gagged your mouth is gagged

My land our land

land of decapitated mothers and mangy nymphs

of knife-wielding tattooed cyclopses

of old women untouched by moonlight

of little kids yearning for violins of skies and seas

clarinets of the forests unstained by vinegar

Republic of excrement

land of pigs that devour the hearts of their youngest

land land land land land land

of street-corner crocodiles that wait to pounce on careless pedestrians

my land hope a corpse the bureaucrats dried logs

land of clicas that spread

like cancerous cells on an ageing body

of unmarked graves

land of homeboys and palabreros

chockablock prisons of stinging flies and mice

Land with no mausoleum worthy of worship

nobody offers you hymns of glorious peace or golden trumpets and jasmines

Land the coffin of my words

Land the bloody fruit on my hand


plague of termites and lions

My land

I gaze upon the rubble of your worm temple

from which only a moan is raised as discoloured flag

You penetrate me with the bloody pages of the newspapers

in which rainbow girls are mutilated

Land of tear-gas machetes and guns against the sun dance

a herd of police and politicians

My land

rats and millions of cockroaches splatter your morgue (on the verge of collapse)

and the heads of women people the rivers like crabs

only wolves guard the borders of aluminium and electricity


my land

will you become grass caressed by generous rains

will you give yourself to the sun

like a child to its young mother

like the comet to the tearless sky

or become an overcoat of begonias for insects

those who know nothing of a vibrant musical score

for a tropical landscape?

When will you become the music of the dawn and not of a hardened rage?

I just listen to the night howls that advance like lines of immigrants in the desert

País mío no existes

it's the truth

the terrible truth of your epigraph

nobody talks of you anymore

to spur a flight of horses

only your blood is front page material

you my front line enemy

for your poison

for your blows you beat on each note of my delusions


my land

will sunflowers multiply for the kids with glue in their stomachs?

They know only cruelty in the form of an ice-pick

They know only cruelty in the form of politics

When will you have the vigour of the heliconias in the botanic gardens

of the seagulls in a very clean sea

of the taste of a melon

and you can caress us the helpless like an understanding father?

when the calmness of my roots?

when the memory without a moan like a mallet?

when the breeze through my hair instead of scorpions?

when will you be a house for my thorns

balsam honey lavender aroma for these accumulated pains?

My land

why so many walls and electric fences for your eyes?

why does your machinery of hate still work in this oblivion?

why do hymns not revive you?

why have you become a gnawed bone in the filth?

My land

you look like the chopped willow that's been left at the side of the highway

the sicario bleeding in a jam-packed prison on the Pacific

the butchered ox

I inhale you

like the cheapest cocaine

sometimes you're a light that enters the caverns of my heart

and you rest there like a lamb

and I see you fall down into sludge forever


My land

you only stand out for being the criminal of the vastest night

the dome of vipers night

for the edge of your knives against a laugh

for the gunshots of your unkind nights

peppered with bats

for your chupaderos and motels where hope always rusts too early

in you alcohol is an incurable haemorrhage

and your streets

and your nightclubs

and your whorehouses and your psychiatrist remind me of the necrotic intestines that I've seen in your hospitals of excrement

My brothers and sisters

all this land a white line

the elegy of whales

Land the weight of your tears sinks me in a violin despair


amorous garden for those blessed by the dollar and jewels

God bless bestiality!

God bless our sinking!

None of our dreams will remain

only your banks and businesses and your shopping centres and your political parties

None of us will remain in the face of this storm of electric saws

My land

my land who art in heaven

why have your children decapitated you with this machete?


Where's your Nicaragua now?

Where's your laugh like a nightclub

like a plagueless summer of abundant mangoes

like a morning of skylarks in the window

like a gust of splendid parakeets?

Where's your electric-fenceless sky

with no watchmen at the gates?

Where's your sea and the caress of her waves?

Where are the daisies of the city

(killer of the small

of the bread seekers

of those who self-consume like altar candles)?

This country is a death ticket

a prison

in continual decline

for your daily devoured sex

for your 28 gunshot heart

for your unlistened-to symphony.

Nobody knows your real name

a virgin in this carnival of wolves

in this fetid accumulation

in this warren of cocaine.

One day you'll be

an unidentified corpse.


a father slices his 2 children

with his ally the night

then kills himself

these kids

will never again be a swing

in a park with a lawn well-tended by sun and rain

nor a laugh dripping with sugar and oats

nor trumpets in search of dawn

and comets

nor seahorses

in lourdes

2 kids as small as medals are hanged


Miroslava Arely Rosales Vásquez. Ph.D. student in Literature (Romanistik) at Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany. She earned a Master in Hispanic-American Literature from the University of Guanajuato, Mexico (2019). She is part of the working group “Identities and Communities” of the International Latin American Network of the University of Oxford, Red Europea de Investigaciones sobre Centroamérica (RedIsca), and Red de investigación de las literaturas de mujeres de América Central (Rilmac). Her fields of research are masculinities, violence, Central American migration, and wars in contemporary Mexican, and Central American narratives. She is currently editing a book about Central American migration with professors Mauricio Espinoza (University of Cincinnati), and Ignacio Sarmiento (State University of New York at Fredonia).

Miroslava Rosales


Dylan Brennan. In 2019 Ireland Professor of Poetry Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin awarded Dylan Brennan the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award. His debut poetry collection, Blood Oranges, was published by The Dreadful Press in 2014 and was awarded the Patrick Kavanagh Award runner-up prize. In 2017 he collaborated on Guadalupe & Other Hallucinations, a series of exhibitions and an illustrated e-book, with Belfast-based visual artist Jonathan Brennan. In 2016 he co-edited Rethinking Juan Rulfo's Creative World: Prose, Photography, Film with Prof. Nuala Finnegan (UCC), a volume of academic essays on the work of Mexican writer/photographer Juan Rulfo. He has been invited to read at major literary festivals in Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Italy, Ireland and USA and has twice been recipient of a Culture Ireland Travel Grant.


Books by Miroslava Rosales:

To purchase a book of Miroslava Rosales' poems, contact La Chifurnia Press:

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