from Issue #8: Poetry by Alicia Aza, translated by J. Kates

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr

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Read Alicia Aza’s original Spanish, then J. Kates’ English translations in blue.

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La golondrina merodea entre el magnolio

En la penumbra de los días
se desvanece lo vivido
en los misteriosos susurros
lento marchitar de las flores.
Tus labios, sépalos robustos
que dulcifican la sonrisa
de un cáliz poseedor de néctar,
se condensan en mi memoria.
Mientras me esfuerzo en ser corola
alentadora de suspiros
muestro los colores de un ave
cuyo nombre tú me ensañaste.
Negro, azul, blanco, trilogía
de la noche aterida y mansa
cuando sólo es una mañana
apaciguada de domingo.

The swallow swoops among the magnolia

In the twilight of days
animation vanishes
in mysterious whispers
a slow withering of flowers.
Your lips, robust sepals
that sweeten the smile
of a calyx filled with nectar,
tighten in my memory.
While I strive to be a corolla
encouraging sighs,
I show off the colors of a bird
whose name you taught me.
Black, blue, white, trilogy
of a quiet and frozen night
when it is only a Sunday
morning at peace.

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Las sendas del olvido

     (Der Hölle Rache)

La gota de té desdibuja
las letras que me nombran a Montaigne.

Y me hablas de un anhelo
como la gota aclara
el rojo que discurre
por el libro de lágrimas
que ha de quemar mi rostro.

Canta la Reina de la Noche.

Y así comienza otra mañana
que haré cruzar hacia el olvido.

Paths of oblivion

       (Der Hölle Rache)

The drop of tea blurs
the letters that read Montaigne to me.

And you are telling me about a longing
as the drop clarifies
the red that runs
through the book of tears
that will burn my face.

The Queen of the Night is singing.

And so begins another morning
I’ll cross over into oblivion.

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Restos de un alga

(Nelly Sachs pasea por la playa en Malmö)

Las vueltas de la vida van y vienen
las busco, me doblegan, me perturban
bailo con ellas, me abrazan y escapan.

Agitadas regresan de las rocas
con una turbulencia indefinida
de ardientes espirales que traicionan.

Fluyen mareas en la dulce noche
del renovado bosque de armonía,
y el frescor reconforta y nos seduce
como ríos de quietudes afligidas.

El cielo gris del mar bravío
tienta a las olas en la orilla
de los límites de mi esencia.

Busca mis peces de colores
pósate en mi cálida arena
girando alrededor del ancla
que firme me amarra a la vida.

Remains of seaweed

(Nelly Sachs walks along the beach in Malmö)

The turns of life come and go
I look for them, they twist back and torment me
I dance with them, they embrace me and flee.

They come back in a lather from the rocks
with an indefinite turbulence
of treasonous fiery spirals.

The tides ebb and flow in the sweet night
of a renewed woodland harmony,
the fresh air comforts and seduces us
like rivers of distressed quiet.

The gray sky of the rough sea
tempts the waves on the shore
of the limits of my being.

Seek out my fish of many colors
rest in my warm sand
circling around the anchor
that moors me safely to life.

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El silencio de un lirio blanco

En el silencio de una noche
señora de dos lunas propias
nuestras palabras alumbraban
un luminoso lirio blanco.

Otro silencio nuevo acude
a nombrarme con el mutismo
de unas viejas botas expuestas
con sucios cordones y pliegues
que desprenden aroma usado.

Todo remite a narraciones
con protagonistas ausentes.

Me convertiste en personaje
y con la calma del silencio
pude aprender ante el espejo
la dicción de aquel lirio blanco.

The silence of a white lily

In the silence of one night
mistress of two appropriate moons
our words have illuminated
a luminous white lily.

Another new silence turns
to naming me with the wordlessness
of some old boots gaping
with dirty laces and creases
that reek of second-hand.

Everything goes back to stories
with absent heroes.

You turned me into a character
and with calm of silence
in front of a mirror I was able to learn
the way that white lily speaks.

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ABOUT THE POET

ALICIA AZA is a lawyer and a poet, born in 1966 and living in Madrid, who has published three books: El Libro de los árboles (2010) which was a finalist for the Andalusia Critics award; El Viaje del invierno (2011) which won the “Rosalia de Castro” International Poetry award;  and Las Huellas fértiles (2014).

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

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from Issue #2: Poetry by Chris Andrews

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Photo (CC) Takver @ Flickr

Spring, Regardless

Spring: the litter traps in the river are full.
Sleeping streets given over to blackbird song.
It helps them to mate but why should I like it?
Perhaps because they will go on regardless
like Salvador Allende’s German Shepherd
suckling her litter on a couch and no doubt
defending it too, from soldiers and neighbours,
in the looted presidential residence,
while the tranquil metal of her master’s voice
began its historic voyage. September:
a scent of pittosporum drifts. September:
a pied butcher bird reinventing the song
much admired in European theatres,

transcending its hatred of kookaburras
and the ugly but sensible shrike habit
of impaling, perfectly indifferent to
the wild evolution of human music,
which media empires can only pursue
and exploit, as devoid of initiative
as the armed forces in a world far away
at the end of wide, poplar-lined avenues.

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Mateship

Was it eupepsia? I wasn’t thinking:
Why does everything have to be such a rush.
Or the mottled weather? I wasn’t even
wondering how indignant to be about what
when the media and self-interest provide
reasons to keep me indignant all the time.
Walking to the station, I had a vague sense
of what it might mean to feel real affection
for the things — the patterns of energy-stuff  —
in the world, and, being one such or many
myself, to adjust them here and there in right
but unnecessary ways. The shadow-pools
in the street seemed continuous with a night

like a party spilling from a mansion split
into flats along a canal, an open-
ended night full of divergent adventures,
novelty lamps, doors ajar, strange languages
and splashes. Then a vaguely familiar guy
with his elbows out came up to me and said
“Usually I think, Life will sort you out, mate,
but this time it looks like life has to be me.”

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The End (I)

As the credits rolled minor conflicts arose
between those who wanted to leave straight away
and those who wanted to return gradually
from fiction. Some were already sharpening
inappellable sentences while others
were embarrassed or grateful to discover
that aging had given them readier tears.
The world was waiting outside with its weather
(local thunderstorms), its news (a gold rush hour
on the stock exchange), its extras streaming past,
each a turbulent world of thought and feeling,
its livid blue neon lettering against
a pink bench of cloud rifting how far away?

The projectionist emerged from his cabin.
He knew there would be no safe way to confirm
his wild guesses at the content streaming through
the mind of a freshly employed usherette
who could have gone home already but remained
sponging Monstera deliciosa leaves
to a deeper green gloss in the dim foyer
of a memory cinema lost in the rain.

ABOUT THE POET

Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney. His second book of poems, Lime Green Chair, was published by Waywiser in 2012. He has translated books of fiction by Latin American writers, including César Aira’s Varamo (Giramondo, 2012) and Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (New Directions, 2003).