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sparrows and glimmers and syllables lost

Four poems by Alain Lance translated by Erika Luckert

Lance Headshot      IMG_1117(1) 

[Comme j’en ai traversé de ces villes opaques]

by Alain Lance
Comme j’en ai traversé de ces villes opaques froissant les signes inconnus des journaux il y avait des saisons des oiseaux des lueurs des paroles perdues autour des braseros

Je longeais opéras perdant peluche

 

Ah oui j’ai marché dans neige et fournaise sans désir de la fin de la parenthèse échouant vingt fois sur le delta du soir donnant à mon sang toute sa plaine

Parmi les débris la mémoire les rumeurs

 

Alors je m’endormais aux cicatrices des villes

Long sommeil d’une seule rivière

Lèvre posée à la lézarde du temps.

[As I passed through these opaque cities]

by Alain Lance

As I passed through these opaque cities crumpling the newspaper’s strange signs there were seasons and sparrows and glimmers and syllables lost all around the brazier’s coals

I wandered past opera houses losing threads

 

Ah yes I walked in snow and inferno having no need for a closing parenthesis run aground twenty times on the silt of the night delta giving my blood its plain

And in the debris the remembrance the rumours

 

So I dozed in the scars of cities

Long repose of a river alone

Lip touching the crevice of time.

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Sortant d’une page blanche]

by Alain Lance

Sortant d’une page blanche un faux

Marchand de poules m’offre des bocks

Des cigares quand le papier des

Figures est mâché de boulevards

Le bout de la grève vient naviguer

Entre le musée de cire et le

Festin nappé d’une crème austère

L’organiste de la transparence

Met en scène le ramage à brouiller

Goutte à goutte un géant pétrolier

Dans le noir bleuissant vers la foule

[Leaping from a blank page]

by Alain Lance

Leaping from a blank page a false

Chicken seller offers me a mug of beer

A cigar when a chain of cutout

Figures is paper-mâchéd down the boulevard

The end of the strike threads its way

Between the wax museum and the 

Feast tableclothed in an austere cream

The organist of transparency

Performs a birdsong to muddle

Drop by drop a giant oil tanker

In the blueing black toward the crowd 

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Nuit]

by Alain Lance

Nuit

Ruelles de rats

Rares les étoiles

 

Nuit du mal respire

Je crie je

Rêve que j’écris

Entre lointain fracas

Et l’étroite querelle

[Night]

by Alain Lance

Night

Cul-de-sacs of rats

Scattered stars

 

Night of shortened breath

I call I

Dream I scrawl

Between distant clamour

And this quarrel closer by

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Ma grand-mère se promenait]

by Alain Lance

Ma grand-mère se promenait dans un petit bois jaune crissant encore de je ne sais plus quel automne lorsqu’un braconnier en fuite la fit tomber au sol Quand je me penchai je ne trouvai qu’un vieux livre ouvert dont les pages ne bougeaient plus sous mon oreille appliquée J’ai pris le livre et je suis rentré au village abandonné par ses chardonnerets Un photographe sous sa cagoule pétrifiait d’un geste toute une famille de Boulanger Le ciel lui aussi était jaune et au bout de la rue il n’y avait pas encore de monument aux morts.

[My grandmother walked]

by Alain Lance


My grandmother walked in a little yellow wood crunching in an autumn I no longer recall till a poacher on the run knocked her down to the ground When I leaned in and pressed close my ear I only found an ancient book whose open pages moved no more Lifting the book I was taken back to a town abandoned by its orioles With one gesture a photographer beneath his hood turned a baker’s entire family to stone The sky itself was yellow too and the end of the road did not yet have any monument to the dead.

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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A flame of your breath rises

Three poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz translated by Umair Kazi

 Ahfaz_with_Faiz_Ahmad_FaizI can’t remember when I first encountered Faiz’s poetry, which is to say, I can’t think of a time when Faiz wasn’t a part of my world. The idiom I grew up with in Pakistan was suffused with his words. I knew them before I understood them and I’d heard the music before I could feel its pathos. Iqbal Bano’s renditions of Yaad (Memory) and Hum Dekhenge—without which no mention of Faiz’s poetry is complete—rang out unceasingly from my grandfather’s tape player; as did Begum Akhtar’s Sham-i-fiaq ab na pooch and Mehdi Hassan’s Gulon mein rang bhare, songs that immortalized Faiz’s words beyond the page.

UmairBut what is a song other than a marriage of the language of music with the music of language? If you listen closely to Iqbal Bano singing “Memory”, you’ll hear how the melody swells when she intones, uth rahi hai…(“it” rises); her voice crackles at the incidence of aanch (“it” the flame); then gets softer and scanter at mudham, mudham (“dimly, softly”) and, finally, at qatra, qatra (“drop by drop”), the barely perceptible, heavy silence between the repetition of these words brings to the listener’s mind an image of tiny plumes of dew forming on the nib of a leaf, dropping, and then forming again.

I was motivated to translate these poems because I wanted to share with my non-Urdu speaking friends and readers the vision of a poet, whose language continues to shape me. For us migrants, Faiz’s poems and songs conjure the journey that is our destination, the placeleness that is our home. None of these is a first-time translation; however I do think that they capture some nuances of Faiz’s poems that other translators have either missed or foregone in order to accommodate for other—perhaps, in their judgment more important—elements of his poetry. Faiz’s use of colloquial language, for instance, is frequently sacrificed to stronger expressions of his images. Urdu is capable of generating noun combinations through the addition of nouns with nouns and with other parts of speech—the muted genitive “-i-”, obviating prepositions and articles, allows the poet to express layered images with an economy of syllables that is irreproducible in English; consequently, translators often translate those images as elaborated phrases. I have, when I could, avoided this practice in favor of creating new words in harmony with the original image, thought, and sentiment.

— Umair Kazi

 

yaad

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

yaad

 

dasht-e-tanhā.ī meñ ai jaan-e-jahāñ larzāñ haiñ

terī āvāz ke saa.e tire hoñToñ ke sarāb

dasht-e-tanhā.ī meñ duurī ke khas o khaak tale

khil rahe haiñ tire pahlū ke saman aur gulāb

 

uTh rahī hai kahīñ qurbat se tirī saañs k aañch

apnī khushbū meñ sulagtī huī maddham maddham

duur ufuq paar chamaktī huī qatra qatra

gir rahī hai tirī dildār nazar kī shabnam

 

is qadar pyaar se ai jaan-e-jahāñ rakkhā hai

dil ke rukhsār pe is vaqt tirī yaad ne haat

yuuñ gumāñ hotā hai garche hai abhī sub.h-e-firāq

Dhal gayā hijr kā din aa bhiī ga.ī vasl kī raat

Memory

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

In the desert of solitude, my love, are tremors

the shadows of your voice, mirages of your lips

 

In the desert of solitude, beneath the ash

and dust of distance, blossom the jasmines and roses

of your touch

 

A flame of your breath rises somewhere nearby,

smoldering          softly     in its own perfume

 

far beyond the horizon       your heartening eyes

drop shimmering dew

 

How lovingly, my love, your memory visits me,

lays her hand on my heart:

I surmise—though, this is the dawn of parting

 

—that the day of migration has waned

      and the night of our union, crested

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
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manzar

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

manzar

 

āsmāñ aaj ik bahr-e-pur-shor hai

jis meñ har-sū ravāñ bādaloñ ke jahāz

un ke arshe per kirnoñ ke mastūl haiñ

bādbānoñ kī pahne hue farġhaleñ

niil meñ gumbadoñ ke jazīre ka.ī

ek baazī meñ masrūf hai har koīī

vo abābīl koī nahātī huī

koī chiil ġhote meñ jaatī huī

koī tāqat nahīñ is meñ zor-aazmā

koī beDā nahīñ hai kisī mulk kā

is kī tah meñ koīābdozeñ nahīñ

koī rocket nahīñ koī topeñ nahīñ

yuuñ to saare anāsir haiñ yaañ zor meñ

amn kitnā hai is bahr-e-pur-shor meñ

 

 

Scene

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The sky today is a sea-lane

busy with the ships of passing

 

clouds

 

whose decks are masted

with sunbeams draped in

diaphanous sails

 

The city’s domes are the islands

of this sea

 

where everyone is busy

risking it all:

 

see that blackbird swimming,

that eagle

    diving in…

 

There is no contest of power

here: no battleship fleets or flags;

 

no submarines creeping on the

seabed; no rockets or cannons

 

And, though, every element

here is bursting with charge—

 

just look how peaceful

these bustling waters are

 

Samarkand, 1978

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
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kahāñ jāoge

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

kahāñ jāoge

 

aur kuch der meñ luT jā.egā har baam pe chāñd

aks kho jā.eñge ā.īne taras jā.eñge

arsh ke diida-e-namnāk se baarī-baarī

sab sitāre sar-e-khāshāk baras jā.eñge

aas ke maare thake hare shabistānoñ meñ

apnī tanhāi.ī sameTegā, bichhā.egā koī

bevafā.ī kī ghaDī, tark-e-madārāt ka vaqt

is ghaDī apne sivā yaad na aa.egā koī

tark-e-duniyā kā samāñ khatm-e-mulāqāt ka vaqt

is ghaDī ai dil-e-āvāra kahāñ jāoge

is ghaDī koī kisi kā bhi nahīñ rahne do

koī is vaqt milegā hī nahīñ rahne do

aur mile gā bhī is taur ki pachtāoge

is ghaDī ai dil-e-āvāra kahāñ jāoge

 

aur kuchh der Tahar jaao ki phir nashtar-e-sub.h

zakhm kī tarah har ik aañkh ko bedār kare

aur har kushta-e-vāmāñdgī-e-ākhir-e-shab

bhuul kar saa.at-e-darmāndagī-e-ākhir-e-shab

jaan pahchān mulāqāt pe isrār kare

 

 

Where Will You Go?

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

In a little while,

the moon will be

robbed on every

rooftop;

 

mirrors will thirst

for vanished reflections.

 

One by one, the stars will

disintegrate—

 

exploding into

dust that will rain down

 

from heaven’s moist eyes.

 

Inside night-quarters

tired beyond hope

 

someone will gather his

loneliness, he will spread it

over;

 

at this faithless hour,

at this time of turning away—

 

when every man is only for

himself without memory

of another,

 

at this hour of severance,

at the end of our tryst

with the world:

 

wild heart, where will you go

at this hour?

 

No one will recognize you, let it go.

Who will you find now? Let it go.

 

And whoever you come across

by chance, you’ll regret seeing:

 

wild heart, where will you go

at this hour?

 

Stay a little longer—

 

wait until morning’s fleam

has roused every eye once more

              like a wound;

 

then all the helpless slain

at the end of the night—

 

forgetting the destitute hour,

the end of the night—

 

will insist on meeting,

on being called by name

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
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we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable

 Two poems by Dag T. Straumsvåg translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin

UFO-Ar På dei Norske Bygdene

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

 

I motsetnad til i USA, landar det sjeldan ufo-ar på dei Norske bygdene. Men vi har huslege flygande tallerkenar, særleg ved juletider. Utan varsel stupar dei ut av himmelen og krasjar i det gule håret vårt, lagar mysticke mønster i hjernebølgjene våre. Kva vil dei med oss? Er dei fiendtlege? Vi anar ikkje.  Sjølv  konene våre snur seg bort, mållause. Vi kan høyre ei høg summing, som om ein datamaskin inne i vraket framleis verkar, som om nokon har overlevd og samtalar frenetisk på eit framandt tungemål, nokon som kan ha svar på alle spørsmåla våre. Vi meiner den vitskapelege tilnæmingsmåten er best og sikrar ulykkesstaden, granskar og katalogiserer alle vrakdelar.  Temperaturen fell snøgt under null. Vi kryp sman kring leirbålet, ein forvirra flokk primatar som plukkar lus frå håret til kvarandre i det bleike desemberljoset.

UFO's in the Norwegian Countryside

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

Unlike in the U.S., UFOs in Norway don’t often land in the countryside.  Instead we have domestic flying saucers, especially at Christmastime. With no warning, they fall out of the clear, blue sky, crashing in our blond hair, making mystical patterns in our brain waves. What do they want? Are they hostile? We don’t have a clue. Even our wives shake their heads, unable to speak. There’s a high-pitched humming sound, as if the computer inside is still working, as if someone had survived and is speaking frantically in a strange tongue, someone who has all the answers to our questions. We believe the scientific approach works best, so we secure the crash site, inspect and catalogue each piece of wreckage. The temperature is quickly falling below zero. We gather around the fireplace, a bewildered bunch of primates picking lice out of each other’s hair in the faint December light. 

translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin
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Av/På

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

Vi kjøpte ein cocker spaniel, men han var ikkje realistisk nok, så vi gav han bort. Då gullfisken døydde skifta vi til apparat. Den gamle brødristaren, komfyren med keramikktopp. Aparat er heller ikkje feilfrie, men av/på-knappane fungerer så godt at vi bestemde oss for å utvikle eit likande system for oss sjølve. I staden for av/på-knappar brukar vi klubber. Ein kakk i skallen betyr “det er din tur til å ta oppvasken,” ein rapp over skinnleggen betyr “la meg vere i fred,” eit tungt slag in solar plexus betyr “kan du gjenta det, er du snill?” Livet er mykje enklare no. Ungane steller seg i kø kvar kveld for å ta oppvasken, eg får lese avisa i fred, og når vi pratar går vi rett på sak med upåklageleg diksjon.

 

On/Off

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

We bought a cocker spaniel, but it wasn’t realistic enough, so we gave it away. When the goldfish died, we turned to appliances. Our old toaster. The glass-topped stove. Appliances are not flawless either, but the on/off buttons worked so well we decided to develop a similar system of our own.  Instead of buttons, we use baseball bats. One rap on the skull means “It’s your turn to do dishes,” one smack to the shin means “Leave me alone,” a heavy blow to the solar plexus means “Can you repeat that, please?” Life’s a lot simpler now. The kids line up every night to do the dishes, I get to read the paper in peace, and when we’re talking, we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable.

translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin
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And we wolfed down the rocks they put on the table.

Three poems by Edwin Madrid translated by Julia Velasco

Lección de las piedras

by Edwin Madrid

Pan duro como piedra,

piedras que convirtió Dios en pan;

panes elaborados con el sudor de la frente,

frente de piedra,

pan de sudor.

Pan pan y vino vino.

Cuerpo y sangre del hambre del mundo.

Piedra hambre.

Pan remordido por el hombre,

hombre de piedra,

mujer pan,

piedra comiéndose pan.

Dios duro como piedra,

la piedra del mundo.

Lesson of Rocks

by Edwin Madrid

Bread hard as a rock,

rocks that God turned into bread;

loaves prepared with the sweat of the brow,

a brow of rock,

a bread of sweat.

Bread is bread, and wine, wine.

Body and blood of hunger in the world.

A rock of hunger.

Bread eaten away by man,

man made of rock,

bread woman,

rock eating bread.

God hard as a rock,

the rock of the world.

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
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Cena o escena

by Edwin Madrid

Picó la ruccula y la endivia con desgano; echó sobre ellas migas de almendra y macadamia, vinagre de jerez y aguacate. Al tomar el lomo de ternera en sus manos, parecía que destajaba el corazón de su enemiga. Acomodó la mesa, sin brillo ni fragancia, y se sentó a esperar. Cuando él llegó, cenaron en silencio. El resto se publicó en el diario de la tarde.

Dinner Scene

by Edwin Madrid

She chopped with apathy the arugula and the endive; she topped it with crumbs of almond and macadamia, sherry vinegar and avocado. When she grabbed the beef sirloin in her hands, she seemed to be chopping out her worst enemy’s heart. She set the table, with no glow or fragrance, and sat to wait. When he got there, they ate in silence. The rest could be read in the afternoon’s paper.

 

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
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Moraleja

by Edwin Madrid

Solo dijimos: a caballo regalado no se le mira los dientes. Y devoramos las piedras que colocaron sobre la mesa.

Moral

by Edwin Madrid

We just said: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. And we wolfed down the rocks they put on the table.

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
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I was perfectly calm before sinking

Two poems by Max Jacob translated by Sophia Lecker

Max-Jacob-1922

Les Régates de Concarneau

by Max Jacob

 

Les noyés ne coulent pas toujours au fond. Il suffit même à un troublé dans l’eau de se souvenir qu’il a su nager et il voit son pantalon s’agiter comme les jambes d’un pantin. Aux régates de Concarneau, c’est ce qui m’arriva. J’étais parfaitement tranquille avant de couler, ou bien ces élégants des yoles qui passent remarqueront mes efforts ou bien…bref, un certain optimisme. La rive toute proche! Avec personnages israélites grandeur nature et des plus gracieux. Ce qui me surprit au sortir de l’eau, c’est d’avoir été si peu mouillé et d’être regardé non comme un caniche, mais comme un homme.

The Concarneau Regattas

by Max Jacob

Drowning people don’t always sink to the bottom. It is even enough for someone struggling in the water to remember that he knew how to swim and then he sees his trousers flap around like the legs of a jumping jack. That’s what happened to me at the Concarneau regattas. I was perfectly calm before sinking, or well those elegant people in their skiffs passing by will notice my efforts or well…in short, a certain optimism. The shore so close! With life-sized Israelite individuals of the most gracious sort. What surprised me in getting out of the water was that I was hardly damp, and that people looked at me not as a poodle, but as a man.

translated from French by Sophia Lecker
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Le Fond Du Tableau

by Max Jacob

 

C’est une petite partie de campagne! une petite partie autour d’un puits. La pauvre enfant est seule sur la plage, sur les rochers en pente de la dune et on dirait qu’il y une auréole autour de sa tête. Oh! je saurai bien la sauver! moi, le gros boursouflé je cours, j’accours. Là-bas autour du puits on joue la Marseillaise et moi j’accours pour la sauver. Je n’ai pas encore parlé de la couleur du ciel parce que je n’étais pas sûr que ce ne fût avec la mer un seul tableau lisse couleur des tableaux d’école en ardoise souillée de craie, oui, avec une trainée de craie en diagonale, comme le couteau de la guillotine.

The Depths of the Painting

by Max Jacob

It’s a little party in the countryside! A little party near a well. The poor little girl is alone on the beach, on the steep rocky slope of the dune, and you might say there is a halo around her head. Oh, I’ll know how to save her! Me, the fat puffy one, I rush I run. Down there near the well they are playing the Marseillaise and I’m rushing to save her. I haven’t mentioned yet the color of the sky because I wasn’t sure that with the sea it doesn’t make a smooth painting the color of a blackboard smeared with chalk, yes, with a diagonal trail of chalk like the blade of a guillotine.

translated from French by Sophia Lecker
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but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

Two poems by Olja Savičević Ivančević translated by Andrea Jurjević 

olja       andrea

Šegrt

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

toliko svile se odmotava

 

pod mojom kožom neprekidno

 

da su me staratelji morali skloniti

 

u hram

 

među krčmarsko svećenstvo

 

tu ćeš, rekli su, mala

 

učiti pisati nogom po vjetru

 

i vjetrom po gradskim morima

 

izučit ćeš vještinu

 

bacanja letećih olovčica

 

(da zatvorenih očiju razvežeš pupak

 

i rasiječeš bradavicu)

 

 

 

vidjela sam kako pjevaju i ljube ludi učitelji

 

kako preskaču lipu i vodotoranj

 

ponekad pripiti trče uz zidove kuća

 

ali ujutro trijezno pometu svoje gole sobe

 

nježno obuku svoje gole žene i mladiće

 

povežu ono što je ostalo od kose

 

u perčin rečenica

 

i lebde iznad svetih tastatura

 

 

 

prvu sam lekciju svladala iz domaćinstva

 

složila sam svu silu u bale

 

kao u malom dućanu metraže

 

trebalo mi je trideset godina

 

još toliko će mi trebati

 

da razvrstam dugmad riječi

 

i sve te aplikacije

 

 

 

bojim se, u međuvremenu,

 

ostarit će učitelji, popušit će svoje lule vjere

 

a s njima i hrabrost i mudrost

 

brine me što će se dogoditi s njihovim kostima po čitankama

 

tu nitko živ više neće moći

 

sastaviti pjesnika

An Apprentice

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

so much silk unrolls

 

continually under my skin

 

that the guardians had to move me

 

to the temple

 

among the clergy of the tavern

 

they said, here, little one,

 

you’ll learn how to write by throwing a leg over the wind

 

and with the wind over the city seas

 

you’ll learn the trade

 

of flinging flying pencils

 

(so with eyes closed you unknot the navel

 

and cut the nipple)

 

 

 

I saw how crazy teachers sing and kiss

 

how they jump over the linden and the water tower

 

sometimes tipsy they run along the walls of houses

 

but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

 

gently dress their naked women and young men

 

and bind what’s left of their hair

 

into bundled sentences

 

hover over holy keyboards

 

 

I first mastered homemaking

 

I folded all the silk into bales

 

like in a little fabric shop

 

it took me thirty years

 

and I’ll need that many more

 

to sort the word buttons

 

and all of their use

 

 

 

meanwhile, I’m afraid,

 

the teachers will get old, finish smoking their pipes of hope

 

and with them both courage and wisdom

 

I worry about what will happen to their bones in the books

 

not a living soul will be able

 

to assemble a poet

translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević
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Humbert

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

Prošlo je i više vremena od onog koje je trebalo

 

Da može sjesti do tebe i potapšati ti glavu

 

S obje ruke sretna, kao bongo. Moj oče, stari ljubavniče.

 

Počinje period u kojem se u mislima spušta u luku

 

Uz bedem, ali zavoj je oštar, trga se koža sa lijeve plećke i puca karoserija

 

Ti svakih nekoliko ljeta tražiš ime za svoj brod

 

Nazoveš je i pitaš za mišljenje, govorite o roditeljima i djeci, o brakovima

 

Koji su uglavnom sretni i zdravlju, poslovima

 

Kaže ti: bio si u pravu, zaboravila sam te kao i svoje grudi prije četrnaeste

 

Na tebe pomisli kad vidi konduktera: bijele hlače, nikad suviše čiste

 

I češće se vezano uz tebe sjeti tvog malog psa koji je po dugom hodniku

 

Kuće kotrljao kosti. I vodoskoka.

 

Ali otkad se dogodila nesreća iz njenih su snova kao miševi pobjegli svi—osim tebe.

 

I eto te gdje se pokrećeš po čudnom nalogu, njenom

 

Pušiš i povlačiš klompe na krivim dlakavim nogama

 

A ona ide pored tebe u košuljici bez rukava

 

Prekratkoj da joj se ne bi vidjela stražnjica pička bedra

 

Uzalud je navlači i ti iako ravnodušan uviđaš njen problem

 

To su samo njeni snovi, ali i na javi bi joj rekao:

 

Ne brini, normalno hodaj, pa ja idem ispred tebe,

 

Uostalom, moja stara kćeri, moja mlada ljubavnice,

 

Sami smo na cesti, uostalom.  

Humbert

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

More time passed than was necessary

 

For her to sit beside you and happily with both hands

 

tap your head like a bongo. My father, old lover.

 

That time starts when she imagines going down to the harbor

 

By the rampart, but the turn is sharp, the skin from her left shoulder tears and the chassis breaks

 

Every few summers you seek names for your boat

 

You call and ask her opinion, talk about parents and kids, about marriages

 

That are mostly happy and about health, work

 

She says: you were right, I forgot you like I forgot my fourteen-year-old breasts

 

She thinks of you when she sees a bus conductor: white pants, never too clean

 

And more often she remembers your little dog that rolled bones down the long hallway

 

Of the house. And the waterfalls.

 

But since the accident everyone ran out of her dreams like mice—except you.

 

And look, you now march under a strange order, hers

 

You smoke and drag clogs on crooked hairy legs

 

And she walks beside you in a sleeveless shirt

 

Too short to cover her ass snatch thighs

 

Hopelessly she pulls it down, and you, even though indifferent, see her problem

 

These are just her dreams, but even in reality you’d say to her:

 

Don’t worry, walk naturally, I’m next to you,

 

After all, my old daughter, my young lover,

 

We’re alone on the road, after all.  

translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević
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I want to be awakened from our love

Two poems by Gili Haimovich translated by Dara Barnat

 Gili Haimovich      DaraB

These translations from Hebrew of “The Perfect Set” and “Too Easy” are part of an ongoing collaboration between Gili Haimovich and myself. My translations of Gili’s poetry can be found in journals including Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, International Poetry Review, Poetry International, and Blue Lyra. Gili’s translations of my poetry to Hebrew appear in Shvo, Makaf, and other Hebrew-language publications. 

“Too Easy” is from Gili’s last book Baby Girl, Emda Publishers, 2014, and “The Perfect Set” is from Lint Season, Pardes Publishers, 2011.

—Dara Barnat

 

הַסֵּט הַמֻּשְׁלָם

by Gili Haimovich

.הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ יוֹתֵר מִדַּי מַתְאִימָה לָרִהוּט

 

.וְהִיא נִשְׁמַעַת בְּאֵיכוּת סְרָאוּנְד עַל רֶקַע גֵּ ‘אז מָהָגוֹנִי

 

הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ לֹא קוֹרַעַת

 

,הִיא תּוֹפֶרֶת

 

 

.וְגַם בָּזֶה יֵשׁ מִנְּעִיצוֹת הַמַּחַט בַּבָּשָׂר הַחַי

 

.מְדַמָּה אוֹתָן לַצְּבִיטוֹת שֶׁמּוֹכִיחוֹת שֶׁזֶּה לֹא חֲלוֹם

 

.חֲבָל שֶׁאֲנִי לֹא יְכוֹלָה לְהָקִיץ מֵאַהֲבָתֵנוּ

 

 

הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ יוֹתֵר מִדַּי מַתְאִימָה לַצַּלָּחוֹת

 

.שֶׁקָּנְתָה לָנוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ הַשְּׁלִישִׁית שֶׁל אָבִיךָ

 

אֲבָל הִיא לֹא טְעִימָה עִם מָה

 

.שֶׁמִּתְבַּשֵּׁל עַל הַכִּירַיִם

 

 

הָאַהֲבָה הַזּאֹת מַתְאִימָה לָאַגָּדָה שֶׁבְּסוֹפָהּ הָיִיתִי הַכַּלָּה הֲכִי יָפָה

 

.אֲבָל אֲנִי נְמוּכָה, כְּבֵדָה וְנַשְׁכָנִית מִדַּי

The Perfect Set

by Gili Haimovich

Our love fits the furniture too much.

 

And it’s heard in surround sound jazz that circles the mahogany.

 

Our love doesn’t rip,

 

it sews.

 

 

And in this there’s also the sense of a needle going into flesh.

 

The punctures are like pinches that prove it’s not a dream.

 

I want to be awakened from our love.

 

 

Our love fits the plates too much,

 

the ones that your father’s third wife bought us.

 

But it doesn’t taste good with what’s

 

cooking on the stove.

 

 

This love fits the end of a fairy tale in which I’m the most beautiful bride,

 

but I’m too short, heavy, and sharp.

translated from Hebrew by Dara Barnat
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קלה מידיי

by Gili Haimovich

הַלַּילְָה נוֹשֵׂא אוֹתִי

,אֲבָל לֹא כְּהַבְטָחָה

,לֹא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֲנִי נָשָׂאתִי אוֹתָךְ

,בַּבֶּטֶן

,עַל הֶחָזֶה

,הַגַּב

,הַכְּתֵפַיִם

,עַל ראֹשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי

,עַל צַוַּאר דַּאֲגָתִי

.בְּשֶׁלֶג סוֹחֵף

הַשִּׁירִים בָּאִים

.כְּמוֹ קַלִּים מִדַּי

 

,כִּמְעַט קַל מִדַּי

,מוּבָן מִדַּי מֵאֵלָיו

,לִהְיוֹת אִמָּא שֶׁלָּךְ

.לִהְיוֹת שַׁיּכֶֶת לָךְ

Too Easy

by Gili Haimovich

The night carries me

but not like a promise,

not like how I carried you,

in the stomach,

on the chest,

the back,

the neck,

on the head of my joy,

on the shoulders of my concern.

through swirling snow.

 

The poems come

almost too easily,

it’s almost too easy,

too obvious,

being your mother,

belonging to you.

translated from Hebrew by Dara Barnat
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for me who asked but did not receive forgiveness

Two poems by Kim Yi-deum translated by Jake Levine and Soeun Seo

아우라보다 아오리

by Kim Yi-deum

벚꽃나무 아래 사과 파는 노파

조시나 죽으셨나

엉덩이가 바닥에 닿을락말락

덧없는 간극

덤불 부스러기 줄 하나

사도 그만 안 사도 그만

 

갈 데가 없어

타는 버스

한내 1 길발 110 번

한 노선밖에

타도 그만이고 안 타도 그만

 

맨 뒷자리 창에 기대어 비스듬히

바라보는 오래된 취미

어쩐지 나는 무호흡의 깊은 잠을

 

내린 곳은 북한 신의주 시내

수영복이 든 비닐가방을 들고 누군가를 기다리는 나

손 흔들며 오는 남자

희미한 얼굴 번져나가는 살결, 햇살이 혀끝으로 그를 핥고

 

아마 우리는 아주 평범한 연인 사이

수줍고 어색하게

풀장도 가고 포옹도 하는

 

눈을 뜨네 나는

아우라가 사라지네

운전기사 쪽으로 굴러가는 푸른

아오리 가망 없는 도망

깨어난 나는 데스데모나 팥쥐 애너벨 리 살아난 바리데기

현실은 꿈 없는 예외적 시간

사라진 방앗간에서 불어오는 고추 마르는 냄새

 

 

 

 

More Than Aura, Aori

by Kim Yi-deum

Selling Aori apples under a cherry blossom tree, that granny

Has either dozed off or she is dead.

Ass almost to grass

And the gap between, fleeting

A vein inside the leaf of a crumbled bush

Is about the same whether you buy it or not.

 

With nowhere to go

I ride the bus.

The 110 to Hannae Street

Has just one route

Whether you ride it or not.

 

I have this old hobby of staring sideways

Leaning askew against the window of the back seat of the bus and

In the deep sleep of breathlessness, somehow, I exist.

 

In downtown Sinuiju, North Korea, I get off.

Holding a vinyl bag with a bathing suit inside, I wait.

A man approaches, waving.

A faint face spreading out its skin, the sun licks him with the tip of its tongue.

 

I guess we are a pretty mundane couple.

Bashful, awkwardly

We hug each other and go to public pools.

 

Whenever I open my eyes

The ambience disappears.

An escape attempt without hope, the green

Aori rolls toward the driver of the bus.

Awake, I am Desdemona, Patzzi, Annabelle Lee, the Barideki

Living reality in an exceptional time without dreams—

The drying smell of peppers

Blowing out a mill that disappeared.

 

 

 

 

translated from Korean by Soeun Seo & Jake Levine
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사과 없어요

by Kim Yi-deum

 

아 어쩐다, 다른 게 나왔으니, 주문한 음식보다 비싼 게 나왔으니, 아 어쩐다, 짜장면 시켰는데 삼선짜장면이 나왔으니, 이봐요, 그냥 짜장면 시켰는데요, 아뇨, 손님이 삼선짜장면이라고 말했잖아요, 아 어쩐다, 주인을 불러 바꿔달라고 할까, 아 어쩐다, 그러면 이 종업원이 꾸지람 듣겠지, 어쩌면 급료에서 삼선짜장면 값만큼 깎이겠지, 급기야 쫓겨날지도 몰라, 아아 어쩐다, 미안하다고 하면 이대로 먹을 텐데, 단무지도 갖다 주지 않고, 아아 사과하면 괜찮다고 할 텐데, 아아 미안하다 말해서 용서 받기는커녕 몽땅 뒤집어쓴 적 있는 나로서는, 아아, 아아, 싸우기 귀찮아서 잘못했다고 말한 후 제거되고 추방된 나로서는, 아아 어쩐다, 쟤 입장을 모르는 바 아니고, 그래 내가 잘못 발음했을지 몰라, 아아 어쩐다, 전복도 다진 야채도 싫은데

 

 

 

 

No Apology

by Kim Yi-deum

what to do, something else was delivered, something more expensive than the food I ordered, what to do, I didn’t ask for seafood, look here, I ordered regular jajangmyeon, no, you ordered seafood jajangmyeon, should I call the owner and tell him to change it, what to do, if I call, the employee will get chewed out or he will have the seafood rate deducted from his pay or, at the worst, he’ll get fired, oh hell, if he says sorry I’ll eat it, but he didn’t even give me pickled radish, he didn’t even apologize, if only he said sorry, for me who asked but did not receive forgiveness, for me who received all the blame, for me, my expulsion, my deletion, after not putting forth the effort to fight, apologizing, mercy me, it’s not like I don’t know his position, maybe I mispronounced it, in any case, I don’t like abalone, I hate chopped vegetables

 

 

 

translated from Korean by Jake Levine & Soeun Seo
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Burn. Know. Surrender.

A translation from the Patanjala Yoga Sutrani by Kanya Kanchana

Kanya Kanchana_HeadshotSadhana Pada: The Chapter of Doing It is an excerpt from my experimental translation of a Sanskrit text called Patanjala Yoga Sutrani (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).

Estimated to be around 2,400 years old and attributed to the eponymous Indian sage, it is a braid that weaves together 196 sutras or aphoristic verses on yoga. It has four chapters: Samadhi Pada (51 verses),Sadhana Pada (55 verses), Vibhuti Pada (56 verses), and Kaivalya Pada (34 verses). Each verse is subsequent and consequent to the one before.

This taut, vital text has its lovers and its dissenters. It begins with the assumption that you have already done everything necessary to practice yoga. Cryptic yet bright, exacting yet liberal, it endures as a technical manual for the mind.

Its translations and commentaries, however, are prosaic and verbose, scholarship notwithstanding (or perhaps as a result thereof). In my translation, I want to come back full circle to the original text, regaining some of the terse, textured quality of these multilayered sutras in a modern idiom.

This text is also called Yoga Darshan. Darshan means vision, a higher form of seeing beyond the senses and the mind. In Sanskrit, one word can have many layers of meaning, yet convey a precise idea in context. I choose my words carefully—simple, strong, capable of deeper meaning. I cut everything superfluous and keep the tone light. I pay attention to the sonics of the chant, with emphasis on certain elements. Mostly, I just have fun.

—Kanya Kanchana

साधना पाद

by Patanjali

तपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः॥१॥

 

समाधिभावनार्थः क्लेशतनूकरणार्थश्च॥२॥

 

अविद्यास्मितारागद्वेषाभिनिवेशाः क्लेशाः॥३॥

 

अविद्याक्षेत्रमुत्तरेषां प्रसुप्ततनुविच्छिन्नोदाराणाम्॥४॥

 

अनित्याशुचिदुःखानात्मसु नित्यशुचिसुखात्मख्यातिरविद्या॥५॥

 

दृग्दर्शनशक्त्योरेकात्मतेवास्मिता॥६॥

 

सुखानुशयी रागः॥७॥

 

दुःखानुशयी द्वेषः॥८॥

 

स्वरसवाही विदुषोऽपि तथारूढोऽभिनिवेशः॥९॥

 

ते प्रतिप्रसवहेयाः सूक्ष्माः॥१०॥

 

ध्यानहेयास्तद्वृत्तयः॥११॥

 

क्लेशमूलः कर्माशयो दृष्टादृष्टजन्मवेदनीयः॥१२॥

 

सति मूले तद्विपाको जात्यायुर्भोगाः॥१३॥

 

ते ह्लादपरितापफलाः पुण्यापुण्यहेतुत्वात्॥१४॥

 

परिणामतापसंस्कारदुःखैर्गुणवृत्तिविरोधाच्च दुःखमेवसर्वं विवेकिनः॥१५॥

 

हेयं दुःखमनागतम्॥१६॥

 

द्रष्टृदृश्ययोः संयोगो हेयहेतुः॥१७॥

 

प्रकाशक्रियास्थितिशीलं भूतेन्द्रियात्मकं भोगापवर्गार्थं दृश्यम्॥१८॥

 

विशेषाविशेषलिङ्गमात्रालिङ्गानि गुणपर्वाणि॥१९॥

 

द्रष्टादृशिमात्रः शुद्धोऽपि प्रत्ययानुपश्यः॥२०॥

 

तदर्थ एव दृश्यस्यात्मा॥२१॥

 

कृतार्थं प्रति नष्टमप्यनष्टं तदन्यसाधारणत्वात्॥२२॥

 

स्वस्वामिशक्त्योः स्वरूपोपलब्धिहेतुः संयोगः॥२३॥

 

तस्य हेतुरविद्या॥२४॥

 

तदभावात्संयोगाभावो हानं तद्दृशेः कैवल्यम्॥२५॥

 

विवेकख्यातिरविप्लवा हानोपायः॥२६॥

 

तस्य सप्तधा प्रान्तभूमिः प्रज्ञा॥२७॥

 

योगाङ्गाऽनुष्ठानादशुद्धिक्षये ज्ञानदीप्तिराविवेकख्यातेः॥२८॥

 

यमनियमासनप्राणायामप्रत्याहारधारणाध्यानसमाधयोऽष्टावङ्गानि॥२९॥

 

अहिंसासत्यास्तेयब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहा यमाः॥३०॥

 

जातिदेशकालसमयानवच्छिन्नाः सार्वभौमा महाव्रतम्॥३१॥

 

शौचसंतोषतपःस्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि नियमाः॥३२॥

 

वितर्कबाधने प्रतिपक्षभावनम्॥३३॥

 

वितर्का हिंसादयः कृतकारितानुमोदिता लोभक्रोधमोहपूर्वका मृदुमध्याधिमात्रा दुःखाज्ञानानन्तफला इति प्रतिपक्षभावनम्॥३४॥

 

अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्यागः॥३५॥

 

सत्यप्रतिष्ठायां क्रियाफलाश्रयत्वम्॥३६॥

 

अस्तेयप्रतिष्ठायां सर्वरत्नोपस्थानम्॥३७॥

 

ब्रह्मचर्यप्रतिष्ठायां वीर्यलाभः॥३८॥

 

अपरिग्रहस्थैर्ये जन्मकथंतासंबोधः॥३९॥

 

शौचात्स्वाङ्गजुगुप्सा परैरसंसर्गः॥४०॥

 

सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च॥४१॥

 

संतोषादनुत्तमसुखलाभः॥४२॥

 

कायेन्द्रियसिद्धिरशुद्धिक्षयात्तपसः॥४३॥

 

स्वाध्यायादिष्टदेवतासंप्रयोगः॥४४॥

 

समाधिसिद्धिरीश्वरप्रणिधानात्॥४५॥

 

स्थिरसुखमासनम्॥४६॥

 

प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्त्यसमापत्तिभ्याम्॥४७॥

 

ततो द्वन्द्वानभिघातः॥४८॥

 

तस्मिन्सति श्वासप्रश्वासयोर्गतिविच्छेदः प्राणायामः॥४९॥

 

बाह्याभ्यन्तरस्तम्भवृत्तिर्देशकालसंख्याभिः परिदृष्टो दीर्घसूक्ष्मः॥५०॥

 

बाह्याभ्यन्तरविषयाक्षेपी चतुर्थः॥५१॥

 

ततः क्षीयते प्रकाशावरणम्॥५२॥

 

धारणासु च योग्यता मनसः॥५३॥

 

स्वविषयासंप्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः॥५४॥

 

ततः परमा वश्यतेन्द्रियाणाम्॥५५॥

Sadhana Pada

The Chapter of Doing It

by Patanjali

        Burn. Know. Surrender.

 

Clean up. Hurt less.

Know not—suffering.

 

Much I—suffering.

Like much—suffering, dis-

 

like much—suffering.

And death—oh, suffering.

 

All four—suffering.

Know what’s what.

 

What’s real. What’s pure.

 

                  Eternal. 

 

What’s what. This I.

That I. See clear.

 

Good stuff, like it.

Bad stuff, dislike it.

 

Dying, fear it.

All right.   

 

                   Stop it.

 

Draw in. Go in.

Feel it. Cut down.

 

Store it. No way.

Feel it. Go through.

 

Born how. Born where.

How long. Get what.

 

Good stuff/ bad stuff.

Sow seed. Reap fruit.

 

Change—painful.

Burn—painful.

 

Habit—painful.

 

See it.

                   Hurt less.

 

All done. Close it.

Mix up. See how.

 

Doer. Done to.

Seer. One seen.

 

One seen. Light up.

Move it. Steady now.

 

Mental. Astral.

Causal. No mark.

 

See clear, colour.

Unveil. Know it.

 

See how. For what.

See link. Free up.

 

This one, goes out.

That one, goes on.

 

See Self. Unfold.

Inside, outside.

 

Know not. Tie up.

Know it. Free up.

 

See through. Know it.

All seven. Go through.

 

Go on. Clean up.

Rise up. See through.

 

Eight limbs, five out,

three in. Do it.

 

Hurt none. Hold true.

Hold clear. Hold back.

 

Hold loose. That’s one.

Hold all. For all.

 

Clean up. Just right.

Burn up. Know Self.

 

Surrender. That’s two.

See across. Calm down.

 

See through. See true.

Clear heart. Stay down.

 

Hold true. Take fruit.

Hold clear. Take gems.

 

Hold back. Stay brave.

Hold loose. Know how.

 

Clean up. Cut loose.

Focus. Take reins.

 

Just right. Take joy.

Burn up.

 

                   Perfect.

 

Know self. Meld with.

Surrender. Merge in.

 

Sit still. Solid.

Sit still. Feel good.

 

Loosen. Lighten.

Focus. Easy.

 

Opposites. No worries.

Inhale. Exhale.

 

Stop it. Stay still.

Outside, inside.

 

See where. See when.

See how. See fine.

 

Inside, outside.

Go up. Over.

 

Unveil. See light.

Clear mind. Focus.

 

Turn in. Master.

Turn in. Master.

 

Turn in. Master.

Higher. Highest.

 

 

translated from Sanskrit by Kanya Kanchana
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