Category Archives: Translation

Excerpts from ‘The Muddy Banks’ by Michael S. Begnal

Uptown

 
1.
 
Yellow and crimson leaves, the sidewalks and streets,
leaves of vines clinging to tree trunks
and brick buildings, concrete staircases overgrown
with weeds and roots—
 
vines cling on tree trunks, brick buildings are
concrete things, dwellings of a dead mind,
dwelling-places of a vanished mind
that stained such things as this—
 
dwellings of a vanished mind, saw someone,
saw things, broken windows, crimson leaves,
mansards, toilets whose porcelain is stained
and rough, whose water ran—
 
broken windows saw the concrete staircase below,
its iron handrail rust like leaves,
its steps buckled and cracked with roots and weeds,
hacking coughs—
 
window broken to the cold, saw someone hacking
over the porcelain stained rough like leaves,
a mind vanishes, someone vanishes
in a cold apartment where the toilet runs—
 
a dwelling-place is empty but of concrete things,
broken panes, a toilet’s porcelain dry and rough,
a mind has vanished down a concrete staircase,
across the highway, to the cold river
 

Uptown

 
3.
 
Snow on one of the two
blue steel arches
of the Birmingham Bridge
blue-green, white, and splattered
with rust, the snow sour curdled milk
 
sheets of broken ice
floating in the Monongahela,
pieces accrued together
in frozen geometries
of white-grey on grey-green
 
empty trees de-veiled,
the South Side hills in snow, and
from beyond that distance,
from beyond the hills,
from beyond other ridges,
 
announcement, an announcement:
 
  I bring news,
  a stag lows,
  winter snows,
  summer has died
 
  high wind cold,
  sun is low,
  short its track,
  river a riptide
 
  the ferns all red,
  a shape concealed,
  a goose rises,
  ancient its voice
 
  cold takes hold
  of birds’ wings:
  a time of ice
  is my news
 
These excerpts from The Muddy Banks (Ghost City Press, 2016) are © Michael S. Begnal,

Note: “Uptown” section 3, lines 17-32 (beginning with the line “I bring news” and continuing through “is my news”), is my translation of an anonymous 9th-century Irish poem beginning “Scél lemm duib. . .” (which also appears on a t-shirt made by An Spailpín Fánach).


⊕ Purchase Link for The Muddy Banks by Michael S. Begnal

Mike S. Begnal Michael S. Begnal has published the collections Future Blues (Salmon Poetry, 2012) and Ancestor Worship (Salmon Poetry, 2007), as well as the chapbook Mercury, the Dime (Six Gallery Press, 2005). Formerly editor of The Burning Bush literary magazine and formerly longtime Galway resident, Begnal’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Contacts for Michael S. Begnal:

‘I wanted to tell you, but there was no time’ and other poems by Csilla Toldy

Kitchen

 
With hot chilli in my eyes
I read between the lines,
a coded message of noises:
A child’s scream sheathed in wind blasts,
 
gashes through the cracks.
The mandalay porcelain clock, riveting,
ticks between my shoulder blades.
I carry my life like a snail.
 
The fridge sighs,
a boiler roars into motion,
it broils the oil of the seas and heats
– my place, the kitchen at dawn.
 
Clouds scrub the stratosphere with desert sand;
a mad dog, stuck in fear, just shrills.
The river at the bottom of our glen,
shushing its song, cushions our senses.
 
In my body’s kitchen
the heart spins unrelenting.
Organs send impulses talking to each other.
“Thanks for the parcel, we enjoyed the food.”
 
The universe of enzymes awakens,
matter is transformed, vibrations vocalise.
My body is gauze, from Gaza, letting through the particles
of light – staunch at covering the wounds, so absorbent.
 
Beyond its wonders I remember
last night’s cosmic dance at this table,
our conversation about intelligence and order
and that we are bacteria in God’s body.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Danube – Duel

 
Is that a boat or a coffin
bobbing up and down on the river
framed by the intricate lace of the parliament?
 
The country taught me hate
the tightness of place, sometimes echoed
when the gales gather and attack this island.
 
No escape, lie low, let the winds blow overhead,
wait, even if you are sitting on a hot spring
even if you fume vitriol.
 
Remembering the river’s bank
ragged lines of men and women, shot
after they were told to slip off their shoes.
 
Boney bare trees reach up into the sky
grab the pain – hanging on
pulling it down, draw it deep into the soil.
 
The Danube splits the land. From the crack
incredible amounts of fresh water, hot and clear
bubble up with the smell of rotten eggs.
 
Healing waters – they say –
good for the bones and joints,
the ailments that plague the core of the nation.
 
The Jews that never got buried
float away into the sky – in the spas soaking
people play chess in sulphuric silence.
 
First appeared on Poetry24 edited by Martin Hodges
 

I wanted to tell you, but there was no time

 
In my dream I had to take the key to your flat and leave it there
It was very hard to do
I had to balance on steep rocks and loosened iron hoops
In my thoughts I tousled your hair and something lifted me up
A force – and my stomach jumped into my throat.
I was laughing, for this was what I wanted.
Then it was over – (some new dream, new convolutions began about
a girl who dived into the awesome blue of the sea –
Cassandra – I was glad that she left me alone
Like a sunset, her blonde locks sunk into the sea)
 
I was thinking about symbols on my way to you near the southern railways
And my stomach was in my throat.
Arriving, I felt the usual little pain, you said I was beautiful
and I believed you. There was no doubt about it – I could love
You as it was good for me. We were standing at the glass panels
In front of us the space
I did not tousle your hair, there was no embrace, although desired
I left, I was in a street again and a force lifted me up –
the one that was leaving dragged me with itself.
I was a weak woman then, tiny and the struggle with my own power
Seemed ridiculous. I let it fall into the void.
 
First appeared in A New Ulster edited by Amos Greig

Broken – Winged

 
The first time I heard your voice on the line
defensively bored, I thought my pleading
rendered me powerless. But surprising:
It was the key to your poor, broken heart.
 
I admired the splinters: Twisted sky,
land, barbed wire manifold reflected,
Medusa eyes flash, piercing the sadness,
but whirls of winds carry us to new heights.
 
I believed in me being your healer –
making you whole a possibility.
Wanted to be the cohesive matter,
 
Superwoman with the magical torch,
blind to your pain’s artful prosperity –
to the cage of guilt and cunning reproach.
 
First appeared in Red Roots-Orange Sky, Lapwing Publications, Belfast edited by Dennis Greig
 

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Photo by Alistair Livingstone

Csilla Toldy was born in Budapest. After a long odyssey in Europe she entered the UK with a writer’s visa to work on films and ended up living in Northern Ireland in 1998. Her prose appeared in Southword, Black Mountain Review and anthology, Fortnight, The Incubator Journal, Strictly Writing and Cutalongstory. Her poetry was published online and in print literary magazines, such as Snakeskin and Poetry24, Savitri, Lagan Online, Headstuff, Visible Verse, A New Ulster and in two chapbooks published by Lapwing Belfast: Red Roots – Orange Sky and The Emigrant Woman’s Tale. Csilla makes videopoems, available on her website:  www.csillatoldy.co.uk &  https://soundcloud.com/ctoldy

‘Sonnet From A Derelict House’ and other poems by Daniel Marshall

metamorphosis

 
gulls bathe & fish in temporary rock pools
near the recycling spot in ongpo village. i wonder
if the dead mermaids of old jeju are reincarnate as gulls?
whether they thank the wind for bringing morsels of food to them?
 
have they returned to the place they liked to forage abalone,
where they taught their children how to recite the poems of the sea
& laced a 1000 soups with shell fish & sea weed?
in the translucent pools objects that don’t belong to the sea
 
but the sea has made ornate on its potter’s wheel
lie like artifacts waiting to be raised from the dead.
you can hardly recognize shards of green bottles,
broken, budget china plates, the flutes & spouts of blue vases
 
& their bases with the artists name erased by the currents.
but a saucepan lid, the nipple of its handle.
a rusty tobacco tin with mushed up cigarettes inside.
a bottle of washing up liquid. a cement bag collecting shells & kelp
 
go unchanged. no matter
the hours the mad sea potter clocks in.
 

 

the pacific

 
we walk 1 km or so,
pass through gangjeong village,
away from where ajummas
who look like permed mussolinis,
gut & flense red porgy & barter
at the pitch of cash registers, on the street corner.
beyond the outskirts
where the abandoned banners of protest
against the construction of a naval base is stationed,
to where the pacific ocean is being itself.
the land emptied. the roads emptied. people emptied.
the ocean here moves the mood to its own way.
& we are moved with it too.
because we are people.
 

jeju church

 
the telegraph cables wobble like plucked harp strings.
i follow them to a church: the modem of god.
the fastest router to his love & law.
 
i doubt they get a decent signal there;
therefore anxiety’s doppleganger cowers behind the plastic pews,
in a church, without nave or apse; persistent
 
their’s is a church suitable for gaggling wants to god.
the neon crucifix where the lightning rod should be picking petals of dark
to save the air conditioned congregation from the godless element.
 
the don’t see that the weather is god, their livelihood.
they don’t see out there is all god can be
& the only place he might find comfort from the grind of his silence.
 

 

눈 = snow & eye

 
this blizzard two days deep is an anomaly
: it hasn’t snowed like this for 35 years.
the island’s comatose yet comfortably delivered from
the common arrangements of any old day
: farmers off the hook with needy furrows;
disheartened tourists hop scotch 4 dimensions a-z;
the restaurants full of happy people getting drunk;
biyang island’s buggered off all afternoon,
a graphite smudge in the corner of a child’s sketch.
i feel a perfect ease in this seraglio of snow,
furnished with moving tapestries of conifer & crow.
litters of onion & cabbage, the brown flame
of decay like the edges of old manuscripts
spreading to the whorls & cores.
the harem wenches shaped like soil who swaddled them,
who with familiar cuddles warmed
their spindly legs until the autumn harvest,
look bored without their motherly duties.
there isn’t a soul & if there was
a barrier of snow rushes between us.
flocks of sparrows navigate the drift,
the traffic of currents & pockets of gale
quiff the snow on the ridge ahead.
i hope i never find time to return to the world.


sonnet from a derelict house

 

the village houses dumb with old age. blind & windowless of their worth.
their pipe-orifices blow off excess steam. asbestos hunkered in their heads.
a few roof tiles absent : old storms popped them off like champagne corks.
cut short like children who are seen but never heard. downcast & diffident.
they mime their rantings at a generation that admires but does not fix.
they had an idiolect arrested by indifference & so they do not croak
objections to invasive mainlanders with café aspirations.
they’ve busied themselves like a mouth chock full of ginseng sweets
so long, they forgot the peal of beauty poking from their grout,
the saturating mold that sticks them together. you’ve not decided you have value yet.
when the aesthetic nuances of apartments lie in tatters: when the weathered marks,
the petroleum foot prints & ichor rust begin to tell on iron bones & fiber glass skin
they’ll hurry back to you with a lick of paint, stucco & warm sibilant love,
their guests will write on post-it notes they are too guilty to compose themselves.

fish lady

 
the jeju grandma who squats outside the chiropractor
sells gold bream, kelp & mackerel piled in little blue baskets.
the lamppost is her backrest, the pavement is her chair.
her back’s bent like an oreum. she must be in a lot of pain.
most of the day she naps with the fishes. i never saw her sell a thing
& i can’t cook fish in the café : it makes a dreadful stink.

the air in hallim town is thick with salt & brine.
it comes from the sea hidden in netted hauls of jeju cuttlefish
-red freckled tentacles like broken fingers & heads like bone china vases.
her bones are rusty as a trawlers’ nuts & bolts.
her knuckles have been bleached with salt & cold.
she’s wrapped up in a microfiber blanket, she has no gore-tex clothes.

her veins bulge out of tissue flesh, like highways on a map,
the luggage of her grueling years drags under her eyes.
after working seven days a week, outdoors in the fields,
or on the wet street, since she was a teenager,
the elements have buffeted her geography’s shape inside & out.
we can travel her hardships without a compass needle.

there is no son or daughter to help her lug the stock.
she has mothered. be sure of that. suckled & smacked them into citizens.
they’ve been consumed with seoul’s nightly attractions: pork & soju.
disfigured by charts & indexes, the etiquette of the salary man
: the boss says drink! we say how much? the boss says jump! we say from where!
if only she’d not shamed their island roots they’d be less corpulent.

on sunday all the shops & vendors on the street stop trade.
she goes to church & tends the spirit then goes home to tend the soil.
she has a little garden behind her little house beside the sea.
she grows a row of cabbages, spring onions & garlic
: in autumn for the umpteenth time she’ll make kimchi for the year ahead
: the fuel for her to endure one more ring of seasons in the harbour town.

one day, i’ll go to the chiropractor & she won’t be outside
& her fish will not have been caught & birth prodigious shoals.

Daniel Marshall is a poet from England who now lives in Jeju Island, Korea, where he runs a café & guesthouse, which he built with his wife from the soil up. He is an emerging writer who, when he manages his time well, writes & blogs. You can read several of his ongoing projects here & a number of articles he wrote on dream psychology & analysis whilst he lived in the mountains of mainland Korea. Feel free to contact him anytime through his blog:
 
https://danielpaulmarshall.wordpress.com/
or at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com
 
Sonnet From A Derelict House and other poems are © Daniel Marshall

“We Did Not Choose The Sea” and other poems by Philo Ikonya

Unrecorded

 
Stone music
When your music rises
from your grave in flower
and some stones quiver
and sing notes musical
I hear your voice
 
When music pricks the air
from a needle in friction
and touches the first traction
molecule of air kissing your ear
I have memories
 
When your words attach a molecule
of air to another and in you we
breathe, sing and live in hope
when we cannot forget we rise
I sing my soul your language
 
Our hair is proud and sings on air
When loving is truly spoken
It is in your ear in seconds
in your heart and mind and soul
 
Add warmth and fire to it
Your own interpretation original
Your body moves in dance
Still you rise, still you rise, dance
and fall and rise from grave in flower
 

Weave your joy

 
With the tips of your fingers
And all of you like the
Orchestra conductor knows that music
Know your body:
Its heart drum
Piano toes…
 
The epic of weavers undaunted
the road to the market is mine
my head is a carrier of universes
I know my step is in space
and those arrows you see on my cloth
have known many lights…
nights and colors
 
Recognition that ignites
when that face you see again out of nowhere comes
Suddenly feelings surge
blow and rage a real storm
inside
Heart shaken like a vessel love filled bubbles
Feel every nerve awake
Blood rush blush…
Something lost now
rare since a screen touch keeps
telling where and how you are
Soon surprise will be ancient human feeling…ouch!
 

trembling dreams

 
You wake me up each time
but I dream on with hope
You tell me children cannot
eat dreams in a poem
But when I look I see them
only clad in dreams
the only pants they wear
that you cannot tear
 
I have sat and mended endlessly
and washed with tears
things mention would tear this paper
things surfing in my soul
 
Come again, enlarge my spirit
into dreams and let me sleepwalk
and stalk in my talk so many ghosts
Until I ring my bell of peace
and you fall out of your fantasy
and see saints sainting without fainting
 

We did not choose the sea

philo 6.1.2014
 
When we found them washed ashore
they were barely alive but still breathing
We spoke for the voiceless they
said, many times, and now speak to us
and for us and with us share this breath
 
We shuddered at life’s turns and twists
when the madding crowd kicked them hard
They slave them again, they do, their voices
deadly drilling the stones so alone intone
 

Longing

 
Solitary times teach
so loudly that silence
grows so deep and speaks
a new language: And now
Let me see my love, let me
hear my hope, touch my faith
Let me taste our belonging in fragrance
It has been so long and I have
a new alphabet to share with life
 

Come

 
You come closest
to my chest and tell
me in my own tongue
that you are my latest thought
the fount sings unending
the ocean rises as the rivers dry
and we see the stones still
washing and washed
 
Humans never understood
color then, never not in
all those matches in design
Not in all those pastels in
cake and bathroom tiles
 
Not in all that whiteness
and darkness in the broods of life
We so challenged by the sun
without which we wither
think
color must be bright
and I know
that we have not understood color
Cold
We have not got it in color
We attach to it not the warm sound
that leave our mouths to cut the air
frightened of it we are when it rains
purple
and now we know that sign
like we have worshipped the rainbow
for years
 

Round the rock

 
Roots then finding
their way blindly down
trying you
to pass they go this way
and that
through soils find you
and hug you
 
You sing to them the
song of beginnings you
play for them the sound
of the music of their birth
the sign of life
Do not be sad you are
not in a foreign land you tell
them as they move
 
Rain
falling finds those still
thrusting roots
 
Yours of stone
you have them
and the roots of a tree
carrying generations into
this other freedom so hidden from
our eyes
that the place of gray we think
but we never understood
 
Here to go everyone has a visa
given by the first cry, you life and
friction before in your forbearers
Here to go everyone is in song
 
Hug us rock and break us
as we broke you, break our wood
and if we are ashes, kiss us rock
and let your hardness be the crook
of Our Mother’s arm, so soft
 
We Did Not Choose The Sea and other poems are © Philo Ikonya

downloadPhilo Ikonya is a writer, lecturer and human rights activist. She is the President of PEN Kenya. She taught semiotics at Tangaza College and Spanish at the United States International University in Nairobi. She graduated in Literature and Linguistics (The University of Nairobi) before reading philosophy in Spain and Italy. She worked as an editor for Oxford University Press (Eastern Africa). Born in Kenya, Philo speaks Kiswahili, Gikuyu, English, Spanish and some Norsk. She has a grasp of Italian and French. Philo is a mother of one. She is currently living in exile in Norway.
.
Her fiction includes two novels, Leading the Night and Kenya, will you marry me? She has published three poetry anthologies: This Bread of Peace, (Lapwing) Belfast, Ireland, and Out of Prison- Love Songs translated into German (Aus dem Gefangnis Liebesgesange). Philo is a Pan-Africanist.
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-from PEN: http://www.pen-international.org/who-we-are/board/philo-ikonya/#sthash.tasg0SKN.dpuf

“Mother’s Cradle” and other poems by Maria Wallace

On the Great Blasket

 
The wild rose briar scorns
the garden rose,
and jutted from the deep,
this island scorns, defies life
from sunrise to the midnight moon.
 
Certain of approaching
endings, in a lamp-lit room
bean a’ tí Peig voices island stories.
 
I sit alone
on a sun-warmed stone, hear,
entangled in the west wind,
the whirl of her spirit
hug this grassy hillside,
those bleached dwellings below,
 
and below that,
rock-battering ocean waves
ride off
with particles of that past.
 

Under the shadow of birds

 
Black birds,
she thinks they are ravens,
hover over her
for the past eighteen years.
Their coarse croaking cries
drown all other sounds;
dark plumage shines
as they circle around
ready to destroy
the little she still has:
a neat house for two. Neat.
For two. Even under attack.
Not a speck of dust –
the aroma of fresh baking
rejoicing through the house,
though, the birds’ shadows stab,
their long bills tear her innards.
 
One May afternoon in the cul-de-sac.
Her toddler son in a group
playing Simon Says,
and Hop, Skip and Jump
a few feet from them.
 
A screech of tyres always tells a story.
 
Her doctor said
another baby would help the healing.
The first flock of black birds swooped down
when her husband said:
Another baby?
No way! You couldn’t look after
the one you had
!

 

Morning sounds

 
My waking is not
to electric saw sounds,
hammering, voices and timber clatter.
 
In absence of the familiar,
I hear seagulls’ noisy squall
from opposite ridge-tiled terracotta roofs.
 
Sunlight chinks filter through
the window shutters’ wooden lattice.
I remember a shaft on mounds
of delicate wood shaving curls,
a man talking about grain, knots,
plywood, ash, pine, sawdust under
finger nails, caught in eyelashes.
 
I open the window.
Faint sobbing from room below tells
his tree of life has taken the final blow.
 
On wrought-iron rail
last night’s raindrops tremble,
begin to dry under sunlight.
 
The seagulls fly away.
I face the day,
reluctant.
 

No death in the afternoon

i.m E. Hemingway. Sunday, July the 2nd 1961
 
You woke before the sun
showed over the mountains
east of Ketchum, before it had time to touch
a greeting on your window.
 
With bathrobe and slippers, ghostly silent
walking by your wife’s bedroom door.
In the storeroom familiar gun oil and leather smells
reaffirming your decision.
 
Were you, that day, the old man of the sea trailing behind
nothing but fish bones, a defeated carcass unable to feel
the unloving contact of cold metal? Or, in that padlocked
plaza de toros, did you battle with,
run away from the beast? Heat like embers,
hot even the sand under your feet, faced
with a raging bull, black back glistening with blood
that would be repaid with blood. No spectators
to applaud last faena for bull and matador.
 
No death in the afternoon. Crisp dawn,
and the bells toll for you.
 

The Meenybradden Bog Woman

(from the late medieval period,
uncovered in 1978 in county Donegal)

 
Peat brown hours
turned to centuries,
toughened
your skin with the soft touch
of nature’s forgatherings.
A lullaby the drip and squelch
of wet leavings,
the gossip of grasses,
the winnowing wind
and occasional bird song
rippling over you
like the deepest, final note
of a cello.
And you listening
to all that muted music,
stilled in the hold of roots,
under the brown-veined roof
of your dark sky,
 
hating the silent tongue
of time.
 

Mother’s cradle

 
She gathered our days
in her strong apron
the way she gathered autumn
apples in it,
a scoop of maize to scatter
among clucking hens,
fresh mint in flower,
stolen from burbling bees,
her fragrance for days.
 
She would sit to pod
an apron full of peas, peel
a bowl of potatoes,
rest darning a pile of socks,
knitting to pale winter chills.
 
Her pockets always bulged
with mysteries.
The sound of a few coins
promised toffee sweets,
a strip of liquorice.
 
In her lap rainbows were held,
and moon slivers and stars.
Twice held a dead child.
 
Mother’s Cradle and other poems is © Maria Wallace.

Maria Wallace (Maria Teresa Mir Ros) was born in Catalonia, but lived her teenage years in Chile. She later came to Ireland where she has now settled. She has a BA in English and Spanish Literature, 2004, an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature, 2005. She won the Hennessy Literary Awards, Poetry Section, 2006. Her work has been published widely in Ireland, England, Italy, Australia and Catalonia. Winner of The Scottish International Poetry Competition, The Oliver Goldsmith Competition, Cecil Day Lewis Awards, Moore Literary Convention, Cavan Crystal Awards, William Allingham Festival. She participated in the ISLA Festival (Ireland, Spain and Latin America), 2015, and has published Second Shadow, 2010, and The blue of distance, 2014, two bilingual collections (English – Catalan), a third one to come out within the year. She has taught Spanish, French, Art and Creative Writing. She facilitates Virginia House Creative Writers, a group she founded in 1996, and has edited three volumes of their work.