we're in an epidemic:
we're creatures of swine flu la influenza porcina:
a new status that has us panicked:
completely out of proportion:
the virus is a new virus
no one knows how it acts:
it's very aggressive and highly contagious:
after six days cooped up we're on the verge of turning into experts in televised epidemiology:
specifically the a/h1n1 virus:
there are no schools no restaurants no bars no clubs
no libraries open:
33 million cloistered students with nothing much to do:
we set foot outside when strictly necessary
with facemasks and antibacterial gel:
we do not kiss or touch
we avoid each other at every turn
but we thrill at the thought that everyone could disappear in an instant
with a great sneeze that puts an end already to this whole damn thing:
every person is a high risk group:
they recommend staying away from crowds
but two can be a crowd

From "Suite Preludio A/H1N1." © José Eugenio Sánchez. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2009 by Anna Guercio. All rights reserved.

estamos en epidemia:
somos creadores de la influenza porcina swine flue:
un nuevo status que nos mantiene en pánico:
fuera de toda proporción:
el virus es un virus nuevo
nadie sabe cómo es su comportamiento:
es muy agresivo y altamente contagioso:
en seis días encerrados en casa estamos a punto de convertirnos en expertos en epidemoilogía televisiva:
específicamente en el virus a/h1n1:
no hay escuelas abiertas ni restaurantes ni bares ni discos
ni bibliotecas:
33 millones de estudiantes enclaustrados sin mucho que hacer:
salimos a la calle cuando es estrictamente necesario
con cubreboca y usamos gel antibacterial:
no besamos ni tocamos a nadie
nos evitamos de esquina a esquina
pero nos excita la idea de desaparecer todos en el mismo instante
con un gran estornudo que acabe con toda esta madre ya:
cualquier persona es un grupo de riesgo:
se recomienda no estar entre multitudes
aunque dos sean multitud:

José Eugenio SánchezJosé Eugenio Sánchez

José Eugenio Sánchez, born 1965, is an award-winning poet from Monterrey, Mexico, whose books include La felicidad es una pistola caliente and Physical graffiti, the latter of which won him the International Poetry Grant from the Loewe Foundation. Despite his many grants, achievements, and anthology inclusions around the world, Sánchez and his work are aggressively playful and irreverent, more rock and roll than literary establishment. Influenced by the Beats as well as international politics, Sánchez identifies himself an "underclown"—that is, a clown of the cultural underground. His newest collection, escenas sagradas del oriente, has just been published by Almadía.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Anna Guercio RosenwongAnna Guercio Rosenwong

Anna Guercio Rosenwong is a translator, poet, editor, and educator. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from UC Irvine. Her book-length publications include Roció Cerón’s Diorama (winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award), José Eugenio Sánchez's Suite Prelude a/H1N1, and an original collection of poetry, By Way of Explanation. She is the translation editor of Drunken Boat. Her literary and scholarly work has been featured in World Literature Today, the Kenyon ReviewTranslation Studies, the St Petersburg ReviewPool, and elsewhere.