Mexican author José Emilio Pacheco died on Sunday. He was 74. Here’s one of his poems, constructed with fantastic images of post-apocalyptic poverty and decay. Only the images are fantasy. The rest is real.
The children traffic in a new species of rats, Ringed like lobsters and colored magenta and sky blue. Strange flavor at first But since hunger doesn’t lie We grow used to baking them. Since you are what you eat In less than a year We become like them. First their panicked little eyes, fur and tail. Then, quickly, teeth like drill bits, Claws like a bone saw. (Is it necessary to say that in this regard They didn’t have to teach us much?) Now the children who lived off the rats are men. They operate like hit men contracted by an invisible power And little by little but night after night They eliminate us with gunshots.
– José Emilio Pacheco
(Translated by David Shook)