The Wallet Maker | El carterista
Francisco "Paco" Urondo
translated by Julia Leverone
This Angaco badass is laboriously 
sewing two tiny wallets. To make them, 
he uses the only materials to speak of 
in the cells of Villa Devoto: 
the pursuit of a savvy inmate, of someone 
who has spent almost two years now in this place
and in Resistencia and Rawson 
and the Granaderos ship that—ay—two compañeros
fortuitously couldn't blow up. 
The Angacho man is tall 
strong and agile like a servant of God: 
a samurai both political and kind; 
when he fell he had bad luck: he gave hell 
or wanted to give hell and the doors 
of the cuatro-cinco caught him up, 
or something along those lines. 
They gave him twenty-two years he won't
finish since there's a whole town 
that can't bear him put away, 
because there's a town that loves him very much, 
even though they can't see him sew
his two tiny wallets for his tiny daughters,
here, in the forty-fifth cell of Villa Devoto. 
Montonero Angaco: Viva la Patria, 
Perón or Death and all the rest: our
pact then is sealed with blood, our luck 
with those who trafficked in this great world 
of fire and promises of conquest, with all
those people who can't see you now, only through
my undeserving eyes, your little wallets. May no one dare 
to doubt my undeserving words or the town's love,
Argentine, its confidence, its health,
its judgments, what it chooses to raise its glass to.


El moncho Angaco está cosiendo laboriosamente dos carteritas. Para hacerlas, ha usado los pocos elementos con que se cuenta en estas celdas de Villa Devoto: un trabajo de preso ducho, de hombre que lleva casi dos años ya por esta cárcel y también por Resistencia y Rawson y el barco Granaderos que –ay– dos compañeros oportunamente no pudieron volar. El moncho Angaco es alto fuerte y ágil como un siervo de Dios: un samurai político y bondadoso; cuando cayó tuvo mala suerte: se batió o quiso batirse y la corredera de la cuatro-cinco se trabó, o algo por el estilo. Le han pedido veintidós años de prisión que no cumplirá porque hay todo un pueblo que no quiere verlo tanto tiempo encerrado porque hay un pueblo que lo quiere mucho, aunque no lo vea coser sus dos pequeñas carteras para sus hijitas, aquí, en la celda cuarentaicinco de Villa Devoto. Montonero Angaco: Viva la Patria, Perón o muerte y todo lo demás: queda sellado así nuestro pacto de sangre, nuestra suerte con los que viajaban en esta gran tierra de fuego y promesas a conquistar, con toda esa gente que no puede mirarlo ahora, sino a través de mis ojos inmerecidos, de sus carteritas. Y que nadie se atreva a dudar de mi palabra inmerecida ni de los amores del pueblo argentino, de su confianza, de su salud, de sus juramentos, de sus brindis.
Francisco "Paco" Urondo (1930–1976) was a prolific Argentine writer, intellectual, and revolutionary who died at the hands of the dictatorship at the beginning of the Dirty War. Urondo pushed literary conventions to give way to a conversational, frank style of writing that witnessed and accused, that demanded acknowledgment and memory, and that turned optimistically to a future beyond the reality of the socio-political turmoil his country was in. He was compromised and killed in a police chase; his assassins were finally convicted in 2011.

Julia Leverone lives in north Texas where she is teaching and writing a dissertation in comparative literature for Washington University in St. Louis. She has an MFA from the University of Maryland. Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Crab Orchard Review, The Massachusetts Review, Asymptote, and Poetry International. Julia is Editor of Sakura Review.


more translations by Julia Leverone:
Bar "La Calesita" (Carousel Bar)
Little Heart