Contrappasso, Issue #6 – launching in September 2014

Cover image "DSC02603" (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

Cover image “DSC02603″ (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

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New Issue. New Authors. Contrappasso 6 is launching soon! This issue explores still more possibilities in international writing, bringing together work from nine countries in four languages, by more than twenty authors who are appearing in the journal for the first time.

Their work leads from snowy streets in Montana to packed train stations in Tokyo, from Hong Kong horse races to Sicilian passion-plays, from the Coal River Valley to Manila shopping malls, and from an iron lung to The Raft of the Medusa.

This issue features interviews with Australian poet Judith Beveridge, veteran American crime writer Lawrence Block and Filipino novelist Jose Dalisay. It presents new fiction by Japanese novelist Mitsuyo Kakuta (translated by Aoi Matsushima), Chilean Álvaro Bisama (translated by Megan McDowell) and from the USA, Jon A. Jackson and R. Zamora Linmark. The poets are Elizabeth Smither, Iain Britton and Stephen Oliver (New Zealand), Flora Delalande (France), Penny Florence (UK), Ouyang Yu (China/Australia) and Richard James Allen, Stuart Barnes, Jamie Grant, Siobhan Hodge, Frank Russo and Les Wicks (Australia).

Watch this website to sample the work this all-new ensemble of writers. They travel far.

The Editors

 

 

from Issue #4: Poetry by Chris Oakey

Photo (CC) Public Domain Review @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Public Domain Review @ Flickr

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Uprisings 

1

Dawn comes in and in
while we lie shuddering
in our uselessness.

…………(Something falls
…………in the heart. It is time
…………to stop, to act.)

Light splinters
on the backs of clouds,
tumbles
down to us like rain
and becomes politics.

…………Faces are cut into smiles.
…………Flesh is butchered from bones.

And so, lovers of the revolution
spread fierce happiness
in peaceful places, until not even love
survives.

.

2

We watch the gutters fill with smoke,
mixing ash with soil, leaves spreading their panic
along like Spanish fire-ships through an immense
new ocean.

………..The floor, she said, is lava. We tried leaping
………..but lost our legs on the old carpet.

Later, around a camp-fire, singing
songs that vanish from our mouths.

………..There is no peace, she said. If there were peace
………..there would have to be war. And there cannot be war.

The floor is lava, look. The roads are burning in the cities.

………..Can we forget ourselves, with enough
………..discourtesy
………..to become human?

She just laughed and said, keep jumping.
The fire is nothing here, our flesh
steaming around us……………bodies

……….catching light, riding into the air
……….as bonfire-sparks.

Between fire and the cold night of the stars.
When we fell, it was as water and ash, separate as steam
from smoke.

.

3

………..It took time and air, the
………..gentle nuzzling of new
………..leaves.

We stood amongst our belongings
looking around, breathing.
Nobody wanted to move.

We stared at the water, hands white with ash,
hardly daring to believe that we survived
the conflagration.

………..A wind blew up, swirling in from the west, so hard and green
………..that all that was not brick began to move, calm at first, whitened by fire,
………..rose with a half turn toward the water, skirts of dust

………..in hand, then
………..stepped
………..across the surface, crisp blue, and once there
………..vanished.

We remembered the shape we had held. We remembered
the fire and how it leapt between us. Being steam

was no great trouble. It was the light that came after
shattering our delicate forms. We crumbled
to calcium carbonate, calcium oxide.

……………………………….At night we shiver. Daylight bakes
……………………………….our cities away.

……………………………….She said, after this there will be no more need
……………………………….of fire. I smiled and held her

……………………………….while her body
……………………………….blew away.

 

*

 

1912

He sleeps through the night,
and holds

a dream of
ox-carts, and a cold
hard grave.

But the morning
wakes up sick,
and when the sun should

rise, a blizzard runs
red sunlight
on Antarctic snow.

………….-I am just going outside-

………………………………………………..It’s

golden, golden, golden
where the corpse should be.

………….-Snow through air
………….like shaken wheat-

‘I am just going outside
and may be some time.

.

~ ~ ~

.

…………..Sleep; until a rumble
…………..of sudden ice.

We float past many horrible goodbyes,
the quiet look of hope in the brave men’s eyes
as the wives are put into lifeboats.

……………………………………………………..-He stretches
……………………………………………………..a kiss, in his
……………………………………………………..pressed black suit;
……………………………………………………..his waistcoat
……………………………………………………..dangles
……………………………………………………..over black sea,

……………………………………………………..shining-

And
……later, in the tented dark,
we watch the reddened sweep of wind,

………….-the snow falls through
………….the air like husbands
………….through black water-
and
……then dawn, or searchlights
on the scattered waves.

…………Everything looks just

…………golden

…………where the
…………ship went
…………down.

For now we will huddle in the lee of waves
and wait for the sun, blood
red over peach-plum waters, quiet as
a candle through a depth of snow.

.

~ ~ ~

.

…………On both sides of the main gate
…………the doors stand wide, light
…………coursing into a courtyard
…………tiled with snow.

…………Before he gets
…………to the street he hears firing,
…………returns

………………….immediately and sees all the
family lying on the floor. The blood
running in streams.

………….(streaming)

Time passes, and a little tenderness
smothers each cruelty.
Freezing men in ox-carts
move over frozen fields to
where a pre-dug grave waits
between thin trees.
………….The stars poke
their noses through for a moment, and
afterwards there is a blizzard as the
clouds roll the night away like waves.
………….The maid
who had wheat in her pockets begins
to sprout,
………….the soil will rise up
……………………..golden
……………………..come the spring

.

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ABOUT THE POET

Christopher Oakey is a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, studying Modernist and Post-Modernist poetics in relation to the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Christopher recently completed a Masters degree research project on the poetic epistemologies of Hilda Doolittle and William Carlos Williams. Chris has also published poetry in multiple venues, including The Cordite Poetry ReviewTabula Rasa and Contrappasso 1 and 2.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Erin Martine Sessions

Photo (CC) Quinn Dombrowski @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Quinn Dombrowski @ Flickr

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Starfruit

I’m bruised by a memory of you: sitting
on the café porch, drinking bad coffee
and sharing your carambola, watching
characters from my next poem pass by.

Starry-eyed, they stare at the sea behind
us but they don’t see your withering glare.
What on earth do you want from me? I find
you flagrant so I contemplate tearing

this page, editing details, cutting you
out… I want the sea to swallow you whole,
as I eat your carambola. More fool you
because, although I won’t tell you, I know
that just like this devoured starfruit,
love’s balance lies in the ripeness and ruin.

 

 * 

 

Sometimes

Sometimes I’m convinced you’re a boy
– those small almost imperceptible fists
stretch at my stomach and annoy
my sides – sometimes I’m convinced.

“You’re a girl,” I insist
as you plié, jeté and enjoy
(just a little too much) dancing

atop my bladder. You must be a decoy,
I think, because now my poetry consists
of dislocated thoughts and lines I can’t deploy.
You take my creative spark – of that I’m convinced.

 

*

 

Roses & Salt

Left or right? Which side to sleep on? But,
of course, I won’t sleep. If I sleep I might find
myself in your rose garden. Dreams aren’t
a bad thing, but there is more than the weight

of roses in the air. Too many budding thoughts,
too many burgeoning petals and you are like
no thorn I have ever known. Which way will you face
reclining on your rose garden bench?

Looking away from me, you say
the roses are intoxicating. Wasted words
aren’t a bad thing, but there is more truth
in what is not said. Too many flowery words,

too many unwalked garden paths
and my waking is perennial.
Left or right? Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
When you sleep is there a rose garden?

Sleep isn’t a bad thing, but there are more
roses than I can prune. Too many leaves to collect,
too many scents to dream, too many stems to cut
and when we wake it has all turned to salt.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Erin Martine Sessions is a Sydney-based poet whose work has appeared in Australian Love Poems 2013Contrappasso, the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman prize anthology Long Glances, Sparks, and Swamp. She is a part-time librarian, part-time lecturer and always a poet.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Tegan Jane Schetrumpf

Photo (CC) Mat Hampson @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Mat Hampson @ Flickr

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Roving

The dull chock of carrots, free-wheeling
turmeric circles on the chopping board
say I am home again. The creaking of the eaves
against the retreating sky speak of cold windows,
the eyelash-and-louse tobacco loose
in the top-right-hand draw smells
like my father’s office, half a world of time away.
In the garden a lemon tree entwines
with my old cat, locking familiar elbows
with his grey bones. If time was a constant
and a life was a sausage, I would stretch
down the street where I have banged
shopping trolleys home with melting ice-cream,
to the lake where the rotting gums of the shore sprout
moustaches, across the ocean to grimy blue-ceramic alleys,
lipstick flowers, arched bridges, and back to the dark furls of the city’s
nightscape, flickering reptile tongues of light on the water.
But the knot would be thickest here, the house at the focus of this warm
borrowed intestine, protuberant with memories, this pretzel
of animal sacrifices.

 *

Conversations

…………………………………………………for Gwen Harwood

My favourite hausfrau,
you are richer than the amber fruits of morning
scented with pumpkins, violets
and the cream-and-honey
of Tasmanian gum-blossom.

Hope is what you trade in:
Soft mist.  Memories playing by the hearth.
And in that warm room
friendships with the timbre of aged wine.

I sympathise
with the rumours of your courtly loves.
They recommend to me your character.

Like me, you need
zephyrs of music, mythic maidenhair gardens
conversations with Donne
and Wittgenstein and other wits.

You know by sight
the lion-grooms, the cobblestones
hobbled in blood, the dim red glow
of sunsets which throw
the shadow of the scythe
on everything beautiful and brief.

Even with this rich tapestry
woven at your fingertips, you are
unsatisfied.

………………………The tincture of night is regret.

There is hope in your voice;
a twin note is doubt. I hear “Is this enough?”
Fear that
ripeness is saccharine. What if you died lonely,
disenchanted, as I might?

The world is not ready to feed
a woman with appetite.

Mother who gave us life
forgive us the wisdom
we would not learn from you.

*

Mr Poppins

………………………….after Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The World’s Wife’

It’s true what they say:
you can’t keep a good woman down.
I know I can’t keep up with her –
governessing is a fast-growth industry.

She’s always running
her immaculate glove over potential-dust-mite-caches
analysing cough syrup, or deconstructing
the menagerie in her suitcase.

Saturday, she and Mrs Banks
Take Back the Night. Monday
she minds a Punjabi Sikh’s daughter. The first half of Tuesday’s
the boy with two daddies. That afternoon
is the lad with autism. When I quiz her
about the rest of her week
she quips
about linear Western thought –
pats me on the head like a kid.

Don’t get me wrong –
we still have the occasional tea-party
on the ceiling. But if I suggest
jumping into a chalk picture
for old time’s sake, she sighs:
“So retro sixties passé.”

And supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Gets me nowhere.

I’ve tried to commiserate with Mr Banks,
but he doesn’t like to mingle
with the help; grudgingly hands me a cigar
through the veranda door.

Most evenings I go home early. There’s no button
in the elevator for our floor,
something about the poetics of space
– we had to pay extra for it.

Our apartment brims
with IKEA flat packs: ALӒNGS,
KARLSTADS and HATTENS.
She leaves them for me
to piece together with an Allen key.

I can’t complain.
With the money she’s earning,
I haven’t been near a chimney for years.

When the lady of the house returns,
she puts down her Louis Vuitton purse, fluffs out
her umbrella. I take her coat,
shake her a dry martini.

I say “Do you remember dear, that song
about feeding the birds
you sang when we first met?”

She eats the olive, drains the glass and tells me
“Cryptococcus is spread by pigeon shit.”

*

ABOUT THE POET

Tegan Jane Schetrumpf writes poetry, essays and creative non-fiction. Published in Wet Ink, Swamp, Theory of Everything, Southerly, Meanjin and Antipodes, she was shortlisted for the 2013 Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Poetry Prize and will be included in its upcoming anthology. She has a Masters of Letters in Creative Writing and is currently undertaking postgraduate research at Sydney University into the turn of the 21st Century and its effect on Australian poetry.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Phillip A. Ellis

Photo (CC) neueweide @ Flickr

Photo (CC) neueweide @ Flickr

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After a Shower

After a shower, when refreshed, and you enter
the main room where a fire is burning, you turn on
the radio, and listen to folk music
from Canada, and imagine the people.

You drink from a glass of red wine, are happy
enough to be content, and open
a paperback, but not read Erica Jong, but wander
in your mind as you linger, gaze at the open fire.

In another year you will do something similar,
with a tv set with Dorothy L. Sayers,
the one where they find the Russian dead,
and in doing so, you find yourself,

and you do not consider the winter, gone now,
and you do not consider whether you have surrendered.

.

*

 .

The Drowning City

It will rain for a million years,
if not now then some moment nearby,
the daily stormclouds risen high
into the atmosphere, with thunder.

The city’s easily cowed beneath
the breath of water, saying prayers
that even I am not so willing
to say, not in this age or aeon.

.

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ABOUT THE POET

Phillip A. Ellis is a freelance critic, poet and scholar, and his poetry collection, The Flayed Man, has been published by Gothic Press. He is working on another collection, to appear through Diminuendo Press. Another collection has been accepted by Hippocampus Press, which has also published his concordance to the poetry of Donald Wandrei. He is the editor of Melaleuca. He has recently had Symptoms Positive and Negative a chapbook of poetry, and Arkham Monologues, a poetry pamphlet, published. His website is http://www.phillipaellis.com/

from Issue #4: Poetry by Morris Lurie

 

Photo (CC) Rob Deutscher @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Rob Deutscher @ Flickr

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In the House of Broken Sticks

1.

In the house of broken sticks
I am placed opposite
a ninety-seven-year-old Scot
who was doing well until the
damn stroke
thin fellow
hollow cheeked
two pairs of fine leather shoes by the side of his bed
brown brogues
walking shoes
stand at attention
I watch him pushing his electric shaver over the
memorised cragscape of his face
a flick of careful comb to arrange his hair
similarly remembered
no need of mirror
a son visits
the conversation is necessarily shouted
details
arrangements
what comes next
to his name
a form being filled
he adds the word esquire
and is it me
only me
in the silence of the ward
at four o’clock in the morning
who hears his sudden shout
in apropos response or reaction to God only knows
exactly what
of fuck
and then nothing
that’s it.
.
.
2.

Breakfast is difficult
this is the bed to my left
a white-haired woman of style
because it was always just coffee
and a cigarette
which habit became quit when
she fell out of that cab
onto her coccyx
which never mind whatever pain
add the addiction to nicotine
being suffered in anyhow outer silence
but if you’ve been there
and who hasn’t
you’ll know
the back of her is all bone
whatever she wears
cloth in uninterrupted vertical fall
the pain of no meat
but I am pleased to see
first on her bed
and then around her
a silk dressing gown
of the most lustrous red
which says
never mind now
this is me
how I am
remember.
.
.
3.

Pain beyond description
comes across from the opposite corner
to sit for a moment on my bed
don’t know what it was he says
out of nowhere
no one did
he’s eighty-two
button eyes above a beard
wife in every day to visit
its nice to see how they sit together
facing bookends
no need of many words
now it’s the bladder
which seems to have forgotten
if I have it correctly
its proper business of emptying
without shall we say encouragement
which it has to do
four days in a row
before they’ll let him go home
and then it does
he’s astounded
he tells me the amount.
.
.
4.

Rehab begins with a listing of goals
resumption of social life
shopping
the daily (let’s be modest) half-hour walk
all written down before the first instruction
which is along the corridor to that column
there and back
let’s see how you go
six minutes
good
now let’s go inside
twice a week is the arrangement
an hour each time
a part of me each time watching the clock to be done
another part trying not
as you’ll understand
and it’s not many sessions before the faces
of familiarity return your nod
and I can’t tell you the warmth
I am here for a pinned hip
but no matter no different
however the cause whatever done
in this commonality of fracture
how we mend and weld.
.

*
.

.
The Chips

The plan was that country town bookshop
of previous success and ever possibility
Anthony Powell (the early ones) Nabokov Sylvia Townsend Warner
who knows what which is half of it
except a killing clatter alarming the engine
pitched me into the stale smoke smell of a farmhouse
to use if I could their phone
which got me eventually a rope tow
frightening experience
cocky driver
bendy road
to a garage who couldn’t do it
a cemetery a railway station a sandwich
another hour before I’m winched this time
onto a flat-bed truck
to where I was going in the first place
where it’ll be three o’clock before we can look at it
come back then.

It’s most of a mile to the bookshop
down the hill by the lake
where the owner is unfortunately away
but I spend a pleasant time with his son
talking browsing reconsidering the Faulkner biography
(two volumes) I said no to this time and nearly do this time
but don’t
and it’s still just barely two
so I hike up to the botanic gardens on the hill
mooch around read the labels admire the view
to get back to my car finally undone
two mechanics bending like heart surgeons inspecting the valves
the part will take two weeks
better phone first.

So again I’m waiting
this time for the country bus
which when it comes wends and winds like gossip down green lanes
dropping parcels picking up passengers exchanging news and chat
to the railway station into town
a plain passenger now where I started out the day my own man
totally as I thought in charge
watching the landscape out the window growing darker by the minute
unrolling its ribbon past
and when we arrive and I get out what I feel like is a Chinese meal
at the other end of town
where I run
and enjoy
and then grab a cab home
nine o’clock
a whiskey required to put the brakes on at last
wow what a day.

Of which particular occurrence I am put in mind
amongst other occasions
like now
split hip
forced inactivity
rehab
pain
how the spirit comes to the boil
like unwatched milk on the stove
when the chips are down
because otherwise
what.

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ABOUT THE POET

Morris Lurie, to his horror and amazement, finds himself suddenly seventy-five years old.  Where, mere moments ago, he was at Thos Cook in Tangier unwrapping the brown-paper parcel of his first book, Rappaport.  Some three dozen or so others seem to have accrued since – novels, stories, pieces, children’s books. Flying Home, Madness, The Twenty-Seventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race.  His autobiography, Whole Life, won the Bicentennial Banjo Award. Hergesheimer in the Present Tense, a kind of novel in thirty hybrid chapters or stories, is imminent. He has been honoured with the Patrick White Award and a noisy granddaughter.  His love of jazz is unabated.  He lives and works where he was born, in Melbourne.

from Issue #4: Poetry by John Leonard

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr

Photo (CC) David Masters @ Flickr

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A second exile

Into exile again—after months
Of darkness and fear in the dungeons,
The brief clamour of the trial,
Then the endless, jolting cartride,
Cursing of the guards’ detail, the freezing rain,
The helpless poverty of the flat,
Treeless land, dusty towns,
The shouts of the children, mocking
The criminal in his wooden cage,

And after the sea-crossing, bright sun,
And scudding wind on the island,
Heather and thrift bending on the slopes,
Larks rising from gorse, Atlantic storms
And calm, the kitchen garden
He must tend, with welcome greens
Harvested in any month, the slow,
Aged talk of the veterans of the guard—
He had never left this home.

.

*

A reviewer

He owed no favours, and called
On none; he had no axe,
Political or religious, to swing:
He reviewed because he had the knack.

He could take a book, skim it,
And from any angle tell where
And how it failed the way—
This, without knowing the way.

.

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ABOUT THE POET

John Leonard was born in the UK and came to Australia in 1991. He has a PhD from the University of Queensland and was poetry editor of Overland from 2003 to 2007. He has four collections of poetry, the most recent being A Spell, A Charm (2014). His book The Way of Poetry (2010) considers poetry in the context of Daoism. www.jleonard.net

from Issue #4: Poetry by Joe Dolce

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Biodiversity Heritage Library @ Flickr

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Horsewitch

…………………….Fan I begood my craft they passed me neth the horse’s belly,
…………………….An’ ower his back, an’ tween his legs an’ oot aneth his taillie.
………………………………………………………………………………….William Christie

The first Horseman was said to have been Cain
Xenophon 300 BCE stressed operant conditioning for vicious
intractable behavior due to abuse or accidental trauma
horse whispering known simply as natural horsemanship
abused animals like abused children trust no one expect the worst
reassurance over punishment premise that teaching through pain and fear
does not result in best outcome rather patience leadership compassion firmness
The Society of the Horseman’s Word
eighteenth century Scottish secret society trade union
horse trainers blacksmiths ploughmen
magical rituals to provide abilities to control both horses and women
with a single Horseman’s Wird
horsemen with powers called Horsewitches
descended from pagan cults once persecuted in witch trials
the whisperers’ secret phrase of power: sic iubeo – ‘thus I command’
a Horsewitches’ two fetishes
the milt – fibrous matter from the tongue of a colt still
in its mare’s womb swallowed when born
old horsemen careful to extract it immediately after birth
the frog’s bone – fresh killed toad left on whitethorn bush
once hard and dry buried in anthills a month
until only skeleton tossed onto full moon running stream
little crotch bone separating itself floating
against the current this bone was kept
initiation rituals reading passages from the Bible backwards
oaths gestures passwords a handshake
stench of sulphur and alarming noises heralding
the arrival of the Devil
blindfolded initiates directed to shake His hand
grasped a cold wet hoof.

*

Dodo

Raphus cucullatus
common name simpleton
related to dodaars meaning fat-arse or knot-arse
flightless bird of Nazareth
weighing in at fifty pounds goose-big
legs and feet like turkey chicks
nine-inch swollen bill with hooked point
tuft of curly light feathers on rear end
first eaten in Mauritius by hungry Dutch sailors
who called it walghvogel wallow bird
loathsome bird due to taste
two-note pigeony doo-doo warble
faithful to one partner throughout life
ate fruit fish laid a single egg large as a penny bun
swallowed nutmeg-size stones for digestion
war-weapon was a fierce mouth bite but
rats pigs monkeys made short work of them
completely fearless of people gentle spirited
human-made extinct within 80 years of discovery
(although in 1678 extinction not believed
possible for religious reasons) took the Calveria tree
with it whose spread depended on seeded-feces
Lewis Carroll’s famous stammer
was represented by one in Alice
the writer often announcing himself
by his true name: Charles Lutwidge Do-do-dodgson!

*

Cordite Brisance

Sir James Dewar made the thermos flask
to aid him in his work with liquid gas
while looking for a gunpowder substitute
he came upon a combination he thought could do it
the Queen’s Knight Scot from Kincardine
mixed guncotton nitroglycerine and Vaseline
rather than a supersonic detonation
his stuff produced a subsonic deflagration
extruded in spaghetti-like rods and worms
smokeless cord powder packed and formed
around trigger mechanisms that keyed and armed
the Hiroshima Little Boy Bomb
but disputing a chemical patent impingement
Alfred Nobel sued Dewar for infringement
the House of Lords and Court of Appeals
judged against Sir James’ protests and squeals
vitriol name-calling bad blood and lies
was probably why: no Nobel Prize.

*

Don Diego’s Accordion

I quit childhood accordion lessons
due to a time conflict with Zorro
my favourite b & w tv show of the 50s
three slashes of sword
whishhht! whishhht! whishhht!
like the sign of the cross
cut a Z into many young hearts
I hung up the rapier and bullwhip
shortly after George W Bush was run
out of town on the back of El Toro
but occasionally don the black cape and mask
to help local townspeople
with corrupt politicians and greedy landowners
and for infrequent shopping mall appearances
Zorro Spanish for fox pronounced soro
credited with inspiration
by their respective creators
for The Lone Ranger and Batman
whereas the accordion inspired
the blind and the file
I think I made the right choice.

*

ABOUT THE POET

Joe Dolce was born in Painesville, Ohio, USA, in 1947. He moved to Australia in 1979, becoming a citizen in 2004. He is known for the most successful song in Australian music history, Shaddap You Face, Number One on the pop charts in fifteen countries and the record-holder for the largest selling single in Australian music history for 33 years. Over the past twenty years he has achieved award-winning recognition as songwriter, composer, poet and essayist.  He has set fifteen poems of C.P Cavafy to music and works by Sappho, Sylvia Plath, Les Murray, Ali Cobby Eckermann and others. He won the Launceston Poetry Cup, at the 25th Tasmanian Poetry Festival, in 2010. He has had poetry and essays published in Quadrant, Monthly, PEN (in English/Arabic translation), Meanjin, Etchings, Overland, Cordite, Journey, Carmenta, Vine Leaves, Australian Love Poems 2013, Eye of the Telescope (sci-fi) and Antipodes (USA). He lives in Carlton, Victoria.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Mikhail Yeryomin, translated by J. Kates

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

.

J. Kates’ translations of Mikhail Yeryomin’s Selected Poems 1957-2009 was awarded the 2013 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation and will be published this year by White Pine Press. Here, Mikhail Yeryomin’s original Russian appears in black and J. Kates’ English translations in blue.

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Святым Его Евангелием и животворящим
Крестом …» — становится свидетелем аблактировки
Инфинитива и супина.) сходство
С полузатопленным челном и средним членом
Сравненья мышц стрижа с пружиною зажима,
Забытого на бельевой веревке, обретает.

……………………………………………………………………1977

-

A settlement (In twilight a fog similar
To the protosubstantive: the observer — “before
His Holy Gospel and life-giving
Cross . . .” becomes a witness of the ablactation
Of the infinitive and the supine.) is a simulacrum
of a kindled canoe and the middling member
of the comparison of a martin’s muscles with an elastic clamp,
forgotten on a linen rope, found.

…………………………………………………………………….1977

 

*

 

Повилика, прильнувшая к стеблю,
Бледный витень, чье тело длиной с его жизнь —
Дериват ли от vita? Гаплоия
Композиты из vita  и тень?
Или плеть? Аксельбант родовитого льна
Или ядопровод? Или тирса лоза? Или —
« . . . The laws impressed on matter by the Creator . . .»
Селекционерская гордость Мойр?

………………………………………………………………..1977

Гаплогия — гаплология.
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

-

A dodder clinging tightly to its stem,
Pallid viten, a body long as its life —
Does it derive from vita? Haplogy
Compounded from vita and tenebræ?
Or a lash? An aiguilette of aristocratic flax
Or a poison duct? Or a vine of thyrsus? Or —
. . . the laws impressed on matter by the Creator…”
The selectionist pride of the three Fates?

………………………………………………………………….1977

Haplogy = haplology
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

.

*

.

Сомкнула веки. Не вступать, а погружаться
В сокрытый ими сад. Деревья —
Еще не алфавит, уже не древние аллеи текста.
Любовь — еще вторая изгородь. Движенье —
Уже не ноша, но еще не ниша.

Не словом открывают губы
Лучистый взгляд жемчужин
Над моим лицом.

…………………………………………………….1978

-

She closed her eyelids. Not to step into, but be plunged
Into a garden hidden beneath them. The trees
Not yet alphabet, now no longer ancient alleys of text.
Love is still a second hedge. Movement
No longer burdensome, but even less a burrow.

Lips do not discover with a word
The radiant appearance of pearls
Over my face.

………………………………………………………1978

.

*

.

Пир августа. Азычество лампасов и лампад.
Ватрушка — в каждом угольке готовый вспыхнуть
Зеленым пламенем творожный язычок —
Подсолнуха. Стручок гороха скалит зубы,
Расколотый, изогнутый древнейшей шуткой
Равновеликости на взглял с земли
Луны и соднца. Платье юной горожанки —
Поблекший крапп, полегший лен.

…………………………………………………………..1979

-

Feast of August. Aborigin of trouser-stripes and icon-lamps.
Cheesecake — in each corner ready to flare up
A little cottage-cheese tongue like a green flicker —
Sunflowers. A peapod bares its teeth,
Disruptive, twisted like an ancient joke
Equivalence in looking from the earth
Moon and sun. The dress of a young townswoman —
Withering madder, flattened flax.

……………………………………………………………1979

.

*

.

Следить бег низких облаков
И пресмыкание далекой электрички. Pópulus Vulgaris
Толпой (Избранничество — не искус ли?)
И вдоль дорог выстраивается. Прониккнуть
Ленотром или (Оттиск аватары
На глине или благодать?) Алкидом —
Одна двенадцатая дюжины побед —
В усадьбу Гесперид?

……………………………………………………………1985

Ленотр — Версальский парк, Фоненбло и т. д.

-

To follow the races of low clouds
And the reptilian crawl of a distant  train. Pópulus Vulgaris
En masse (Isn’t a referendum a temptation?)
And alongside, the construction of roads. To penetrate
By means of Le Nôtre or (The Impression of an avatar
In clay, or a blessing?) with Alcides —
One twelfth of a dozen victories —
In the Garden of the Hesperides?

…………………………………………………………….1985

Le Nôtre — The park at Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.

.

*

.

Оставив девочек в декокте мелководья, девой
Явиться из ребра вольны.
Бесследно отмель миновав, на берег
Взойти — разводистые лунки
По ситцу. Грудь и бедра
(У кончика ноги цветущий подорожник.)
Оправить вязкой сетью.
И множиться в зрачках и на устах.

………………………………………………………………………1987

-

Girls left in a decoction of shallows, a virgin
Emerges from the edge of a wave.
Without leaving a trace in the sand, to climb up
On the berm — discolored openings
In the chintz. Breast and thigh
(A plantain flowering at the stem of her leg,)
Set right in an intractable net.
Burgeoning deep in the eyes and on the lips.

……………………………………………………………………….1987

.

*

.

Владеть устами — навык или дар,
Когда молчание билабиальней речи? Окольцовывать
(Orbicularis oris) или отвергать.
А гений, ставший на крыло
(Лазоревые кроющие перья, маховые —
Пребелые.), не зависает ли,
Быв удостоен невесомым «Ах!» меж алых семядолей,
Их разомкунувшим?

……………………………………….1992

-

Is it skill or a gift to govern the lips
When silence is more bilabial than speech? To band
(Orbicularis oris) or to turn away.
And genius, on the wing
(Sky-blue covering feathers beating
Blindingly white.) hovering, yes?
With an earned, weightless “Ah!” among scarlet cotyledons
It had dispersed?

………………………………………1992

*

ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

Mikhail Fyodorovich Yeryomin, born in 1936, is a poet, playwright and a translator, who saw few of his poems published in his homeland during the Soviet period. Instead, his work — consistently in eight-line stanzas rich with allusive scientific and linguistic byplay — appeared in émigré journals like Kontinent and Ekho. The first volume of his poems (in Russian) was published in the United States in 1986, and then in 1991 in Moscow. Each book is a cumulative addition to and a selection from previous work, and each carries the same title: Stikhotvorenia (Poems). In English translation, his poems have appeared in Fjords ReviewThe Hawai’i ReviewNaked PunchParthenon WestStandTwo Lines, and in the anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts. J. Kates’ translations of Yeryomin’s selected poems won the Cliff Becker Book Prize this year and will be published by White Pine Press in 2014. The poet lives in St. Petersburg.

J. Kates a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Hong Ying 虹影 translated by Mabel Lee 陈顺妍

Photo (CC) Laiwan Ng @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Laiwan Ng @ Flickr

.

Home of darkness  /  黑暗的家

I see low stairs
Stretch out under his feet….a brain planning travel
And skeletons poking out everywhere
Thinking to regret is easier than not making a mistake
He takes out a piece of paper

A piece of very crumpled paper
He of course has passed through many cities
Stirred the hearts of many women
….I hear steamboats on the Yangtze

Blasts of whistles fill the air…..rejecting the deceit
Or maybe colluding with him to end
This part of history

Being faithful is harder than loving…..what I have to say
Must cut through the misty Yangtze
Until after these trees turn to red

I am an artist in depravity
And have not known good luck for a long time
Ultimately he will engrave my face with his dagger

Before swallowing the piece of paper…..moreover—

.

*

.

Plan to write someone’s biography  /  准备为一个人写传

Didn’t think he was this ready to act. Had I known
I wouldn’t be standing in the rain clutching an umbrella
The rain is heavy, because he is coming towards me
His face shrouded in a special

Calm. If the rain stops now
I’ll lower my head
Crouch down, and let the bottom of his coat
Brush the top of my head. The roses he is holding
Will instantly transform into scattered islands

I’m certain once he’s in the white car
It will cross the warning line
And like a tongue, wrap around the corner light post
Swallowing it. He will make me lose my umbrella
Lose my scarf, and shiver with excitement    it’s true, it’s true

He’s just a bit braver than me in going ahead. The white car
And all around it is heavy with blood
Making all the lines of my palms jump wildly. He and I
What went wrong? This is just the incomplete first chapter

.

*

 .

Dreaming of Beijing  /  梦北京

It is all rotting cabbages
That can drown every one of my dreams
A hedgehog carefully makes its way across
The vanishing city wall
And sees us sisters hugging and weeping

Our lungs
Are always wrapping around men’s lies and sex organs
I turn
Confront my mother to her face
She walks away alone
We sisters will open our beautiful mouths before we die
And spit out one man after another

.

*

.

Train / 火车

I have raised my head from the sea more than once to watch how the train runs
over my body
At night in dream, it continues to rumble along
Taking away people I know
But thinking about it now, why are they unfamiliar?
I am submerged in the sea
A sea deeper than a city that vanished long ago
But a fish prefers being here
She says in February, the wind whinnies like a horse
She says in May, the horse is like brocade cushions and silk
But none is hers

The passengers wearing masks that are modern and trendy
Mix with festival revellers, taking away my suffering
But not leaving me any joy
I am alone in the sea
Sinking, persist in sinking
I hear fish whisper: go ashore, why worry about being caught
I suddenly remember, I’ve been dead for many years
And my skull has gradually turned blue

.

*

.

The black and white of eyes  /  眼睛的黑白

A chastity belt the crowd hangs on a tree…..adds weight to it
Light as a bundle of nerves, it is heavy like a demon staff
Under the tree I repeat a dance step, then a look of the eye
You and I unluckily entered an episode of a novel
Flowing water never fouls, and green mountains stay green
That’s one way of putting it
Another way of putting it is
Good or evil in our hearts is linked to the food we eat
And not the equivalent of our memories

I sent the cat to look for any trace of you
But there was no news all summer
When the cat’s paws were etched with your name
It said, no, no
Her eyes brimming with tears
Also one summer, I wrote in a book what the cat had said
Who wins or loses? Like a stinking fish
A cruel white, colonizes the eyes of those in the crowd
I lost because I buried myself under the tree

.

*

.

I am also called Salammbo  /  我也叫萨朗波

Nobody remembers me, but it doesn’t matter
No sign of the carriage that left long ago
And the whiplashes also stopped hurting long ago
Loving someone
Turns into a dream
A greater void than having no dreams

I am dead
And know nothing
Beauty ends like that, and the times end like that
On the sea today no birds can be seen
Give me a glass of red wine
And give me an apple
Salammbo is just a name

None of you is good-hearted
You look at clouds, forgetting how to look at them
How geometric shapes fold
How a person is made to vanish
I remember him coming to me
And saying, look at my eyes

They were full of lust, full of sad songs
He closed his eyes
And they were icy cold
But when my lips touched them they burned like fire
Yes indeed, now he is a good person

.

*

ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

Hong Ying 虹影 (b. 1962 Chongqing, China) began her writing career as a poet during the early 1980s in China. After relocating to London in 1990 she continued to publish poetry as well as short-story collections and novels in rapid succession. To date she has written twelve novels in Chinese, some of which have been published in many languages and made into TV series or films. She is best known in the English-speaking world for her novels Summer of Betrayal, Daughter of the River and K: The Art of Love. Her autobiographical novel Daughter of the River has been translated into thirty languages, and K: The Art of Love won the Premio Letterario Rome award in 2005. Her four poetry collections include Quick, Run Eclipse (1999) and I am also called Salammbo (2013). Hong Ying now lives in Beijing and Italy.

Mabel Lee 陈顺 PhD FAHA (b. 1939, Warialda NSW, Australia) is adjunct professor at the University of Sydney, after serving on the academic staff for 34 years. From the early 1980s until 2000, she was assistant editor of the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (JOSA) and co-editor of the University of Sydney East Asian Series. Her translations include three titles by Yang Lian, winner of the Flaiano International Poetry Prize in 1999: Masks and Crocodile (1990), The Dead in Exile (1990) and Yi (2002); and five titles by 2000 Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian: Soul Mountain (2000), One Man’s Bible (2002), Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather (2004), The Case for Literature (2006) and Aesthetics and Creation (2012). She began publishing translations of Hong Ying’s poetry in 1999, and thirty new poems will be included in Hong Ying, Zhai Yongming and Yang Lian (forthcoming 2013).