Francisco Hernández, born in San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, had no formal education in creative writing or literature. He read voraciously and began writing poetry in the 1970s while he worked in advertising. He has published over 20 books of poetry. Among them are MAR DE FONDO, which earned him the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize (1982), and DIARIO SIN FECHAS DE CHARLES B. WAITE, for which he was awarded the Jaime Sabines International Poetry Prize (2005). Several of his poems have been translated into English and appear in anthologies such as CONNECTING LINES: NEW POETRY FROM MEXICO (Sarabande Books 2006) and REVERSIBLE MONUMENTS: CONTEMPORARY MEXICAN POETRY (Copper Canyon Press 2002).
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Below Zero

- by Francisco Hernandez (Translated from the Spanish by Carolyn Forche)

In the thoughts of the suicide there is an emptiness
that can only be filled at temperatures below zero.
The thoughts of the suicide are not swift
nor foggy: they are merely cold.
The mind is not blank: it is frozen.
There appears, like a razor's edge, a sensation of
tranquility that seems never-ending.
With the brain turned into an iceberg, nothing
is remembered. Neither the most loved flesh, nor the names
of the children, nor the coal fires of poetry.
The suicide is the living image of solitude.
No one journeys to that island of ice, crossed
by a bullet from pole to pole.
Even in the tropics, when someone commits suicide
it begins, sadly, to snow.