Our second issue of Purple Ink focuses on the topic of the body. Blood, flesh, bones, nerves. At a time, a microcosm and a macrocosm of components. On the one hand, five fingertips. On the other hand, five fingertips. “Enough to write Mein Kampf,” as Wisława Szymborska sings.

Perceptions and senses. Bodies connect our mind to the outside world. They are the bridge between external and internal perceptions; thanks to our bodies and sensorial apparatus, we gain mind-images, memories of what we impact within our experience of the world. Being kissed, as Marina Tsvetaeva’s poem reveals, allows to a renewed self-awareness.

Body and mind are the two poles of a field of forces, through which the poems we present have been generated. Sometimes, the field of forces results in a conflict between heart and mind, as Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem describes. However, in other poems, there is no conflict but the overlapping of body and mind. For instance, thousands of mind-images, memories, thoughts and cells, molecules, nerves, comprise the “human emotional system” in the verses by Jennifer Soong, and to the poet Ethel Barja love is placing your mind in another body.

Bodies change: they grow and enlarge with pregnancy or become smaller, once the old age arrives. Bodies decay. “How sad that we have to die,” recites Berta García Faet. The connection between our bodies and death is inevitable; in Agrippa d’Aubigné’s poem, the body is driven by the instinct to evade the limitations imposed by the passing of time. Bodies are fearless fugitives that can be dead still in life, facing and fighting the complexity of life, as in the poetic imagery depicted by José Luis Mendoza.

Our new issue expands the corpus -the body- of the languages and cultures explored in the inaugural issue. With the goal of reaching out to new readers, we bring poetry from countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Angola, showing the paradox of the distant proximity that joins the different interpretation around one theme: the body. We have also decided to explore the limits of this body of work, combining poems of different lengths and visualities, as well as introducing our first exercise on same-language translation. By doing so, we offer an editorial approach that reflects the same themes raised by the content of the poems: physicality, correspondence, and evolution, as well as the ongoing question about the limits of translatability.


José Luís Mendonça


mesqueci de reparar os êmbolos do motor da minha morte natural
por isso entra comigo na câmara mitológica da minha impressão motorizada
a percorrer de pé os dédalos da eternidade fixo à margem do tempo
(amorteço-me) no fôlego vazio e mutante da imagem
da minha cara-metade dimensionada através do satélite .a morte
não está por minha conta.

sobre a felonia cosmológica da eternidade ainda tenho a dizer
mesqueci de meter carburante na motorizada mitológica da minha morte natural
mantenho-me de pé com duas fogueiras de grife na ossatura
mito clássico da proporção do homem pungida por assíduas manhãs de santidade
percursiono-me fixo à margem
não digo sim nem sopas mesqueleto entre aprendizagem de asfalto
e manequins cutâneos da rua
nesse trânsito intencional dos metais podres de luz e sombras do teu retrato
abre-te sésamo velho e vivo agora anda e marca pontos contra
o pecado de ser país mulheres das primeiras obras do mar
lavam-se nos álbuns de ferramentas em queda livre
vestidas de alga e madrepérola de um vaso abstracto
com peixes a cores nas fotografias impiedosas inspiradas
na constelação do eco do sexo de retorno à contemplação ecológica do pão
onde os mortos ainda com a vida sentada no cair da tarde
revelam suas sombras velozes antigas profundas se motorizando quando o vento arrasta
a minha voz à distância sob a lente da nova objectiva leika .a morte
não é da minha conta.

Revista do Núcleo de Estudos de Literatura Portuguesa e Africana – UFF, 2010, p. 205


I forgot to repair the pistons in the engine of my natural death
so it follows me into the mythological chamber of my motorized imprint
walking the labyrinth of eternity fixed to the edge of time
(I stifle myself) in the hollow, shifting breath of the image
of my better half viewed via satellite .death
is not on me.

on the cosmological felony of eternity I should also say
I forgot to add fuel to the mythological motor of my natural death
I keep on my feet with two designer bonfires on my bony frame
classical myth of man’s measure afflicted by relentless mornings of saintliness
I beat my path fixed to the edge
neither here nor there I become bare bones between asphalt apprenticeship
and cutaneous street mannequins
in this intentional traffic of the putrid metals of light and shadows of your portrait
open sesame old and alive now go and score points against
the sin of being a country women among the first opuses of the sea
wash themselves in the albums of tools in free fall
dressed in seaweed and mother of pearl from an abstract vase
with fish in color in the merciless photographs inspired
by the constellation of echoes of sex back to the ecological contemplation of bread
where the dead still in life perched at nightfall
reveal their swift deep ancient shadows driving along when the wind drags
my voice from far away through the lens of the new objective leika .death
is not my business.

José Luís Mendonça (b. Golungo Alto, Angola, 1955) is part of the so-called “novíssima geração” (newest generation) of writers who emerged in the 1980s, shortly after Angolan independence (1975). He is best known for his many collections of poetry, including Chuva Novembrina (1981), Quero Acordar a Alva (1996) and Esse País Chamado Corpo de Mulher (2012), as well as for the novel O Reino das Casuarinas (2014). Mendonça’s poetry is marked by a fluid, dreamlike quality, and makes ample use of “Angolanisms” and neologisms.

The main challenge in translating Mendonça’s “Poema Paparazzi” lies in its ambiguous syntax, wherein words can often be grouped into more than one possible combination of phrases/clauses. Wherever possible, this structure has been maintained, but the target language does not always permit the ambiguity of the original version, thus forcing specific interpretations in some places. Such choices are also necessary with lines such as “a morte não está por minha conta”, where Portuguese permits a higher degree of ambiguity, seeing as “a morte” could refer to a specific death or to death in general (the interpretation chosen in this instance).

As much as possible, the original structure (punctuation, division, etc.) of the poem has been maintained. Naturally, some key linguistic elements are lost, such as instances of alliteration, as well as beautifully expressive angolanisms/neologisms, including “mesqueci” (as opposed to Brazilian Portuguese “me esqueci” or European Portuguese “esqueci-me”) and “percursiono-me” (a new verb combining “percurso” – path – and “percussão” – percussion) which defy direct translation, but which can sometimes be compensated by descriptive turns of phrase (e.g. “I beat my own path”). Likewise, the almost hip-hop (or, in a more Angolan sense, kuduro-like) rhythm of the original poem – while not dependent on any particular rhyme scheme – is established through fluid syntax, alliteration and sequences of similar word endings (e.g. masculine/feminine markers) which are not entirely transferrable into English, but which have nonetheless guided the translation.


Translation and comment prepared by Torin Spangler


Agrippa d’Aubigné
Stances, 1573

À longs filets de sang ce lamentable corps

À longs filets de sang ce lamentable corps
Tire du lieu qu’il fuit le lien de son âme,
Et séparé du coeur qu’il a laissé dehors,
Dedans les forts liens et aux mains de sa dame,
Il s’enfuit de sa vie et cherche mille morts.

Plus les rouges destins arrachent loin du coeur
Mon estomac pillé, j’épanche mes entrailles
Par le chemin qui est marqué de ma douleur.
La beauté de Diane ainsi que des tenailles
Tirent l’un d’un côté, l’autre suit le malheur.

Qui me voudra trouver détourne par mes pas,
Par les buissons rougis, mon corps de place en place,
Comme un vaneur baissant la tête contre bas
Suit le sanglier blessé aisément à la trace,
Et le poursuit à l’oeil jusqu’au lieu du trépas.

Diane, qui voudra me poursuivre en mourant,
Qu’on écoute les rocs résonner mes querelles,
Qu’on suive pour mes pas de larmes un torrent,
Tant qu’on trouve séché de mes peines cruelles
Un coffre, ton portrait, et rien au demeurant.

Les champs sont abreuvés après moi de douleurs,
Le souci, l’encolie, et les tristes pensées
Renaissent de mon sang et vivent de mes pleurs,
Et des cieux les rigueurs contre moi courroucées
Font servir mes soupirs à éventer ses fleurs.

Un bandeau de fureur épais presse mes yeux
Qui ne discernent plus le danger ni la voie,
Mais ils vont effrayant de leur regard les lieux
Où se trame ma mort, et ma présence effraie
Ce qu’embrassent la terre et la voûte des cieux.

Retrieved from public domain

Through long trickles of blood this pathetic bound

Through long trickles of blood this pathetic bound
Finds its soul bound to the place it flees,
And pulled apart from the heart it left outside,
In the strong bounds and in the hands of its lady,
It is leaving life and seeking a thousand deaths.

The red destinies tear my plundered stomach
Off away from the heart, I pour forth my entrails
Through the path which is marked with my pain.
Like pliers, the beauty of Diana
Pulls one to one side, the other follows misfortune.

The one who would like to find me will have to divert, following my steps,
Following the reddened bushes, my body from place to place,
Like a peasant bending his head bellow
Closely and easily tracks the harmed wild boar
And chase it until it dies.

Diana, who would like to come after me as she dies,
Listen to the rocks echoing my quarrels,
Follow a torrent made of my tears,
As long as you find dried from my cruel sorrows
A chest, your portrait, and nothing as it happens.

The fields are watered with pains after me,
Marigold, aquilegia and sad thoughts
Rise from my blood and live of my tears,
And from the heavens the rigors against me wrathful
Use my sighs to fan its flowers.

A thick blindfold of fury cover my eyes
Which don’t perceive the danger nor the way any longer,
But their expression they frighten the places
Were my death takes place, and my presence frightens
What kisses earth and the vault of heavens.

Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552-1630) was a French poet, soldier and chronicler. As a protestant, French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) affected him deeply. In most of works, he denounces and condemns the violent persecutions of protestants through the use of words and images just as violent. As a poet, d’Aubigné presents himself as the enemy of the catholic Church and of the King of France.

His epic poem Les Tragiques (1616) is widely regarded as his masterpiece. It relates, with macabre precision, the persecutions of the protestants of France and the massacres perpetrated against them during Wars of Religion, Saint Bartholomew’s day being the bloody climax of the conflict. D’Aubigné, as a prophet, appeals to the judgement of God for justice, he promises his fellow protestants that Christians will be punished in the Apocalypse which is to come.

Violence is what defines d’Aubigné’s work. In this particular poem, the poet focuses on his own dead body. He describes his mutilated, dismembered body. He is a cadaver, the multiple pieces of his body are scattered throughout the forest, and throughout the poem, in each stanza. Both the forest and the poem are covered in blood. D’Aubigné’s intent is to force the reader to look at the massacre, to become the witness of an awful, violent, barbaric death. D’Aubigné’s himself witnessed such atrocity in the very streets of Paris, where many protestants were slaughtered and thrown into the Seine river during Saint Bartholomew’s day.

It is highly significant that the poet uses the imagery of the hunt. The winnower, a worker, generally a peasant, who separates grain from chaff, is explicitly described as a hunter. The poet, that is to say a protestant, is his prey. This powerful image implies that protestants are never safe, they are not only hunted by the catholic King, but by all his catholic subjects. D’Aubigné also refers to Diana as his loved one. Diana, in Roman mythology, is the goddess of the hunt, nature, wild animals and woodland. The poet is bound to Diana as a prey being perpetually hunted by the same enemy with a thousand faces.

The poet does not represent himself as a passive victim. By the end of the poem, he becomes one with nature, which is the manifestation of God. This poem has a very organic dimension. The decaying body of the poet feeds flowers and plants. It seems that they only feed on his pain and sufferings. They carry the memory of what happened to him, the persecutions cannot be silenced nor forgotten because they are now engraved in every flower and every blade of grass. The last line is explicit, the poet’s threatening presence can be felt in the place where he died, that is to say the whole forest as his body was scattered everywhere. Nature, and by analogy God, becomes the living testimony of his death and sufferings, which echoes the power of the poem which will carry the memory of the barbaric massacre of protestants through centuries.

Translation and comment prepared by Margaux Renvoisé


Aḥmad Shāmlū
Qaṭʿnāmah, 1950

Until the Red Blossom of a Shirt

I carry stones on my shoulders,
stones of words
stones of rhymes
and from the sweating sunset that awakens
        in the pit of its darkness,
and becomes pitch black
in the blindness of a coffin
The song remains breathless
fearing an explosion of silence,
I work
        and work
and from stones of words
                I construct,
        a wall,
Until I build the roof of my poetry over it
Until I sit down inside it
and become a prisoner…

That’s how I am. Maybe I’m an idiot!
Who knows
        that I must
carry the stones of my own prison
like the Son of Mary His cross,
not like you
who shape the handle of your hangman’s whip
                                from you brothers’ bones
who weave the threads of your executioner’s lash
                                from your sisters’ tresses
who set your fathers’ broken teeth
                                like gems on the dictators’ whip.


And I am carrying the heavy stones of rhyme on my shoulders,
I trap myself
        in the prison of poetry
Like an image in a frame
imprisoned in a case.
It might be 
        a stupid image 
                of an immature man:
The me of the past is 
My childish vision
        in his eyes,
and I am older now with
the same smile that was
        on his lips,
And today I look back
in regret
at his sins!

An image like no other
which, had it forgotten his smile,
and burrowed into his cheeks
                        searching for life
If his brow had wrinkled
from the passage of time, chained up and enslaved,
would have been me!

It would have been me,
through and through!

It would have been me who silently carried the stones of my prison
on my shoulders
and trapped my soul’s struggle
within a frame of words
which leaves their silence
        in a vacuum of songs
which burrow into the desert of colors
        with unseeing eyes…
It would have been me,
through and through!

It would have been me who removed my smile from my memory,
Just look at my cheeks…
Just look at my brow…

That’s how I am
—a prisoner in walls made from melodies and mute words—
That’s how I am!
I have imprisoned my image in its frame
My name in my poetry
My foot in the chain of my wife
My tomorrow in my offspring
My heart in your grip…
Hand in hand with you
                you whose warm blood
you give to the soldiers
                of the death squad who are trembling from the cold
to drink,
their gaze
        foolish frozen.
Who are struggling to break the walls of the crypt of your present moment
Through your confidence, you support
                on elbow
the flow of your ivory skulls
and from the valve of pain
get a taste of tomorrow’s bright palace
with a bite of your struggle’s epic.
And I…
You and I
Not those who fashion
a dagger
        for their own liver
a prison
        for their bodies
a rope
        for their necks
Not those yet more alienated ones
who light up the furnace of your hangman
with the firewood of my garden
and bake the bread of my executioner
in the ashes of your children.


And tomorrow when I am buried in the bloody, feverish ground,
you will pull my image out from under the wall,
from the wall of my house.

A stupid image that laughs
at darkness and defeats
with chains and hands.
You will ask it:
        “Image like no other,
        What are you laughing at?”
And you will hang it up
        once more
upside down
with its face to the wall!
And I will go along with it,
with you and for you
—for you to whom I am a friend—
I will go through my future as I did my past, carrying on my shoulders
stones of words
stones of rhymes
to build a prison and lock myself up within it,
a prison of love.

Love of men
and women

Love of flutes
                        and shepherds

Love of anticipation,
and counting the fingers of crystal rain
                        on a window pane
Love of factories
                        and guns…

Love of the map of a donkey’s body
with the parallels of its ribs
with the mountains of its pelvis
and the strait of a whip
with its red water.

Love of your tears
                on my cheek
and my happiness
        in your smile

Love of thistles,
nettles, and wild thyme,
and the green blood of chlorophyll
in a trampled leaf’s wound

Love of a city coming into its own
so it might be loved
Love of the shadow of summer’s wall
and the knees of an unemployed man
                wrapped up in arms.

Love of a paisley rug
When it knocks the dust off of shoes
and a helmet
when they wash a handkerchief in it

Love of rice paddies
feet and

Love of old dogs
and the entreaties of their looks
and at the butchers’ shop,
kicking them away,
the far-away coasts of bones
dead from the thirst of

Love of sunset
with its vermilion clouds
and the smell of the flock on willow-lined streets

Love of the carpet workshop
the silent murmur of colors
the thump of wooly blood in the vessels of a knot
and the delicate souls of a finger
trampled underfoot

Love of fall 
with its leaden sky

Love of women on the sidewalk
Their house
Their love
Their shame

Love of grudges
                and tomorrows

Love of empty casks thundering
down the cobblestone of the sky

Love of the salt smell of sky at port
flying ducks
boat lanterns
and the green crystal of a wave
with its eyes of nightlight

Love of the harvest
and humming sickles

Love of the shouts of another

Love of the carcass of a ram
on a meat-sellers hook
It hangs without a buyer,
        it rots,
                it putrefies

Love of a fish’s red
in a tiled pond

Love of haste
and contemplation
Love of man
who dies
        and fades away
soulless in dry earth
handful by handful
        group by group
                load by load
They are buried
        They are buried
                They are

Love of silence, humming, and shouting

Love of the prison of poetry
with its heavy chains
—the chains of words
the chains of rhymes…


This is how I go:
in a prison that is my own
in chains on the foot
in the blink of an eye
with certainty, shoulder to shoulder with my conquest
from the bud of a smile a stupid image on the wall of yesterday
until the red blossom of a shirt
                on the bush of an execution:
Until tomorrow!


That’s how I am:
Living in a castle of epics full of pride
The arrogant neighing of an angry wild horse
        on the cobblestone of fate’s alley
a word blowing
        in the storm of the great anthem of a history
locked up
        in the prison of a grudge
a flash
        on the dagger of a retribution
and a red blossom of a shirt
beside the road of tomorrow today’s slaves are on.

سنگ می‌کشم بر دوش،
سنگِ الفاظ
سنگِ قوافی را.
و از عرق‌ريزانِ غروب، که شب را
در گودِ تاريک‌اش
    می‌کند بيدار،
و قيراندود می‌شود رنگ
در نابينايی‌یِ تابوت،
و بی‌نفس‌می‌ماند آهنگ
از هراسِ انفجارِ سکوت،
من کارمی‌کنم
و از سنگِ الفاظ
تا بامِ شعرم را بر آن نهم
تا در آن بنشينم
در آن زندانی شوم…
من چنين‌ام، احمق‌ام شايد!
که می‌داند
    که من بايد
سنگ‌هایِ زندان‌ام را به‌دوش‌کشم
به‌سانِ فرزندِ مريم که صليب‌اش را،
و نه به‌سانِ شما
که دسته‌یِ شلاقِ دژخيم‌ِتان را می‌تراشيد
    از استخوانِ برادرِتان
و رشته‌یِ تازيانه‌یِ جلادِتان را می‌بافيد
    از گيسوانِ خواهرِتان
و نگين به دسته‌یِ شلاقِ خودکامه‌گان می‌نشانيد
از دندان‌هایِ شکسته‌یِ پدرِتان!

و من سنگ‌هایِ گرانِ قوافی را بردوش‌می‌برم
و در زندانِ شعر
    محبوس‌می‌کنم خود را
به‌سانِ تصويری که در چارچوب‌اش
    در زندانِ قاب‌اش.
و ای بسا
    که تصويری کودن
        از انسانی ناپخته
از منِ ساليانِ گذشته
که نگاهِ خُردسالِ مرا دارد
    در چشمان‌اش،
و منِ کهنه‌تر به‌جانهاده‌است
تبسمِ خود را
    بر لبان‌اش،
و نگاهِ امروزِ من بر آن چنان است
که پشيمانی
به گناهان‌اش!
تصويری بی‌شباهت
که اگر فراموش‌می‌کرد لب‌خندش را
و اگر کاويده‌می‌شد گونه‌های‌اش
    به جست‌وجویِ زنده‌گی
و اگر شيار برمی‌داشت پيشانی‌اش
از عبورِ زمان‌هایِ زنجيرشده با زنجيرِ برده‌گی
می‌شد من!
می‌شد من
می‌شد من که سنگ‌هایِ زندان‌ام را بردوش
می‌کشم خاموش،
و محبوس‌می‌کنم تلاشِ روح‌ام را
در چارديوارِ الفاظی که
می‌ترکد سکوت‌ِشان
    در خلاءِ آهنگ‌ها
که می‌کاود بی‌نگاهِ چشم‌ِشان
    در کويرِ رنگ‌ها…
می‌شد من
می‌شد من که لب‌خنده‌ام را ازيادبرده‌ام،
و اينک گونه‌ام…
و اينک پيشانی‌ام…


چنين‌ام من
ــزندانی‌یِ ديوارهایِ خوش‌آهنگِ الفاظِ بی‌زبان‌ــ
چنين‌ام من!
تصويرم را در قاب‌اش محبوس‌کرده‌ام
و نام‌ام را در شعرم
و پای‌ام را در زنجيرِ زن‌ام
و فردای‌ام را در خويشتنِ فرزندم
و دل‌ام را در چنگِ شما…
در چنگِ هم‌تلاشیِ با شما
    که خونِ گرم‌ِتان را
به سربازانِ جوخه‌یِ اعدام
که از سرما می‌لرزند
و نگاه‌ِشان
انجمادِ يک حماقت است.
که در تلاشِ شکستنِ ديوارهایِ دخمه‌یِ اکنونِ خويش‌ايد
و تکيه‌می‌دهيد از سرِ اطمينان
    بر آرنج
مِجری‌یِ عاجِ جمجمه‌تان را
و از دريچه‌یِ رنج
چشم‌اندازِ طعمِ کاخِ روشنِ فرداتان را
در مذاقِ حماسه‌یِ تلاش‌ِتان مزمزه‌می‌کنيد.
و من…
شما و من
و نه آن ديگران که می‌سازند
    برایِ جگرِشان
    برایِ پيکرِشان
    برایِ گردن‌ِشان.
و نه آن ديگرتران
که کوره‌یِ دژخيمِ شما را می‌تابانند
با هيمه‌یِ باغِ من
و نانِ جلادِ مرا برشته‌می‌کنند
در خاکسترِ زادورودِ شما.


و فردا که فروشدم در خاکِ خون‌آلودِ تب‌دار،
تصويرِ مرا به‌زيرآريد از ديوار
از ديوارِ خانه‌ام.
تصويری کودن را که می‌خندد
در تاريکی‌ها و در شکست‌ها
به زنجيرها و به دست‌ها.
و بگوييدش:   
    «  تصويرِ بی‌شباهت!
        به چه خنديده‌ای؟»
و بياويزيدش
    ديگر بار
رو به ديوار!

و من هم‌چنان می‌روم
با شما و برایِ شما
ــبرایِ شما که اين‌گونه دوستارِتان هستم.ــ
و آينده‌ام را چون گذشته می‌روم سنگ‌بردوش:
سنگِ الفاظ
سنگِ قوافی،
تا زندانی بسازم و در آن محبوس‌بمانم:
زندانِ دوست‌داشتن.
دوست‌داشتنِ مردان
و زنان
دوست داشتنِ نی‌لبک‌ها
        و چوپانان
دوست‌داشتنِ چشم‌به‌راهی،
و ضرب‌انگشتِ بلورِ باران
    بر شيشه‌یِ پنجره
دوست‌داشتنِ کارخانه‌ها
دوست‌داشتنِ نقشه‌یِ يابو
با مدارِ دنده‌های‌اش
با کوه‌هایِ خاصره‌اش،
و شطِّ تازيانه
با آبِ سرخ‌اش
دوست‌داشتنِ اشکِ تو
    برگونه‌یِ من
و سُرورِ من
    بر لب‌خندِ تو
دوست‌داشتنِ شوکه‌ها
گزنه‌ها و آويشنِ وحشی،
و خونِ سبزِ کلروفيل
بر زخمِ برگِ لگدشده
دوست‌داشتنِ بلوغِ شهر
و عشق‌اش
دوست‌داشتنِ سايه‌یِ ديوارِ تابستان
و زانوهایِ بيکاری
    در بغل
دوست‌داشتنِ جِقّه
وقتی که با آن غبار از کفش بسترند
و کلاه‌خود
وقتی که در آن دستمال بشويند
دوست‌داشتنِ شالی‌زارها
پاها و
دوست‌داشتنِ پيری‌یِ سگ‌ها
و التماسِ نگاه‌ِشان
و درگاهِ دکّه‌یِ قصابان،
و بر ساحلِ دور افتاده‌یِ استخوان
از عطشِ گرسنه‌گی
دوست‌داشتنِ غروب
با شنگرفِ ابرهای‌اش،
و بویِ رمه در کوچه‌هایِ بيد
دوست‌داشتنِ کارگاهِ قالی‌بافی
زمزمه‌یِ خاموشِ رنگ‌ها
تپشِ خونِ پشم در رگ‌هایِ گِرِه
و جان‌هایِ نازنينِ انگشت
که پامال‌می‌شوند
دوست‌داشتنِ پاييز
با سرب‌رنگی‌یِ آسمان‌اش
دوست‌داشتنِ زنانِ پياده‌رو
دوست‌داشتنِ کينه‌ها
        و فرداها
دوست‌داشتنِ شتابِ بشکه‌هایِ خالی‌یِ تُندر
بر شيبِ سنگ‌فرشِ آسمان
دوست‌داشتنِ بویِ شورِ آسمانِ بندر
پروازِ اردک‌ها
فانوسِ قايق‌ها
و بلورِ سبزرنگِ موج
با چشمانِ شب‌چراغ‌اش
دوست‌داشتنِ درو
و داس‌هایِ زمزمه
دوست‌داشتنِ فريادهایِ ديگر
دوست‌داشتنِ لاشه‌یِ گوسفند
بر چنگکِ مردکِ گوشت‌فروش
که بی‌خريدار می‌ماند
دوست‌داشتن قرمزی‌یِ ماهی‌ها
در حوضِ کاشی
دوست‌داشتنِ شتاب
و تامل
دوست‌داشتنِ مردم
که می‌ميرند
و در خاکِ خشکِ بی‌روح
دسته دسته
    گروه گروه
        انبوه انبوه
        و فرو
دوست‌داشتنِ سکوت و زمزمه و فرياد
دوست‌داشتنِ زندانِ شعر
با زنجيرهایِ گران‌اش:     
    ــ    زنجيرِ الفاظ
        زنجيرِ قوافی…

و من هم‌چنان می‌روم:
در زندانی که با خويش
در زنجيری که با پای
در شتابی که با چشم
در يقينی که با فتحِ من می‌رود دوش‌بادوش
از غنچه‌یِ لب‌خندِ تصويرِ کودنی که بر ديوارِ ديروز
تا شکوفه‌یِ سرخِ يک پيراهن
    بر بوته‌یِ يک اعدام:
تا فردا!


چنين‌ام من:
قلعه‌نشينِ حماسه‌هایِ پر از تکبر
سُم‌ضربه‌یِ پرغرورِ اسبِ وحشی‌یِ خشم
    بر سنگ‌فرشِ کوچه‌یِ تقدير
کلمه‌یِ وزشی
    در توفانِ سرودِ بزرگِ يک تاريخ
    در زندانِ يک کينه
    در دشنه‌یِ يک انتقام
و شکوفه‌یِ سرخِ پيراهنی
در کنارِ راهِ فردایِ برده‌گانِ امروز.

Aḥmad Shāmlū , Qaṭʿnāmah, 4th ed. (Tihrān: Intishārāt-i Murvārīd, 1964 [1985])

“Until the Red Blossom of a Shirt” or, in the original Persian: tā shikūfah-i surkh-i yak pīrāhan,” is by one of the most famous Persian poets of the last century, Aḥmad Shāmlū (1925-2000). The poem comes from a relatively unknown early collection titled Qaṭʿnāmah, or Manifesto in English, in which Shāmlū announces his break away from Romanticism and violently rejects his first volume of poetry, Forgotten Songs. In the Manifesto, Shāmlū takes up the Communist cause and devotes himself and his poetry to what we now call in Persian a literature of taʿahhud, or commitment (a calque on Jean-Paul Sartre’s term engagement). In this poem, Shāmlū’s speaker likens the process of poetic composition to the construction of a prison. Because committed poems such as this one could very well result in prison terms for those who composed them, the metaphor thus works on two levels: the poet imprisons meaning in words and rhymes, which by virtue of their composition might in turn imprison the poet.

Shāmlū was an early practitioner of what came to be known as shiʿr-i sipīd (white poetry), that is, poetry without regular rhyme, meter, or poetic feet. In contrast to other modernist poetry in Persian, which retains the pre-modern poetic foot as a metrical anchor, Shāmlū here relies on the intrinsic musicality of his words. By retaining his original placement of words on the page, I have attempted to remain true to the broken form of the original, which is held together by repetition, grammatical parallelism, and irregular rhymes.

Comment and translation prepared by Levi Thompson


Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Kuch Ishq Kiya Kuch Kaam Kiya

Wo log bahut khush-qismat the
Jo ishq ko kaam samajhte the
Ya kaam se aashiqui karte the
Hum jeete ji masroof rahe
Kuch ishq kiya kuch kaam kiya

Kaam ishq ke aade aata raha
Aur ishq se kaam se ulajhta raha
Phir aakhir tang akar hum ne
Donon ko adhura chod diya

Urdu version. Source.

Part Love Part Work

Fortunate indeed were those,
Who regarded love as work
Or were in love with their work
I remained busy my entire life
And managed some love, with some work

Work came in the way of love
And love got intertwined with work
At last, in exasperation,
I left them both half done

The poem is written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984), one of the pillars of Urdu Literature alongside Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal. Having been nominated four times for Nobel Prize, Faiz is often regarded as Pablo Neruda of the East. I view the poem as being pivoted around body politics, with the body being torn in maintaining a balance between love and work. Unable to do so, it ultimately results in a fragmented end.

‘Body’, ‘love’ and ‘work’ are the triad elements of the poem, the intertwinings of which on the surface level might seem simple, but a tap further reveals complex dynamics. It reveals a conflict between the heart and mind of the poet. While the former pines for the beloved, the latter focuses on work, which could manifest itself in job, business or career making. For maintaining a proper body balance, there has to exist unison between the mind and the heart, between reason and emotions.

The poet here can be seen as the body faced with the same dilemma, oscillating between the workings of mind (reason) and heart (emotions). On one hand, is his love for his beloved, while on the other, is his work. This is the reason he calls those people fortunate and privileged that either love their work or consider love as their work. Unfortunately, for the poet the conflict between heart and mind becomes too much to handle as both keep intertwining with each other, and as the conflict reaches its apex, it forces him to leave both undone; thus falling prey to the conflict of reason and emotions.

There are numerous translations available for this poem, which according to me are unsuccessful to convey the actual meaning. As for my translation, rather than laying stress on the rhythm, I have literally interpreted each word so that the soul/essence of the poem is not lost.

Transliteration, translation and comment by Mehak Burza


Ethel Barja

flor carnívora

tenía la costumbre de seguir tus pasos
como quien encarna su gravedad
en otro cuerpo
la roja arena
las cicatrices abiertas
bebía tu sed
del pozo oscuro de tu garganta
tomé tus ojos llenos de furia
amenazamos al vacío con devorarlo
respirábamos con la misma agitación
pulimos cada noche este espejo
ágiles domesticamos el miedo
con mi brasa quemé tu frente
que no era tuya, ni mía
éramos más que carne apretada a unos huesos
tú mi carne
yo tus huesos
que son licor
que son lluvia
que son sal
caminamos entre las llamas
indivisibles, indestructibles
destruidos ya
con esta herida
que equidista de cada ser desde su centro
de cada cadáver desde su centro
de cada sombra
de cada temblor
de cada grito

Published by permission of Ethel Barja

carnivous flower

I used to trace your steps
like somone who places her gravity
in another body
the red sand
the open scars
I used to drink your thirst
from the dark well of your throat
I took your eyes full of fury
we threatened the void to devour it
we were breathing with the same agitation
we polished each night this mirror
agile we domesticated fear
with my ember I burned your face
that was not yours, nor mine
we were more than flesh pressed to some bones
you my flesh
I your bones
that are liquor
that are rain
that are salt
we walked between the flames
invisible, indestructible
already destroyed
with this wound
that is equidistant from each being to their center
from each cadaver to their center
from each shadow
from each tremor
from each cry

Ethel Barja (1988) is a poet from Huanchar, Perú. She has a background in Hispanic Studies with degrees from the Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She is the author of the collections of poetry, Trofeo imaginado entre dientes (2011), Gravitaciones (2013) and Insomnio Vocal (2016). Her current work focusses on philosophical approaches to the study of literature and the construction of modern poetics in the Spanish speaking world throughout the twentieth century.

Barja’s poem is deceivingly simple at first glance. There are two bodies. They confront each other. Bones and flesh. Open wounds. Contrary to what one might expect, there is no winner or loser. Two bodies confront each other and slowly they consume each other. Open wounds leave entrances; thirsts leave voids longing to be satisfied and filled. These bodies face a mirror which, instead of reflecting one body back to the other, opens the door for the consumption of one into the other: the stepping of one into the other’s footsteps. One body becomes the other’s flesh while that other takes in the first’s bones. With elegance and a subtle beauty, Barja shows us how the carnivorous flower falls into a furious love that becomes all-consuming and insatiable.

Comment and translation prepared by Mai Hunt


Wisława Szymborska
Wystraczy, 2012


Dwadzieścia siedem kości,
trzydzieści pięć mięśni,
około dwóch tysięcy komórek nerwowych
w każdej opuszce naszych pięciu palców.
To zupełnie wystarczy,
żeby napisać „Mein Kampf”
albo „Chatkę Puchatka”.

Wystarczy – Wydawnictwo a5, 2012, p. 15

Palm of the Hand

Twenty seven bones,
Thirty five muscles,
about two thousand nerve cells
in each fingertip of our five fingers.
That’s enough
to write Mein Kampf
or the House at Pooh Corner.

Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. This prolific poet and recipient of many prestigious awards and honors received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996.

Szymborska is considered of Poland’s most prominent poets. Simple in style, her poems are deeply intellectual, addressing important life matters. Szymborska’s poetry is injected with philosophical reflections on human existence, frequently depicted through the prism of biological, historical, or political perspectives. She never aimed for unnecessary grandiloquence, yet posed serious questions about seemingly mundane aspects of daily life.

The above poem was written sometime in the Spring of 2011 and was included into Szymborska’s last volume of poetry, published in April 2012, two months after the poet’s death. This very succinct reflection on the anatomy of a human hand is also a juxtaposition of human deeds. The contrast of two books in the last two lines offers a tacit, yet profound commentary on one’s life choices and their lasting effects on mankind.

Translation and comment prepared by Maggie Harrison


Marina Tsvetaeva
Versty, June 5, 1917

V lob tselovat’ – zabotu steret’
transliterated version

V lob tselovat’ — zabotu steret’
V lob tseluyu.

V glaza tselovat’ — bessonnitsu snyat’.
V glaza  tseluyu.

V guby  tselovat’ — vodoi napoit’.
V guby  tseluyu.

V lob  tselovat’ — pamyat’ steret’.
V lob  tseluyu.

Transliterated Version. The original retrieved from public domain

Kissing the forehead – erasing carks

Kissing the forehead – erasing carks.
I’m kissing your forehead.

Kissing the eyes – healing insomnia.
I’m kissing your eyes.

Kissing the lips – giving them drink.
I’m kissing your lips.

Kissing the forehead – erasing memory.
I’m kissing your forehead.

Marina Tsetaeva just gave birth to her second daughter Irina in April. They stayed in Moscow in the summer 1917, before the October Revolution broke out. The whole family lived in poverty, was starved, and later Tsvetaeva was forced to place her daughters (Alya and Irina) in an orphanage. At that time, the poet became interested in folklore rhythms and themes.

The addressee of the poem is not clearly defined, but when I recite it, I hear the voice of mother soothing her baby in her arms, a woman who dreams of protecting her cherished child from the troubles of the world. Mother’s kiss seems to have a magic power over external chaos, taming it, erasing its traces left on the fragile body. However, kissing your lips can be interpreted differently because of its conventional love connotation and the expression ‘’to give someone drink’’ (napoit’ vodoy), which comes from Russian tales. The expression is commonly used to show how a beautiful girl saves an exhausted epic hero (there is a folkloric formula napoila, nakormila, spat’ ulozhila – gave someone to drink, eat and sleep). For this reason, mother-child relationship may be the content of a love poem, where a man is seen as a child to be taken care of (probably, Tsvetaeva’s husband Sergey Efron).

Tsvetaeva’s poetry is known for swift shifts of the rhythm and unusual syntax. In the original, the poet uses infinitives in the first lines of stanzas to avoid excessive emotional coloration. It’s rather an instruction resembling guidelines of folk medicine, than a song of the soul. In the second lines, the poet follows them and offers a cure – a kiss. On one hand, imagery is archetypal and easily recognizable as the most traditional to convey tenderness and care. On the other, syntax and phonetics create a unique poetic structure, where the first lines impersonalized with verbal forms contrast lyrical repetitive tseluyu (I’m kissing) in the second. In the first lines one may reconstruct the invisible portrait of the addressee – anxious, sleepless, thirsty, suffering from stinging memories. Simplicity of the body language multiplies levels of interpretation. Mother’s, lover’s kiss is a remedy for pain, is the embodiment of a dream to heal all wounds with love, is a magic spell against trying times.

Translation and comment by Natalia Vygovskaia


Berta García Faet


me gustaría meter a todos los chicos
que he besado
desde el año 1999
en una misma habitación
y volver a besar a todos los chicos
que quiero volver a besar
y besar en la mejilla (o tal vez en la frente)
a aquellos a quienes ya no amo
y decirles a los chicos cuyo nombre no recuerdo
hola, chico, cómo te llamas?
y decirles a los chicos cuyo nombre no olvidé
no me olvidé de tu nombre, y tú?

me gustaría ponerlos en fila
mirarles fijamente a los ojos uno por uno
por orden cronológico
y asignarles, no un número, sino un color y una temperatura
y asignarles, no un número, sino una canción pop

me gustaría ponerlos por parejas y hacer que practicaran
su expresión oral
en distintos idiomas
me gustaría ponerlos en un círculo
muy grande y muy ceñido en torno a mí
como si todos los chicos que he besado desde el año 1999
fueran un solo vestido, un solo vestido rojo de lunares blancos
un solo vestido que me quito porque tengo calor
un solo vestido que me quito porque tengo calor y porque quiero
para siempre desnuda
con todos ellos en una misma habitación
cerrada con llave

me gustaría cerrar con llave esta habitación y no decir nada
no decir nada durante 3 o 4 minutos
y que se extrañen un poco
me gustaría decir luego muy tenuemente, en el momento justo,
que empiece la fiesta
me gustaría que se lo pasaran muy bien
bebiendo ponche comiendo emparedados y bailando
y que alguien grabara un vídeo
y que alguien sacara fotos comprometidas
y que se distrajeran y que se entretuvieran
porque la vida es eso
y que pensaran muy sinceramente
me alegro de haber venido
qué buena es la vida, qué tristeza
tenernos que morir

quiero que se hagan mejores amigos
quiero que charlen animadamente sobre política verde
y sobre adverbios
y sobre cómo es difícil
recordar ciertos nombres, olvidar ciertos nombres
y sobre cómo es difícil
escribir el poema que queremos escribir (que, por supuesto, no versa sobre chicos
ni sobre los besos de los chicos ni sobre chicos que se transforman en vestidos rojos
con lunares blancos
sino sobre política verde, sobre el concepto de verdad y metáfora
en la filosofía del lenguaje
de friedrich nietzsche, sobre la luz
y la oscuridad como verdad y metáfora de ciertas preguntas morales
que necesitan de otro vocabulario,
que necesitan de otro vocabulario mejor que no se base ni en titilaciones
ni en sombras de titilaciones,
sobre las normas y las transgresiones en la poesía amorosa de alfonsina storni,
sobre la poesía social de la postguerra española,
sobre política verde y sobre cómo es difícil
no pensar todo el rato en ciertos nombres)

me enorgullezco de haberme besado con chicos tan guapos
no me enorgullezco de los poemas que he escrito que son obviamente
sino de los poemas que me leyeron
todos los chicos que he besado desde el año 1999
me enorgullezco de recordar ciertos nombres, de olvidar ciertos nombres
y de estar aquí
aquí en esta habitación
aquí en esta habitación cerrada con llave y, a la vez, entreabierta
la posibilidad de la música, la música que de repente
empieza a sonar muy fuerte, muy fuerte y todos bailan, todos piensan
me alegro de haber venido

me gustaría que ninguno se sintiera desplazado
y que ninguno se diera cuenta
de que en realidad lo que yo quiero ahora es hablar a solas con aquel chico
me gustaría tomar del brazo a aquel chico
y susurrarle
sinceramente tenía muchas ganas de tomarte del brazo
los 2 libros que me regalaste
me gustaron bastante, los leí en un tren
sinceramente el episodio de sexo salvaje estuvo genial
pero opino sinceramente que deberíamos casarnos o algo así, algo bien extremo y bien exaltado

me gustaría no clasificarlos
pero estoy segura de que los clasificaría porque clasifico todo
no lo haría por edad o por nacionalidad o por aptitudes o por estado civil
habría 2 grupos
el grupo de los chicos con los que fui yo
y el grupo de los chicos con los que no fui yo
(dentro del grupo de los chicos con los que no fui yo
seguramente habría algún chico impertinente
que me preguntaría
oye, si no eras tú, quién eras? friedrich nietzsche? alfonsina storni?
pero me he preparado una contrarréplica fulminante
chico, es una manera de hablar, al fin y al cabo siendo rigurosos y siguiendo
a friedrich nietzsche, la vida es eso,
maneras de hablar)

me gustaría volver a ponerlos en fila
y confesarles uno por uno por orden
cronológico y por telepatía
cosas secretas
del tipo cuando acampamos en la playa
me sentí tan feliz que me sentí muy triste
de tener que morirme algún día o del tipo
una vez chateamos por facebook durante 8 horas
y amaneció y sentí que la vida era eso

me gustaría meter a todos los chicos
que he besado
desde el año 1999
en una misma habitación y hacer estadísticas y averiguar
cómo me gustan los hombres y coger un altavoz y ponerme a declamar
lo siguiente:
aviso: de vez en cuando meteré a muchísimos hombres que me gustan
en un cuarto diminuto, que será metafórico o no será,
aviso: si pudiera pedir un deseo
pediría quereros igual y que aquel chico
estuviera de acuerdo en repetir aquel episodio de sexo salvaje y que aquel chico
se venga conmigo
a donde yo diga
que es básicamente a mi casa
aviso: tengo muchísimo miedo
de la locura
y de la maldad
y del teatro de eugene o’neill y de edward albee
aviso: me encantan las enumeraciones
aviso: hace trece o catorce versos
he parafraseado a jorge luis borges
aviso: mis preferencias eróticas están bastante definidas y a estas alturas
no sé si voy a cambiar
aviso: aspiro a morirme con mucha tristeza de morirme
siendo ya muy anciana
y habiendo acumulado ya mucha sabiduría
me visualizo claramente columpiándome en una mecedora
riéndome a carcajadas de un chiste absurdo

me gustaría volver a ver a todos los chicos
que he besado
desde el año 1999
tal y como eran entonces, y tal y como son hoy
2 o 3 veces más
en 2 o 3 fiestas privadas en las que suene de repente
y muy fuerte
muy buena música
todos desnudos, bajo un cielo rojo y blanco que sea como un vestido ajustado
que me quito porque tengo mucho calor
tengo mucho calor
me gustaría volver a ver a aquel chico
500 veces más

Published by permission of Berta García Faet


I would like to put all the boys
that I have kissed
since the year 1999
in the same room
and to kiss again all the boys
that I want to kiss again
and to kiss on the cheek (or maybe on the lips)
those who I do not love anymore
and tell the boys whose names I don’t remember
hello, boy, what is your name?
and tell the boys whose names I haven’t forgotten
I didn’t forget your name, have you?

I would like to put them in a line
to look them directly in the eye one by one
in chronological order
and assign them, not a number, but a color or temperature
and assign them, not a number, but a pop song

I would like to put them in pairs and make them perform
their oral expression
in different languages
I would like to put them in a circle
a big one tightly wrapped around me
as if all the boys that I have kissed since the year 1999
were a single dress, a single red dress with white polka dots
a single dress that I take off because it’s hot
a single dress that I take off because it’s hot and because
I want
to remain
forever naked
with all of them in the same room
closed with lock and key

I would like to lock this room with a key and not say anything
not say anything for 3 or 4 minutes
so that they become a little puzzled
I would like to say later very dreamily, in the right moment,
let’s get this party started
I would like for them to have a very good time
drinking punch eating sandwiches and dancing
and for someone to record a video
and for someone to take compromising photos
and for them to distract themselves and entertain themselves
because this is life
and that they think very sincerely
I am happy to have come
how great is life, how sad
that we have to die

I want them to become best friends
I want them to talk cheerfully about environmentalism
and about adverbs
and about how it’s difficult
to remember certain names, to forget certain names
and how it’s difficult
to write the poem that we want to write (that, of course, doesn’t
talk about boys
or about kisses from boys or about boys that
transform into red dresses
with white polka dots
but about environmentalism, about the concept of truth and
in the philosophy of language
of friedrich nietzsche, about light
and darkness as truth and metaphor in certain
moral questions
that need another vocabulary,
that need another better vocabulary that is not based neither in
nor in the shadows of flickerings,
about the rules and transgressions in the love poetry of
alfonsina storni,
about the social poetry of postwar spain
about environmentalism and about how difficult it is
to not think all the time of certain names)

I feel proud of having kissed such cute boys
I’m not proud of the poems I have written that are
very bad
but of the poems that were read to me by
all the boys that I have kissed since the year 1999
I feel proud to remember certain names, to forget certain
and to be here
here in this room
here in this room that is closed with lock and key, and, at the same time
the possibility of music, music that suddenly
begins to play loudly, very loudly and everyone dances, everyone
I am happy to have come

I would like for nobody to feel out of place
and for nobody to realize
that in reality what I want right now is to speak alone with
that boy
I would like to take the arm of that boy
and to whisper to him
sincerely I was wanting to take your hand
those 2 books that you gave me
I quite liked them, I read them on a train
sincerely that episode of wild sex was fantastic
but I think sincerely that we should get married or something,
something quite extreme and impassioned

I would like to not classify them
but I am sure that I would classify them because I classify everything
I wouldn’t do it by age or by nationality or by aptitude or by
civil status
there would be 2 groups
the group of boys that I was myself with
and the group of boys that I wasn’t myself with
(within the group of boys I wasn’t myself with
surely there would be some rude boy
that would ask me
hey, if it wasn’t you, who was it? friedrich nietzsche? alfonsina
but I have prepared for myself an immediate response
boy, it’s a figure of speech, at the end of the day being
rigorous and following
friedrich nietzsche, this is life,
figures of speech)

I would like to put them in a line again
and confess to them one by one in chronological order
and telepathically
secret things
something like when we camped on the beach
I felt so happy that I felt sad
to have to die one day or like
one time we chatted on facebook for 8 hours
and the sun rose and I felt that life was this

I would like to put all the boys
that I have kissed
since the year 1999
in the same room and calculate statistics and figure out
how do I like men and to take a microphone and bring myself
to declaim
the following:
warning: from time to time I might put very many men that I
in a tiny room, that might be metaphorical or not,
warning: if I could ask for a wish to be granted
I would ask to love you all equally and that that boy
would agree to repeat that episode of wild sex
and that that boy
would come with me
wherever I said
which is basically to my house
warning: I am very afraid
of insanity
of wickedness
of the plays of euguene o’neill and of edward albee

warning: I love lists
warning: for the last thirteen o fourteen verses ago
I paraphrased jorge luis borges
warning: my sexual preferences are quite defined and at
this age
I don’t know if I will be able to change
warning: I aspire to die with lots of sadness for dying
being already very old
and having accumulated already lots of knowledge
I clearly visualize myself rocking in a rocking chair
laughing loudly to myself about an absurd joke

I would like to see again all the boys
that I have kissed
since the year 1999
exactly just as they were then, and just as they are today
2 or 3 more times
in 2 or 3 private parties in which there plays suddenly
and very loudly
very good music
everyone naked, under a red and white sky like a
tight-fitting dress
that I took off because it’s very hot
It’s very hot
I would like to see again that boy
500 more times

Berta García Faet (1988) is a Spanish poet, originally from Valencia. She holds degrees in Political Science and Political Philosophy and is currently a PhD candidate in the Department
of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. Just this year, she published a collection of poetry entitled, Los salmos fosforitos and continues her work on poetry from the second half of the twentieth century both from Spain and Latin America.

With the arranging of boys in a small room, García Faet evokes the image of a doll collection in a little girl’s room. As she plays with them, she imagines scenarios: what would they do, what would they say? And more importantly, what would she have them do next, or have them do again. She presents a living retrospective of a love life that stands with her, now tangible, yet at times inaccessible. The living bodies of boys once kissed surprisingly does not dehumanize or objectify them the way a reader might typically associate with the use of the imagery of a doll collection or the silhouette of a polka dotted dress. Rather, García Faet points to the essence of presence, both physical and symbolic. The poem brings to light the question, what is the body? What does it mean to be in control of your own? Or of a collection of bodies standing in front of you? You might move them around, make them interact, yet nevertheless, García Faet highlights the intangible: the illusive yet fundamental need for bodily presence, both as it seeks to bring us comfort through companionship as well as how it serves as a longing reminder of what is not longer there.

Translation and comment prepared by Mai Hunt


Jennifer Soong

Cris de Coeur
It is not luminous but hard-pressed
the face we’d like to pin down
show back to itself. We have from the start
and been running low on this
As for the obvious remarks
we manage the adequate finesse
all right smh
meanwhile, the theoretical hand-job is upstanding endeavoring
Look past the threshold and grasp the would-be-event how long
have you been standing so as to not exceed it and manifest  ?
                                The haters of our love
                                gather to toss in it a log
It is so unlike the new way we say, but do we
know the secrets of the face
how to trip into one and willingly
Do we see the thin bang
                        over the adversary’s eye
(Rest assured)
                it drools a long single tear
                perched on the curl
                for we who still admire
                the 0oO of earliest dew
What does she know in winter?
What does she think in spring?
We are tired in love, watching the overpass spiral,
curve into a straighter fade.
The brown river controls its muddy flow
the building, sky, a man
walking beneath the Jersey circuit
the separation of surface transport axes
                                                    as if taking what may be woven
into the mind: the gray mass
bent and bending into the clover scheme.
It is concrete and exceeding: the tangible flare and
                            does not break will still be met with
Should this grow beyond me
Should this express to you
Should it strike you as
clasping like ivy and secrecy
Show to me nothing less than the stars, the entirety
                of the “human emotional system”
one at a time, blinking as blue/red headlights, smashed for our sake,
then by an exact hand-tool repaired into cooperative delight,
                “an engine of love”
                “a syntax of passion”
as the wind gets caught up incinerating itself
the fire gorged with its every one obsession
the wood, the ash, dry spokenness, small tears:
                Past obtainability, no-return
                these still manage to undertake me
For this I do not in a million years delete the way there,
for to learn it is available
                                you have pressed against my front door
“What sense have I if I
                                        can amuse myself with
the secret of the stars, having death or slavery
                ever present before my eyes”
and this sort, a freedom
runs its intravenous coolness into my analysis.
                                 It’s true, I too
long for a way out of this brutal anatomy
but I will not be quick with beauty nor know
                the casual reentry into life
Susceptibility must outlast us or else
stay twitching like hives and blossoms tossed in the wind
It is otherwise as they do: written into frailty their
                well-rested catastrophes, unexceptional and ongoing
                the language of simplicity, so almost like
what it would be, stolen from what we would as soon do
to delicate misery,
                                 ruthlessly office-like
with its broken heart, Charlie horse, hand
cramp, Vitamin D
                                 deficiency and brain freeze
                somewhat Pulitzerized  
                just so
Parra, Parra, what do you take?
what do you take back?
I laugh to tell your laugh, to accept why not let us
                endow our self
learn from that bay which from time to time
echoes in my lunacy. I will not give it back,
                I will display to you
                I mean this love,
crush such thoughts into fine sugar, cup it
with a guilty hand. I show myself the way into your
parade of hooting ghosts: running and tossing it as if rich and
                my own patroness
The way inside is from
        the outside only
So little time is there to get underway.
Need, peril, sense: these are emboldened
by the first inkling of the dim
                light grows queasy
                resolved and unresolved.
The area splits: has it all along
been so ajar, so exposed?
There are words which need to enter this space
There are words with which to see the stuffs and toys of the world
Today you require of me conversation: more communicable,
keener scent, the bristle of each word-as-the-mending needle
                  its ever-vigilant
                acupunctural eye
threading the flower into her patch
Believe me
the feeling of a blunt root wakening
is only like pain. Life takes up its curbs, lines, dirt,
happiness, grime, dumbbells, trays, memes, flamboyance, pop,
the shadow of the flock, gathered by grayscale on the ground, a loitering circle,
                its hand-held dance,
and commits (to) certain acts, grows with them
while arm in arm with arguments and stems
                      which to me by word-of-flower
                      has told
To become a cause, not
the reverse confirmation-
image of effect
I seek the object of
direction, then indirection

Published by permission of Jenn Soong

Cris de Coeur
Spanish translation
No es iluminado sino a duras penas
el rostro que nos gustaría arrinconar
mostrarle de vuelta a sí mismo. Desde el comienzo ha   
y estado agotándosenos
En cuanto a las observaciones obvias
mantenemos la finura adecuada
así está bien
entre tanto, la paja teórica es un esfuerzo honorable
Mira más alá del umbral y capta el cuasi evento ¿cuánto tiempo
llevas parado como intentando no excederte y manifestarlo?
                             Quienes odian nuestro amor
                             se reúnen para arrojarlo sobre un tronco
No se parece en nada a como lo hacen hoy, decimos, pero acaso
sabemos los secretos del rostro
cómo tropezarnos en uno voluntariamente
Acaso vemos el fino estallido
                                                     la cortina
                                 que cubre los ojos del adversario
(Tenlo por seguro)
                babea una única y larga lágrima
                posada en el rizo
                por quien aún admiramos
                el 0oO del rocío más precoz


¿Qué sabe ella en el invierno?
¿Qué piensa en primavera?

Estamos en el amor cansados, viendo la espiral elevada
curvarse hacia una disipación más recta.

El río marrón controla su flujo cenagoso
el edificio, el cielo, un hombre

                                   caminando debajo del circuito de Jersey
la separación de toda superficie de los ejes de transporte

                                                     como llevándose lo que puede estar hilado
entre la mente: la masa gris

torcida y torciéndose en el esquema del trébol.
Es concreto y excesivo: el resplandor tangible y

                               no se quiebra aún se cumplirá


Si esto llega a crecer por encima de mí
Si esto se te expresa
Si te llega a parecer
apretado como la hiedra y el secreto
Muéstrame ni más ni menos que las estrellas, la totalidad
                  del “sistema emocional humano”
una a la vez, titilando como faros azules/rojos, quebrados por nuestro bien,
luego por una herramienta manual exacta, reparada en un deleite cooperativo,
                  “un motor de amor”
                  “una sintaxis de pasión”
mientras el viento absorto se incinera a sí mismo
el fuego atiborrado de cada una de sus obsesiones
la madera, las cenizas, el habla seca, las lágrimas pequeñas:

        La obtención pasada, el no regreso
        aún logran acometerme
Por esto ni en un millón de años borraría ese camino,
pues para aprender que está disponible
                                has empujado mi puerta delantera
“Qué sentido tengo si
                                                puedo divertirme con
el secreto de las estrellas, con la muerte o la esclavitud
                  siempre presentes ante mis ojos”
y algo así, una libertad
inyecta su frialdad intravenosa en mi análisis.

                                   Es cierto, yo también
añoro una salida a esta anatomía brutal
pero no tomaré a la ligera la belleza ni comprenderé
                 el reingreso casual en la vida
La susceptibilidad debe durar más que nosotros o de lo contrario
quedarse crispada como colmenas y flores arrojadas al viento
Así es como lo hacen de otro modo: inscritas en la fragilidad sus
                 catástrofes reposadas, ordinarias y en curso
                 el lenguaje de la simplicidad, tan cerca
de lo que sería, hurtado de lo que al momento le haríamos
a la miseria delicada,
                                  despiadadamente como de oficina
con su corazón roto, tirón en la pierna, calambre
en la mano, deficiencia de
                                  vitamina D y dolor de cabeza por el frío
        hecho Pulitzer de alguna forma


Parra, Parra, ¿qué llevas?
¿qué te llevas?
Me río para discernir tu risa, para aceptar por qué no
                   dotamos nuestro yo
aprendemos de aquella bahía que de vez en cuando
resuena en mi locura. No lo devolveré,
                   te lo expondré
                   me refiero a este amor,
aplasto dichos pensamientos como azúcar pulverizada, la envasaré
con la mano culpable. Me muestro el camino hacia tu
desfile de fantasmas que ululan: corriendo y arrojándolo como si fuera rica
                   mi propia mecenas


El camino adentro viene de
                         afuera únicamente
Hay muy poco tiempo para comenzar.
Necesidad, peligro, juicio: los envalentona
el primer pálpito de lo tenue
                   la luz crece mareada
                   decidida e indecisa.

El área se divide: ¿acaso ha estado siempre
tan entornada, tan expuesta?

Estas son palabras que necesitan entrar en este espacio

Estas son palabras para ver las cosas y los juguetes del mundo

Hoy me pides una conversación: que sea más transmisible,
de aroma más agudo, la cerda de cada palabra como una aguja que repara
                   su siempre vigilante
                   ojo de acupuntura
enhebrando la flor en su remiendo

el sentimiento de una raíz cortante que nace
apenas es como el dolor. La vida acepta sus bordillos, líneas, tierra,
felicidad, mugre, mancuernas, bandejas, memes, rimbombancia, pop,
la sombra del rebaño, reunida en escala de grises en el suelo, un círculo ambulante,
                  su baile cogidos de la mano,
y com(prom)ete ciertos actos, crece con ellos
                                  en conjunto
mientras que tomados del brazo con argumentos y tallos
                       palabra de flor
                       que así me dijo
                   Convertirse en una causa, no
en la confirmación-
imagen inversa del efecto
Busco un objeto que conceda
dirección, y luego oblicuidad

 Cris de Coeur
English translation
It is not illuminated but with great hardship
The face we would like to bury away
To show back to itself. From the start it has
and we’ve been exhausting ourselves
As for the obvious observations
we maintain the adequate refinement
it’s ok
meanwhile, the theoretical penis is an honorable effort
Look beyond the threshold and capture the possible event how long
have you been standing trying not to overdo it and manifest it?
                                Those who hate our love
                                Meet to throw it over a log
It does not seem like anything we do now, we say, but perhaps
we know the secrets of the face
how do we stumble onto one voluntarily
Perhaps we see the fine crash
                                                the curtain
                             that covers the eyes of the adversary
(That’s for sure)
                     it drools a single long tear
                     lodged in the curl
                     for whom we still admire
                     the 0oO of the earliest dew
What does she know in the winter?
What does she think in spring?
We are in the tired love, watching the tall spiral
bend itself toward a straighter dissipation.
The brown river controls its muddy flow
the building, the sky, a man
                                walking under the Jersey circuit
the separation of total surface of axes of transportation
                                                  like taking what can be spun
between the mind: the grey mass
twisted and twisting in the drawing of a clover.
It’s concrete and excessive: the tangible glow and
                                                     It doesn’t break even if it is fulfilled
If this manages to grow inside me
If this is expressed to you
If it manages to seem to you
tightened like ivy and secrecy
Show me neither more or less than the stars, the totality
                of “the human emotional system”
one at a time, flickering like blue/red lighthouses, broken for our sake,
then by an exact manual tool, repaired in a cooperative delight,
                “a motor of love”
                “a syntax of passion”
while the absorbed wind incinerates itself
the crammed fire of each one of its obsessions
the wood, the ashes, the dry speech, the small tears:
                The past obtainment, the no return
                still manage to take hold of me
That is why in a million years it would not erase this path,
so to learn that it is available
                                  you have pushed my front door
“What sense do I have if
                                                  I can enjoy myself with
the secret of the stars, with the death or the slavery
                always present before my eyes”
and something like that, a freedom
injects its intravenous coldness into my analysis.
                                It’s true, I as well
long for an exit to this brutal anatomy
but I will not take lightly the beauty nor will I understand
                the casual reentry to life
Susceptibility ought to outlast us or otherwise
remain as tense as hives and flowers thrown to the wind
This is how it is done differently: inscribed in the fragility their
                rested catastrophes, ordinary and ongoing
                the language of simplicity, so close
to what it should be, stolen from what we would soon do
to the delicate misery,
                                ruthlessly office like
with its broken heart, Charlie horse, cramp
in the hand, deficiency of
                                vitamin D and a headache from the cold
                made Pulitzer somehow
Parra, Parra, what do you take?
what are you taking?
I laugh to discern your laughter, to accept why we do not
                provide our I
we learn from that bay that from time to time
resonates in my madness. I will not give it back,
                I will not expose you
                I am referring to this love,
I crush such thoughts like powdered sugar, I will cup it
with a guilty hand. I show myself the path towards your
parade of ghosts that howl, running and throwing it as if it were rich
                my own patronness


The inside road comes from
                only outside
There is little time to begin.
Necessity, danger, judgement: they are encouraged by
the first beat of the tenuous
                the light grows dizzy
                decisive and indecisive.

The area is divided: perhaps it has always been
so ajar, so exposed?

These are the words needed to enter this space

These are words to see the things and the toys of the world

Today you ask me for a conversation: to be more transmissible,
sharper aroma, the bristle of each word like a needle that repairs
                its always vigilante
                acupunctural eye 
threading the flower of its patch

Believe me
the feeling of a sharp root that is born
hardly ever is like pain. Life accepts its curbs, lines, earth,
happiness, grime, dumbbells, trays, memes, flamboyance, pop,
the shadow of the herd, gathered in the greyscale of the ground, a lingering circle,
                its dance taken by the hand,
and (prom)ises certain acts, grows with them
while taken by the arm with arguments and stems
                flower word
                that said to me like this
            To become a cause, not
a confirmation-
inverse image of the effect
I look for an object that grants
direction, and later obliquity 

Jennifer Soong is an American poet, currently a PhD student in the Department of English at Princeton University. She studies American poetry and poetics, recently branching out into poetry of different languages, including Spanish. Her interests touch on aesthetics, sensibility and the imagination. She is the poetry editor of Nat. Brut and coordinator for Poetry@Princeton.

“Cris de Couer” places human interaction at its center, studying how one relates to others. Through words, through poetry, but most curiously, through the body, Soong highlights moments where human interaction is complicated and lost in translation; when physical interaction is no longer possible, when bodies cease to collide, interact and grow together. It is this multifaceted relationship that defines the cris du couer.

Jennifer Soong on her poem’s translations:

There is great reward in seeing one’s work in translation. One writes; then possibility seems once more brilliant, with apparent termination turning over to become new cause. It is the mystery of language that one feels when a poem is guided into another sound, history, place, and feeling. Soon, 1 becomes 2 becomes more of 1: this is to say, even though my native tongue necessarily limits the reach of my comments, I am convinced that the publication of all three versions of Cris de Coeur make it more of itself, bringing it closer to what it means. Meaning, rather than fixing itself as destination, proves once again to be collaborative, communicative, and ongoing. Rarely have I felt a poem of mine to exist–in its original language–in two places at once, or to exist as three voices in one place. For this, I am very grateful to Mai and Nicolás.

I am struck, in particular, by the way “thin bang/ drape” (initially written as a description of hair in Canto I) returns to me as the crash of a curtain, the way “grow beyond” becomes pregnant with “grow inside” (they are not mutually exclusive), and the way “just so” is made into “impeccably.” I am also taken by the transformation of the final lines, originally,

I seek the object of
direction, then indirection

and recast as,

I look for an object that grants
direction, and later obliquity

It’s in this very obliquity where I continue to dwell, as if the sun were whispering on one cheek, “I will display to you / I mean this love,” then passing over to the other to say, “I will not expose you / I am referring to this love.”

Mai and Nicolas on their translations:

At first glance, the experiment of translating a text into its same language through a second reveals the interconnectedness and mutual necessity of languages. Yet, this experiment also proves to be twofold, given that it also unveils the vulnerability of any given language. Indeed, the source language of any work of literature is not necessarily above that of its translation, and in that sense, this experiment erodes the idea of a linguistic hierarchy when it comes to translation. As seen in “Cris de Coeur,” the English translation of this English poem reinterprets and even disavows, which highlights the inability of any “original” language to contain all the angles (or predict every possibility) of its content. “Original” languages turn out to be translatable even into another version of themselves, thus seeming incomplete and at the same time infinite. This double exercise on translation reminds us of Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator,” in which he argues that the that the original language of a text and that of its translation are nothing but two (out of endless) facets of a transcendental tongue: that which we can only inanely approach through the limits of our language.


Spanish translation prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López
English translation prepared by Mai Hunt