Poetry The Filth issue


By Úrsula Starke

Translated from the Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval & Jeannine Marie Pitas
"Fuji through a Web (Ami ni hedataru Fuji): Detatched page from One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei) Vol. 3 (Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎) , 1933.4.1112,” Courtesy of Harvard Art Museums collections online.


Let the flies come in let them eat my demons let the flies shake their infected dust let the flies navigate and melt in the splendor of spirits this room is already full of spirits let the flies come in the challenge is to land in my shit and emerge as eternally gleaming blue butterflies like all I have in this thing they call a heart I call it a thing it doesn’t matter it keeps on being the same perpetual void let the flies dance with my dismal gloom and stink from the stench of my gloom please let these flies die before me I want to mourn them and you can bring me flowers later. White ones.



Let’s run away together in a momentary eclipse, feeling our muscles’ weakness, toward the fantasy of the attic, to drink the blood of green spiders, to weep for that which chills the skull. The hell of God is a simple, crude spectacle. This attic enchants with its movement of mildew and old clothes; here we can seduce the moths, invite them to our sexual hunts, try out erroneous concepts of language, make unfinished love on my crazy aunt’s trunk, ejaculating the wild, poetic substance among lace socks and fox furs. Climb up, descend to my attic, the tiny space where I preserve my outrage intact for you, so you might touch it and make its bone marrow throb, where I want, where you want, where it hurts the most, because it turns us into damaged viper versions of ourselves. You never listened to the melodic death rattles of my religion. You never regurgitated the bitter essence of a Christian organ. Now is the time when you might turn into glass and crucify your poems, seeing the bottomless wound of their necessary death strategy, nailing their eloquent, treacherous disaster. Now is the time when you should step into the attic, my extreme pleasure of madness, in the insane presence of those spiders you fear with Dionysian tenderness. Don’t tell me you don’t want this, that you don’t know the brain’s macabre loop, its pharmacological typhoon, the broken photo of my false childhood, because you have seen the black blood my eyes spill as I creep through the attic calling for Jesus, calling for mother, calling for the father who invented my mental sacrifice and beat the unnecessary toughness of the skinny little girl who didn’t know anything about life. You’ve seen this hemorrhage of cries and said nothing, nothing consolable. Come, then, to this attic; it’s a vulgar but beautiful request, since that’s how you like our requests, vulgar and beautiful. Come and climb up to the weakness of my hardship, here you will see the cyclical martyrdom of my smiles. Search among the rusty odds and ends for that letter opener I told you about one day, and cut my eyelids to see how I drip with wallflowers, how I disappear among the dung beetles and liturgical rain. Don’t regret my death because I want to blame you for my eternal sorrows. Love, let me die in peace, so tomorrow you might come back and I’ll be waiting for you a virgin among silks and cotton, and you’ll see how good death looks on me.


To read this poem in Spanish, click here.
Úrsula Starke is a writer from Chile. She is the author of  OberturaÁtico, Artificio, Cartas desde el sanatorio, and Prótesis: Escrituras 2007-2015. She currently works as a librarian and editor.
Jesse Lee Kercheval is a writer and translator from Fontainebleau, France, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Her translations include Idea Vilariño’s Love Poems. She has received an NEA Translation Fellowship and a Banff International Literary Translation Centre residency.
Jeannine Marie Pitas is a translator from Buffalo, New York who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her most recent translation is of Silvia Guerra’s A Sea at Dawn, co-translated with Jesse Lee Kercheval and forthcoming from Eulalia Books in October 2022.