Three Poems

Three Poems

Óscar Hahn

Translated to English by G. J. Racz

New York Zero Hour

The streets of New York are really deserted

No one is milling around here or walking about

Rain is the city’s only resident

Glare from the traffic lights

reflects off

the wet asphalt surfaces

Neon signs flicker

and there’s not a car in sight

parked or moving

I don’t know where the city dwellers have gone

whether they’re dead or alive

I don’t even know what I’m doing here

I look for myself in Macy’s window

but no image appears

My reflection

has fled the city as well

Nothing reflects nothing

Yet still I see I smell I touch I taste I hear

deprived of these faculties

observing an empty city senseless

The weather has begun to clear up

This means that the rain

has gone off too

From my window in the South Tower

I see an airplane coming

into view on the horizon

and then

a second one

and then

a rain of ashes

that won’t clear up ever



They were human beings once

but after multiple reincarnations

transformed into a new species

They communicate with me through telepathy

in a language that has no signs

yet still in some inexplicable way

manage to tell me they’re already here

suckling the milk of those dreadful breastfeeders

They don’t figure in any treatise on zoology

or handbook on fantastical creatures

because they continue to be human get it?

And so it was that on a day like any other

I began working for them

My job consisted simply

of milking the wet nurses at midnight

transporting the liquid in copious buckets

I’d leave these in the mutants’ lairs

and after twilight when they were empty

returning to pick them up in a wagon

pulled by humanoids

Specimens of this new species

are quite aggressive maybe even cannibalistic

although they treat me very cordially

which makes me think that in my next reincarnation

I’m going to be one of them

There are signs of this in the tattoos teens get

on their tongues and the roofs of their mouths

signs in the milk someone deposits

at the door to my house


The End of Time

Blood is flowing

from my watch

it’s spouting blood

that’s gushing from

the 1 to the 3 to the 6 to the 9 to the 12

All the timepieces

are bleeding

Timex wrist watches

pendulum clocks


those lit up

on cellphones

and computers

atomic clocks

Omega watches

and water clocks

dripping blood

from one vessel into another

40 days and forty nights

these instruments

have been bleeding out

Giant scarlet

waves are

lashing the cities

A ship the very

image of the Ark

has just capsized

on a red sea


Óscar Hahn (b. 1938), one of Chile’s most highly regarded contemporary writers. In addition to his critical writing, Hahn is the author of more than twenty volumes of poetry and collected works.



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