Archive for March, 2008


It isn’t love if our embassy isn’t burning,
if the windows haven’t exploded

in a shower of diamonds from the heat,
if the ballerina isn’t staggering around on stage

as from an accidental elbow in the face,
or if the knife-thrower, subject to ironic applause,

doesn’t suddenly doubt the accuracy of his aim;
it isn’t love if the moon isn’t breathing,

if we don’t receive unsought help from machines,
an automated summons to appear in court

and our bewildered joy upon entering the night
a moment after everyone else has left.

Howie Good

Crow on Barbed Wire

Photograph:Majdanek Concentration Camp near Lublin, Poland

Silhouette against horizon’s
gray wash, black shape before
a ragged line of leafless trees –

see its head and wings, follow
with your eyes the sharp spike
of beak, forked tail, round belly

and little sticks of leg and claw.
Think of Raven before the world
began, and how he flew through

a hole in the sky. Still air and
empty fields, silence heavy as
the weight and roar of shifting earth.

Steven F. Klepetar

Dude, where did you find that poem?

by Kurt Schwitters

Our colleague Adam Penna has found a wonderful poem in my interview with Mike Stocks  about his Belli translations. Below is the first stanza (click link for the rest). The original article can be read here.

These days Belli would write about the kids on their motorini.
He’d write about the mayor. He’d write about parking disputes.
He’d write about the druggies and alcoholics with their dogs
and their comic books. He’d write about mobile phones


On a roof in the Old City
laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight:
the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
the towel of a man who is my enemy,
to wipe off the sweat of his brow.

In the sky of the Old City
a kite.
At the other end of the string 
a child
I can’t see
because of the wall.

We have put up many flags,
they have put up many flags,
to make us think that they’re happy,
to make them think that we’re happy.

Yehuda Amichai, translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Korean Matins

In the morning
a man brings the sun
in a barrow of junk.

The only clean thing
is the mask on his mouth.

The sun he pulls rattles
like an empty Sam Da Soo
mineral water bottle
as it passes in its carriage of
cardboard and junk.

Here, the sun is blue
and transparent.

In the morning the man
and the sun
are here in the stead of doves
or the sound of falling rain.

Only white-tipped
winged magpies
live in the trees,
and anywhere else.

Even the palace of concrete
stands as hushed as a chess piece
as they come up the street
and move on to the further

To the
next country westward
that must be lit
and awakened.

Brenna Moloney

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


March 2008
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