The Country of Lone Wolves

Fernando Valverde
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For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, 

and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack

                                     —Rudyard Kipling 

There is always a wolf in the night of the world 

in the nightmares of the earth 

under the light of the moon 

the law 

is a wolf 


the law is old 

and certain 

like the night 

or like the barking of dogs 

Lee Harvey Oswald shows the camera his Italian-made rifle 

in the yard of his house 

on the outskirts 

because the strength of the pack is the wolf 

and because there will always be a lone wolf willing to do the country a favor 

from a window 

or a doorway 

or at point-blank range 

the important thing is not to devour it whole 

you have to leave the skin 

or the head 

as they say the most elementary laws 

James Earl Ray points his Remington rifle at the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis 

a single bite will suffice 

it is not advisable to lose control 

or be too proud 

because lone wolves travel for the pack 

over the hills 

or the snow 

or in the desert 

crossing through the nightmares of the earth 

and its prayers 

Sirhan Bishara Sirhan empties his .22-caliber revolver 

because wolves are nomads that walk in circles 

and when a deep sorrow invades them 

they cry 

and their lament crosses the plains and forests 

where someone erases their tracks 

while they lick themselves 

from the tip of the nose to the paws 

firm in their solitude 

and their misfortune

because it is hunger that pushes them

and the appetite their motivation

Mark David Chapman shoots a special .38 caliber revolver

because the war is not over

and the wolves walk on the water

and their language is flesh

and their lair the world

and some escape by walking away

while others


safe, paralyzed,

not daring to run

sitting in a movie theater or in a doorway

waiting for the empire of men

and law.

Translated from the Spanish by Carolyn Forché

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