And her answer: What does that mean
what do you mean by “rain”?

Five poems by Christoph Meckel, translated by Roy Scheele. 


by Christoph Meckel



Ein Holzdieb, der nachts

gestohlen hatte bei mir

brachte am Tag eine Leiter, ohne Sprossen.


Er sagte: ein gutes Stück Arbeit,

das beste, für dich,

Geduld, ich bring dir die Sprossen

einzeln, alle

im Lauf der Tage, wieviele brauchst du.


Aber er kam nicht, und ich

wartete nicht, erwarte ihn nicht.





Holzstöße im Regen.

Er wittert, kommt und stiehlt

was er tragen kann, für seine Leiter.


Kurz und brüchig, aber er baut an

er schnitzt seine Sprossen,

er messert, schält, baut an

und stellt seine Leiter in die Luft.


Sie trägt ihn.  Er steigt

hoch hinaus in das Licht,

fliegt zu den Flügeln ins Unsichtbare.


by Christoph Meckel



A thief, who’d stolen

wood from me one night,

the next day brought a ladder without rungs.


He said: A good piece of work,

the best, for you.

Have patience, I’ll bring you the rungs

separately, all

in due course, as many as you need.


But he did not come, and I

did not wait, I do not expect him back.





Woodpiles in the rain.

He sniffs the air, comes and steals

what he can carry, for his ladder.


The wood is short and brittle, but he cobbles it together

he carves the rungs,

plies his knife, strips the bark, slaps it together

and stands his ladder straight up in the air.


It bears his weight.  He climbs

high up into the light,

flies toward his wings up yonder, out of sight.

translated from German by Roy Scheele


by Christoph Meckel

Es zog den Schlüssel aus der Tür.

Es warf ihn in die Sonne und er schmolz.

Das Haus war leer, fort war das letzte Tier.

Es lagen bloß noch ein paar Steine hier

und nachts zum Feuermachen etwas Holz.


Der Morgen war von Tau und Asche kalt.

Es ging auf einem Weg in einen Wald.

Der Engel sah es und vergaß es bald.


by Christoph Meckel

He drew the key out of the door.

It melted when he threw it in the sun.

The house was empty, to the last creature.

Only a pair of stones lay naked here,

and wood enough to make a fire from.


Dew and ashes in the morning cold.

Along a path into the woods he stole.

The angel noticed him—and let him go.

translated from German by Roy Scheele

[Die Ungewißheit wurde größer]

by Christoph Meckel

Die Ungewißheit wurde größer.

An einem Abend im Herbst

war auch der Regen nicht mehr gewiß.  Er zischte

im Wind von der Schwarzen Möhr

und schlug in die Bäume.  Er sagte:

Hörst du den Regen vorm Fenster,

ich liebe den Regen.

Und ihre Antwort: was heißt das

was meinst du mit Regen.

(Er schlug auf das Dach.  In die Nußbäume.

Rauschte. War Regen.)

[The uncertainty grew greater]

by Christoph Meckel

The uncertainty grew greater.

One autumn evening

the rain too was no longer certain.  It hissed

in the wind from the Black Moor

and struck at the trees.  He said:

Do you hear the rain outside the window,

I love the rain.

And her answer: What does that mean

what do you mean by “rain”?

(It beat down on the roof.  In the nut trees.

It poured.  It was rain.)

translated from German by Roy Scheele

[Vorsicht! Farbe! Himmel frisch gestrichen!]

by Christoph Meckel

Vorsicht! Farbe! Himmel frisch gestrichen!

  Von den Wetterwänden

rauscht und zischt es—Triefen, Sprühen, Klatschen.

   Sommergelächter des Regens in der Traufe.

Katzenhagel. Sindflut in Platanen.

  Regenbogen. Donner. Blaue Flecken.

Nasse Küsse.

 Fortgeschwemmte Kleider.

[Caution! Color! Freshly painted sky!]

by Christoph Meckel

Caution! Color! Freshly painted sky!

   It murmurs and whispers

from the turn in the weather—dripping wet, spraying, splashing.

Summer laughter of the rain in the eaves.

Cats and dogs. Deluge in the plane trees.

  Rainbow. Thunder. Specks of blue.

Wet kisses.

Clothes washed away.

translated from German by Roy Scheele

Die Kirschbäume

by Christoph Meckel

Das wissen wir: als Gott sich am Finger verletzte

schuf er die Kirsche aus einem Tropfen Blut.

Du hast es leichter als er, die Kirschen sind fertig

wenn du die Augen aufschlägst im grünen Juni.

Du kannst in die Kirschgärten gehn am Mittag

und zwischen den Blättern leben im offenen Himmel.

Die Sonne berührt dich mit warmen Fingern

und der Maulwurf im Loch hört deine Kerne fallen.

Mit purpurnen Lippen springst du vom Baum

und wer dich sieht, der möchte dich küssen.

Nachts hörst du den Regen.  Er wäscht die Kirschen

und zählt seine Tropfen bis zum Morgen.

The Cherry Trees

by Christoph Meckel

This we know: when God injured his finger

he created the cherry out of a drop of blood.

You have it easier than he did: the cherries are ready

when you open your eyes in the green of June.

You can walk through the orchard at midday

and dwell in the open heaven between leaves.

The sun touches you with warm fingers

and the mole in his tunnel hears your cherry pit drop.

You spring from the tree with purple lips

and whoever sees you must kiss you.

You hear the rain at night.  It washes the cherries

and numbers the drops until morning.

translated from German by Roy Scheele

I should have been born a giant bird

Two poems by Wang Xiaoni translated by Eleanor Goodman.

1-王小妮照片EG headshot 2014Wang Xiaoni is a poet of small gestures. The energy in her work comes not from grand pronouncements or abstractions, but from the details of daily life. She writes of trains and pockets, cold weather and potatoes, windows and the moon. Yet this poet’s daily life also includes ghosts, ancient scarecrows in dresses, and lotus ponds that bubble black. Translating her work involves maintaining the delicate groundedness that underpins even her wildest leaps into the metaphorical. For Wang Xiaoni, a peanut is always a peanut, even if it sometimes morphs into an infant. And a flustered train that eats iron is still just a train, after all.

–Eleanor Goodman


by Wang Xiaoni









































Train Passing Through a Moonlit Night

by Wang Xiaoni


What is passed by, that’s what there is, desolate, silent.

And this thing, forever dragging iron chains over dull things

a train loaded with fire, eating iron, wearing iron, thinking iron.



Sitting up startled, I feel iron chains all around me.


The earth turns white, the moon is being interred

the funeral drags on forever.


The hurrying ones consumed by the monster

endure the endless frigid night that cinches inch by inch into flesh.

The earth jumps to welcome its damage

the light will be used up, everything that rumbles through the day is black.



The moon happens to open its triangular eye

night churns on.

On the turning train, the caboose lights up first

the mail car stuffed full of letters from home flashes bone.


It’s said that bones are worthless, a state of mind is worth millions.



Ah this mind, there is nothing it likes

it can only like the boundless black depths behind the night sky.


The train is too flustered to pick a track

it grasps the gilded silver-inlaid earth

for fear it will be thrown off, or soar up and crash back down.

Centipedes slide about, landing legs in the air, haha, in the pale moonlit night.



Under the shadow of ghosts, the train goes door to door knocking on glass

the white-cloaked train doesn’t let a single player off.

Who can quit this game,

refusals and fire and iron and the self that comes and goes all intertwine.


There isn’t much time.

Quartz burrows out from glass, quartz risks its life to make snow

the world is about to be exposed, all the trains are far away

and why do I still feel iron chains everywhere?




6.2011, Shenzhen



translated from Chinese by Eleanor Goodman


by Wang Xiaoni







































1985·3 长春



by Wang Xiaoni

Ah that cold autumn


Your hands

couldn’t soak in cool water

your jacket

needed to be ironed night after night

and that thick white sweater

I knitted and knitted in vain

was finished like a miracle

into a time when you’d wear nothing else!


Ah that cold autumn

you wanted to dress like a gentleman.


Talking and laughing

we passed the days

laughing and talking, we confounded

people both friendly and mean

in front of those eyes

I held your hand

and thrust it into every

crevice with a conscience


I should have been born a giant bird

but now

I must draw in my wings

and become a nest

let all those unwilling to raise their heads

see me

let them see

the heaviness of the sky

let them undergo

a withering of the soul!


Ah that autumn so cold it was poignant

that unyielding and bitter

love we had


3.1985, Changchun

translated from Chinese by Eleanor Goodman


the smell of the eyes of a beast

Two poems by Kim Kyung Ju, translated by Jake Levine and Jung Hi-Yeon.

김경주Kim Kyung Ju is a poet, playwright, essayist, and conceptual multi-media artist. He is also an accomplished translator. His versatility and breadth as a writer extends to pornographic novels and ghost written autobiographies. Not yet 40, he is considered to be one of Korea’s most influential and popular young writers. The poems found here are from his debut collection, I Am A Season That Does Not Exist In The World. Published originally in 2003, the collection has gone on to sell more than 10,000 copies and is one of the most successful books of contemporary Korean poetry.

정희연 (1)jake headshotThese poems are representative of KKJ’s use of the surreal gesture in order to approach topics of self negation and spiritual resurrection. His poems embody a poetic state, rather than coming from a particular place in the world. In “State of Absence,” the speaker embodies fragmented narratives like “time filling an empty room.” Like “Braille,” images stack like a map he uses to navigate the world. Before becoming a writer, Kim studied philosophy at Sogang University. His interests in contemporary and 20th century philosophy ring heavy throughout his work. But more importantly, instead of discussing obvious French influences, it is necessary to note how recent translations of contemporary Korean poetry are reshaping preconceived ideas people have about Asian literature. KKJ’s use of the mythical, grotesque, fable, drama, and other transgressive and hybrid modes represent the frenetic psychological and spiritual state of contemporary life in Korea—a life and culture which is often represented as simplified and hollow by popular and mainstream media.  

—Jake Levine 



by Kim Kyung Ju


물소리를 듣고 겨울을 예감하는 새들의 장기는 깊다 젖은 새가 지나갔던 바람의 냄새를 맡다가 나는 약간의 체온이 더 필요했다 인간이 해안선(海岸線)을 따라 걸으며 밤의 물들이 말아 올리는 채색이 된다 밤들이 바람을 버리고 우수수 떨어진다 풀 속에 누워 있던 짐승의 눈알 냄새가 번져온다 빛이 벗기고 간 갈대의 뼈들이 차다 구름은 새벽이면 비명보다 투명한 색으로 뜬다 그러나 우수의 사각(四角)에서 신경은 생의 속도로 흐르는 법이 없다 수년이 흐른 뒤에도 저 풀들은 불보다 더 짙은 바람의 수분을 태우며 마음을 유산해버리곤 했을 것이다 그때 가만히 타버린 몇 장의 바람과 그늘들을 주워 올리며 나는 풀에게 흉터를 남기는 것은 바람이 아니라 제 속의 열이라는 것을 알게 되리라 점점 색을 띠며 눈보라 몰려온다 눈의 켜켜마다 바람의 분진(紛塵)들이 매달려 있다 어떤 정신이 저 몸에 불탄 발바닥 하나 올려놓을 수 있을까 새들이 손금처럼 널린 하늘, 무엇을 물은 것인가 나 잠들 곳을 찾지 못해 공중에서 잠든 바람의 늑막까지 차오르는 눈[雪]을 본다 겨울 열매 속의 시원한 물소리를 듣는다 눈[眼] 속의.

White Night

by Kim Kyung Ju

listening to the sound of water, having the premonition of winter, the insides of birds run deep /

while I smelled out the wind, the wet birds came and went in and I needed more heat in my body /

humans walking along the shore become the color that the water of night rolls up / night throws

away the wind, night rustles / the smell of the eyes of a beast that lies inside the grass aspirates / the

light peeled the reeds and its bones are cold / at dawn the cloud rises more transparent than a

scream / our nerves don’t flow like the speed of life inside a perfect square / after several years

passed on the grass / burning the moisture on the wind proved heavier than fire / and the grass

miscarried its heart / just then I quietly pick up the shadow of some wind that burnt / I will know it

is not the wind that leaves the scar in the grass but the fever inside myself / little by little / the color

of the coming snowstorm appears / hanging in every snowflake are flecks of wind / what mind

would put down one burnt foot on that body ? / the sky is split with birds like lines in the palm—

so what is the question then? / I can’t find a place to sleep and I witness the snow filling up the

ribcage of the wind sleeping in air / I hear the sound of cool water inside eyes, inside winter fruit

translated from Korean by Jake Levine & Jung Hi-Yeon


by Kim Kyung Ju


말하자면 귀뚜라미 눈썹만 한 비들이 내린다 오래 비워둔 방 안에서 저 혼자 울리는 전화 수신음 같은 것이 지금 내 영혼이다 예컨대 그 소리가 여우비, 는개비 내리는 몇십 년 전 어느 식민지의 추적추적한 처형장에서 누군가 이쪽으로 걸어두고 바닥에 내려놓은 수화기를 통해 흘러나오는 댕강댕강 목 잘리는 소리인지 죽기 전 하늘을 노려보는 그 흰 눈깔들에 빗물이 번지는 소리가 들려오는 것인지 아니면 카자흐스탄에 간 친구가 설원에서 자전거를 배우다가 무릎이 깨져 울면서 내게 1541을 연방연방 보내는 소리인지 아무튼 나 없는 빈방에서 나오는 그 시간이 지금 내 영혼이다 나는 지금 이 세상에 없는 계절이다 충혈된 빗방울이 창문에 눈알처럼 매달려 빈방을 바라본다 창문은 이승에 잠시 놓인 시간이지만 이승에 영원히 없는 공간이다 말하자면 내 안의 인류(人類)들은 그곳을 지나다녔다 헌혈 버스 안에서 비에 젖은 예수가 마른 팔목을 걷고 있다 누워서 수혈을 하며 운다 내가 너희를 버리지 않았나니 너희는 평생 내 안에 갇혀 있을 것이다 간호사들이 긴 꼬리를 감추며 말한다 울지 마세요 당신은 너무 마르셨군요 요즘은 사람들의 핏줄이 잘 보이지 않아요 우산을 길에 버리고 고개를 숙인 채 예수는 빗속을 떨면서 걸어간다 죽은 자들이 다가와 우산을 씌워준다 곧 홍수가 나겠어요 성(成)으로 돌아가고 있지 못하고 있군요 나는 나의 성(星)을 잃어버렸네 성(性)을 중얼거리는 것은 우리들도 마찬가지예요 자신을 기억해내려는 그들은 비 맞으며 자신의 집으로 저벅저벅 문상 간다 생전에 신던 신발을 들고 운다 발광(發光)한다 산에 핀 산꽃이 알토끼의 혀 속에서 녹는다 돌 위에 하늘의 경야(經夜)가 떨어진다 예수가 내 방의 창문 앞에 와서 젖은 손톱을 들어 유리를 긁는다 성혈이 얼굴에 흘러내린다 나는 돌아온다 말하자면 이 문장들은 生을 버리고 성(聲)의 세계로 간 맹인이 드나드는 점자들이다

State of Absence

by Kim Kyung Ju


You could say rain the same size as a cricket’s eye drops. Inside a vacant room now my soul is a ring tone ringing alone for a long time. That sound, for instance, a sun-shower, gentle rain falling in a colony several years back, getting feet stuck in the mud of the executioner’s square, maybe that sound is someone here vibrating on the floor from the phone I dropped, the chop chop hacking a man’s throat, or maybe that sound is listening to rain blur the whites of a man’s eyes that say motherfucker to the sky just before death strikes, or maybe it is a friend in Kazakhstan learning to ride a bike in the frozen waste, crying with scraped knees over collect calls ringing continuously, continually here— in any case, I am a season that does not exist in the world and my soul is time filling this empty room. Peering into the empty room, bloodshot raindrops like hanging eyeballs in the window. The window is time placing a moment into this life, but in this life a window is forever absent space. You could say that inside myself humankind has passed by. Inside a blood donation bus, Jesus wet with rain pulls up a poor man’s sleeves and reveals his thin wrists. Lying down and giving blood, he weeps. Jesus says, I didn’t refuse you. You shall be locked within me my whole life. The nurses nearby hide their long tails and say don’t cry. You are too thin. These days people’s veins are hard to stick. Throwing his umbrella in the road and bowing his head as he crosses the street, Jesus shivers in the rain. Dead men approach him and offer an umbrella. The flood will come. To the palace you cannot return. But I lost my star. Murmuring, both genders are the same as us. Trying to remember themselves, they offer their condolences. Receiving the rain, to their houses they clump their feet. They grab and lift the shoes they wore in life and cry. Mountain flowers blooming on the mountain melt on the tongue of a rabbit hatched from an egg. On the stone, the sky’s vigil falls. Jesus appears outside the window of my bedroom. His wet nails scratch the pane of glass. The blood of Christ pours down his face. I return. Casting life away, the blind man gone to the world of sound. Coming and going, these sentences are like Braille.

translated from Korean by Jake Levine


They don’t alliterate October
with gold falling from the fragile trees

Three poems by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias translated by Curtis Bauer.

Octubre, Mes sin Dioses

by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias

Los japoneses piensan que éste es el mes-sin-dioses.

Lo celebran así. No aliteran octubre

con oro desprendido de los árboles frágiles,

ni con revoluciones que cambiaron la historia.

Octubre como tregua. Como ausencia de todo

lo que excede los límites. Así para nosotros

sea: liberación. Porque ya no se exhiben

los implacables dioses desnudos del verano, 

los demasiados dioses, y falta todavía

mucho para que nazca el niño del invierno,

y más allá no alcanza la vista, desde este 

mes de distancias, mes de lejanías,

imperfecto, logrado, fortuito. Que así

sea para nosotros. Sin los ocho millones

de dioses que se esconden en la ciudad o el bosque,

las escalas coinciden con nuestras estaturas.

Dejémonos llevar por los presentimientos.

Escribamos las cosas con las letras minúsculas.

Celebremos octubre por su ausencia de dioses.

Disfrutemos su nombre porque sólo es un número

de una serie truncada. Y olvidada. Es octubre.

Tenemos treinta días sólo para nosotros.


October, Month Without Gods

by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias

The Japanese think this is the month-without-gods.

They celebrate it this way. They don’t alliterate October

with gold falling from the fragile trees,

or with revolutions that changed history.

October, like a truce. Like an absence of everything

that exceeds limits. May it be for us 

liberation. Because now they don’t exhibit

the relentless naked gods of summer,

the too many gods, and so much remains

for the child of winter to be born, 

and our sight doesn’t reach any further, from this 

month of distances, month of far aways,

imperfect, attained, fortuitous. If only it would be

like this for us. Without the eight million

gods that hide in the city or in the forest,

the scales coincide with our statures.

Let us be carried away by our premonitions.

Let us write things with small letters.

Let us celebrate October for its absence of gods.

Let us enjoy its name because it is only a number

in a truncated series. And forgotten. It is October.

We have thirty days all to ourselves.

translated from Spanish by Curtis Bauer

Arte de Traducir

by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias

Debemos celebrar las traducciones afortunadas.

Como el Précis de décomposition

de Cioran, convertido

en Breviario de podredumbre.

En momentos de máxima inseguridad cultural

el arte de traducir se erige

en última forma de conocimiento.

Ahora que la torre de la historia

sufre asedios que pueden ser los definitivos,

hemos de recurrir a los especialistas

y a quienes los traducen

sin prisa y con audacia

intuyendo el sentido final de los escritos.

Para comprender todo

lo que ocurre estos años,

basta con este libro

de Arnaldo Momigliano

que trata de otra época:

The Alien Wisdom, que alguien bellamente

ha traducido La sabiduría

de los bárbaros.

The Art of Translation

by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias



We should celebrate the fortunate translations.

Like the Précis de décomposition

by Cioran, turned into

Breviary of Putrefaction.

In those moments of maximum cultural insecurity

the art of translation extends

into the ultimate form of knowledge.

Now that the tower of history

suffers sieges that can be definitive,

we should appeal to the specialists

and to those who translate them

slowly and boldly

intuiting the essential meaning of the writing.

In order to understand everything

that has happened these years,

it’s enough to look at this book

by Arnaldo Momigliano 

which is about another time:

The Alien Wisdom, which someone 

translated beautifully into La sabiduría

de los bárbaros.

translated from Spanish by Curtis Bauer


by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias


El oráculo dijo

que para ser feliz

debería vivir en una casa 

levantada sobre un lugar que no

estuviera ni dentro

ni fuera 

de la ciudad.


Yo he cumplido mi parte.


by Juan Antonio González-Iglesias


The oracle said

that in order to be happy

you should live in a house

raised above a place that is

neither inside nor


the city.


I’ve done my part.

translated from Spanish by Curtis Bauer