January 25, 2018

An Anti-Obituary for Nicanor Parra (1914–2018)


The Last Roast
After Nicanor Parra’s “The Last Toast,” translated by Miller Williams

Whether you like it or not,
We only have three ways to remember you
Poet, anti-poet, and provocateur.

And not even three
Because as you used to say
“I take back everything I said.”
That sentiment belongs in memory:
From your verses already drafted
More verses will be composed.

The words to say
Are only two:
Thank you.

But there aren’t even two words
Because it’s a known fact
Words are inadequate
As they edge closer
And fall silent
as death.

In the end
Tomorrow comes without you
So I raise my glass
To a poem that you will never write

For that is all
We could hope for.



Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.