I set off, I took up the march, and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear
my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing:
I think it was the icy wind of the dead
I don't know. I set off, I thought it was a shame
to leave so soon, but at the same time
I heard that mysterious and convincing call.
You either listen or you don't, and I listened
and almost burst out crying a terrible sound,
born on the air and the sea.
A sword and shield. And then,
despite my fear, I set off, I put my cheek
against death's cheek.
And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing
that strange spectacle, slow and strange,
though fixed in such a swift reality:
thousands of guys like me, baby-faced
or bearded, but Latin American, all of us,
brushing cheeks with death.
Roberto Bolano, Translated by Laura Healy.
The above poem (found here) is typical of his style, and resembles his prose which is only poetry. It also is quite autobiographical, especially the self-references and "baby-faced". Roughly speaking, a real gem.There is another Bolano poem, called Godzilla in Mexico here, and New Directions are publishing a collection of his poems next year called Romantic Dogs.