Saturday, March 26, 2016

Josip Sever: Boreal Horse


Horsefoolery by Boris Gregoric


Borealni konj

Kad klonu moje misli o konju 
Na nebosklonu tad se javi
Taj konj u propnju
Kad tonu potezi njegvi
U širno polje u pijesak

Kad mu griva lebdi
U izmaglici mora
Što se brušeno pjeni
Ko češka čaša
Na tvrdu hrastovu stolu

I kad ga jaši knez
I kad ga jaši biskup
Kada ga jaši rudar
I kad ga jaši Wagner

Tu je njegov norvegijski nerv
Njegov tirkizni mač
I taj pješčani Negev
I ta pusta madžarska
Bez jahača

Kolike li gizde u konja
Kad se propne i stane
I ostane
U bijeloj boji
Bijeli konj

Boreal Horse

When my thoughts of a horse slacken
On the horizon then rises
That rearing horse
When tugs on the reins sink
Into the widening field into Sand

When his mane hovers
In the mist from the Sea
Cut and foaming
Like the Bohemian goblet
On the hard oak table

When a duke rides him
when a bishop rides him
When a miner rides him
when Wagner rides him

Here is his Norwegian nerve
his turquoise blade
Here that sabulous Negev
that desolate Hungary
Without a rider

How much flourish in a horse
when rearing and standing like that
painted white
the White horse.

Translated from the Croatian into  English
Boris Gregoric

 Josip Sever (1938-1989): was an influential Croatian avant-garde poet and translator. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Boris Gregoric: Bumping (Readings in Elementary Spanish and Rainforest Ecology)

Angel Eyes, digital art by Borisse


Balthasar is an idiot. To be crashing into objects like that! It is not that objects opposed him. If they objected, would not have been objects. We are safe to assume that, in that instance, they'd become subjects. When objects became subjects there would be no more distinctions between Balthasar and the objects he’s  bumping into. Everything would fit  this scheme of blind crashing. Doing it over and over, we'd bump against ourselves, into others like ourselves,  everyone of a non-dual world— surely this must be tiresome. To bump relentlessly into everything. What headache! A migraine even. Imagine that. I do not like to think about it. It is too early in the day to mull over.  Atrocious reversal of the basic physics, it should not be : we must stop Balthasar. 


That little quiet street, that little calle. With a mutt seated every evening, exactly on the same spot, in front of the sliding iron gate to an apartment building. Calm like a small copper statue, staring, waiting, turning its head. Who is she waiting for? A hand that will feed her and give her soft caress. A stray's yearning not to be understood by words? Every evening, the crepuscule descends slowly, like some soft golden and pink snow on one of Santiago’s best neighborhoods. Maybe one is born here in some previous life. Maybe one spent one’s days in the golden sunny street just like this might have been one of the innumerable strays, expecting, expecting, for each of the passers by, each occasional car making a turn down the street, one block, two blocks, past the spot where you sit and wait, with the night approaching, the passerby turning the next corner, against the false hope quashed, the flea biting, the uncertainty and fear rising in its Heart.



Overwhelmed by Lush, Viridian Forest snares, I paddle into the impenetrable thicket. Through many labyrinths of aqua, the canoe fleeing one tribe of man-eater, getting closer to another. How tasty, this little Frenchman! But, no, not tonight, sires, as Night devours Selva Amazonica. Not tonight. Even better: never.  You'll never catch me, you dastardly punks . For I always have lived by the light of my own candle, and I shall once perish by such. As God is my shepherd. Let the vultures, the birds of this flawed paradise feed on flesh and bones if they must, but not now, not tonight, with the endless star-night, the water softly dripping off the paddle, those silver guides, the prayer of Hope.  Death never was never —



one of the renegade angels, falls down to the parched island surrounded by the brilliantly turquoise sea. the night pullulates and shimmers, the lush jungle threat is everywhere.   as luck would have it, there's one narrow path,  and on this patch of dirt,  hodgepodge truck is puttering, leaving behind it a swirl of dust; the driver is quiet, he does best not to ask too many questions. with the horizon catching Fire, the evening star lights the world, the angel forgets where he comes from. other events are possibly reported: a scribe writing with the ink extracted from cuttlefish. a cross-eyed shaman examining the bones of dead animals. the feathers and scalps of prisoners decorating walls of the stilted hut.  on the island, aeons before, the extinct species congregate in great numbers. one minute all life pulsates and vibrates, multiplies and congregates, the next, all is gone.  all that universal labor, the work of generations, the millenia and millions of years of devolutions, evolutions, revolts, revolutions, now the truck gets mired in mud, the tribesman painted in war colors surround it, what a threat! this reversal to the stone age, so much sadness in their expression, no Tesla among them for sure...only, oddly enough, hear the sound of the bouzouki from afar, from some remote place, possibly on another island even... 


Already the sun was battling the dismal gray sky when Frum got up intent on breaking away with his humdrum existence. His life was to change abruptly, the message crumpled there, in the guts. Also, the palm of his right hand itched like crazy. Letters were exchanged. Universities were hiring again. Now, before such an important journey, he soaked the blue jeans in a round basin. To hand wash clothes ordinarily meant a dull chore. On another level, it was a good exercise in mindfulness. The signs of life on that eventful Wednesday include a garbage truck doing its rounds. It does it around the clock: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Frum thought he could recognize the driver and two jovial garbage collectors shouting to each other, back and forth. Everything else was rather on the sad side. Doom, but not your average Doom. As a native Ostdeutscher, Frum knew all about Doom, and he could recognize the endless shades and nuances of Gray and Doom. A lesser writing Hamlet-machine could have spun several tomes on the topic. Not Frum though. Frum was in a hurry to leave. Universities were calling; ministries were funding the student productions again. Tempus Fugit Frum cogitates and here —we too must leave. It's a good time to say Goodbye, Frum, and Good Luck.


el día cuando papá compró una papelera rosa, mi hermano y yo pensé que algo grande se está cocinando. era un basurero enjuto, de un color de electric Pink. un buen pie profundo y un ancho de medio pie sólido. ¿Qué está pasando con nuestro papá? dijo mi hermano felipe gregoriano, y es exactamente lo que quería saber. Sabíamos que se estaba ocupado trabajando duro. Sabíamos que aún tenía grandes planes por el futuro. Sabíamos que era el afortunado. Aunque nunca le gustó hablar de ello pero vi una de sus entradas de diario donde cita a Camus. dice algo como, Gilbert Jonas (el personaje?), dibujante y pintor, creía en su estrella. y ahora lo sé, esto también fue lema de mi padre. Todos querían al compañero por esa razón de su fe absoluta. Todos lo querían para ese regalo el más grande, el más raro entre nos seres humanos — vivir y dejar que los demás viven. No quería interferir, no quiso tomar partido, el querido papá. y ahora que se fue arriba con los amigos celelestes, o dondequiera que lo que podrían llamarse — tenemos solo esta papelera Rosa para recordarnos a su estrella.


Tetsuro is a phenomenon of iron will, strength, tenacity. There is nobody that matches Tetsuro. Tetsuro brings out the best and the worst in people. For Tetsuro can go through fire and brimstone. From Tetsuro, there's no hiding, provided such safe abode was even contemplatable. He drives out our subconscious fears (innumerable), at their utmost, Tetsuro does. Our unstoppable Tetsuro. A golem to look up to, a role model to many of us Japanese soldiers. An ideal father we've dreamed of. Long live the masked avenger Tetsuro!


The Law of Attraction

the girl in a mini dress sits in a cafe, minding her own business, reading a book perhaps. without better things to do, a badge pig passes by. and because the thick annoying thing has the power to harass and intimidate if it so elects, the girl feels uncomfortable. and so do we, the rest of the coffeehouse eaters enjoying early afternoon in the sun. go away you fucker, we think, and true enough, by the inscrutable laws of attraction, the fucker moves along, staring at the girl. the girl scratches her exposed knee, flips the page, and when the pig is gone —lifts her head, sighs a relief, the tension all gone, the day still good and full of promise.



Once I lived my entire life in a room.  This was still the Stone Age yet was not allowed to keep stones.  Keeping stones in the room was strictly forbidden. Stones are not to be kept here, the landlady barked. Sometimes they made me wonder.  How would it be: to have stone for a headrest? Like the mountain ruffians and cavemen of legend. no, I take it back. I must trim my beard. In the mirror anybody could reflect back. Whose is this unshaven mug? If only it were Confucius, if it had anything vital to say. Confusing. These words like days of wine and roses are. Go back where you came from. Stay here.  Multiply.  Go West, young man. Take your stones with you.  A small Danish river pebble. And the Carnelian, the smooth, lovely to touch Carnelian.  But, here some sad news: a tiny black body on the window sill, the spider and the fly, the scene of a horrendous crime. must you repent, you spider.  Your God must still be a cold-blooded monster. Every day so much killing. Even today. The Easter Sunday. Or maybe Monday. It is what they tell us that it is. It doesn't know what it is. It is like a hapless fly killed by a spider or by a folded newspaper by unknown bipedal monster. Confusing, these words, these days of wine and roses. We do not
know who we are.  At night, we go out through the roof of our head. We climb up and up. We want to get up, to get out of here, out of this room. To be liberated and free in a well-hidden Cave.  Even wave at the other self who stays down, while we climb, the top of his uncombed head seen from above, seated, thinking, not thinking, watching the events inside its head.   I must be forgetting things too. That was yesterday. This is today. Once, some other time, but still in the room, always in the room, I was able to hear birds.  I dwelt on the canticles they were producing. some birds' throats work fast; others are slower; some trill, others call. mock. cry. whine. there are bird sonatas. toccatas. solos. arpeggios. there are bird choirs and orchestras.  one sumises a dizzying orgy of song, sometimes, in one's head. one can hear people shouting and laughing. listening to the radio.  arguing. then all becomes quiet. the room so still, the stones falling.  

un alpinista ávido

Además de ser un escritor famoso, Sr. Kawabata también era un alpinista ávido . A menudo estos combinó dos raros o, últimamente, no es tan raros, habilidades. A veces escribía primero (por la mañana). Me encanta escribir en la mañana, él haría murmurar a sí mismo, es mi mejor tiempo (creativamente hablando). Entonces él estaría fuera de casa, preparándose por ascender otro pico de la montaña. Todo ordenado, listo para él en la antesala esperaban sus amigos fieles: sus botas, la muletilla, su mochila; támbien su amigo viejo, un artiodáctilo ungulado llamado Yagi-san, cargado con las provisiones.

Vamos entonces, Yagi-san, el famoso escritor trino, y ya que se marcharon de hecho. A través de las colinas y valles, por las callejuelas solitarias, lejos del hedor de la ciudad, de los peligros de la carretera, de los tocadores y guaridas de ladrones, el maestro Kawabata y su viejo fiel. Hoy en día todavía escribiremos, murmuraba bajo su aliento, quando llegamos a tal y tal por tan y tan. Otras veces, el Sr. Kawabata no se sentía para escribir, así que de inmediato que sería escabullirse a los miembros del hogar alineados por edad y por orden de senioridad — ansiosos de saludarlo y desearle éxito en sus incursiones de montaña. Sin embargo, aún así, el Sr. Kawabata escribió. Escribió todos los días. Escribió por sesenta años. ó todas las madrugadas, ó desde cinque hasta once de la mañana, el grande Sr. Kawabata, ó alimentado solamente con el té y sus poderosas facultades imaginarias.

All rights reserved

Miroslav Kirin: The Work of a Lumberjack Is Invisible


Red Light, photo by Miroslav Kirin


Daj mi da zgužvam papir.
Iz daske u podu da iščupam čavao.
Sa zida da sastružem slike.
Jesi? Dobro.
Sad vodom isperi znoj.
Jesi li čist i suh?
Pripali mi, molim te, svijeću,
još su teška vremena.


Let me crumple this paper.
From the floor-board let me pry the nail.
From the wall, scrape off the pictures.
Done? Good.
With water now wash your sweat off.
Are you clean and dry?
Please, light a candle for me,
for times are still hard.


kad slobodna su mi leđa
po njima ne poskakuje krumpir
i rajčice ne strepe da će ih zgnječiti
kad slobodna su mi leđa
prsti u sandalama slobodno ispadaju
bicikl ide sam od sebe
možda i mene dovede sebi
kad slobodna su mi leđa
i svi drugi su bar malo slobodniji


when my back is empty
no potatoes bounce
in the market bag
no tomatoes afraid of being squashed
when nothing's on my back
toes fall freely out of my sandals
the bicycle needs no help accelerating
it might even bring me to some sense
when my back is empty
everyone else becomes somewhat lighter too


Iščupao sam mrkvu.
Priznajem, nije bilo lako.
A i odgovornost je to:
mogućnost da s grudicama zemlje
cijelu zemlju povučem u svemir.


A carrot I pulled out.
Not an easy task, I’ll submit.
The responsibility of it:
A possibility that with the small lumps
I pull the whole earth out into Space.

Suha mora, suha mora.
Nasukale se ribe, rakovi, hobotnice.
Zlatno prstenje klija iz pješčana dna.
Korijenje mu već odraslo stablo
na drugom kraju svijeta.


Arid seas, arid seas.
Stranded fish, crabs, octopuses.
Golden rings sprouting from the sandy bottom.
Its roots already a mature tree
on the other end of the world.


U ponoć netko siječe drva.
Preko rijeke stiže tek mjesečeva svjetlost.
Razmišljamo sve do jutra.
A onda – stop. Nema dalje.


At midnight someone is chopping wood.
From across the river barely stretches the moon light.
Until morning we contemplate.
Then – stop. Nothing else.


Žaba se odjednom napuhnula,
više nije znala što bi sa sobom.
Htjela je potom biti žarulja,
ali ubrzo je pregorila.
U mraku smo tad spokojno
lovili mrave i komarce.


Not knowing what to do with himself
a frog suddenly inflated.
A light bulb she wanted to be,
but soon had blown.
In the dark calmly
we hunted for ants and mosquitoes.


Na granu sjela vrana.
Nikako da se zanjiše (ta grana kvrgava),
odbaci vranu visoko u zrak.
Nema u njoj više nikakve težine,
Sve se stislo, miruje


A crow sat on the branch.
Which failed to sway (such a knobby branch),
to launch the crow high in the air.
Without the weight now,
all shrunk and limp, it rests.


nema više glazbe
to što dopire znano je
unutrašnjosti svake kutije
kutijo ispovijedi se

nema više stabala
odustalo se i od razgovora s njima
samo drvene stolice
stolice ispovijedite se

sklopio sam oči
glazbenici još stoje
šume listaju u proljeće
ispovijedam se


No more music
what reaches us is known
to the inside of every music-box
you music-box, confess!

no more tree trunks
talks with them have been abandoned
only wooden chairs remain
you chairs, confess!

when I close my eyes
the musicians are still there
the woods are leafing out
I'll confess

Translated from the Croatian
Boris Gregoric

Miroslav Kirin (1965): is a contemporary Croatian poet, essayist and photographer.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ante Armanini: 28 Micro-poems for Ezra Pound



Wu Guanzhong, Water Village

In the flood
of lyrical drivel
you thought us
passion & cursing
the present
where curses are flown, where killing is done
without passion


You strolled
from curses
to silence
in the unaired quarters
of our Lady
of High Culture


While the peafowl’s suffering
the peafowl’s


When pure suffering
is the falling waterfall
of unclear words
at first, it seems like a noisy waterfall
a bit lower down
the stream is clear


I come closer to your picture:

beard & eyes
of an old tiger
in the morning suit
of great learning
without big words


Your language
is the Pacific
And does not teach
anything of true value
except the magnitude and
the quick exchange of waves,
streams, brainstorms
of the sweltering Pacific.


Your rapid moves
only concealed
the quiet power of an elephant
entering the European shop
full of
crystal glass


Not one word on oxen
& morals
but instead a big
almost hellish contempt
for power
& money


The spread of our fluid
stronger than the words
and your fluid
reaching out to China


Your picture, the furrowed face
& grizzled gray beard
suggest a hurricane
and we cannot judge the hurricane
by its looks
only by its power
of Destruction.


In the old God
you do not believe
But you did respect him
like all the other


To publishers you wrote
Instead of books, you shall publish


Your English speech
anything but polished
your poem-abyss
opened with the view
into the abyss


Your philosophy of usura
was your ballet du Landy:
seeing the beast,
a flying centaur, you have seen
the coming war
with the step of a child


were you right
you understood, you saw this
as your greatest right


A boy declared a cat
to be the greatest crone
& locked her
in the mouse cage
(West: the des-tiny of poetry)


O wretched old peafowl
only madness
guided you
with the bloody mask
of Big Politics


Of State, government, police
only a fool will speak
not knowing
any thing
about any thing


yet a political one
like that Hamlet
in the rotten kingdom
of chatterbox fates


Of the Politicus
he speaks only in the end
Peafowl does: “damn old hag”
walking the gauntlet from curses
to silence
in the unaired room


You thought us
to speak profoundly
through the clenched teeth
To look into a false profundity
like it were the horse’s mouth


In your lines
none of that enthusiasm
of the grandiose verse
In your eyes of a tiger
poets’ enthusiasm
is a form of mentalis
and of obtuseness


An incisive stream
of sobering
blending in the
luminous Pacific of your poems


I can see you seated
behind the desk
drinking the old wine
from Phlegeton


You see knife on the table
like an image of crime
You see wine on the table
like an image of the spilled blood

While our daily bread
prays for blood, crime and tears


Contempt for the gods
is the salt and your only god
Contempt, cursing
through tears,
the gods
heroes and overmen
of all hues
—that is your formula
for eternity


What eases
the contempt
is only a gaze directed at
the bright silence of a beast


You were a sailor
& the Pacific
which shone upon everything
without falling
into talk about the details
of the dark century

Translated into English from the Croatian
by Boris Gregoric 

Ante ARMANINI (1943) is a contemporary Croatian poet, novelist and dramaturgist.