An Attempt at Jealousy

Original by Marina Tsvetaeva
Translated, from the Russian, by Aster Fialla & Lev Nikulin

How could you live with someone new?
Easily, huh? One row and – gone!
Like a shore that shrinks from view
How quick the memory sailed on

Of me, the island floating o’er
(Across the sky – not in the sea)!
Souls, oh Souls! You’re siblings more
Than lovers, all you’ll ever be!

How could you live with one that’s merely
Simple? Sans divinity?
Dethrone the queen so cavalierly?
Renounce your crown and sovereignty?

How could you live – or do you slack?
How could you shiver, sit or stand?
Your vapidness comes with a tax;
How could you pay it, beggar man?

“Enough! Your fits drive me insane –
I’ll rent a house away from here!”
How could you, with some random Jane –
My beloved, chosen dear!

Your diet’s cheap and full of grit –
When it turns stale, don’t dare lament…
How could you live with counterfeit –
You, who conquered Sinai then!

How could you live with someone strange,
So common? Is her rib dear, now?
Does Zeus’ shame, so like a rein
Not lash against your sorry brow?

How could you live – and are you healthy?
Sing out? Do you think you can?
When conscience ulcerates your belly,
How could you manage, beggar man?

How could you live with market wares, huh?
The tax you pay – how high’s the fee?
After marbled, grand Carrara,
How could you live with the debris

Of shoddy gypsum? (Carved of stone –
God – and shattered all to hell!)
How could you live with scraps alone –
You, who once knew Lilith well!

Could you say you’re truly merry
With this trinket? Cold to myths,
How could you keep this ordinary
Woman, wholly lacking sixth

Senses?…
Think hard: are you truly glad there?
No? A chasm without end –
How can you live, dear? Is it sadder,
Or the same as me with him?

 

******

Попытка ревности

Как живётся вам с другою, —
Проще ведь? — Удар весла! —
Линией береговою
Скоро ль память отошла

Обо мне, плавучем острове
(По́ небу — не по водам!)
Души, души! быть вам сёстрами,
Не любовницами — вам!

Как живётся вам с простою
Женщиною? Без божеств?
Государыню с престола
Свергши (с оного сошед),

Как живётся вам — хлопочется —
Ёжится? Встаётся — как?
С пошлиной бессмертной пошлости
Как справляетесь, бедняк?

«Судорог да перебоев —
Хватит! Дом себе найму».
Как живётся вам с любою —
Избранному моему!

Свойственнее и съедобнее —
Снедь? Приестся — не пеняй…
Как живётся вам с подобием —
Вам, поправшему Синай!

Как живётся вам с чужою,
Здешнею? Ребром — люба?
Стыд Зевесовой вожжою
Не охлёстывает лба?

Как живётся вам — здоровится —
Можется? Поётся — как?
С язвою бессмертной совести
Как справляетесь, бедняк?

Как живётся вам с товаром
Рыночным? Оброк — крутой?
После мраморов Каррары
Как живётся вам с трухой

Гипсовой? (Из глыбы высечен
Бог — и на́чисто разбит!)
Как живётся вам с сто-тысячной —
Вам, познавшему Лилит!

Рыночною новизною
Сыты ли? К волшбам остыв,
Как живётся вам с земною
Женщиною, бе́з шестых

Чувств?
‎Ну, за голову: счастливы?
Нет? В провале без глубин —
Как живётся, милый? Тяжче ли,
Так же ли, как мне с другим?

 

******
Translator’s Note:

This submission is an experiment in co-translation and co-creation across languages and skillsets, taking as its subject Tsvetaeva’s often-translated poem “An Attempt at Jealousy [Popytka revnosti].” To produce this piece, Lev provided a precise prose translation of the poem that Aster then versified to match the meter and rhyme scheme of the original; we then refined the text together to attempt to capture Tsvetaeva’s fine shades of meaning and high emotional drama.

We consider this collective approach especially well-suited to Tsvetaeva, who engaged in poetic exchange and translation herself. She established poetic connections with poets both dead (Pushkin) and living (Pasternak, Rilke), famously forging her blistering cycle “Girlfriend [Podruga]” after her tumultuous relationship with poet Sophia Parnok. She translated from languages she knew and others she did not (Polish, Yiddish, Spanish). As Tsvetaeva entered into poetic conversations with other poets, we have tried to do so with her and with the others who have tackled her work in general and this piece in particular. In this translation, we most prioritized the communication of the vicious, biting tone of the original, searching for an emotional throughline which would carry Tsvetaeva’s bitter and acerbic breakup poem to the reader across language and time period. 

*

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) is a monumental figure within Russian poetry, remembered for her layered and intricate wordplay, audacious explorations of the highs and lows of emotions and relationships, and more recently for her poetic experimentation with gender and sexuality. Born into a wealthy family, she started a career as a poet, witnessed the Russian Revolution of 1917, then later left the Soviet Union for Europe in 1922. In emigration, she lived in poverty but produced some of her finest work. In 1939, she returned to the USSR, where her family experienced hardship under Stalin’s regime; her daughter was arrested and her husband executed. She was evacuated in 1941 and died of suicide in Yelabuga, Tatar ASSR.

 

Aster Fialla (se/er) is a freelance illustrator, poet, and game developer in roughly that order. Check out samples of the former two at asterfialla.com and the latter at pieartsy.itch.io.

Lev Nikulin (he/they) is an academic specializing in horror, the Gothic, science fiction, genre studies, and LGBT studies in 19th and 20th century Russian literature and film. He currently works as a Postgraduate Research Associate and Lecturer at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University. Tsvetaeva’s The Swain [Molodets] is his favorite vampire story. Follow him at his website, levnikulin.com.

Pathology of Exile

Original by Paula Cucurella
Translated, from the Spanish, by Alaric López

Among my symptoms: the congenital need to be misunderstood
worsens the tendency to lose the thread.
But between you and me, América,
we’ve come to master the art of controlled hallucination
to normalize blindness,
like lovers,
even when I feel used by your language
and I get payback spitting your name in three initials
and you soothe me whispering last minute offers.

Via loudspeaker, América,
you sound so sweet.

And I forgive you everything, thanks to your excellent Internet connection
I stroll through your body, América, as if it were my bedroom
—the same damn eternal warmup routine—

[I’d prefer a punch in the face]

And what will we do about the bastard we make in my mouth?
Which of our surnames will we choose?
I’ll take any name you give me, querida
this tongue adores the taste of your skin.

 

******


Patología del Exilio


Entre los síntomas: la necesidad congénita de ser malentendida
acentúa la tendencia a perder el hilo.
Pero entre tú y yo, América,
hemos llegado a dominar el arte de la alucinación controlada
haber normalizado la ceguera,
como enamoradas,
aún cuando me siento utilizada por tu lenguaje
y me desquito escupiendo tu nombre en cuatro siglas
y tu me arrullas susurrándome ofertas de última hora.

Por altoparlante, América,
suenas tan dulce. 

Y te perdono todo por la excelente conexión a internet
me paseo por tu cuerpo, América, como si fuese mi dormitorio
—los mismos actos eternos de precalentamiento— 

[preferiría un puñetazo en la cara]

Y qué vamos a hacer del engendro que creamos en mi boca?
Cuál de los dos apellidos vamos a escoger?
aceptaré por nombre lo que me llames, querida
esta lengua adora el sabor de tu piel. 

 

******

Selections from Demasiada luz para hacer poesía (pub. 2020 Doble A Editores, Santiago, Chile), by Paula Cucurella, translated by Alaric López with permission from the author. 

*

Paula Cucurella is a philosopher, poet, and translator. Her poems have been published in Mexican poetry journals (Círculo de poesía, Revista Monolito, La Rabia del Axolote, and Revista Marcapiel) and in Revista Laboratorio (Chile). She is the literary translator of El Can de Kant by David Johnson (Metales Pesados, November 2018), El Mundo en Llamas by David Johnson (Pólvora Editorial, 2019) and co-translator of Bottles to the Sea (SUNY, 2014), and of poems by Rosa Alcalá and Eileen Miles. Her academic articles and literary essays are published in The New Centennial Review, Revista Laboratorio, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, and Latino Studies. Her first theory book Nicanor Parra, Jacques Derrida, y la poesía en tiempos de censura: un ensayo is forthcoming from Pólvora Editorial (Chile, 2020). Los últimos inanes días (2020), her book of fragments and vignettes, is also now available as an electronic-only publication from Doble A Editores. Paula currently teaches in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP), USA.

Alaric López is a musician, songwriter, intermedia artist, poet, and literary translator. Since 2012, Alaric has recorded, released, and performed his music under the alias Monarcadia (available through his Bandcamp site monarcadia.bandcamp.com or via all major streaming platforms). He has had poems published in the Rio Grande Review, and has held multimedia performances around El Paso, TX, including at the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Alaric is currently in the MFA Writing program at UCSD, where his work attempts to develop new poetic forms through multimedia experimentation, and intermedia forms that effectively blend his various interests and practices. He can be found on Instagram at @monarcadia.

Two Poems

Originals & Translations by Alyn Mare & Macs Chávez

 

dando la patita / arivaca, 2020

curve paw in trust
shaking yes i hold my own hand, will u hold mine too
we hold it together against crushing tedium, hugging drone

air force x borders x daily life x the tepid coffee

well here i have ur curve of paw, the brightest dog
a flash from your ass in the night i count every star
record levels of brightness, burn the notes
we go around the fire say our pronouns
@ the mome i am multiple people, kindly reaching for a treat.

affirmation, kneeling on diamonds, compressed ancestral memes
i am before u a rat, o beeb in mud i fester joyfully
among the barbs a pattern
shifting into testodragon-dog i run i fuck i offer my paw.

a weak wrist a flaccid dick, nothing to break. my opening, sickle, curve.

devour urself in me.
i take a delicate bite, aim for precision, savor the slow tear
strings of flower, separation, a lingering burn @ back of throat.

******

dando la patita / arivaca, 2020

patita curva en confianza
hago un trato estrechando mi mano, ¿la tomarías tú también?
resistimos al tedio aplastante, el drone que nos abraza

fuerza militar x fronteras x vida cotidiana x café tibio

tengo aquí la curva de tu patita, el perrito más brillante
un destello de tu culo en la noche cuento cada estrella
tomo notas de su brillo, las quemo
rodeamos el fuego decimos nuestros pronombres
me convierto en múltiples personas, alcanzando amablemente un premio.

afirmación, arrodillándome sobre diamantes, memes ancestrales comprimidos
frente a ti soy una rata, pfff me  r e v u e l c o  en el lodo
un prototipo entre las púas,
convirtiéndome en un perro-testodragón corro cojo doy la pata.

un gesto afeminado un pene flácido, nada que romper. mi abertura, guadania, curvatura.

devórate en mí.
pruebo delicadamente, la mordida precisa, saboreando el lento desgarre
fragmentos de flor, separación, la quemadura que persiste atrás de la garganta.

 

********************

 

notes for the poem / cholula, 2020

pulling at a thread emily says “the whole cloth”, grief you old shirt
in careful shreds i covet lazz’ tie dye my open-air closet
i unravel, spindle, walk.
it’s the soft white dog! comfort like forever.

how friends know where to take us. dreaming
wet chips, roasted grapes, thick sweating meat.
suck iron char thru fatty exterior, leaking teeth.

at lunch our external processes, laps in a small stone square.
ajo and we love it.
every gay leaves for the same shit.
“gay bar near me” but belonging, loneliness, i don’t know
summer of hate parting lips w cold brew.

your grandmother under your slow-handed circles,
how forgiveness works.
the pleasure of seeing you loved.

you want to fish, something fresh. “the fish is a poem”.
bud, thorn, “we are living in the rose”.

******

notas para el poema / cholula, 2020

tirando del hilo emily dice “la prenda entera”, el dolor una vieja playera
cuidando los trozos deseo el tie dye de Lazz mi closet al aire libre
me desenredo, me hilo, camino.
¡es el suave perro blanco! comodidad para siempre.

cómo les amigues saben a dónde llevarnos. soñando
totopos remojados, uvas rostizadas, carne gruesa sudada.
chupar el hierro carbonizado a través del exterior grasiento, dientes escurriendo.

en el almuerzo nuestros procesos externos, vueltas en un cuadrito de piedra.
ajo y lo amamos.
todes les gays se van por la misma mierda.
“bar gay cerca de mí” pero pertenecer, la soledad, no sé
verano del odio labios abiertos por el café frío.

tu abuela bajo los lentos círculos de tus manos,
cómo funciona el perdón.
el placer de verte amade.

quieres pescar, algo fresco. “el pez es un poema”.
brote, espina, “estamos viviendo en la rosa”.

******

Translator’s Note:

We met on Tinder. First it was hard to understand what each other was trying to say. Through poetry and exercises of pleasure, sex, food and the desert, we are weaving both languages into our own. Pausing to say it every way. We did it all together but Alyn wrote the poems in English and Macs translated them. 

Nos conocimos en Tinder. Al principio, era difícil entender lo que intentábamos decir. A través de la poesía y ejercicios de placer, sexo, comida y el desierto, estamos tejiendo los dos lenguajes en uno propio. Pausando para decirlo en todas las formas. Lo hicimos todo juntes pero Alyn escribió los poemas en inglés y Macs los tradujo.

*

macs, también conocide como majo chávez, es un artista y traductor de la ciudad de méxico. @ajoconeme
macs, also known as majo chávez, is an artist and translator from mexico city. @ajoconeme

alyn mare is a poet and dj in so-called tucson, az. their work has appeared in Occulum, Aired, and zine form forever at www.clubtheory.net.
alyn mare es poeta y dj en el así llamado tucson, az. su trabajo ha aparecido en Occulum, Aired y siempre en forma de zine en www.clubtheory.net.

 

Ligia

Original by Rosabetty Muñoz
Translated, from the Spanish, by Gavia Boyden

 

It’s about plotting the map, but it overflows.
Loved ones are left out.
The plain, in its entirety, is stingy;
the mountain range
a blurred grey line.

This is the task of focusing your vision.
An exercise prior to closure.
.
.
The first was my grandfather.
There is a caravan of grandfathers
buried in the Argentine pampas
(only one has in his pockets a folded
photo of his daughter in First Communion dress)

The crosses have long been erased
by the wind.

Although they split their love and left,
although the pieces were filled with mold,
they were the first.

In every family there is a hole in the photograph,
a chair behind the door,
knuckles white from so much clenching.
.
.
In the background of each day, there is a distant country.
It’s always the same
((although we know that it no longer exists))

 

A narrow alley with a roof of dappled
trees and trees populated by dark plumage,
maybe also a river,
or even better, hot springs,
before the total drought.

Erosion of meaning.
This body didn’t know it left behind
the world itself.
.
.
In the center of the beloved country
there is a kite.
While speaking,
they spread the closed wings of Chonchonas 

The kites were the most remembered,
says Ligia,
I returned in September and saw them
aloft.
They’re the dreams of the Chileans. 

But she forgot the cured thread. 

A fatherland is made by cutting the strings
tethering the colorful kites.
.
.
It is the women, mostly, who fall
into the madness of the revolution.
Mad in body, mad in mind.
The verb and the entire landscape of flesh
everything
at disposal. 

And, after the breakage,
they rebuild defenses,
establish camps
of refugees. 

Border skirting
burning travelers.

Hips are frames.
.
.
Again in Chile,
nothing is as it was then.
Just a small rectangle
of the country in one’s eyes,
a fragment of the canopy,
a detail of the keel.
.
.
Hostility of the high bars,
barbed wire, alarmed gates,
fast roads.
You return to the country
and find it torn open,
a throbbing slash.
Houses with their backs turned to the squares,
crouched on huge haunches,
in hidden courtyards.
Excessive reality of the streets.
.
.
The country was filled with sensible people.
Bars of broken glass bottles on the fences,
harsh demands for pay.
They talk about us,
about who we were.
It was better, they thought, to remove us from the future. 

I cry, too,
for I am a question mark,
for I am a doubt,
for my skeleton
has lost spine and marrow.

 

******

Ligia

Se trata de trazar el mapa, pero desborda.
Hay gente amada, que se queda fuera.
El plano completo es mezquino;
la cordillera, por ejemplo,
una línea borroneada en gris.
Este es el ejercicio de acercar la vista.
Un ejercicio previo al cierre.
.
.
El primero fue mi abuelo.
Hay una caravana de abuelos
enterrados en la pampa argentina
(sólo uno tiene en los bolsillos
la foto doblada de su hija
en vestido de Primera Comunión)
Las cruces se han borrado por efecto del viento.
Aunque partieron su amor en dos y se fueron
aunque las rebanadas se llenaron de moho,
ellos fueron los primeros.
En cada familia hay un hueco en la fotografía
una silla detrás de la puerta
los nudillos blancos de tanto apretar.
.
.
Hay un país remoto en el fondo de todos los días.
Siempre es el mismo
( (aunque sabemos que ya no existe)
Estrecho callejón sobrevolado por tordos
árboles y árboles poblados de plumaje oscuro
tal vez también un río,
más bien pozones, antes de la sequía total.

Erosión del significado.
Este cuerpo no sabía que dejaba atrás
el mundo propio.
En el centro del país amado
hay un volantín.
Mientras habla
se abren cierran alas
de chonchonas 

Los volantines eran lo más recordado
dice Ligia
volví en septiembre y los vi elevados.
Son los sueños de los chilenos
Pero ella olvida el hilo curado.
Se hace patria cortando los hilos
echando abajo los volantines de colores.
.
.
Son mujeres las que mayormente
caen en la locura de la revolución.
Locas de cuerpo locas de mente.
El verbo y el paisaje total de la carne
todo
a disposición. 

Y después de la fractura
reconstruyen defensas
establecen campos
de refugiados.
Borde bordeando
viajeras ardientes
caderas son cuadernas.
.
.
Recalados otra vez en Chile
nada es como entonces.
Entra sólo un pequeño rectángulo
del país en los ojos
un fragmento del velamen,
un detalle de la quilla.
.
.
Hostilidad de las altas rejas
alambres de púas portones alarmas
veloces carreteras.
Se vuelve al país
y lo encuentras abierto a todo lo largo
un tajo palpitante.
Casas de espaldas a las plazas
de ancas enormes agazapadas
en patios escondidos.
Excesiva realidad de las calles.
.
.
El país se llenó de gente sensata.
Rejas vidrios botellas quebradas sobre los cercos
duras exigencias de pago.
Hablan de nosotros,
de quiénes éramos.
Les ha parecido bueno sacarnos del futuro.
Lloro también porque soy una interrogación
una duda
porque mi hueserío
ha perdido columna y médula.

******

Rosabetty Muñoz grew up in Ancud and is a professor of Spanish at the Austral University of Chile. She published her first book of poems in 1981. Her poetry is characterized by reflecting southern Chile, dealing with gender issues, human relations, and making poetry a space of resistance.

Gavia Boyden is a poet and translator who lives in the San Juan Islands. She is a current high school student who has been studying Spanish for most of her life. Gavia appreciates translating image-driven poetry by Latin American poets in particular. Her own poetry can be found online and in various journals.

from How Many Names

Original by Henri Meschonnic
Translated, from the French, by Don Boes and Gabriella Bedetti

from Combien de noms (How Many Names)
Improviste, 1999

 

between each word a desert
inside the words the
desert
and with each letter I
am grateful
to the silence
for what it has allowed me to
shout

entre chaque mot un désert
à l’intérieur des mots le
désert
et à chaque lettre je
suis reconnaissant
au silence
pour ce qu’il m’a permis de
crier

* * *

we lacked words
we became like a book
with nothing but margins
the words were inside
like a memory
safe from oblivion
listening to what’s coming
to remake our language
with no words
at the bottom of time on the brink of
speech

nous avons manqué de mots
nous devenions comme un livre
qui n’aurait plus que des marges
les mots rentraient au-dedans
comme une mémoire qui se met
à l’abri à l’oubli à
l’écoute de ce qui vient
pour se refaire un langage
avec une absence de mots
au fond du temps au bord de
dire

* * *

words have no Sundays
as the year has no door
the set table is within us
the chair that remains empty
creates the prophecy of the day
where each day is a letter
and the completed word is us

les mots n’ont pas de dimanches
comme l’année n’a pas de porte
la table mise est en nous
le siege qui reste vide
fait la prophétie du jour
dont chaque jour est une lettre
et le mot complet c’est nous

Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) is a key figure of French “new poetics.” A core figure of the French literary scene of the last half-century, Meschonnic is known worldwide for his translations from the Old Testament and Critique du rythme. During his long career, Meschonnic generated controversy in the literary community. As a poet and as a translator of the Hebrew verse of the Bible, he contends that rhythm rules over meaning, flowing from the bottom up. For him, the revolution in the idea of language is the basis of a continuing change, not only in the poem but also in the idea of history and social life itself. His poetry has received prestigious awards, including the Max Jacob International Poetry Prize, the Mallarmé Prize, the Jean Arp Francophone Literature Prize, and the Guillevic-Ville de Saint-Malo Grand Prize for Poetry. His poems appear in more than a dozen languages. However, even now, almost no Meschonnic poems have been translated into English. Selected from his nineteen poetry books, the accompanying works only suggest the richness, range, and intensity of his poetic output.

Don Boes is the author of Good Luck With That, Railroad Crossing, and The Eighth Continent, selected by A. R. Ammons for the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Louisville Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Cutbank, Zone 3, Southern Indiana Review, and Cincinnati Review.

Gabriella Bedetti’s translations of Meschonnic’s essays have appeared in New Literary History and Critical Inquiry, and she had an interview published in Diacritics, in addition to an article in New Literary History. Meschonnic was a guest of the MLA at her roundtable with Ralph Cohen and Susan Stewart. She studied translation at the University of Iowa and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

“The Condition of the Verses”

Original by Maria Teresa Horta
Translated, from the Portuguese, by Edite Cunhā and M.B. McLatchey

 

I am of the condition of the verses
with eagerness rescued

I have a pact with the angels
I recognize the trace of light
I want the rigor of words

I sing the flame of poetry
in the most bitter extravagance

I write the excess
with the pain of the blaze
in the desire to be the splendor

And if in each poem
I invent flight
with my poetic voice

I choose lava

“Da condição dos versos”

Sou da condição
dos versos
com avidez resgatada

Tenho um trato com os anjos
conheço o traço da luz
quero o rigor das palavras

Canto a chama
da poesia
na desmesura mais amarga

Escrevo o excesso
com a pena do fulgor
no desejo de ser o esplendor

E se em cada poema
invento o voo
com a minha voz poética

eu escolho a lava

Maria Teresa Horta was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1937. At 82 years old, Horta continues to be recognized for her association with two fellow poets, Maria Isabel Barreno and Maria Velho da Costa. In 1971, during the fascist Estado Novo regime the three women (known thereafter as “The Three Marias”) wrote a collaborative work entitled Novas Cartas Portuguese (New Portuguese Letters). The book was banned, resulting in a trial that attracted worldwide attention and identified the three writers as feminist icons. In 1974 the regime fell, and the charges were dropped. Nevertheless, the imprint of an oppressive regime endured for Horta – both in her consciousness and in her poetry. Horta has always considered herself, first and foremost, a poet. She has published 21 collections of poetry. She has also worked as a journalist for several Lisbon publications during the 1960s (one of the few women to do so) and interviewed such renowned literary figures as Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, and Christa Wolf. She edited the magazine, Mulheres (Women) and wrote plays and fiction pieces. She is most renowned as a poet and political activist. She lives in Portugal.

Edite Cunhā is a writer, artist, and activist who believes that creativity can transform the individual as well as society. She leads multi-media art and writing workshops for people of all ages. Cunhā has a BA from Smith College and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Massachusetts.

M.B. McLatchey earned her graduate degree in Comparative Literature at Harvard University, her Master of Art in Teaching at Brown University, and her B.A. from Williams College. She was awarded the American Poet Prize from the American Poetry Journal and won the 2013 May Swenson Award for her debut poetry collection, The Lame God (Utah State University Press), and she was a Finalist in the New Women’s Voices Competition for her book, Advantages of Believing (Finishing Line Press). Her most recent book, Beginner’s Mind, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2021 and explores the question, “How should we educate our children?” Currently serving as Florida’s Poet Laureate for Volusia County, she is an Associate Professor of Classics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Visit her at www.mbmclatchey.com.

“The Albatross”

Original by Charles Baudelaire
Translated, from the French, by Will Cordeiro

 

Often, just for kicks, bored sailors reach
for that vast bird, the albatross, which glides
above them on lethargic winds as each
old ketch is drifting the abyss of tides.

Soon as they toss this monarch on the deck,
he stoops and gawks with awkward, drooping wings,
which, mortified, trail lifeless and dejected,
like useless oars through landlocked zones wherein

this skyborne voyager’s made comic—weak,
a stupid bumbler who was once all grace!
One sailor sticks a pipestem in his beak;
another mocks the cripple’s dull malaise.

The poet, too, is like this prince of clouds
who chases storms and laughs at arrows slinging;
but cast from heaven to a jeering crowd,
now hobbles, earthbound, with crass, heavy wings.

“L’Albatros”

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l’azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d’eux.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguère si beau, qu’il est comique et laid!
L’un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L’autre mime, en boitant, l’infirme qui volait!

Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l’archer;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l’empêchent de marcher.

Charles Baudelaire was a 19th-century French poet, translator, art critic, essayist, dandy, and flâneur. He is perhaps most famous for his poetry collection, The Flowers of Evil, and his book of prose poems, Paris Spleen. A self-styled poète maudit, Baudelaire’s work often celebrates decadent and anti-social tendencies—drinking, crime, violence, sexuality, insanity, and the life of outcasts in a way that is, at once, both ironic and biographically authentic.

Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Agni, The Cincinnati Review, Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Cordeiro’s collection, Trap Street, won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award. He received his MFA and PhD from Cornell University. Cordeiro co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions and is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University. As an undergraduate, Cordeiro co-founded Plume, a literary journal of translation at Franklin & Marshall College, which is still going strong today. He currently lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.

sunflowers (and two other poems)

Original by Michael Garcia Spring
Translated, from the English to the Portuguese, by Maria João Marques

sunflowers

it’s nearly impossible
to look at a sunflower and not think
of van Gogh

a bullet-shaped bee shoots past

and my mind takes off – a crow-black flame
over a golden field

 

girassóis

é quase impossível
olhar para um girassol e não pensar
em van Gogh

uma abelha em forma de bala passa por mim

e o meu espírito levanta vôo – a chama de um corvo negro
sobre um campo dourado

boxing gloves

they are still on
the table
where I left them
the day I refused
to fight my father

they are the color of dried blood
and resemble the torn
out hearts of bulls

when I visit
my father never talks about them
but they are always there

the somber smell of old
dust and leather

lumped and tied together
with a frayed shoelace

luvas de boxe

continuam
na mesa
onde as deixei
no dia em que recusei
lutar com o meu pai

são da cor do sangue seco
e parecem os corações
arrancados dos touros

quando o visito
o meu pai nunca fala delas
mas estão sempre lá

um sombrio odor a pó
e a pele de outros tempos

abandonadas e enlaçadas
por um frágil atacador

 path to the lighthouse

between the cragged rocks
and the molting ocean
a woman undresses and becomes
the beach

a crow above her
stumbles out of the wind
into a chorus of crows

and here you are
on the cliffside path to the lighthouse
among soggy pines
and dark ferns
wondering if this is the time
you too will finally lift out of your body
and become something else

you get lost in the walk to the lighthouse
your eyes catching every glint
of a gull’s wing or falling leaf

below you
in the soupy enclave of ocean
a sea otter is done playing in the waves

it rolls onto its back
coasting with a flat stone on its chest
and an oyster in its paws

but before it begins drumming
before the shell cracks open
and the milk
of salty meat oozes 

and before it devours the pearly flesh
it pauses

because it notices you
wading in a flow of fog
floating in a grove of scrub trees

your image clearly submerged
in the otter’s dark eyes

 

rumo ao farol

entre as paredes rochosas
e o oceano mutante
uma mulher despe-se e torna-se
a praia

sobre ela surge um corvo
cambaleando por entre o vento
na direcção de um bando de corvos

e aqui te encontras
na encosta do penhasco rumo ao farol
por entre pinheiros encharcados
e negros fetos
cismando se no momento presente
também te elevarás finalmente do teu corpo
e serás algo mais

perdes-te a caminho do farol
os teus olhos absorvendo cada brilho
da asa de uma gaivota ou folha cadente

abaixo de ti
no enclave caldo de oceano
uma lontra marinha pára de brincar nas ondas

põe-se de barriga para o ar
flutuando com uma pedra lisa no peito
e uma ostra nas patas

mas antes de lhe começar a bater
antes de a concha se abrir
derramando
o leite da carne salgada

e antes de devorar a polpa cor de pérola
ela detém-se

porque repara em ti
pairando numa corrente de nevoeiro
flutuando no emaranhado de arbustos

a tua imagem nitidamente submersa
nos olhos negros da lontra

Michael Garcia Spring is the author of four previous poetry books and one children’s book. He’s won numerous awards and distinctions for his poetry, including the 2004 Robert Graves Award, an honorable mention for the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award, the 2013 Turtle Island Poetry Award, a Luso-American Fellowship from Disquiet International, and an honorable mention for the 2017 Green Book Festival Award.  Michael is a poetry editor for the Pedestal Magazine, and founding editor of Flowstone Press. He currently lives on a mountainside in rural Oregon.

Maria João Marques is a graduate in Screenplay Writing from the Lisbon Theatre and Film School and MA in English and North-American Studies from Nova University of Lisbon. Her dissertation was distinguished with the JRAAS Quality Seal for outstanding achievement by the Centre for English, Translation, and Anglo-Portuguese Studies (CETAPS). Her translations of Michael Garcia Spring’s poems have appeared in Açoriano Oriental Arts & Letras (Portugal), Adelaide Literary Journal (Portugal/USA), Janelas em Rotação (Brazil), and The Portuguese Times (USA). These poems are part of a bilingual book set to appear in March, 2021 by Companhia das Ilhas, Portugal.

About Death

Original by Iulia Militaru
Translated, from the Romanian, by Claudia Serea

 

Iulia Militaru is the editor-in-chief of frACTalia Press and the InterRe:ACT magazine. After a few children’s books and her study Metaphoric, Metonimic: A Typology of Poetry, her first poetry collection Marea Pipeadă (The Great Pipe Epic) was published in 2010, receving two major awards in Romania. Dramadoll, co-authored with Anca Bucur and Cristina Florentina Budar, is part of a larger poetry/graphic art/video/sound project; a part of this video project (Images of the day number 8, directed by Cristina Florentina Budar) was selected for Gesamt 2012 (DISASTER 501: What happened to man?), a project coordinated by Lars von Trier and directed by Jenle Hallund. Her collection of experimental poetry Confiscarea bestiei (o postcercetare) (The Seizure of the Beast. A Post-research.) was published by frACTalia Press in 2016. She has published poems and digital collages in MAINTENANT, A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art #9, #10, and #11. Her art exhibit “The Path. Filling-in Abstract Forms: Overwriting Barnett Newman” opened in 2016 in Iowa City at Public Space One. In 2016, she was also featured at The Third Annual Brussels Poetry Fest.

Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, Gravel, Prairie Schooner, The Malahat Review, Asymptote, RHINO, and elsewhere. She has published five poetry collections, most recently Twoxism, a poetry-photography collaboration with Maria Haro (8th House Publishing, 2018). Serea co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman House Publishing, 2011) for which she received a grant from the Romanian Cultural Institute. She also translated from the Romanian Adina Dabija’s Beautybeast (Northshore Press, 2012). Serea is a founding editor of National Translation Month.

 

 

Epigraph (and two other poems)

Original by Adem Garić
Translated, from the Bosnian, by Mario Frömml

 

Epigraph

In the mornings I call my mother.
Or in the afternoons, on my way back from
the mosque; the scent of blossoms rushes
through a crack in my car window.

 White tree tops line the streets
like the kind words I often miss.

It dawns Here when
Bosnia prays the zuhr.

A day is at its zenith when Their
maghrib brings it to its close.    

Time is Here a gold dust.

Prospectors all over the place pitch
their tents on the slopes of their days.

Gold, buried in the pits of time,
is running out, ever so dwindling.

I notice that the sky is blue,
and green is the grass, the soil
so wet, right after the rain. 

Thus, everything’s the same,
and — then again — nothing is.

I do not speak out of melancholy,
but for the sake of Truth.

 

Zapis

Ujutro nazovem majku
ili popodne, kad se vraćam iz džamije.
Jutrom zamiriše behar kroz otškrinut
Automobilski prozor.
Duž ulica su redovi bijelih krošnji
poput lijepih riječi koje mi često nedostaju.
U Bosni je podne kad je Ovdje jutro.
U Bosni je akšam kad je Ovdje podne.
Vrijeme je Ovdje zlatna prašina.
Kopači na sve strane razastiru šatre
Po obronicma dana.
Zlata je u jamama vremena
sve manje i manje.
Primjećujem da je nebo plavo
trava zelena, i zemlja je mokra poslije kiše.
Dakle, sve je isto, a ništa opet isto nije.
Ne kažem to radi sjete
Već radi Istine.

Screenplay  

In American movies
Russians always get defeated.
Guns lurk at every corner.
Cowboys are good guys, though may not be.
Indians play supporting roles and extras.
Except for making wars, or being fought against,
no one has been noticing ten million Muslims.
Knowledge is useful if it rakes in profits.
Everything bringing in the profits is knowledge.
Drugs are native to the concrete jungle.
Alcohol gets sipped, just like coffee.
The streets – the foundation of crimes.
White men are sheriffs. Their badges are relics
everyone venerates.
America rides while the entire world walks.
Everything in the world takes places in America.
America discovers the world.
America has an American dream.
American is the dream of
houses that the banks rent out.

 

U američkim filmovima 

 U američkim filmovima
Rusi uvijek gube.
Pištolji vrebaju iza svakog ćoška.
Kauboji su dobri, makar i ne bili.
Indijanci su sporedne uloge i stažisti.
Osim kad ratuju, ili se protiv njih ratuje
za 10 miliona muslimana se i ne zna.
Znanje je korisno ako donosi profit.
Sve što donosi profit je znanje.
Droga je u prirodi betonske džungle.
Alkohol se srče, poput kahve.
Ulice su temelj kriminala.
Bijeli čovjek je šerif. Značka je relikvija
koju svi ljube.
Amerika je na kojnu, dok cijeli svijet kaska.
Sve u svijetu se dešava u Americi.
Amerika otkriva svijet.
Amerika ima američki san.
Američki je san
kuća koju banka izdaje.

 –

February Agony 

 february snaps in
a frigid air

the heavy rains of
shells and bullets pour

across the fields
mount Udrič
echos

in the eyes of wolves
bloody pyres blaze up

while the february snaps
at the fox holes of
life and death,
she bundles her baby
up in her arms

in her armful is a baby
and the two more cling to her skirt

at the end of a
distraught single file

a soldier yells  at
the woman and her child
at her child, the infant

shut her up, he screams
shut her up;
or the icy darkness will
silence her

 

Februarska morija

od studeni
februar puca

sipaju teške kiše
granata i metaka

preko polja
Udrič
odječe

u kurjačkim očima
plamte krvave lomače

dok februar puca
tranšejima
života i smrti,
njojzi je u naramku
dojenče

u naramku joj dojenče
a, za skut’ma još dvoje

pri dnu
izbezumljene kolone

vojnik viče
na ženu i dijete
na dijete, dojenče

ušuti je, reče
ušuti je;
ili će je ušutjeti
studen veče

Adem Garić is a poet from Bosnia and Herzegovina currently living in Erie, PA. He has written two books of poetry in Bosnian, and is in the middle of translating his new book America is Hollywood.

Mario Frömml is a US-based translator who is contributing to the translation of America is Hollywood.