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.