I'm in a bar and someone's name is Soni
The floor is covered in ash Like a bird
like a single bird two old men arrive
Archilochus and Anacreon and Simonides* Miserable
Mediterranean refugees don't ask me what I'm doing
here, just forget that I've been with a girl
who'd pale and right Either way, I only remember blush
the word shame after the word hollow
Soni! Soni! I laid her back and rubbed
my penis all over her waist the dog barked in the street
below there was a theater and after coming
I thought "two theaters" and the void Archilochus and Anacreon
and Simonides sheathing their willow branches Man
doesn't search for life, I said, I laid her back and
shoved the whole thing in something crunched between
the dog's ears Crack! We're lost
All that's left is for you to get sick, I said And Soni
stepped away from the ground the light through dirty glass
rendered like a god and the author
closed his eyes
translated by Laura Healy
*Archilochus (Greek: Ἀρχίλοχος) (c. 680 BC – c. 645 BC) was a Greek poet and supposed mercenary.
Anacreon (Greek Ἀνακρέων) (570 BC-488 BC) was a Greek lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns.
Simonides of Ceos (Σιμωνίδης ὁ Κεῖος) (c. 556 BC-468 BC), Greek lyric poet, was born at Ioulis on Kea.
I think this is a wonderful poem--the eroticism and the violence shocking, and there is no clear line of activity; rather, the past and present, or perhaps the past and past, are so intermingled that to tear them apart would also tear apart the poem. In a way I don't think that these events are separate, for I imagine them in the head of the narrator; whatever he lives is crowded with his memories, which present themselves as real and vital. Pretty amazing and true to our lives.
There are more complicated statements about the erotic, poetry, and even some jokes in here too; the three greek references are all classical poets, and I wonder if their visitation is like the visitation of the fates, or whether they are a kind of muse. Moreover, Bolano brings in "the author" at the end of the poem, himself overwhelmed by these memories. What a blending of so many elements (blended but not mashed, if that makes sense; the events and characters are still somewhat identifiable in different scenes).