Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American traveller, polyglot and author who has been
to 135 countries, lived in 21 cities of the world, and speaks 12 languages. He is
the author of the English-language story cycle, we of the forsaken world...
(Iguana Books, 2020) and four books in four other languages. His writings have
been published in Kenyon Review, Brooklyn Rail, Prairie Schooner, Colorado
, The Florida Review, 3AM Magazine, Eclectica, Waxwing, Free State
, Cha, Mascara Literary Review, The Chakkar, and several other places.
He currently lives in Chiapas in Mexico, where he translates Maya Tsotsil,
Tsetsal, and Ch'ol writing into English.

Bhat translates the haikus of Antonio Guzman Gomez, a poet of the Maya
Tseltal community. As the contemporary literature of Maya Tseltal develops,
Antonio has chosen to write in the haiku form because he would like other
traditions outside of the West to be a part of his mother tongue's literary
formation. The work they did together between Spanish and English to get
the syllable count and rhythm right was vast. Bhat believes that Antonio's
work and its cross-pollination between these four linguistic cultures
(Japanese, Maya Tseltal, Spanish and English) has created works of art
deserving of international attention.


The torrential rains
drop so much water because
they want to kiss Earth.

Tulan ja'al,
ja' ya xbeen koel
yu'un ya sbuts' lum k'inal.

Torrente lluvia,
agua que fluye para
besar la tierra.

Otherwise clear rain
drops itself all over land
to sully itself.

Te yaxal ja'ale,
teme ch'ay koel ta lume
ya xtatub.

La lluvia clara,
cayendo sobre tierra
se vuelve sucia.

The rain, as it falls,
is breaking the crystal light,
which ignites our lives.

Ya xch'ay koel ja'al,
sts'aylajan xojobal snenul
ya yach'ubtes te kuxlejale.

La lluvia cae,
rota luz de cristal
que enciende vida.

The frogs are croaking
in the nightingale concert,
in love with the herbs.

Ya xk'ajin te xch'uch'etike,
jun yutsil te k'ayojetik
ta stojol te t'ujbil wamaletike.

Croan las ranas,
concierto ruiseñor
a hierbas amadas.

The clouds are passing
though the fingers of the wind;
where are they going?

Te tokaletike ya xk'ax
ta sk'ab ik',
¿banti ya xbajtik?

Las nubes pasan
por las manos del viento,
¿a dónde irán?

Time, about to fly,
in the death of afternoon,
finds its wings burning.

Te k'aale yakal ta bael
ta mal k'aal ya xcham bael,
ya xtil sk'aal te xik'e.

El tiempo vuela
en la tarde que muere,
arden sus alas.

Pearly white flowers
are imperials of peace
opposing all war.

Te sakil nichimetike,
ja' slamanel k'inal
yu'un te pas k'ope.

Las blancas flores,
son imperios de paz
contra la guerra.

Copper red flowers
are like the stains of spilt blood
blooming on the earth.

Te tsajal nichimetike,
ja' ch'ich' malem
ta sba lum k'inal.

Las flores rojas,
son sangre derramada
sobre la tierra.

The full moon, so white,
alongside the wistful stars,
stares at the dark earth.

Te sakil u,
ya sk'abu sok ek'etik yu'un
te ajk'ubal lum k'inale.

La blanca luna,
con sus estrellas mira
la tierra oscura.

Ever since night began,
supposedly timid stars
keep winking at us.

Ta yajk'ubal k'inal,
te xmut'lajan ek'etike
ya smuts' sit-taotik.

Desde la noche,
las tímidas estrellas
nos hacen guiños.

At any second,
there is a fragment of life
marching death forward.

Ta ajk'al ts'inax,
xejt' kuxlejal
ya yik' bael te lajele.

En cada instante,
un fragmento de vida
lleva la muerte.

Back to Front.