we all emptied through the wound

Two poems by Alicia Preza translated by Julia Leverone

alicia        Julia

[Sin título]

by Alicia Preza

Nos travestimos en la foto

pasamos letra de boca en boca,

queda sonando una silla

antes de cerrar la noche.

La pollera oculta de los hombres

lleva una vulva en los dientes.

Furioso lo que cuelga

cuando estás desglosando

esa palabra.

Goce digitado en el baño social,

todos vaciamos por la hendidura,

agua baja, se lleva la sobra.

Tu cama está vigilada,

se agolpan en la persiana

para tocarte

con sus dedos autómatas

oprimen descarriados

para ver si algo suena.

Ring – raje de los herejes

que muerden y se van.

Plato indigesto a media luz,

otro animal domesticado,

excusa de una silueta

para escupir su rostro,

ese asimétrico gesto

de cerrar la boca

para que no salpique

tanto revoloteo de la diosa

se desarma en el galope

no existe una guirnalda,

no hay adorno que la salve.


by Alicia Preza

We cross-dressed in the photo

passed words from mouth to mouth

a chair still ringing
before the close of night.
The dark skirt of the men
holds a vulva between its teeth.

Furious what hangs
when you are breaking down
that word.
Typed pleasure in the social bath,

we all emptied through the wound,

low water, the excess spent.
Your bed is watched over,
they throng at the blinds
to touch you
with their automaton fingers
they press haphazardly
to see if something rings.

Ring—scamper from the heretics

that bite and then disperse.

Unappetizing plate in the half light,

another domesticated animal,

excuse of a silhouette
for spitting on the face,
that asymmetric gesture
of closing the mouth
so that it won’t spatter
so much wheeling of the goddess

disarms in the gallop
there is no garland that exists
no adornment that will save her. 

translated from Spanish by Julia Leverone

[Sin título]

by Alicia Preza
Estamos jugando hace rato. Jalamos el gatillo y apuntamos. Nos reímos demasiado sin una gota de alcohol. Nuestra sustancia no existe. La armónica de Jaime se despeina de miedo y se acopla en un quejido. De golpe se oye el estruendo. La bala perforó al ropero y más adentro ahí nuestro animal, el único que supo acompañarnos sin maullar, ése que aún aprieta más adentro y en su herida hilvana el nudillo que nos conforma en este cuarto de radio salpicada por la misma emisora que ahora está por apagarse pero se enciende sola. Esa cíclica forma de mirarnos al espejo no está en la pared. Es un reflejo que muestra un fragmento de nuestra nuca goteando. La semilla implosiva desvía cada reflejo. Y todos somos uno en múltiplos de tres con la cara equivocada en la abertura. Está sonando ahora. Nos miramos de reojo. Son las dos de la mañana. Las sábanas el charco repetido.


by Alicia Preza

We were playing for a while. We pulled the trigger then aimed. We laughed too much without a drop of alcohol. Our substance doesn’t exist. Jaime’s harmonica is mussed in fear and yokes to a groan. Suddenly thunder is heard. The bullet perforated the closet and further in our animal, the only kind that could be with us without mewing, that which still tightens further in and in its twining wound the knot that conforms us in this radio room spattered by the same transmitter that is not about to click off but burns alone. That cyclical way of looking at ourselves in the mirror not on the wall. It’s a reflection that shows a fragment of our beading nape. The implosive seed deflects each reflection. And we are all one in multiples of threes with the wrong face at the opening. It’s ringing now. We look at each other sideways. It’s two in the morning. The sheets the repeated pool. 

translated from Spanish by Julia Leverone

You wonder, at liberty, befitting the earth.

Four poems by Sohrab Sepehri translated by Patrick Sykes

هم سطر، هم سپيد

by Sohrab Sepehri







































Both line and white

by Sohrab Sepehri

It’s morning.

The sparrow

only sings.

On the downright wall, autumn


The sun acts all fresh

jumps a given volume

of decay from sleep:

an apple

wears away at the chance

of a perforated basket.

A feeling like things astray

passes over the eyelid

between trees and the green second

azure repetition

speech falls in with regret.


white reverence of paper!

Pulse of our words

drags in the distance of ink

in the mind, form’s gravity

goes to waste.

One must close the book

get up take measures to prolong time,

look at the rose,

hear its indeterminacy.

Run to the end.

Ro to ruin for the smell of earth.

Arrive at the conflation of God and the trees.


close to expansion

somewhere between rapture and revelation.

translated from Farsi-Dari by Patrick Sykes

وقت لطيف شن

by Sohrab Sepehri


اضلاع فراغت را مي شست.

من با شن هاي 

مرطوب عزيمت بازي مي كردم

و خواب سفرهاي منقش مي ديدم.

من قاتي آزادي شن ها بودم.





در باغ

يك سفره مانوس 



چيزي وسط سفره، شبيه

ادراك منور:

يك خوشه انگور

روي همه شايبه را پوشيد.

تعمير سكوت 

گيجم كرد.

ديدم كه درخت ، هست.

وقتي كه درخت هست

پيداست كه بايد بود،

بايد بود

و رد روايت را

تا متن سپيد

دنبال كرد.


اي ياس ملون!


Stint of pure sand

by Sohrab Sepehri


scrubs down leisure’s ribs.

I, with damp

sand playing incantation

saw an illuminated dream of distance.

I was the sand’s cross of freedom.



In the garden

was a familiar table


Something in the middle, like

rich comprehension:

A bunch of grapes

veiled all doubt.

The overhaul of silence

rattled me

I saw the tree there.

when it must have been,

must have been,


and reject the narrative

till the blank text



jasmine melody!

translated from Farsi-Dari by Patrick Sykes

از روی پلک شب

by Sohrab Sepehri

شب سرشاري بود.

رود از پاي صنوبرها، تا فراترها رفت.

دره مهتاب اندود، و چنان روشن كوه، كه خدا پيدا بود.


در بلنديها، ما

دورها گم، سطحها شسته، و نگاه از همه شب نازكتر.

دستهايت، ساقه سبز پيامي را ميداد به من

و سفالينه انس، با نفسهايت آهسته ترك ميخورد

و تپشهامان ميريخت به سنگ.

از شرابي ديرين، شن تابستان در رگها

و لعاب مهتاب، روي رفتارت.

تو شگرف، تو رها، و برازنده خاك.


فرصت سبز حيات، به هواي خنك كوهستان ميپيوست.

سايهها برميگشت.

و هنوز، در سر راه نسيم.

پونههايي كه تكان ميخورد.

جذبههايي كه به هم ميخورد.


From the lid of night

by Sohrab Sepehri

Night was brimming,
the river climbing from the foot of the pines.
The moon-gilt valley, and the mountain so bright that God was exposed.

Us at the heights. 
In turns vanished, the surface scrubbed, and a glance slimmer than any night.
Your hands were giving me word of the green shoot,
pots breaking with your slow breath
and my pulse cast in stone.
From an old wine, summer sand in the veins
and moongaze on your ways.
You wonder, at liberty, befitting the earth. 

The green shot in the courtyardyoked to the cool air.
Shadows were returning
and the breeze still on the way,
mint that would yield
brimming colour.


translated from Farsi-Dari by Patrick Sykes

رو به غروب

by Sohrab Sepehri

ريخته سرخ غروب 

جابجا بر سر سنگ


كوه خاموش است

مي خروشد رود. 

مانده در دامن دشت 

خرمني رنگ كبود. 


سايه آميخته با سايه

سنگ با سنگ گرفته پيوند. 

روز فرسوده به ره مي گذرد. 

جلوه گر آمده در چشمانش 

نقش اندوه پي يك لبخند.


جغد بر كنگره ها مي خواند. 

لاشخورها، سنگين، 

از هوا، تك تك ، آيند فرود: 

لاشه اي مانده به دشت 

كنده منقار ز جا چشمانش، 

زير پيشاني او 



مانده دو گود كبود. 


تيرگي مي آيد. 

دشت مي گيرد آرام

قصه رنگي روز 

مي رود رو به تمام


شاخه ها پژمرده است

سنگ ها افسرده است

رود مي نالد. 

جغد مي خواند. 

غم بياويخته با رنگ غروب

مي تراود ز لبم قصه سرد: 

دلم افسرده در اين تنگ غروب.


To Dusk

by Sohrab Sepehri

Dusk spilled redhot
displaced stone.
The mountain silent.
The river roars.
Left in the skirt of the field
the azure harvest.

Shadow alloyed with shadow.
Stone with stone.
The washed-up day moves on
in all its beauty, and its eyes
play sorrow in a smile.

From the battlements the owl sings
the vultures down
from the air, one by one:
a carcass left in the field
a beak rends eyes from their place,
below the brow
two azure pits.

Darkness closes.
The field takes comfort.
The story of the colour of day
comes to an end.

translated from Farsi-Dari by Patrick Sykes

Red sun hanging on the shoulder of the western hill

Four poems by Kim Sowohl translated by Sekyo Nam Haines

Sowohl             Sekyo I cropped

진달래 꽃

by Kim Sowohl

나 보기가 역겨워
가실 때에는
말없이 고이 보내 드리우리다


영변에 약산
진달래 꽃
아름따다 가실 길에 뿌리우리다


가시는 걸음걸음

놓인 그 꽃을
사뿐히 즈려 밟고 가시옵소서


나 보기가 역겨워

가실 때에는
죽어도 아니 눈물 흘리우리다. 


by Kim Sowohl

Weary of looking at me
when you leave,
I will let you go gently without a word.


Yak-Mountain in Youngbyon—
the azalea blossoms—
I will gather armfuls and spread them on your way.


Step after step,
on the petals that lie before you,

tread softly as you go.


Weary of looking at me,

when you leave,

even though I die of sadness, I will not let my tears fall. 

translated from Korean by Sekyo Nam Haines


by Kim Sowohl

산산이 부서진 이름이여 !

허공중에 헤어진 이름이여 !

불러도 주인 없는 이름이여 !

부르다가 내가 죽을 이름이여 !


심중에 남아 있는 말 한마디는

끝끝내 마자하지 못하였구나.

사랑하던 그 사람이여 !

사랑하던 그 사람이여 !


붉은 해는 서산 마루에 걸리었다.

사슴의 무리도 슬피 운다.
떨어져 나가 앉은 산위에서
나는 그대의 이름을 부르노라.


설움에 겹도록 부르노라.

설움에 겹도록 부르노라.

부르는 소리는 비껴가지만

하늘과 땅 사이가 너무 넓구나.


선 채로 이 자리에 돌이 되어도

부르다가 내가 죽을 이름이여 !

사랑하던 그 사람이여 !

사랑하던 그 사람이여 ! 

Summoning Back the Soul

by Kim Sowohl

Shattered to pieces is this name!

Scattered into an empty sky is this name!

I call out, yet, ownerless is this name!
I will die calling this name!


The words I held, deep in my heart,

remained unspoken to the end.
O! Beloved one!
O! Beloved one!


Red sun hanging on the shoulder of the western hill,

and even the herds of deer are crying in sorrow—
I stand on the far-way hill,
calling the beloved’s name.


Grief-stricken, I call!
Grief-stricken, I call!
The sound of my calling goes aslant
in the vast distance between heaven and earth.


Standing here, even if I turn to stone,

I will die calling this name!
O! Beloved one!
O! Beloved one! 

translated from Korean by Sekyo Nam Haines

예전엔 미처 몰랐어요

by Kim Sowohl

봄 가을 없이 밤마다 돋는 달도

<예전엔 미처 몰랐어요>


이렇게 사무치게 그리울 줄도

<예전엔 미처 몰랐어요>


달이 암만 밝아도 쳐다볼 줄을

<예전엔 미쳐 몰랐어요>


이제금 저 달이 설음인 줄은

<예전엔 미처 몰랐어요> 



Had I Known Before

by Kim Sowohl

Spring, autumn, every night the rising moon—

         Had I known before!


That I would yearn for it so achingly—

         Had I known before!


To look at the moon that shines so brightly—

         Had I known before!


Now, this moon is my sorrow—

         O, Had I known before! 



translated from Korean by Sekyo Nam Haines

자나 깨나 앉으나 서나

by Kim Sowohl

자나 깨나 앉으나 서나

그림자 같은 벗 하나이 내게 있었읍니다.


그러나, 우리는 얼마나 많은 세월을

쓸데없는 괴로움으로만 보내었겠읍니까 !


오늘은 또 다시,당신의 가슴 속, 속 모를 곳을

울면서 나는 휘저어 버리고 떠납니다그려.


허수한 맘, 둘 곳 없는 심사에 쓰라린 가슴은

그것이 사랑, 사랑이던 줄이 아니도 잊힙니다. 

Whether I Was Asleep, Awake, Sitting, or Standing

by Kim Sowohl

Whether I was asleep, awake, sitting, or standing,

I had a friend who was like my shadow.


And yet, how many years did we spend ourselves

in heedless anguish!


Today, once again, I stir up your heart deep,

to that unknowable place, as I depart in tears.


This restless mind, this sore-homeless heart,

that is love, it was love, isn’t able to forget. 

translated from Korean by Sekyo Nam Haines

Groan like the brash ice, or hiss like the slush

Two poems by Judita Vaičiūnaitė translated by Rimas Uzgiris

Bevardė versmė

by Judita Vaičiūnaitė

Lyg bevardė versmė po katedra,

lyg iš rūko šviesos čiurkšlė

prasiverk, atgaivink dar kartą

ir be gailesčio širdį užliek.


Lyg dangus būk – šaltas ir žydras

lyg iš lango angos pily

dar išvysk virš Neries žuvėdras,

kai sparnai tau vėjų pilni.


Lyg ledonešis gausk, lyg ižas

atitirpusių gatvių tėkmėj,

nes tą balsą, į saulę grįžusi,

iš bevardės versmės ėmei.

A Nameless Source

by Judita Vaičiūnaitė

Like a nameless source below the cathedral,

like a spray of light within the pall of fog,

open yourself, and come to life once more.

Water your heart with no remorse.


Try to be like the sky – cold and blue,

or gaze at the gulls above the Neris as if

through an arrow-slit in the castle wall,

but only when their wings are full of wind for you.


Groan like the brash ice, or hiss like the slush

that melts in the flow of the street –

for this is the voice, returning to the sun,

the one you took from a nameless source.

translated from Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris

Trys lemtys

by Judita Vaičiūnaitė

1. Nikė


Citrinų žievės,

            cinamonų skonis,

            jau išgertas vynas iš Balkanų.

O rytas – toks švarus,

            kai, nepriklausanti

            nei dievui, nei žmonėms, nei velniui,

tokiam tuščiam bute,

            įkaitusios skardos ir stiklo blizgesy,


rate –

            birželio saulės beprotybėj –

            kryžiumi guliu, ir verksmas – veltui.

Už mano nudaužtus suskaldytus sparnus,

            tik dulkėm šviečiančius virš gatvių,

už mano nuogus krūpsinčius šviesoj pečius

            aš nekenčiu tavęs –

            bet burną atveriu

šiurpiam ir purpuriniam tavo viesului…



2. Raudona tunika


Moteris trumpa raudona tunika

            pasaulio aikštėse,

moteris prie mikrofono –

            sielvartas išdidina jos balsą,

ją, bežemių minioje klajojančią,

            mažytę ir išbalusią,

apteškia užlūžtančia banga,

            audringa, sūria ir šviesia…

Ji dainuoja.

            Ausys užkimštos vašku

            – juodi nakties yrėjai

jos negirdi.

            Graikija – didžiulis lageris.

            Ištrūkt turėjai

tu, prie stiebo pririštas…

            Rūdija nugalėtų ginklai – krūvos

skydų, iečių ir šalmų.

            Sirenos rankos – surištos ir kruvinos.



3. Ragana


Pusiaudienio aikštė – troški, triukšminga.

            (Kino salės – tuščios.)

Jie spiečias. Ir nuožmus, nežmoniškas smalsumas

            jungia tūkstančius.

Ir gėdos stulpas auga virš namų

            lyg sausas keistas medis.

Ir pilnas išdidumo mano žvilgsnis –

            kliedintis ir merdintis.

(Prigrūstos šiltinių palatos,

            pirtys, lagerių kirpyklos.

Raudonais viržiais gula kerpami plaukai.)

            Ir plūsta pyktis –

toks nesuprantamas,

            lyg būčiau kitoje planetoj gimus.

Ir plaka įsisiautėję balsai,

            nuo buko džiaugsmo kimūs.

Sunki grandinė trina mano kaklą.

            Nuobodžiauja budelis.

(Beprotišku trenksmu nusviedžia po stalu

            išgertus butelius.)

Tiesa – iš mano vaikiškos burnos,

            laukinės, neliestos.

Uždekit. Mano kūnas ilgisi

            nuplaunančios liepsnos.

Three Fates

by Judita Vaičiūnaitė

1. Nike


Lemon rinds,

            the taste of cinnamon,

            wine from the Balkans, drunk.

O morning – so clean,

            belonging not to God,

            nor people, nor the devil,

in such an empty apartment,

            in heated tin and glare of glass,

in a white

circle –

            in the madness of June’s sun –

            I lie like a cross, and tears are for naught.

For these broken, battered wings –

            this dust shining above the street,

for my naked, wincing shoulders in the light,

            I hate you –

            but open my mouth

to your ghastly purple gale…



2. Red Tunic


A woman with a red tunic

            in the plazas of the world,

a woman by a microphone –

            anguish augments her voice,

wandering among the landless crowds,

            pale and petite,

splashed by a breaking wave,

            stormy, salty and bright…

She sings.

            Ears stuffed with wax

            – the night’s black un-ravellers

can’t hear.

            Greece – a vast concentration camp.

            You had to leave,

tying yourself to the mast…

            The weapons of the vanquished rust:

stacks of shields, spears and helms.

            The Sirens’ hands – bound and bloodstained.



3. Witch


The midday square – stifling and loud.

            (Movie theaters – empty.)

They swarm. And a fierce, subhuman curiosity

            unites thousands.

A pillar of shame grows above houses

            like a strange, desiccated tree.

And my gaze is full of pride –

            delirious and dying.

(The typhus wards, saunas, gulag

            barbers are packed.

Cut hair lies in red bands.)

            And anger flows –


            as if I were born on a different planet.

And raving voices throb –

            hoarse from dull pleasure.

A heavy chain chafes my neck.

            The hangman grows bored.

(He tosses empty bottles under the table

            with a mad crash.)

Truth – from my childish mouth,

            wild, untouched.

Light it. My body longs

            for a cleansing flame. 

translated from Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris

One lives a long life in honor of another and counts the stars for him until dawn.

Three poems by Abraham Sutzkever translated by Maia Evrona   

Sutzkever imageI’m grateful for the opportunity to publish my translations of Abraham Sutzkever, now, at this fraught moment for the treatment of refugees in the United States and larger world, as Abraham Sutzkever was something of a double, or even triple refugee. Born in what is now Belarus in 1913, he was forced to flee World War I with his family as a toddler, going, of all places, to Siberia. These days, we primarily associate Siberia with the Gulag, but for Sutzkever, it was a magical place, particularly when seen through the resilient eyes of a child, though his father passed away during the years his family sought refuge there.  

Later, Sutzkever survived the Holocaust in Vilna, first as a prisoner in the Vilna Ghetto, along with the rest of Vilna’s Jewish community, and then as a partisan in the forests, before he and his wife were finally rescued and brought to Moscow at the urging of the Russian poets Ilya Ehrenberg and Boris Pasternak. Following WWII, with violent anti-semitism still very much alive in Poland, and repression in the Soviet Union, Sutzkever understood that he could not remain in Eastern Europe and he and his wife immigrated, illegally, to Mandatory Palestine, just on the eve of the founding of the State of Israel and subsequent war. There, he had a brother (his only remaining immediate family, apart from his wife and newborn daughter). In Tel Aviv, Sutzkever continued to write in Yiddish, despite significant prejudice toward the language within Israel, and a worldwide Yiddish readership now drastically smaller due to the Holocaust. These three poems were published in the expand15078895_10157779449600013_5340291117786455502_ned edition of his collection Poems from My Diary, published in 1985. 

Today’s refugee crisis is certainly not identical to the experience of the Jewish people during WWII, but I hope that won’t stop readers from drawing on Sutzkever’s memories of being a child refugee, his experience as the survivor of a catastrophe in which most perished, and his reflections on what we lose when we close ourselves off to the travelers outside, when addressing the crises of our time.

— Maia Evrona


Two in One

by Abraham Sutzkever

Two in One

Two in One

by Abraham Sutzkever

I am two in one. One lives a long life in honor

of another and counts the stars for him until dawn.

I am two in one. One forged to the other forever,

if forever will allow Russian cubits to be its measure.


An enemy and a friend in one. And sometimes two enemies

who challenge one another to old-fashioned duels. And it turns out

that both get away with wounds and are left on the ground

riddled with bullets, until they lick the blood from themselves with a song.


And again a black cat may spring up or a frog,

we’ll stay, unintentionally, two in one from now on.

We know the double-hatred will not divide us,

that two-as-one are beating on the gate to heaven.


I am two in one. One dreams for the other. Let us free

our two-ness peacefully from the bars. And drink up

the summer sun to its last drop, let’s do that, as Socrates

drank all the way to the bitter end his poisoned cup.

translated from Yiddish by Maia Evrona

“Now, Why is it That You Never Mention Your Siberian Father in This Diary?”

by Abraham Sutzkever

Your Siberian Father

“Now, Why is it That You Never Mention Your Siberian Father in This Diary?”

by Abraham Sutzkever

“Now, why is it that you never mention your Siberian father in this diary?”

A question came. And instead of an answer, just see:

Before my eyes his skin has grown over mine,

and his beard has ripened on me, before my eyes.


Now your son has wholly become that reclusive being—his father,

with his fingers I roll soft tobacco in cigarette paper,

the night sits on a sparkling polishing wheel, rose colored and pure.

Where did I learn page after page of Gemora by heart?


Where did I learn to play the violin? With his fingers, I play

on otherworldly strings with the memory of the Garden of Eden.

Filled with sparkling ice, whose is this shovel?

With his big-boned fingers I’m playing his fiddle.


We exist eternally in the same mass,

the old snow has young strength, both to be covered in snow,

no guns nor artillery can separate us now.


“Now, why is it that you never mention your Siberian father in the diary?”

translated from Yiddish by Maia Evrona

Gone the Window And Through it the Poor Sabbath Guest, the Cherry Tree

by Abraham Sutzkever

Cherry Tree

Gone the Window And Through it the Poor Sabbath Guest, the Cherry Tree

by Abraham Sutzkever

Gone the window and through it the poor Sabbath guest, the cherry tree,

who came to stay the night with me along its journey.

Gone the cherry tree made of stars, they have all been stolen

by cosmic thieves.


This drilled hole has only left me as a vestige

a token amount of heavenly air, which had come in through that window,


and four-sided.


That token of heavenly air, which had drifted in through that window

has been stolen by no one, nor shot to pieces.

The vision of my life owns a spacious home

inside four slender, slender lines.


And the greatest wonder of all: the cherry tree drifts in

to spend the night with me as it did then, that guest,

and the cherry tree made of stars, too, finds its way inside

through those same sweet slender, slender lines.

translated from Yiddish by Maia Evrona

They were a horse perhaps

A poem by Dionisio Cañas translated by Orlando Hernández. 

Foto de Dionisio Cañas _Cruz CantónHernández_author-photo






Caballo ahogado en un lago

by Dionisio Cañas

Fueron un caballo quizás aquellos huesos

bruñidos por el barro y así restituidos

por la fuerza feroz de la lluvia en primavera

Bien pudimos haber pensado que era el azar

pero fue cierto designio tentación o tortura

que crecía tenaz entre nosotros

Era el lago un espacio entregado al silencio

sólo surcado por el bulto de algún ave

red mortal para un caballo en su carrera

y para nosotros turbio espejo donde mirar el tiempo

Fuimos así el reverso de una escena de caza

donde un caballo huía

perseguido por su sombra

y atrapado quedaba por las aguas

Vimos su cadáver alzado sobre un espeso cielo

y corrimos perseguidos por el miedo

de sentirnos desposeídos de repente

de aquel amor que hoy estamos reescribiendo.

Horse Drowned in a Lake

by Dionisio Cañas

They were a horse perhaps, those bones

burnished by the mud and in that way restored

by spring rain’s fierce force

We could have easily thought it was chance

but it was a certain design, temptation, or torture

that was growing between us

The lake was a space handed over to silence

furrowed only by the swell of a single bird

fatal net, for a horse in its step and for us

a muddy mirror we watched time in

So were we a chase scene, reversed

in which a horse fled

pursued by its shadow

and stayed snared in the waters

We saw its corpse raised over a thick sky

and we ran, pursued by fear

of feeling suddenly stripped

of the love that today we’re rewriting.

translated from Spanish by Orlando Hernández

a bright disc
without contour in the haze of summer night.

 Three poems by Joachim Sartorius translated by Pauline Fan










by Joachim Sartorius


sieht der Mond aus

durch das lange Rohr

auf wackligem Stativ,

aufgestellt am Rand des Taksim-Platzes;

aber der Blick kostet nur 500 Lira,

der Mann dreht an Rädern,

du beugst dich über eine kleine Linse

und siehst ihn, nah,

weiß und kühl, Krater und Täler,

selbst den schwarzen Fleck de beauté –

heruntergekommen etwas,

aber nicht halb so schäbig und wirklich

wie der Taksim mit seinem Verkehr,

den verwelkten Büchern auf staubigen Ständern

und klingelnden Mandelverkäufern.

Du gehst in den Menschen über den Platz.

Die Oleanderbüsche stehen

in ihrem runden Schatten

unter dem Neonlicht.

Der Mond ist klein, eine helle Scheibe

ohne Relief im Dunst der Sommernacht.

Nur du weißt, wie er aussieht,

ohne Leben,

präzis weiß und kühl, fast blau.


by Joachim Sartorius

The moon looks

the worse for wear

through the long cylinder

on a shaky frame

set up at the edge of Taksim Square;

but the view costs just 500 lira,

the man swivels the wheels,

you bend over a small lens

and see it, near,

white and cool, craters and valleys,

even its black mark de beauté–

somewhat the worse for wear,

yet not nearly as shabby or real

as Taksim and its traffic,

the withered books on dusty racks,

the noisy almond vendors.

You walk across the square through the crowd.

Oleander bushes bask

in circular shadows

under halos of neon.

The moon is small: a bright disc

without contour in the haze of summer night.

You alone know what it looks like,


precisely white and cool, almost blue.

translated from German by Pauline Fan


by Joachim Sartorius

Vor dem Hotelfenster der Dnjepr,

ein Meer mit weißen Sandbänken.

                                    Im Hotelzimmer

über akkurat durchgeschlagenen Kissen

eine Birkenallee im Winter, in Öl,

wie ich sie heute hundertmal gesehen habe,

ohne zu ermüden,

in einem flachen, rückständigen Land,

von Kriegen heimgesucht, friedlich heute,

von einer Stille, die die Sprache der Frösche

und der Störche noch stiller macht.


Keine Schiffe auf dem Dnjepr. Ich

führe so gerne hinunter nach Odessa,

wo es fröhlich ist, pontisch hell,

mit Frauen und anderen Alleen

und irrenden Wolken, spiritblau.


by Joachim Sartorius

Outside the hotel window the Dnieper,

a sea with white sandbanks.

                        In the hotel room,

above accurately disheveled pillows

a birch-lined boulevard in winter, in oil,

as I have seen today a hundred times

without tiring,

in a flat, backward land

plagued by war, peaceful today

with a silence that renders the language of frogs

and storks more silent still.


No ships on the Dnieper. How I

would like to go down to Odessa,

where it is cheerful, Pontic-bright,

with women and other boulevards

and errant clouds, spirit-blue.

translated from German by Pauline Fan


by Joachim Sartorius

Zuerst sterben die Augen, dann die Hand

in diesem Sommerherbst, dann der übrige Körper.

An der linken Hüfte nun tiefere Muskellagen,

feinkörnige Schichten, papierähnlich.

Darüber die eingesunkene Brust,

darüber ein Zimmervoll Zähne.


Ruinös alles, Dreck und Skelett.

Aber die Haut zart noch, wie Blütenblatt von Mohn.

Nur nicht der Sonne aussetzen, den Schirm

aufspannen, plötzlich besorgt.


Dreizehn Granatäpfel rollen auf dich zu.

Warum auch nicht? Wir wollen Fruchtfleisch,

Rubine, die ganze Fülle vor dem Stoßgebet.

Fruit Pulp

by Joachim Sartorius

The eyes are the first to die in this summer-autumn,

then the hand, then the rest of the body.

At the left hip now deeper layers of muscle,

Fine-grained strata, paper-like.

Above it the chest, caved in,

above it a room full of teeth.


Everything ruinous – filth and skeleton.

But the skin delicate still, like petals of poppy.

Above all, don’t expose it to the sun: spread open

the parasol, suddenly anxious.


Thirteen pomegranates rolling towards you.

And what of it? We want fruit pulp, rubies,

abundance before the fervent, final prayer.

translated from German by Pauline Fan


The furnished globe of the earth is spinning

Two poems by Osip Mandelstam translated by Alistair Noon

mandelstamThese translations are of two poems from Osip Mandelstam’s Voronezh Notebooks, written during his internal exile in the Soviet city of Voronezh, 300 miles south of Moscow, largely isolated from metropolitan literary life. Like the rest of the Notebooks, they were unpublished during his lifetime and preserved by his widow Nadezhda Mandelstam, among others. One of those others was Natatsha Stempel, a Voronezh schoolteacher whose memoirs comment on the verisimilitude of the streets described in “January. Where can I go in this open / city…” to a set of confusing lanes close to the river that Voronezh is located on.

A couple of, I hope, non-essential references to save you a google. In “January…”, “blackdamp” is a miningAlistair Noon photo by Karl Hurst please credit hazard, “an asphyxiant, reducing the available oxygen content of air to a level incapable of sustaining human or animal life” (wikipedia). In “St. Isaac’s freezes to each dead eyelash,” St. Isaac’s is St. Petersburg’s most important cathedral. The job of the “whipper-in” in a fox hunt, for example, is to keep the pack of dogs together. The poem recalls a relationship Mandelstam had with Olga Vaksel in 1925, during which they would meet in a hotel room with a view of the cathedral. Vaksel died in Oslo in 1932.

The translations are from a full-length selection of Mandelstam’s poetry currently in preparation.

—Alistair Noon

Photo credit: Karl Hurst

[На мертвых ресницах Исакий замерз]

by Osip Mandelstam

На мертвых ресницах Исакий замерз

И барские улицы сини –

Шарманщика смерть, и медведицы ворс,

И чужие поленья в камине…


Уже выгоняет выжлятник-пожар

Линеек раскидистых стайку,

Несется земля — меблированный шар,–

И зеркало корчит всезнайку.


Площадками лестниц — разлад и туман,

Дыханье, дыханье и пенье,

И Шуберта в шубе застыл талисман –

Движенье, движенье, движенье…


3 июня 1935

[St. Isaac's freezes to each dead eyelash]

by Osip Mandelstam

St. Isaac’s freezes to each dead eyelash

on the aristocratic blue streets:

there’s a grate of strangers’ logs, and ash,

an organ grinder’s death, bear fleece.


As if it were a pack on a leash, the whipper-in

whips out the fire, and it starts to sprawl.

The furnished globe of the earth is spinning,

and the face-pulling mirror plays the know-all.


The staircase landing’s all squabbles and mist,

breathing, breathing and song.

Schubert’s talisman’s cold and stiff

beneath the fur coat. Keep on, keep on…


3 June 1935

translated from Russian by Alistair Noon

[Куда мне деться в этом январе?]

by Osip Mandelstam

Куда мне деться в этом январе?

Открытый город сумасбродно цепок…

От замкнутых я, что ли, пьян дверей? –

И хочется мычать от всех замков и скрепок.


И переулков лающих чулки,

И улиц перекошенных чуланы –

И прячутся поспешно в уголки

И выбегают из углов угланы…


И в яму, в бородавчатую темь

Скольжу к обледенелой водокачке

И, спотыкаясь, мертвый воздух ем,

И разлетаются грачи в горячке –


А я за ними ахаю, крича

В какой-то мерзлый деревянный короб:

– Читателя! советчика! врача!

На лестнице колючей разговора б!


1 февраля 1937

[January. Where can I go in this open]

by Osip Mandelstam

January. Where can I go in this open

city that clings like a psychotic?

I pass clamps and bolts and feel like lowing:

have the locked doors got me drunk or what?


These howling lanes take the form of tights,

the convoluted streets are storerooms,

places where hoodlums can hurriedly hide,

then leap like knights out of corners.


Into the warty gloom, its pit,

I stumble to the pump and find it frozen.

I feed on the blackdamp, skid

and scatter the feverish crows.


And into the planks of the iced-up box,

I sigh and call, the crows now airborne:

“Talk to me, readers, advisers, doctors,

on these steps that feel like thorns.”


1 February 1937

translated from Russian by Alistair Noon

Voilà: lacks a toe. Voilà: sing this hymn.

A poem by Hugo Ball in a false translation by Melissa Grey & David Morneau

Melissa_Grey_(credit_Marc_Fiaux)When we were invited to participate in a concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dada, produced by Hans Tammen, we knew quickly that we wanted to incorporate an Oulipian technique in our composition process. Oulipo (short for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) was founded in 1960 by the French author Raymond Queneau with a group of authors interested in exploring the potential of literature by applying constraints to the creative process, often rooted in mathematics. We are both attracted to the tight conceptual constraints of their techniques, and are deeply interested in translating their ideas to the process of music composition. This shared interest has fueled many conversations and has indelibly shaped our budding collaboration.

Gadget Berry Dimple uses the Oulipian technique of homophonic (or false) translation. The idea is to translate words from one language to another based on sound rather than meaning. For example:

Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui
“Levy urge, levy vassal, hale bell!” assured we.


We began the process by taking Hugo Ball’s Gadji beri bimba (1916) and breaking it out into an alphabetical list of every word within. Then we created false translations for each word in the list, so that affalo became “a fellow”, brussala became “bruised salad”, katalominai became “cat and lonely mice”, and so on. Once finished, we reassembled Ball’s poem using our translations. The result (which is published here) was immediately captivating. We are planning to explore it further, using it as the basis for more music by applying additional Oulipian transformations to it.

For our performance on the 100th anniversary of Dada concert, we created a live sonic texture using a Benjolin synthesizer, a vintage Merlin toy, and a drum machine. Over that we read through our list of translated words as a glossary of false translation: Melissa recited the Ball’s original words and David recited our translations. A video of this performance can be seen here: http://artisteordinaire.org/gadget-berry-dimple-a-glossary-of-false-translation/ 

– Melissa Grey & David Morneau (2016)

Sources: Oulipo Compendium (Harry Mathews & Alastair Brotchie), l’Artiste ordinaire (artisteordinaire.org)

 Photo credits: Marc Fiaux

Gadji beri bimba

by Hugo Ball

gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori

gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini

gadji beri bin blassa glassala laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim

gadjama tuffm i zimzalla binban gligla wowolimai bin beri ban

o katalominai rhinozerossola hopsamen laulitalomini hoooo

gadjama rhinozerossola hopsamen

bluku terullala blaulala loooo


zimzim urullala zimzim urullala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam

elifantolim brussala bulomen brussala bulomen tromtata

velo da bang band affalo purzamai affalo purzamai lengado tor

gadjama bimbalo glandridi glassala zingtata pimpalo ögrögöööö

viola laxato viola zimbrabim viola uli paluji malooo


tuffm im zimbrabim negramai bumbalo negramai bumbalo tuffm i zim

gadjama bimbala oo beri gadjama gaga di gadjama affalo pinx

gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen

gaga di bling blong

gaga blung

Gadget Berry Dimple

by Hugo Ball

Gadget berry dimple; grand treaty. Louder, lonely tandoori.

Pajama gamma, buried home, timbales, grand tree. Melis-iss-sa: “Lolita longs for me.”

Gadget berry (gin blossom glossary). Louder, lonely cats or you, sad salad? Bim:

“Pajama toughen!” I, some olive, been banned. Glee club? Wow! only me (gin berry) banned.

O cat and lonely mice. [rhinoceros solo] Hans Tammen: “Lolita longs for me.” Who?

Pajama Rhinoceros. [solo: Hans Tammen]

Blue queue tarantula; blue lager low.


Chin, chin, you rule a lot. Chin, chin, you rule a lot. Chin, chin, sandwich bar. (Some olive sham!) 

Elephant totem, bruised salad. Pillow men: “Bruised salad.” Pillow men: “drum louder.” 

Hell, no! Ha! Pang bland. A fellow purse of mine, a fellow purse of mine. [legato: tire]

Pajama bee’s halo. Grand treaty glossary. Zinc starter, pimp! Alone ogre grow. 

Voilà: lacks a toe. Voilà: sing this hymn. Voilà: Oulipo Fallujah Morneau. 


Toughen, ein sing this hymn? No, not mine. Bungalow? No, not mine. Bungalow toughen—I shim.

Pajama timbales. Oh, berry pajama. “Dada the pajama,” a fellow pins.

“Dada the bungalow, bungalow,” god of men. 

Dada the bring blonde?

Dada brung!

translated from German by Melissa Grey, David Morneau, & l’Artiste ordinaire

we will wait there
for eternity to end

Two poems by Guido Cupani translated by Patrick Williamson








In paradiso arriveremo scalzi

by Guido Cupani

passeremo il confine nella notte

verremo sbalzati dal treno in corsa


pagheremo sangue

per un posto su uno scafo di latta


Approderemo sfatti per il viaggio

ci getteranno una coperta sulle spalle


Ci chiederanno i documenti 

da dove veniamo, dove vogliamo andare


e non sapremo dire, udremo voci 

intravedremo visi stranieri


aldilà di una porta a vetri

di chi una volta era fuori dalla porta


e scuoterà per noi la testa, le carte

non sono in regola


sarebbe bastato un sì a suo tempo

il caso non è più di nostra competenza


E ci impacchetteranno, 

destineranno, recapiteranno


oppure passeremo per misericordia

fra le maglie della nostra stessa rete


troveremo un angolo di marciapiede

dove nessuno ci veda clandestini


attenderemo lì

che l’eternità abbia fine

We will arrive in paradise barefoot

by Guido Cupani

we will cross the border at night

we will be thrown out of the moving train


we will pay blood

to cram on a makeshift boat


We will arrive haggard from the trip

they will throw a blanket over our shoulders


They will ask us for documents

where we come from, where we want to go


and we won’t know how to say, we will hear voices

catch sight of foreign faces


beyond a glass door

of those once out the door


and they will shake their heads at us, the ID

is not in order


a simple yes is all that was needed

the case is not within our competence


And we will be packaged,

we will be addressed, delivered


or we will get through out of mercy

through the links of our own network


we will find a corner of the sidewalk

where no one sees you as clandestine


we will wait there

for eternity to end 

translated from Italian by Patrick Williamson

Fotografia di Alan Kurdi, bambino

by Guido Cupani



Vieni, hai la scarpa slacciata, infilati il maglione, farà freddo,


che cos’hai in tasca, dove l’hai raccolto, svuota, via, come ti senti, 


guardami negli occhi, la mamma ti vuol bene, Galip, vieni anche tu,


la mamma vi vuol bene, papà è fiero di voi, solo un’ora di mare, di là conosceremo altri bambini, domani dormiremo


in un letto nuovo, l’Europa, il Canada, letti più grandi,


ma certo, un sorso d’acqua, bevi, attento a non bagnarti, sei già tutto sporco di sabbia, laviamo le manine,


così, perfetto, ora saliamo




È permessa l’immagine.


È permesso vedere l’immagine. È permesso non vedere l’immagine. Dire di non aver visto. Di non aver potuto. Di non aver dovuto.


È permesso pubblicare l’immagine. È permesso oscurare l’immagine. Condividere. Dire mi piace. Dire non mi piace.


È permesso parlare di inquadrature. Di discrezione e riserbo. È permesso parlare di immagini.


È permesso rivedere l’immagine a mente. In altri vestitini così gettati. Nella riva più fortunata di un copriletto.


È permesso, davanti all’immagine, dire sì, ma. Rimanere coi piedi piantati nella sabbia. Non muovere un passo. Affondare.


È permesso dimenticare l’immagine. Chiudere gli occhi. Negare. Mentre ancora


quello che nell’immagine accade


(è accaduto, accadrà)


è permesso




Lo stato di salute o malattia della cosiddetta fede non è tale per cui


un padre costretto a portare a casa in braccio i tre quarti di quella che era la sua famiglia


un padre precedentemente costretto a portare via da casa per mano la stessa famiglia (moglie e due figli


di cui resta una foto scattata sulla poltrona dei giochi al centro esatto di un doppio largo sorriso


nonostante la bufera (in abiti non dissimili da quelli che avrebbero presto restituito)


contro l’onda montante della storia) all’ultima spiaggia


(egli stesso accusato di aver rovesciato la barca per)


un padre che ancora prega mentre seppellisce sé stesso assieme a


dicevo, lo stato di conservazione di questa inaspettatamente tenace


fede che intanto a Kobanî è sull’orlo di inghiottire sé stessa una volta per tutte


dicevo, non è tale per cui


requiem aeternam dona eis




non lo so cosa stavo dicendo

Photograph of Alan Kurdi, child

by Guido Cupani



Come on, your laces are undone, tuck your sweater in, it will be cold,


what’s in your pocket, where did you pick it up, chuck it, go, how do you feel


look into my eyes, Mum loves you, Galip, you come here too,


Mum loves you, Dad is proud of you, just one hour of sea, and then you will meet other children, tomorrow we will sleep


in a new bed, Europe, Canada, bigger beds,


of course, a sip of water, drink, be careful not to get wet, you’re all covered with sand, we’ll wash our hands,


that’s it, perfect, let’s go




The picture is permitted.


It is permitted to see the picture. Permitted not to see the picture. To say that you had not seen. That you could not. That you did not have to.


It is permitted to publish the picture. Permitted to blur the picture. To share. To say I like. To say I do not like.


It is permitted to talk of shots. Of discretion and confidentiality. It is permitted to talk of pictures.


It is permitted to see the picture again in your mind. In similarly-laid out clothes. On a bedspread that is a shore of better fortune.


It is permitted, in front of the picture, to say yes, but. Have both feet planted in the sand. Not move a step. Sink.


It is permitted to forget the image. To close your eyes. Deny. While still


what happens in the picture


(has happened, will happen)


is permitted




The state of health or disease of the so-called faith is not such that

a father forced to carry home three-quarters of what was his family

a father previously forced to take from home the same family by hand (wife and two sons

of whom a picture remains taken on the games chair at the exact center of a double-smile


despite the storm raised (in clothes not unlike those soon to be returned)

against the rising tide of history) towards the final shore

(himself accused of having overturned the boat)


a father who still prays while burying himself along with

I said, the state of preservation of this unexpectedly strong

faith that meanwhile in Kobanî is on the verge of swallowing itself once and for all


I said, it is not such that

requiem aeternam dona eis

I said

I do not know what I was saying

translated from Italian by Patrick Williamson