Archive Page 2

The New Yorker Incident

Muhammad Rahmans Kwik Meal #1 in Manhattan

Muhammad Rahman's Kwik Meal #1 in Manhattan

For anyone who missed it, which is most of you, an interesting anecdote appeared in the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog recently. It is a modest tale about a struggling young poet in Manhattan and an ambitious midtown falafel chef. Some of you who read this site regularly (we know you’re out there somewhere) might recognize a warped name or two in all of this.

Shouts go out to Macy Halford, our favorite moonlighting blogger!

Of pleasures gastronomical I sing
Incomparable treasures; everything
Cooked to perfection by the expert hands
Striving to meet
read more!

The Invisible Fiancee

Like the woman couldn’t have just said ‘yes’
to save the dude the humiliation and then told
him the next day she changed her mind or
something?
—Brett Edwards

He had the words, “Will you marry me?” in lights across
the screen of the JumboTron and everything! He even waited
until halftime as if the thousands of undistracted eyes
would ease her into the right direction. My first thought was,
“How crazy is a man who would empty his bank account
on a proposal?” But as the frightened girl shook her head and ran
out of the arena, she made me wonder, “How crazy is a man
who would empty his bank account on a proposal only
to be rejected on national television?” I mean, what exactly did he
expect to happen? Now I realize the known unknowns
for what they are and I can’t help but look through the pictures
I keep in a box to protect our past. When I stare at old
photographs, I see how translucent the space separating our faces is
and my memories return to that night. I can practically see him leaving
the game and sitting alone on the steps outside the arena; thoughts
collecting like vapor in storm clouds. I can see him riding
in the empty limo, his hands caressing a champagne bottle that
he’ll keep locked away forever. And then, there’s the reservation
that he waited months to acquire. He sits single at a table
for two with too much pride to cry and still not enough strength to bear
back heavy tears. The box is a constant reminder sheltered in his hands
beneath the table as he whispers, “Will you marry me?” over and over
and over with pauses between to hear rejection. How crazy
is the man who dines with himself? I too have sat alone and imagined
you sitting near me. Yesterday, I whispered into nothingness hoping
to hear you answer and for a brief moment
I thought you did.

Julian Easterly

Three Poems by Sandro Penna

To Us, To Us

A crowd snarled “to us” “to us”
And black reigned beneath the sun
But the new urban planning!
The restlessness of the pissoirs!
And evenings the calm worry of cats

Una folla gridava ‘a noi’ ‘a noi’
Ed il nero imperava sotto il sole.
Ma il nuovo Piano Regolatore!
L’irrequietezza degli orinatoi!
E la sera la calma paura dei gatti.

Drowsy Autumn Arrives

Drowsy autumn arrives. Sparkling
Behind shining glass two
Shining eyes

Viene l’autunno sonnolento. Brillano
dietro i lucenti vetri due lucenti
occhi.

To Sit at an Unknown Table

To sit at an unknown table
To sleep in someone else’s bed
To feel the already empty square
Swell in tender goodbye

Sedere a una tavola ignota.
Dormire in un letto non mio.
Sentire la piazza gia vuota
gonfiarsi in un tenero addio.

Translated by Alexander Booth

From the Editors

It’s the end of August and the end of summer, a slow time in the northern hemisphere and even slower in Italy. After a brief hiatus, American Poets Abroad resumes its semi-regular schedule of publishing. It is semi-regular because we, like you, work for a living. Were we able to dedicate all our time to the necessities of publishing, we would no doubt have a much broader readership. But, as the saying goes, ze ma she’yesh–this is all we’ve got to work with. We would like to thank all the poets who have sent us their work, excuse ourselves for all the poems we still haven’t gotten around to responding to, and encourage others to send their work to us and help us grow. Poets need readers, and readers need poetry. Our submissions guidelnes are here.

Our readers will notice that, slowly but surely, the site is being made more reader-friendly. To replace author pages we have created author categories, found on the right-hand side of the page. An author’s poems should all be accessible by clicking on his or her name on the sidebar. Thus no poems should be lost in the archives.

Welcome back!

The Editors

Spanish Grave

A small pile of stones
off the coast of Skagaströnd
on a thumb of land
that juts proudly
into the North Sea.
A Viking death,
or some Viking slave,
now an unmarked grave.
The sign says simply
spænska dys. Nearby
columnar jointings
of basalt make
long nails
on a black hand
of stone. So geologic
time countermands
cardinal death, natural
monuments displace
old sympathies.
We are fascinated
by the hexagonal shapes
molten rocks take
crystallizing when sea
meets lava. The colonnades
and entablatures
seem to bend in the
northern wind.
But nothing moves,
suspended by the sea,
earth’s parallels
with human catastrophes
at last make
translations unnecessary.

George Moore

Parable of an Old Country

It is nighttime in Budapest.  The plates under
the land are moving again.  We wrinkle
down the face of Fisherman’s Bastion
where the tourist crowd, one long lens,
points toward the Danube and the bank
beyond.  At night, the riverboats wheel
west toward Vienna or against the current,
Sulina and the Black Sea.  They are tiny
shoes under the moon-tealed flow.  On my
new desk you lined up my muse elephants
like  clay Rockettes, at whose end you sat
the Ohio buckeye I carried in my pocket
for the last four years.  It seems as unusual
here as I do.  Sometimes I feel I have nothing
left to say.  Sometimes my heart panics,
an outdated translation, and your foreign
words are the only words that will do.
The past is the old country for everyone.

Jessica M. Jewell

Zhu Tou

She calls me
zhu tou
and stares at me–
expecting an answer.
I blink,
lean closer.
“Zhu tou,” she says again,
pointing at me.
Am I supposed to know
what this means?
Did I learn it in class?
Did she teach it to me recently?
My smile is confusion.
I nod politely.
“You,” pointing at me,
“Zhu tou.”
What the fuck?
She explains:
It means
head of the pig.
I’m more confused.
Why is she
making fun of me?
She says it’s a cute name,
for very close friends
or more.
Well, that makes sense,
but I don’t like it.
It’s not a good name.
She looks confused now.
I explain:
I’m Jewish–
pigs aren’t kosher,
and “pig headed”
isn’t a good thing
in English.
She won’t call me
zhu tou again.

Matthew Lubin


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."

a

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