with Susan McLean
The wind that strips the last leaves from the trees
drops a calling card in the bedroom window.
It’s winter, as usual, just passing through.
Yolanda, in fact, says: “Today
I want to put something on. You feel the air?
It’s getting chillier.” The smell
of mothballs rises from the drawer
as she fishes out her red shawl.
“We met when I was wearing this same shawl,
remember?” Yolanda asks. And as she speaks
drapes the shawl tightly around her shoulders.
“The color hasn’t faded in the least —
not even the shadow of a single moth!
I wish someone would find a way
to preserve love against decay . . .”
Yolanda laughs, feigns indifference
but I can hear the tremor in her voice.
I sit in the yellowing of the storm
copying out my little poems
in an old school notebook. For you.
My soul is flattened, trapped
between present and past
like the flare of a withered poppy —
a souvenir from some forgotten idyll
pressed into the pages of a guidebook.
Marc Alan Di Martino is a Pushcart-nominated poet, translator and author of the collection Unburial (Kelsay, 2019). His work appears in Baltimore Review, Rattle, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. He lives in Italy. His website is www.marcalandimartino.com.
Cor venticello che scartoccia l’arberi
entra una foja in cammera da letto.
È l’inverno che ariva e, come ar solito,
quanno passa de qua, lascia un bijetto.
Jole, infatti, me dice: — Stammatina
me vojo mette quarche cosa addosso;
nun hai sentito ch’aria frizzantina? -
E cava fôri lo scialletto rosso,
che sta riposto fra la naftalina.
— M’hai conosciuto proprio co’ ‘sto scialle:
te ricordi? — me chiede: e, mentre parla,
se l’intorcina stretto su le spalle —
S’è conservato sempre d’un colore:
nun c’è nemmeno l’ombra d’una tarla!
Bisognerebbe ritrovà un sistema,
pe’ conservà così pure l’amore . . .—
E Jole ride, fa l’indiferente:
ma se sente la voce che je trema.
Trilussa (Rome, 1871-1950), the pseudonym of Carlo Alberto Salustri, was a popular Romanesco — or Roman dialect — poet known for his “remodernized” Aesopian fables showcasing razor-sharp social satire.
Nel giallore temporalesco
Le mie poesiucole
ricopiate su un quaderno di scuola
tra passato e presente
come un’avvinazzata corolla di papavero
— a ricordo di un idillio di viaggio —
fra le pagine di una guida turistica.
Antonia Pozzi (Milan, 1912-1938) was an Italian poet known for her terse lyrics and arresting imagery, often featuring the jagged Alpine landscapes she loved. She took her own life.
Riddle 1: Storm on Land
from the first Storm Riddle of the Exeter Book
Which is the warrior so sharp of wit
he can speak the name of what spurs me on
when I rumble upward? At times, terribly
I wring out thunder; at times raging
I fare over fields setting fire to folk-halls,
blasting buildings. The smoke of that burning
rains ash on roofs — everywhere, the roar
of the slaughter of men. When I slash the woodlands,
the fruit-filled trees, I topple their trunks.
Roofed with water, by the wrath of heaven
driven to wander, blown out wide,
I bore on my back the bodies robing
those first land-dwellers, live flesh and spirit
still cleaving together in the Flood. So who cloaks me?
Or how am I called, who heave such freight?
Maryann Corbett is the author of five books of poems, most recently In Code (Able Muse, 2020). A sixth book, The O in the Air, is forthcoming from Colosseum Books. Read more about Maryann’s work at maryanncorbett.com.
from First Storm Riddle
Hwylc is hæleþa þæs horsc ond þæs hygecræftig
þæt þæt mæge asecgan hwa mec on sið wræce
þōnne ic astige strong stundum reþe
þrymful þunie þragum wræce
fere geond foldan, folcsalo bærne
ræced reafige? Recas stigað,
haswe ofer hrofū Hlǐn bið on eorþan
wælcwealm wera þōn ic wudu hrere
bearwas bledhwate beamas fylle
holme gehrefed heanū meahtum
wrecan on waþe wide sended
hæbbe me on hrycge þæt ær hadas wreah
foldbuendra, flæsc ondgæstas
somod on sunde. Saga hwa mec þecce
oþþe hu ic hatte þe þa hlæst bere.
Original, as printed in The Exeter Book, ed. Krapp and Dobbie (Columbia Univ. Press, 1936.)
Anonymous. These lines, which open the first set of riddles of The Exeter Book, one of the most famous sources of poems in Old English, appear near the top of folio 101a. The manuscript probably dates from the tenth century; the poems may be much older and are probably from various sources and authors.
Yesterday, As You Were Reading
“Are you feeling cold?” you asked me.
I couldn’t deny that I was:
you’d detected it in my countenance
and possibly even my voice.
You were also feeling cold.
I could tell, though not by your face;
it’s as if your soul were kept on display
to mine in a crystal vase.
“Close the door!” you commanded.
I thought: what we ought to close
instead is that book of yours . . .
That book was the source of the cold.
This evening it’s raining as it’s never rained before;
and, love, I don’t much care to go on living.
The evening’s sweet. Why shouldn’t it be sweet?
It’s dressed in grace and grief; in women’s clothes.
This evening, it’s raining in Lima. And I remember
the callous caverns of my ingratitude;
my block of ice set over her poppy flower,
drowning out her “Now, don’t be like that!”
My violent black blossoms; the savage blitz
of massive stones; the frozen no man’s land.
With blazing holy oil, her dignified silence
brings it all to a decisive end.
That’s why this evening, more than ever before,
I let the owl lead, heart guide me on.
And others passing by, on seeing me
so sad, make this or that of you their own
in the sharp groove etched by my deep distress.
This evening it’s raining, raining hard. And, love,
I honestly don’t care to go on living!
Brittany Hause lived in Bolivia, the USA, and South Korea before moving to the UK to pursue a degree in linguistics. Their verse translations and original poetry have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Star*Line, NewMyths.com, and elsewhere.
Ayer, cuando leías
¿Sientes frío? me dijiste.
No te lo pude negar:
lo leías en mi rostro
y hasta en mi acento quizás.
Tú también sentías frío.
Pude verlo no en tu faz:
tu alma está para la mía
como en urna de cristal.
¡Cierren la puerta! ordenaste.
Yo pensé: lo que cerrar
debiéramos es el libro...
Era aquel libro el glacial.
Blind from early childhood, Argentinian poet Vicenta Castro Cambón (1882-1928) gave special attention to senses other than sight in her writing, homing in on truths that can sometimes, paradoxically, be obscured by the visible.
Esta tarde llueve, como nunca; y no
tengo ganas de vivir, corazón.
Esta tarde es dulce. Por qué no ha de ser?
Viste gracia y pena; viste de mujer.
Esta tarde en Lima llueve. Y yo recuerdo
las cavernas crueles de mi ingratitud;
mi bloque de hielo sobre su amapola,
más fuerte que su “No seas así!”
Mis violentas flores negras; y la bárbara
y enorme pedrada; y el trecho glacial.
Y pondrá el silencio de su dignidad
con óleos quemantes el punto final.
Por eso esta tarde, como nunca, voy
con este búho, con este corazón.
Y otras pasan; y viéndome tan triste,
toman un poquito de ti
en la abrupta arruga de mi hondo dolor.
Esta tarde llueve, llueve mucho. ¡Y no
tengo ganas de vivir, corazón!
Peruvian writer César Vallejo (1892-1938) has a dedicated following not only in his home country, but around the world. His verse is widely considered a monumental example of poetry that reaches across cultural and temporal divides.
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