The poet lives on in BA

There is no escaping the fact that I am still a poet. I haven’t written any real poetry for almost a year. Of late I’ve been far too busy writing this blog and becoming a tango dancer. But last Saturday, I sat at the Bien Pulenta Milonga having one of my ‘hard work’ tango nights, alone. I was feeling ill. I couldn’t be bothered even to look around the room for dances. Instead I picked up a free copy of this month’s ‘el tangauta’ magazine. To my delight, for the first time an Argentine poet named Carlos Alberto Casellas, has been included. One of his sonnets is presented with an English translation by Dolores Longo. I think the sonnet, even in English, is beautiful:


Blessed be the milonga saints,

the tangos by Gardel and Le Pera,

the mascara of Malena, of the dark circled eyes,

and Pichuco’s bandoneon, as it chides.

Blessed be Virulazo, meta y ponga,

Ferrer’s grela, who waits alone,

Contursi’s heart, that sheds tears,

and the flower in the lapel, rea and mistonga.

Blessed be Celedonio, “mano a mano”,

Discepolo, all mysteries and shadows

and the shameless slit of your skirt.

Blessed be the whorehouse of the burb,

the tanguero’s finger print,

and Corrientes and Esmeralda’s intersection.

Carlos Alberto Casellas, 2007

some notes:

  1. meta y ponga: expression, who gives his all
  2. grela: lunfardo meaning woman
  3. rea: lunfardo meaning vagabond, bohemian, transgressor
  4. mistonga: lunfardo meaning poor
  5. mano a mano: (one on one) Tango with music by Carlos Gardel and Jose Razzano and lyrics by Celedonio Esteban Flores
  6. Corrientes and Esmeralda are streets in Buenos Aires

As I go out tonight to Salon Canning and then to La Viruta, I will have these words ringing in my head. Somehow they conjure up for me everything that tango is in this city. The sonnet is even more beautiful in castellano. It is number 5 (labelled V) in a series of sonnets called Benditos (Blessings?) and you can find the series, and many other examples of Casellas’ work on his web blog.

Visit the web blog of the poet Carlos Alberto Casellas

The last short piece I wrote myself was after I danced tango with my dream dancer of Hampshire for the first time last October. It is not what I would call a poem, but when I read the words, I still feel the reason why I am here now in Argentina. Maybe you will connect with my passion too.


when he asks me without speech and takes my hand

when i walk towards his soul

when his arm wraps around my tiny frame

when the music becomes our heartbeat

when his breath is my breath

when he decides

when his body whispers to mine

when i think of nothing except to feel

when i relax into him

when he shifts his hold and i am his

when he lifts me up and i am a butterfly

when we move

when we wait

when i would follow him in pitch darkness

when he asks nothing more than i can give

when my heart is sad to sense the final notes

when it is over and i am dizzy

then we have danced tango

Sallycat 2006


One Response

  1. I can’t wait to read your pre-tango days and learn more about this mystery man, this possible “unrequited love of your life?” *curious expression here*

    Aha! I was right! You do have a poetic heart. *merry grin*

    Besos y abrazos. “Sly” 🙂

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