the right to madness

March 14, 2022
translated by Raquel Salas Rivera
Benjamin Murphy, 100 Years of Progress (2021), oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in. / By permission of the artist

but the day arrived
when exhaustion broke my face
and i was more than bad,
i was dangerous.

all said poor thing
like future,
like a world shut down
for the good of all.

so much disappointment was betrayal.

i knew then future was a tic.
i knew my hostage words’ worth:
a wasted repetition,
a prescribed performance,
the future without my future,
our present contract.

el derecho a la locura

pero llegó un día
donde el cansancio rompió mi cara
y era, más que malo,

todos decían pobrecito
como futuro,
como un mundo clausurado
por el bien.

tanta decepción era traición.

entonces supe que futuro era muletilla.
supe lo que valían mis palabras
tomadas de rehén:
una repetición gastada, una performática prescrita,
el futuro sin mi futuro,
el contrato del presente.

Translation from the Spanish

Editorial note: From antes que isla es volcán / before island is volcano, forthcoming from Beacon Press on April 5, 2022.

Photo: Ariadna Rojas

Raquel Salas Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. His honors include being named the 2018–19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia and receiving the New Voices Award from Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra. He is the author of five previous full-length poetry books. His third book, lo terciario / the tertiary, won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry and was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award. Two poems appeared in the San Juan city issue of WLT (Autumn 2020). He currently writes and teaches in Puerto Rico.