Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Poems by Alda Merini

Translated by Claudia Rey

"I poeti lavorano di notte"

I poeti lavorano di notte
quando il tempo non urge su di loro,
quando tace il rumore della folla
e termina il linciaggio delle ore.
I poeti lavorano nel buio
come falchi notturni od usignoli
dal dolcissimo canto
e temono di offendere Iddio.
Ma i poeti, nel loro silenzio
fanno ben più rumore
di una dorata cupola di stelle

Poets work at night
when time does not press on them
when the crowd’s noise is hushed
and the hour’s lynching is over.
Poets work in the dark
like night hawks or nightingales
whose song is so sweet
and fear they are offending God.
But poets, in their silence
make a higher noise
than a golden dome of stars

"Ti aspetto e ogni giorno"

Ti aspetto e ogni giorno
mi spengo poco per volta
e ho dimenticato il tuo volto.
Mi chiedono se la mia disperazione
sia pari alla tua assenza
no, è qualcosa di più:
è un gesto di morte fissa
che non ti so regalare.

I wait for you and every day
I die down little by little
and I have forgotten your face.
They ask me if my despair
is the same as your absence
no, it is something more:
it’s an immovable death gesture
I can’t give you as a gift.

"Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie"

Ho conosciuto in te le meraviglie
meraviglie d'amore sì scoperte
che parevano a me delle conchiglie
ove odoravo il mare e le deserte
spiagge corrive e lì dentro l'amore mi sono persa come alla bufera
sempre tenendo fermo questo cuore
che (ben sapevo) amava una chimera.

I met wonders in you
love wonders so new
they looked like shells
where I could smell the sea
and simple empty beaches
I got lost in that love as in a storm
but I kept my heart very still
because I knew so well that it loved an illusion.

Alda Merini was one of Italy's most important and beloved poetic voices. She won many of Italy’s major national literary prizes and was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, once by France and once by Italy. She was born in Milan and died there in November 2009 at the age of 78.

Photograph by Giuliano Grittini. Use permitted under the GNU Free Documentation License.

White and Sun-Stained Flags

by Lyla Abi-Saab

There is something about it that is so rich. Heavy. Culture is cultivated into the dirt, intertwined with air and dust and piano keys of sunlight. The song sounds along tops of the mountains, sharp, cutting through the breeze and into layers of skin and bone and brick. The cracks in the stone and clay weather below my feet, the moths and mosquitos spiral slowly overhead, the clear sky is strewn with pink and orange in the distance and I can do nothing but kneel as my knees grow weak, nothing but submit my eyelids shut to powerlessness in a bittersweet surrender.

There is something about it that is so fleeting. The laughter that streams, like ripples of a stone-harrased river from opaque infant-white to the most sun-spotted wrinkles, the distance between year and face measured only in worlds, or maybe just shallow breath. The tears; unspoken but understood, fingers and bodies tangeled to one, sleepless eyes pressed tightly together holding back the blood of seas and stories away. Questions lit, ignited and burned to rubble like my father’s home in the face of no answers, the gaps in the story running deep like the lengths from wet grains of salt and sand to the most majestic of snow-capped summits. We can do nothing but breathe, the thick perfume of fruit and blossom seeping into us. The moon awaits dawn to dusk again and the dogs bark and things still go unnoticed as they do, but we are and we are anyway.

The Invisible People

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

The people were
The way they talked
without their mouths
was strange. On their
faces a new
foot-like appendage
supported their eyes,
noses, and mouths.
The entire head
was foot-like, but
they were mere ghosts,
I was able
to see them because
I have this gift,
to see things others
cannot see.
But sometimes I
just see what I
want to see and
that is a problem.

The Bitter End is a Bar

by William Shaw

Like sex,
Is best when it’s angry.

Sweetness loses its savor,
And if you’re that sorry slick type,
You’ll last about two seconds,
Before a real man,
Decks your sorry ass,
And makes you bleed like a bitch.

So come at me son,
Come the fuck at me.

In other news,

Fat lips squirm like a red worm,
Wriggling obscenely in screaming half seen memories,
And infuriating implications.
Pulse pumping like an eel crashing through my veins,
And eyes seeing nothing,
Besides the insides,
Of my head, and the other, that bled,
A bittersweet red.

Drugs only get you so far.
Blowing a line off her bare thigh,
At the Heart of Texas motel,
Off Highway 290.
A bottle of Jack in one hand,
And the other slowly sliding,
Steadily down,
The smooth flesh of today’s freshest catch,
To where I’m sure your imagination has already led.
And then out.
Into the warm night air.
Onto the pale moonlit street.
Where summer lounges in sultry heat.

And I light a cigarette,
With a silvery flick of my wrist,
And make my way down these city streets,
My streets, though cold, graying and old.
Like the bony grasping fingers of a lecherous mayor,
Fervently clawing at the soft young body of a dead whore,
Whose glassy eyes gaze at starry skies like rotting fish scales,
Reflecting pale will o’ wisps,
Suspended amongst the turbulent motion,
Of the merciless ocean.

And I’ll traverse these city streets,
Cracking his knuckles with every clacking impact,
Of the riding heels,
Of my black ostrich hide boots.
Or singe the Old Man’s sensibilities
In my daddy’s white truck
Too big to be softy slick, but just the size for a hard fuck
And to lie in afterwards
In dizzy sex sweat drenched dazed ecstasy
And marvel at the will o’ wisps
Watching beyond the fogged windows

At the Bitter End
There’s a bar, a bogie, and a light
Once you’ve gotten kicked out of the one
And smoked the other
There ain’t much left to do
But light yourself on fire
And then drown in the gutter
Ever burning soul outliving charred corpse
Remaining in eternal, beautiful agony