A Man Passes By... - A Poem by César Vallejo

A man passes by with bread on his shoulder.

Am I going to write, then, of my double?

Another sits down, scratches himself, extracts a louse from his armpit, kills it.

What use in speaking of psychoanalysis?

Another has entered my chest with a stick in his hand.

To speak, then, of Socrates to the doctor?

A cripple walks by, giving his arm to a child.

Am I going to read, then, Andre Breton?

Another shivers with cold, coughs, spits blood.

To play ever at alluding to the profound I?

Another searches in mud for bones, rinds.

How to write, then, of infinity?

A bricklayer falls from the roof, dies, no longer eats lunch.

To innovate, then, the trope, the metaphor?

A merchant steals a gram of weight from a client.

To speak, then, of the fourth dimension?

A banker falsfies his balance.

With what face to cry in the theatre?

A pariah sleeps with his foot to his back.

To speak, then, to anyone of Picasso?

Someone goes to a funeral sobbing.

How, then, to enter the Academy?

Someone cleans a rifle in his kitchen.

What use in speaking of the beyond?

Someone passes by, counting on his fingers.

How, then, to speak of the not-i without screaming?

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