Posts tagged ‘2009’

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Russian God by Pyotr Andreyevich Vyazemsky

Do you need an explanation
what the Russian god can be?
Here’s a rough approximation
as the thing appears to me.

God of snowstorms, god of potholes,
every wretched road you’ve trod,
coach-inns, cockroach haunts, and rat holes,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of frostbite, god of famine,
beggars, cripples by the yard,
farms with no crops to examine,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of breasts and…all sagging,
swollen legs in bast shoes shod,
curds gone curdled, faces dragging,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of brandy, pickle vendors,
those who pawn what serfs they’ve got,
of old women of both genders,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of medals and of millions,
god of yard-sweepers unshod,
lords in sleighs with two postilions,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

Fools win grace, wise men be wary,
there he never spares the rod,
god of everything contrary,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of all that gets shipped in here,

unbecoming, senseless, odd,
god of mustard on your dinner,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of foreigners, whenever
they set foot on Russian sod,
god of Germans, now and ever –
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.


Date: 1828 (original in Russian); 2009 (translation in English)

By: Pyotr Andreyevich Vyazemsky (1792-1878)

Translated by: Alan Myers (1933-2010)

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Bushfire Elegy by Joel Deane

And the world is fire.
And the sky wears a smoky veil.
And the bloodshot sun stares.

Can no longer comprehend the language
of the land—
charcoal trees, dirt rivers, ash mountains;
molten buildings, skulled cars, silent towns.

Can only see a country burned into the shape
of words
both beautiful and terrible

being the harmony of voices
that are people and places

being the dissonant roar
that is the call of wild fire.

And some words have never been heard before.
And some words can never be heard again.
And some words must never be heard again.


Date: 2009

By: Joel Deane (1969- )

Monday, 23 December 2019

Letter Spoken in Wind by Rachel Galvin

Today we walked the inlet Nybøl Nor
remembering how to tread on frozen snow.
Ate cold sloeberries

that tasted of wind—a white pucker—
spat their sour pits in snow. Along
the horizon, a line of windmills dissolved

into a white field. Your voice
on the phone, a gesund auf dein keppele
you blessed my head. Six months now

since I’ve seen you. There are
traces of you here, your curls still dark
and long, your woven dove,

the room you stayed in: send your syllables,
I am swimming below the tidemark.
Words shed overcoats, come

to me undressed, slender-limbed, they have no
letters yet. It is the festival
of lights, I have no

candles. I light one for each night,
pray on a row
of nine lighthouses.


Date: 2009

By: Rachel Galvin (1972- )

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

At the Gate by Henrik Nordbrandt

In the dream
at the gate to your grave
you stopped me
with the same words
I had spoken in a dream
where I died before you

so now I can no longer dream.

Rusty, and on squeaky hinges
all the gates I have ever
seen, heard, or described
closed one by one
under a grey sky.

That is all there was
in my mind, earth.

What can I say about the world
in which your ashes sit in an urn
other than that?

On every trip you stay ahead of me.
On platforms I see your footprints in fresh snow.
When the train starts to move
you jump out of the back carriage

to reach the next station ahead of me.

Outside the small towns with their sleepy street lights:
stadiums bright as capitols.

The lights glinted off your glasses.

Where else should you look for the ring
which, the night the power went out,
rolled under the bed and was gone?

“I miss you, too”
were my last words
on the telephone
when you said you missed me.
I miss you too, Forever!

You are gone.

Three words. And not one
of them
exists now in any

other context.


Date: 1995 (original in Danish); 2009 (translation in English)

By: Henrik Nordbrandt (1945- )

Translated by: Thom Satterlee (1967- )

Saturday, 19 October 2019

A Month After Her Birth by Leah Sewell

The bed is a cloud, and I am afraid
to step off into the cold otherworld,
to take her with me into the vaporous after.

I nestle in backwards, pose fetal and pull
her into the cocoon of comforter,
to the bulge of hot breast,
back to the body. I rest
and bide and tend.

Spring shows in white spurts
through the yellowing curtains,
dust stars diving into her breath-stream,
man in green-smelling work boots,
red splash of tulips in his fist
and a new hazel rimming
her muddled eyes like a moss.

I swaddle us both
and plummet

out to a concrete porch, facing the street.
I see an old friend pass
in a pickup, a case of beer clinking in his bed.

Goodbye, I say to him and the shadow-dappled
homes standing casually still
as if no earthquake occurred,
goodbye to infant grass fingering snow.

I breathe the rust of the screen door
as it closes me in shadow, and squeeze
my new flesh, so long in the making.


Date: 2009

By: Leah Sewell (19??- )

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

I And by Tridib Mitra

Autumn’s phantasmagorical tempest
I at the door of 1964
wooden knocks–who are you wood pecker?
What is this?
Shocked vision
chances dreams haha reality’s become more dense
still boozed in love?
another revolt squanders like 1857 thrashes
Fire in Shantiniketan, fire here at Calcutta
In Midnapore Shyambazar Khalasitola
Fire in eyes face heart cock
This fireball gnarling
in happiness hatred pain intellect dream reality
All—junk–ho ho smoke net—
tinsel like groundnut
all around chirping
afar angry shadows roar, flounder on earth…


Date: ?1964 (original in Bengali); ?2009 (translation in English)

By: Tridib Mitra (1940- )

Translated by: Tridib Mitra (1940- )

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Abyss by Katrina Vandenberg

If the best love poems have a little darkness,
how far down can I go? Thousands of feet?
The coelecanth is near, but it’s too easy —
the metaphor nettable and clear, the lost
link found, the beginnings of our own bones
in its pelvic fins — and I want to write about love

with depth to hold the unverifiable, the oarfish
that survives with half its body gone.
I want it to hold the giant squid no one has seen
alive, strong enough to scar sperm whales;
sailors have claimed its tentacles unfurl
from the night’s water, taking down their mates.

But can such poems survive these confused witnesses?
Can they handle the scanty evidence that surfaces:
the mottled sick and dead, the night-feeding
viperfish impaling victims with fangs
at high speed, its first vertebra designed
to absorb the shock? And how much horror

can this poem sustain before you forbid me to say
some call this love, the hagfish that bores
into the unsuspecting body, rasping
its flesh from inside out? Am I making you
uncomfortable? The pressure at these depths
could crush a golf ball. Are you cold?

Or is it enough to be awed by the blue-
green photophores of the lantern fish, the brief
and brilliant light displays? What the lights say:
I want you. Not so close. I am moonlight;
I am not here. I would eat you raw —
tell me if you want me to stop.


Date: 2009

By: Katrina Vandenberg (19??- )

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Survivors by Jeff Friedman

They come back with wool sweaters
and coats smelling of straw and shit

smoking their old cigars
ashes flaking from chin and cheeks.

They come back with glistening shells
pain in their joints — rooms of water.

Salt glittering on their lips
they walk on rock

where fish gasp and choke
and stars cluster in sand.

Sun rains into the abyss.
They come back with ruined hands and backs

hurling coins across oceans
building bridges with knots and fists

digging up cities of corpses
rotting under the rainbow

as doves fly out of their pockets
scavenging the carnage.


Date: 2009

By: Jeff Friedman (19??- )

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Half-life by Rosie Breese

It comes upon you when you least expect it:
when you’re stepping out to the offy on a freezing night
and don’t stop to sniff the air or feel
the stars’ insane glimmer, and light-
footed you trip along as if nobody
could cancel out the mirrored knock
of your feet. The fireless clay.
The half-life of heat.


Date: 2009

By: Rosie Breese (1983- )

Friday, 25 January 2019

Dark Matter by Jack Elliott Myers

I’ve lived my life as if I were my wife
packing for a trip—I’ll need this and that
and I can’t possibly do without that!

But now I’m about
what can be done without.
I just need a thin valise.

There’s no place on earth
where I can’t unpack in a flash
down to a final spark of consciousness.

No place where I can’t enter
the joyless rapture
of almost remembering

I’ll need this and I’ll need that,
hoping to weigh less than silence,
lighter than light.


Date: 2009

By: Jack Elliott Myers (1941-2009)