Sunday, September 22, 2013

to run the mad woods


Mă bucur să-mi umplu părul cu voi, frunze de toamnă,
să fug prin pădurea nebună, căzând şi râzând, şi să-mi zgârii
obrazul, în scoicile voastre scorţoase … Mă bucur să-mplânt
în toamnă roşcată strigătul meu adânc, singuratic,
sub bolţile pline de aer uscat, de foşnet de vânt,
să fug, să cad şi să râd pe pământul împodobit
de galbenul tău sărut cu o mie de buze, toamnă!

Nina Cassian


What joy to adorn my hair with you, autumn leaves,
to run the mad woods, falling and laughing, and abrade 
my tender cheek on your crisp shells….. What joy 
to thrust a whoop deep into the ruddy weather, lonely
under the vaults of dry air and wind-rustle,
to run fall laugh on an earth illuminated,
autumn, by your thousand lips’ yellow kiss!

(my translation)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

exiled, stubborn Desire

Le Positivisme

Il s’ouvre par-delà toute science humaine
Un vide dont la Foi fut prompte à s’emparer.
De cet abîme obscur elle a fait son domaine ;
En s’y précipitant elle a cru l’éclairer.
Eh bien ! nous t’expulsons de tes divins royaumes,
Dominatrice ardente, et l’instant est venu
Tu ne vas plus savoir où loger tes fantômes ;
Nous fermons l’Inconnu.

Mais ton triomphateur expiera ta défaite.
L’homme déjà se trouble, et, vainqueur éperdu,
Il se sent ruiné par sa propre conquête
En te dépossédant nous avons tout perdu.
Nous restons sans espoir, sans recours, sans asile,
Tandis qu’obstinément le Désir qu’on exile
Revient errer autour du gouffre défendu.

Louise Ackermann


Beyond the radius of all human knowledge
yawns a gulf that Faith claimed as her own.
She made that black abyss her domain
and believed she lighted it by throwing herself in.
But now! We expel you from your divine kingdoms,
ardent imperatrix, and in the new dawn
you will have nowhere to lodge your phantoms.
We slam closed the unknown.

But your vanquisher will suffer your defeat.
Man, this lost conqueror, already senses disquiet
and feels himself ruined by his own conquest.
In despoiling you, we find everything spoiled.
We rest without hope, without recourse, without asylum,
while exiled, stubborn Desire sneaks home
    and strays bewildered around the forbidden void.

(my translation)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

limitless, limitless

Méditation grisâtre

Sous le ciel pluvieux noyé de brumes sales,
Devant l'Océan blême, assis sur un îlot,
Seul, loin de tout, je songe au clapotis du flot,
Dans le concert hurlant des mourantes rafales.

Crinière échevelée ainsi que des cavales,
Les vagues se tordant arrivent au galop
Et croulent à mes pieds avec de longs sanglots
Qu'emporte la tourmente aux haleines brutales.

Partout le grand ciel gris, le brouillard et la mer,
Rien que l'affolement des vents balayant l'air.
Plus d'heures, plus d'humains, et solitaire, morne,

Je reste là, perdu dans l'horizon lointain,
Et songe que l'Espace est sans borne, sans borne,
Et que le Temps n'aura jamais ... jamais de fin.

Jules Laforgue

Meditation in Gray

Under a rainy sky drowned in dirty mists,
Facing the pallid ocean from a small island,
Alone, far from all, I muse on waves lapping sand,
The howling concert of spiteful, dying gusts.

Manes tangled like routed cavalry mounts,
Waves twist themselves ashore at a gallop
And collapse with the sobbing free of hope
That brutal breath learns from long torments.

All is fog and water, a vast sky‘s matte glare,
Nothing else but the panic of wind sweeping air.
Sick of the hours, sick of people -- I think on loss

And languish and sit alone, the distances blind,
And dread that Space is limitless, limitless,
And that Time will never… never have an end.

(my translation)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Animaeque corporis colloquium

Corpus: The cormorant seems almost not there,
but intensely not,
a dense, muscled absence precipitated from the air.
I understand this
because I have been dying
for fifty years.

Anima:  Ah ...

Monday, September 9, 2013

the good afterlife

Your husband thinks of you from an autumn day in the good afterlife

He could fix his gaze
on the algae-slicked sides of stumps
waterlogged black among weeds

or notice how the dull gloss of the day lingers
on detail, pad and claw of a small animal’s
sharp prints across wet sand

ending where wind-driven ripples
ruffle up and slack down, retreat
and erase the farthest pair of tracks,

but the pale ribs and thighs of birch
gleam among tamarack on the other shore
and call him across the fifty-yard

reach of unstill, iron-gray water.
He wants to stand and walk to the trees,
glance back and see this shore dwindle,

a small, lighted room
glimpsed through a distant door
whose life he could cover with a raised palm,

and for a few beats he is back in those years,
and if he starts to sink, he will pull water
cold into his chest like nightfall and will sink.

But instead he remembers the last breath
before meeting you, the steps barefoot
across carpet to your knock,

the last step and pause at the door
where you waited on the other side,
that final moment of the old life

when the two of you stood face
to face like lovers -- not touching yet,
though the only barrier left to solve

was two inches of blank wood and a lock.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

I shall be reborn

a poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez
translated by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres

I shall be reborn as a stone,
and woman I shall still love you.

I shall be reborn as the wind,
and woman I shall still love you.

I shall be reborn as a wave,
and woman I shall still love you.

I shall be reborn as fire,
and woman I shall still love you.

I shall be reborn as a man,
and woman I shall still love you.