Down to a Sunless Sea

January 5th, 2015

In Xandu I found you, dear poetry: there’s nothing like literature to remind us that our minds are more powerful than we know, and saw myself running my fingers along

Working Order

November 9th, 2014

  I am working That is to say that Everything is in place because my skin Still detaches layer by layer to let Music whip around my pores in little

Several “Invitations”

August 6th, 2014

Baudelaire’s “L’invitation au voyage” has been translated several times over, perhaps because it so tenaciously resists it, given that the sum of its nuances reveals something disconcerting about its romance,

Finalists For Awkword Paper Cut Writing Contest

June 30th, 2014

(My poem “All I Have is Your Head” is one of those finalists!) In collaboration with Swoon, Awkword Paper Cut hosted a writing contest whose submissions were to complement his short


Down to a Sunless Sea

Hol Chan

In Xandu I found you, dear poetry: there’s nothing like literature to remind us that our minds are more powerful than we know, and saw myself running my fingers along the edge of BFK Rives paper (paper, it must be said, that is something of a legend… each letter sinks in its fibers like sleeping bodies and pulls even the rove of your eyes to a more leisurely pace across its landscape) where would sit (in ink of course) my rendition of what had been d’origin français. I translate and curate a space that publishes multilingual literature; because I am drawn to polyglot environments (the city, the train, soccer games) and understand at last that it’s imperative that we cultivate an international perspective, that we continue to read, mouthing new words aloud, seeing ourselves in what used to be foreign.

…my face through the glass looking to the snowy north where the footprints are iced over and hard to follow. At first the harsh language hurts my throat. The days, too much sun or not enough, and I ask what morbidity keeps pulling my mind in that direction. Snow White/Schneewittchen/ Blanche-Neige.

…or the hairs on my arm coated with silt, as if god had rolled me in silver leaf, but unable to breath because he’d said that the Gobi was a column of airless wind. He pointed me to some tracks, made by wheels, lined with salt-statue maidens. I see your peak: it’s blue. It’s impossible to get to.

…or my fingers pale taking one of Caroline’s cigarettes. Il fait trop long… je sais… telle longueur injuste. Our hair is damp still from this afternoons rain, when it rains everyday, as if a thunderhead has been caught in the orbit of the Pyrenees. Between us sits a dish painted delicately over with roses. A find in Lourdes. At a weekly Bazaar. My copy of Contes de Grimm, with the old lithograph illustrations, one where the little mermaid is standing in the middle of a ballroom surrounded by sleeping shadows, poised over her prince with a dagger in her hand.

(When we say “like a fairytale” I don’t think we mean what we think we mean.)

Her flashing eyes, her floating hair. Crossed, uncrossed, re-written. From where I start, re-writing, but really, writing, because the same thing cannot be written/read the same way ever again.

Working Order

Waiting for the Subway, Photo Taken by Nicolas Alejandro

Waiting for the Subway, Photo Taken by Nicolas Alejandro

 

I am working

That is to say that

Everything is in place because my skin

Still detaches layer by layer to let

Music whip around my pores in little breaths

And my stomach still clenches when

I miss a step

mid-air         not intending

But landing because I am working

Et puis mes doigts trouvent la rampe

Only to let it quickly go again —

Everything is meant to be read

And yes I said I let it go again —

J’ai retrouvé la marche

 

Continue

Chèr corps marchant

 

Several “Invitations”

Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire’s “L’invitation au voyage” has been translated several times over, perhaps because it so tenaciously resists it, given that the sum of its nuances reveals something disconcerting about its romance, and given the words which teeter just slightly off course from their english translations: “Les mirrors profonds” (for example) has been translated “The limpid mirrors” (William Aggeler) “Mirrors deep as thought” (Edna St. Vincent Millay) and, quite simply, “deep mirrors” (Keith Waldrop) and yet… still…

I’ve mine, in part because as I was cleaning my desk yesterday and found it semi-translated. This morning I agonized over it, considering its evasive subsurface movement, trying to keep from transposing it (though, I have to say that my favorite translation of “L’invitation au voyage” is a very liberal one by Roy Campbell). Anyway.

 

Invitation to Travel

by Charles Baudelaire

 

My sister, my child
Imagine this sweetmeat, of leaving
and living yonder together!
To indolently love
To love and to die
In a land made in your likeness.
The stormy suns
Its feverish skies
Which for me is so mysteriously
Charming like
Your treacherous eyes
Shining behind their tears.

Here there is nothing but beauty and harmony
Luxury, peace, sensuality.

Gleaming furniture
Polished years over
Might accent our chamber
The rarest flowers
Their scent mingling
With the perfum’d waves of amber.
Exquisite ceilings,
Subaqueous mirrors,
The splendor of the Orient.
All of which speaks
In her soft mother tongue
To the soul in secret.

Here there is nothing but beauty and harmony
Luxury, peace, sensuality.

Look at the canals for
A fleet of sleeping ships
Of a vagabond’s temperament.
They would sail to the world’s end
To sooth
Your every desire
— The setting suns
Cover the fields,
The canals, the entire town,
In gold and hyacinth
All of us then sleep
In a warm, glowing, twi

Here there is nothing but beauty and harmony,
Luxury, peace, sensuality.

 

Finalists For Awkword Paper Cut Writing Contest

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewpaulcarr/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewpaulcarr/

(My poem “All I Have is Your Head” is one of those finalists!) In collaboration with Swoon, Awkword Paper Cut hosted a writing contest whose submissions were to complement his short film. Check out the poetry!

http://awkwordshorts.weebly.com

Le Lac

train tracks

[Or a seriously revised version of the first]

 

She means to say what matters

Most not least of which treads out

To new water these are not easy

To extend yet you float so serene

your minute hand riding the soft

Circular the cool shadow of secret as if

the trees rose to hid this                  this to say

 

I do not want a warm womb I cannot go back there

I want this steel-brushed tide the rails

Their ties and the cool of quickly-moving air

Weaving and wavering steel braiding

My hair wound and bound in your fist

And your lips marking the vein’s path

Down the side of my neck          this to

Say again this is new, this is deep, I don’t

Know how deep this goes though the words come

Though I fall through every shade of blue

This one this one this one.

le miroir infini

A trampolinist in a space suit imitating the falling movements of a cat, to find out how astronauts can move in space

 

Je me vois noyée dans le noir de tes yeux

Tes yeux sont tout ce que je vois

Et moi, dedans, je te cherche

Qu’est-ce qui existe au fond du noir.

 

Et voilà, c’est moi au fond du noir

Mes yeux dans le noir de tiens

Cherchant encore

Un sens de la solitude me prend.

 

Une petite astronaute en tombant

La tête les pieds la tête les pieds

Je tombe au jamais

Ton noir m’attire, m’enfonce, me laisse seule

 

J’adore, je suis fière, d’être ton mystère

Ton noir, le noir, par lequel tu vois

Traversant les ailes de mes cils

Mes bras mes mains entour ton corps.

A Meditation: 7/21/85

alix roubaud

A poem by Jacques Roubaud; translated by Janet Lee

 

I would watch this face. it had belonged to me. most acutely so.

Others. have thought to invoke peace. in similar moments. or an ocean, serene. which perhaps gave them some relief. not me.

Your right leg was raised. to the side a little. like in the photograph entitled “le dernière chambre.”

But this time your waist was not obscured. the darkest point the living point. not a mannequin. a dead woman.

This image presents itself for the thousandth time. with the same insistence. she can not not repeat herself indefinitely. with the same sharpness in the details. i don’t see them softening.

The world will suffocate me before she erases herself finally.

I don’t carry a single memory. i don’t permit myself a single evocation. there is not a place that escapes her.

No one can tell me, “her death is at once the instant preceding and the instant succeeding how you saw her. You will never see her truly.”

No one can tell me, “keep her silent and still.”


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