Issue 2-January 2022

Christina Marrocco is a poet and prose writer from the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Ovunque Siamo, Silverbirch Press, the Laurel Review and other journals. Her voice often addresses working class, women’s, and immigration issues. 

Black Walnut Mouth

I had two Sicilian Grandfathers, and each held his first language

tight– somewhere between jaw and paunch, 

never said where. In that place it settled more astringent

than a black walnut, more bitter than chicory, blue enamel pot,

stewed past midnight and thick with the keeping.

Madone! or Mangi, Meno male, their mother-tongue held tight

by force of will, so tight, so tight, so tight, so tight and still

tingling mouth, zapping minds, 

careening synapses like

miners’ trucks gone    

almost off the rails.    

Watch how the squirrel floats up the fencepost as if pulled by string,

clutching bitter black walnuts to his chest.  He peels them in the night,  

leaves shards to stain the cement in front of my house. 

I want to know how those old men cracked their teeth in the night, 

dreamed in Sicilian, howled in Sicilian, loved my pale grandmothers in Sicilian.

When I hear fishmongers of Palermo,

When I hear wailing mosque-church-noise of Alcamo,

When I hear anything dark and ululating, I know

this is the reason I stand in line at the deli and ask for Mortadella 

with a bitter little twirl in my tongue. 

Rosalia Dechbery is a first-generation Italian American poet and educator.

“The Purple Forest”


My brother’s name should have been Jack,

or Charlie, a namesake of the misfit toy

who popped out of a box unexpectedly,

except, Frank surprised people by hiding. 

He had a frustrating habit of disappearing 

when we were kids. He liked to climb walls 

and hide in the doorways, or stuff himself

into small enclosures, the family Houdini. 

I would call his name and search nervously,

confident that I would eventually find him. 

If I was lucky, he would even let me play one

of the games he invented, a secret escape 

from the mundane outings we had no choice 

but to be dragged along on. Adventures made 

magical with his artistic visions that created 

new worlds to visit, hidden from everyone else. 

I remember he went missing in a department 

store on Knickerbocker Avenue. I kept calling 

his name. A small voice called back, find me,

his amusement, taunting like the Cheshire Cat. 

I finally found him, sitting with his legs crossed

in the middle of a clothing rack. He whispered

in delight, flourishing, Welcome to The Purple Forest, 

the little bit of Narnia he built for himself in Brooklyn.

Marzia Rahman is a fiction writer and translator based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her flashes have appeared in Star Literature, Arts and Letters, 101 Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences and Writing Places Anthology UK. In 2018, her novella-in-flash ‘Life on the Edges’ has been longlisted for the Bath Novella in Flash Award Competition. She is currently working on a Novella in Flash.  

Hidden Photographs, Lost Memories

Is it true when we migrate, we lose a few people from our past? Is it a fact or a fiction that once you leave your home, a new life takes shape, erasing the memories of bygone days?

I sit on a faded couch in my mother’s living room, an old album in my hand. I flip through the pages. Watch life playing in flashback— a giggling child in her mother’s arms, a six-year-old girl with her very old grandmother, a teenage girl in a black jumpsuit, a young blushing bride in a red sari. A funeral. A special photo I have yet to put into the album.

I pretend father is still alive and these are not pictures but stories. Stories of happy days, stories of bad days. Stories of champagne glasses and dumb boyfriends, hidden in closets.

I return the album from where I found it. Years of memories safely stored in an attic!

Back to the city. I search the drawers. Not a single photograph. Only solitude wrapped in a pall of midnight.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, South Carolina Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

“Would You Say the Shadows of

Fingers or the Shadow of Fingers?”

Trace hand with tongues of light.

Touch answers in philosophies of happiness.

I already said, as Jung,

examine the Shadow, but shadows?

There is a many muddling through this oneness.

I’d say brush the sky, this shirt, my cheek,

with fingertips of darkness.

I will tell you, let me tell you, let us

proclaim in the night-room calm:

there are words that welcome &

words that erase, words that push &

words that embrace.

I’d say each in its moment, &

you, what might you offer

in shadow, shadows,

fingers, contact, union?

“What the Hell Are West Virginians Doing This Weekend?”

                                                —Matthew Dickman, “All-American Poem ”               

We wait idle on the Interstate

watching cracked concrete stripped, replaced, smoothed over.

We’ve learned to savor going nowhere,

stalling to read the roadside memorial

as though a novel, were there words       

instead of yellow roses wilting in a.m. cold.

After a lane clears, we might walk

hand-in-hand along the Kanawha,

the Cheat, the Ohio, the New, collecting sunrise/sunset—

some pale blur of pink reflecting

like speckled cheeks in another painting by Renoir.

Jennifer Romanello received her MFA from Hofstra University and is currently a Lecturer in the MS in Publishing program at Pace University. She was previously VP, Director of Publicity at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. 

Dowry

Her name was Carmela Artusa,

C.A. the initials

she embroidered onto

her sheets, towels, and pillows.

The dowry her parents

bought with the money

they earned working the land,

hoping it would lead to a

prosperous marriage.

They spent days looking

for the perfect red thread that would

stand out against the white

linen fabric, thread woven

on a loom with gentle care.

(Red would also repel

the mal’occhio!)

Carmela’s mother showed

her how to embroider an A,

followed by a C, or a big C

with the A embroidered within it,

choices Carmela could make.

Carmela dreaming of her

wedding as she bent over,

stitch by stitch, wondering

what her husband’s name

might be.

Lydia Renfro holds an MFA from Adelphi University and is the recipient of the Donald Everett Axinn Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared in Litro USA, The Blue Nib, Witches Mag, Miletus International Literature Magazine, WordCity Monthly, and others. She is currently the fiction editor for The Blue Nib and lives in Colorado.

When the Soldier, Who is Also Brother in This Poem, Goes Away 

then I will not see him again for a long while,

and it will be just like the time I woke too late

for the drive to Lexington, lake-boat in tow and

fishing gear under the seat, sisters not welcome that day.

He goes, but then so do I, sometimes at once and

other times after or before, traveling ocean miles

and tea-zones, drinking time in all manner of cups,

and when we say goodbye it usually weighs soup-like on the

tongue, years of country living slipping off the rounded edges.

The term for us in our young-limb days was tow-headed,

also Crocket-inspired and brick-fireplace-nesters, with

book in hand always, my dears, book in hand always.

You must forgive the dashes—they do the job of

joining or separating, which is also the job of

middle children, left to our own buffers and concordats.

So what can I say to this one who is me, who is yet

stranger, gone to make his own nest in an unfamiliar field

forfeiting the relentless sky above our thicket country?

The phantom face I see always, illusive behind his

battle look, is soft with friendship and creek-memory.

Brother, I want you pretend-ready, not platoon-hard.

But I am thinking there are too many dashes now,

that it is time to end the lines and climb the stairs,

only you must not forget the snowbird you saw that day

and the poem you wrote, and the sorry you never

gave me, though it’s rightfully mine. And please

remember how our pillowcases matched and that

I would not tell on you but write to you instead.

They have flycatchers and thrushes where you are going—

I’m told they’re old-world but not unplained,

which is a prayer for the two of us, is it not? 

Send Lauds to me with the Fieldfare, if she   

can fly that far, and I promise I’ll return it,

lung deep and sweet with shining.

That is, until we walk together again in mountain mist,

That is, until we are aged with living and light with love.

                             For NJ

Some years ago, John Eliot submitted the poem Friday Night Song for an anthology. The publisher turned it down but said it ought to be published. Encouraged, John wrote with new energy and purpose and within a couple of years had enough for a collection. As luck would have it, he met a small publisher, a ‘boutique bibliophile’ imprint called Mosaïque Press, who decided on the strength of his work to start a series of poetry ‘chapbooks’. Since then he’s published four collections with Mosaïque : Ssh!Don’t GoTurn on the Dark, and Canzoni del Venerdì Sera, a translation of his work into Italian. John is now poetry editor for Mosaique Press and with Italian and Romanian universities is editing translation anthologies.

Marriage

She loves the Alhambra.

I prefer the altar piece.

Yes, the majesty of the architecture

Set in the sun of Granada

I can agree.

She turns away, as if in victory.

I sit in silence.

A Lamb that has so much to say.

Iris Dan, a former graduate of the Bucharest University, lives in Haifa, Israel, where she works as a translator. From the window of her Babel Tower, she sees the Mediterranean. She is a long-time member of the Voices Israel Community of Poets. She has published two poetry books and her poems appear regularly in the Voices Anthology and sometimes in online magazines.

THE LAST JUDGMENT

River I.

When their Messiah comes,

or comes again, or whatever,

when their dead

are risen from the graves –

I wonder if our dead

will be resurrected too.

In any case,

at their Last Judgment

we must have standing.

We must bear witness

how from the beginning

they harnessed us

to move their millstones

how they imprisoned us

in reservoirs

while, being rivers,

we yearned to flow;

how they boasted

with their clean energy

while killing us slowly

with perfumed chemicals

they use for washing their clothes,

with stinking industrial waste

they pour into our waters;

with their expired drugs,

no longer effective

but still poisonous;

how day after day

we vomited on our shores

the poor limp bodies of dead fish;

how for birds and beasts

no more clean water

was left to drink,

no more prey to feed on;

how the bears no longer

brought their young to swim;

no longer did we see them

strain and ripple with pleasure

as they relieved themselves;

how the plants died out

whose thirst we had quenched;

how we choked to death,

with poison and loneliness and shame.

River II.

If only I had the tongue

to tell the court

the names of the species that perished

in our waters, on our shores;

they won’t bother with individuals,

though I remember individuals too:

that shiny pike, that serious heron,

that bee who knew first

when the trees were in bloom…

I trust that He who created us

before creating them

will understand our language;

in perfect faith I trust

that in His heavy book

He has all the names;

that He has counted

every tear we rivers have shed;

that we will get justice;

or at least will be heard.

River III.

I would not put my trust

in this court; nor do I

recognize its competence.

Who if not He

has appointed a greedy

merciless kind

to do as it pleases?

Who has put them

in charge of the world?

It will be

a farce of a judgment –

like the laws they keep drafting

allegedly to protect us.

They will receive

a ridiculous penance

will pay a ridiculous fine

and go on as before

in the newly redeemed world.

And who will judge the judges?

Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His chapbook, All the Songs Sung (Angel Flight Press), and his fourth poetry collection, The Broad Grin of Eternity (WordTech Editions) arrived in 2021. His poetry has been nominated twice for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta ReviewChiron ReviewThe Honest UlstermanIbbetson StreetThe Paterson Literary ReviewImpspired Magazine, and elsewhere.

Loneliness

The world is an empty dome with multitudes jammed

together on its periphery. They all know each other.

You don’t know any of them.

Your skin is stretched tight, a fleshy prison.

Siberia, the polar icecap, are tropical compared

to the gelid storm inside your chest.

Whatever you are is miniscule—

so tiny you could get lost navigating a grain of sand.

Margaret Kiernan is a 2021 Best of The Net Nominee for Creative Non-Fiction. She writes fiction, non-fiction essay, memoir, and poetry. She has had poetry and prose published, in hard back, in e-book, on-line. Literary Journals and magazines. She has multiple stories and poems in anthology collections and cultural publications, among which The Ekphrastic Review, The Blue Nib, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, etc.

Leaked ink in a Toby jug

Mr & Ms are Dead-

after Kathleen Jamie

They went their separate ways years before

bound by interference

the need to inflict pain

upon the fragile one

in five thousand years their dust

will remain apart.

One year to the day the undertaker returned

called for her

the end of days at the bungalow

for sale soon enough without the contents.

We began to unpack their rolled-up life, his room sparce hermit like

hers a treasure trove of the unused, like her love

wrapped tight.

The kitchen yielded chipped enamel dishes, drawers of cloths

trimmed with Belgian lace.

We smelled the paraffin oil bread oven, it seemed to leak

into their lives, into

varied needles held in rusty boxes, nestled near ceramic bed jars.

The ancient Underwood sat in the parlor, a relic from the Barracks. On the mantlepiece ancient Toby jugs held fountain pens; the ink leaked onto small boys’ hands when he entertained his grandsons, they charmed by a man who was their hero for all hours.

This space now his makeshift dayroom where he resides, daydreams of his former life, a police officer after a guerrilla fighter, awaits his burial day and the State Reveille bugle call.

Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler is a poet and translator best known for his work with co-translator Reilly Costigan-Humes on English renderings of novels by great contemporary Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan, including Voroshilovgrad, published by Deep Vellum, and The Orphanage, published by Yale University Press. Wheeler’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Big Windows Review, the Peacock Journal, and Sonic Boom. He holds an MA in Russian Translation from Columbia University and is currently earning another in English Secondary Education at CCNY. Wheeler’s first poetry collection, The Eleusinian Mysteries, is forthcoming from Aubade Publishing.

Third-Persona Poems [excerpt]

I have this one friend who can’t see anything

except her own drawings—or so she claimed

as she walked beside me through the woods, book open,

dodging oblong sketches of the trunks ahead.

I was skeptical; how exactly can a person depict a thing

without seeing it first? She said it was like everything

was molten, too hot to pour into her eye sockets,

but the strokes of her pencil made black molds

that yielded a visible world of lukewarm iron,

which she could inhabit comfortably—but pictures

are crude! What about vanishing points, hatching

to imitate volume, all the jerry-rigged techniques

artists use to flatten swarming clots of atoms to images

represented with the mere distribution of lead?

My friend shook her head with a forgiving sigh

and asked me when I last saw an atom.

***

Masha thinks all images are accurate.

Artists from previous eras never lied

and never faced technical limitations:

ancient commoners, simple as furrows

from ploughs or ruts from handcarts,

were literally composed of fewer lines

than their intricate stiff-limbed kings;

it really was only the man on the horse

who had any need for facial muscles,

and his troops managed fine as smears

of flesh tone with acclaiming eyes

and intermingling uniformed stumps;

the Soviet state had big red hands.

We used to be lovers, but when I held her,

the tenderness was tinged with fear

of what design she might conceive.

***

Joshua hurt me when I was a child,

so now he is a sprawling landscape

and I make him look down on it

from above—people had to learn that;

people didn’t always have maps

on the wall of Mrs. Snyder’s classroom

that showed the world spread out

on a plane as if viewed from on high—

seeing like that had to be invented

in parallel with charts, and ships, and empires.

So when Joshua sees himself so vast

that every hair is a jagged redwood

and every fold a flaccid dune,

and I put needles in his every surface,

I am hurting him with the kind of eyes

that have hurt entire continents.

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

How did she become the woman who couldn’t win?

The athlete in home-made dresses stitched with shame,

one of three women from one country on the podium

nervous but proud at the World Championships,

yet backed by a record of firsts: her signature triple

axel. But everyone remembers the injured knee scandal.

Her mother pushed her on the ice, denied bathroom breaks

and told her to be a champion at four years old on battered skates;

rebellion always punished. She grew, married young and badly,

divorced too late. She forgot to take spare skate laces

into the Championships. She knew only discipline’s sticks,

not the carrot. Her asthma worsened, she failed

grace. Everyone remembers the wrong scandal.

Anna Terék was born in Bačka Topola, Vojvodina, (former) Yugoslavia in 1984. She works as a school psychologist in Budapest. Her first book of poems, Tear of Smile (Mosolyszakadás) was published in 2007, the second, Danube Street (Duna utca) in 2011, it won the Ervin Sinkó
Prize. Her first drama, Jelentkezzenek a legjobbak! (Neka se jave najbolji!) premiered in the Serbian National Theater. Her third collection Dead women (Halott nők) got the Géza Csáth Prize and the János Sziveri Prize in 2017. It was translated into Croatian, German and Polish. Her latest book was published in 2020 with the title Back on the Sun (Háttal a napnak), it was awarded the Milán Füst Prize the same year.

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), Reviews Editor at The Ofi Press and Art Curator at One Hand Clapping. Recent publications include her collection Captain Fly’s Bucket List and four chapbooks with Moria
Books (USA). She won the National Poetry Day Competition in the UK.

On The Way To Magadan


I’m wondering how far one’s desires
can be from another’s.
Aren’t you interested, mister?
You just laugh, oblivious
to the distance to Magadan.



What if we had gone
anyway?
I would be watching the ice,
you’d be watching the endlessness,
this is how we would be mirrored
in flat-frozen Siberia.
Isn’t it how we exist?
I’m stock-still
and you seem to be infinite.


We would step on the ice
of Lake Baikal
so that we could listen
how it cracks.



We could’ve lived
a much happier life,
no matter how short.
It’s the most
hideous thing,
isn’t it?
You can’t tear or flake
yourself off,
you’ll still be attached
to this rotting world.


You’d be holding my hand,
I would kiss your mouth.
We could’ve coped
quite happily
without the world
around.


It was a short while, I spent it
on running away from you,
waiting, looking back:
would you catch up?


Your long legs
are difficult to overcome.
So is, mister, to look into
your light eyes.
While you walk down the street,
you draw the shadows
behind you.
All of them.


See, eventually
I took to you.
I was fighting but to no avail.
True, you’ve seen war, much of it,
you are aware
how many moves
a capitulation must consist of.



One can be extremely smart,
a sharp word shot towards a good cause
always hulls.


And you fired upon me, mister.
A whole volley,

a cheerfully singing fire-squad
was hidden in your chest.
Now I’m wearing lacy holes.


Here we are,
on the shore of Lake Baikal,
on the way to Magadan.
You’re watching me, inviting me
to join you,
and I don’t dare step on the ice.
It’s almost whistling
while cracking under you.



The pain you have to carry
can earn you your real weight.
Everything could be crashed
if we both stepped
on the crackling ice of Lake Baikal
hand in hand.



For months, you didn’t give me time,
and now, with a smile, you ask me
to step on the ice, you’re waiting for me.
Well, waiting, not for an eternity,
but I should step, you don’t mind how slow.


I could’ve told you
how I fancied you:
I liked your blond beard, the way
you went grey, how lean you were.
And how odd, a light, thin body
can leave such deep traces.

Drops of rain add up
in your footprints.
See, there’s mud and puddles
here, in my chest.
They say, a path is trodden in us
by many people.


I know it’s a long way to Magadan.
I’m breathless already.
Every dawn tries to break
my neck,
every night casts me off
and I keep skipping to avoid
the leaks of sharded time:
life is thin, even if we dance, mister,
finally every foot steps into ice-cold water,
and finds the way home.



I’m obstinate, watching you,
your face, your never-ending
laughter.
Hey, what’s the use of the heart
torn out of me?
What can you do with it at home?
Shred it with sharp knives?
Cut lacy holes in it
and put it in the window?
Or would it be lost
in the clutter of your searched-through flat
in-between scattered sheets of paper?


How beautiful. Right.
You know it’s fine like this.
At least an undetected piece of me
stays there
and accompanies you
wherever you go.



Út Magadanba

Vajon mekkora távolság van

két ember vágyai között,

nem érdekli, uram?

Csak nevet, mit tudja maga,

Magadan milyen messze van.

Tudja, ha mégis

elmentünk volna,

én a jeget nézném,

maga a végtelent,

így tükröződnénk

abban a simára fagyott

Szibériában.

Épp, ahogy vagyunk egyébként:

én mozdulatlan,

maga meg mint akinek

soha nincs vége.

Rálépnénk együtt

a Bajkál-tó jegére,

hogy hallgassuk,

hogy reped.

És élhettünk volna

ez a kevés idő alatt is

sokkal boldogabban.

És ez ebben ez

a legocsmányabb,

nem gondolja?

Hogy az ember nem tud

kiszakadni vagy leválni

erről a rothadó világról,

mindig benne marad.

Maga fogná a kezemet,

én csókolnám a száját,

és így egész boldogan

meglehettünk volna,

ha nincs körülöttünk

a világ.

Ez a kevés idő alatt is

maga elől futottam

és vártam, néztem hátra:

vajon utolér-e majd.

A maga hosszú lábait

nehéz legyőzni,

és épp ilyen nehéz nézni

a világos szemeit, uram.

Ahogy az utcán jár,

látni, hogy húzza

maga mögé mind

az árnyékokat.

Látja, végül mégiscsak

megszerettem magát.

Hiába harcoltam.

Igaz, sok háborút látott,

pontosan tudja,

hány mozdulatból kell állnia

egy kapitulációnak.

Az ember lehet bármilyen okos,

egy-egy jó cél felé kilőtt

éles szó mindig telibe talál.

És maga lőtt rám, uram.

Egész sortűz,

vidáman daloló kivégző osztag

bújt meg a mellkasában.

Én meg csipkésre lyukadtam.

Hát így állunk,

itt a Bajkál-tó szélén,

útban Magadanba.

Néz engem, hívogat, hogy menjek,

én meg nem merek rálépni a jégre.

Szinte fütyül, ahogy reped

maga alatt.

Az ember pont attól

nyeri el az igazi súlyát,

hogy hurcolni való

fájdalma van.

Talán tényleg,

ha kézen fogva rálépnénk ketten

a Bajkál repedő jegére,

minden összeroppanhatna.

Hónapokig nem adott időt nekem,

most meg mosolyogva mondja,

hogy lépjek a jégre, vár rám.

Na, nem fog a végtelenségig várni,

de lépjek, mindegy, milyen lassan.

Pedig elmondhattam volna,

milyen szépnek is látom magát:

tetszik a szőke szakálla,

ahogy őszül, ahogy sovány.

S milyen furcsa, hogy egy

könnyű, vékony test

mégis ilyen mély nyomokat hagyhat.

A talpa nyomában gyűlnek

az esőcseppek.

És látja, sár és tócsa van,

itt, a mellkasomban.

Azt mondják,

sokan taposnak ki bennünk

egy-egy utat.

Tudom, hosszú az út Magadanig.

És már most nem bírom szusszal.

A hajnalok mindennap

megpróbálják kitörni a nyakam,

kivet magából az éjszaka,

és ugrálva kerülgetem

a szilánkosra tört idő lékjeit:

vékony az élet, és hiába táncolunk,

végül minden láb jéghideg vízbe lép,

hazatalál, uram.

Makacsul nézem magát,

az arcát, ahogy folyton csak

nevet.

Mondja, mégis

mit csinál otthon azzal a

belőlem kitépett szívvel?

Éles késekkel csíkokra vagdalja?

Vagy csipkésre lyuggatja,

és az ablakba teszi?

Vagy a feltúrt lakásában

kallódik valahol,

szétszórt papírlapok között?

De szép ez, igen,

így jó ez, tudja maga.

Legalább marad ott

belőlem valami, amit

nem is vesz észre,

de elkíséri majd

mindenhova.

Richard Skinner has published four books of poems with Smokestack, the most recent of which is ‘Invisible Sun’ (2021). Some of these translations will appear in his next pamphlet, ‘Dream Into Play’, forthcoming from Poetry Salzburg. Richard is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy. He also runs a small press, Vanguard Editions, and is the current editor of 14 magazine.

Andrea Gibellini was born in Sassuolo, an industrial town surrounded by hills situated halfway between Modena and Bologna, where he still lives. He works in a bookshop. He has published many books of poems and his poems and writings on poetry have appeared in New Topics, Vieusseux Anthology, The Magazine of Books, Poetry, Oxford Poetry, Agenda and Poetry Review. He won the Premio Montale in 2001. 

Two poems by Richard Skinner, translated by Andrea Gibellini:

The Summer of Red Mercedes

Your chestnut hair flared in the sun, an oil

spill in the ocean.

Beta-amyloids flushed our spines, a mass of 

crill surfaced, pink-gold. 

Legs pinned back like wings, our bodies systems of 

pulleys and levers.

Your pubic bone lifted, a swan’s head, and after, we 

cleaved apart, like slate. 

L’estate della Mercedes rossa 

La tua chioma color castano brillava nel sole,

una striscia d’olio versata nell’oceano.

Beta-amiloidi incendiavano le nostre vertebre,

quindi emerse una massa di crill, rosa-d’oro.

Piegate all’indietro le gambe erano ali inchiodate,

il sistema dei nostri corpi in battere e in levare.

Il tuo osso pubico risollevato era la testa di un cigno,

nel dividerci tra noi, come ardesia.

Isola di San Michele, Venice

“to step on an island is to die…”

It took me an age to find you,

your final port of call

obscured by a turmoil of long grass and eucalyptus.

On the mossy slab, the words:

EZRA POVND.

Each glyph sharp as a knife,

cut to the bone. 

The sun beats, peacocks cry, 

pansies shrivel in the heat. 

Each of these cimiteri is like a Chinese character

legible only from the sky.   

Who reads them now?

Just the birds, who, passing over, break flight 

and drop like a stone to the ground. 

Isola di San Michele, Venezia

“calpestare un’isola è morire…”

Alla fine, anch’io, e quanto tempo per ritrovarti,

nel tuo ultimo porto oscurato

da un arabesco d’erba alta, da foglie d’eucalipti.

Incise le parole

sulla lastra muschiosa:

 EZRA POVND.

Ogni glifo incavato come coltello affilato,

tagliato all’osso.

I pavoni gridano, il sole percuote

le viole del pensiero

che nell’estate torrida sfioriscono.

Ogni cimitero è un ideogramma cinese

leggibile solo dal cielo.

E adesso chi li legge?

Spezzando il loro andare di passo

solo gli uccelli nel cadere a terra come pietra.

Two poems by Andrea Gibellini, translated by Richard Skinner:

Nel giardino 

Nel giardino davanti alla finestra 

qualcuno ha aperto l’acqua in

un momento di silenzio intatto.

Il rumore violento del trapano 

ha smesso di perforare la

parete di una casa.

La bufera ha scoperchiato 

alcuni tetti, ha divelto gli alberi.

Automezzi di soccorso, quando la

luce è tornata e il cielo è ritornato 

chiaro, hanno ripulito la strada da

rami, cartacce, tronchi. Alcuni alberi 

hanno distrutto macchine, altri 

si sono rovesciati all’indietro colpendo

vitigni, zone d’ombra. 

In the garden

In the garden, in front of the window,

someone has started watering

in a moment of undisturbed silence.

The grating noise of drilling

the wall of a house

has stopped. 

The storm has exposed

some roofs, uprooted trees.

When it becomes lighter,

and the sky has cleared, 

rescue vehicles clear the roads of

branches, litter, tree trunks. Some trees

have destroyed cars, others have rolled backwards 

into vines, areas of shadows. 

Ars poetica 

In questo giardino della mente 

io non voglio più dire niente.

È un disegno a china 

che stasera proprio non voglio fare 

mettere i nomi sopra le cose 

e per sempre dirgli addio.

Non è facile e si può fare 

ma nella mia poesia 

non voglio nessuna teologia.

La tentazione di inserire 

una casa un albero e un vento

seppure leggerissimo sul filo 

della corrente 

e una canoa di fogli usati 

e delle erbe non vere, gialle, violente 

come i girasoli che sempre cercavi. 

Ars poetica

In this garden of minds 

I don’t want to say anything anymore. 

It’s an ink drawing on which 

tonight I just don’t want to 

add names to things

and forever say goodbye. 

It is not easy and it can be done 

but in my poetry 

I don’t want any theology. 

The temptation to insert 

a house, a tree and a wind, 

albeit very light, on the edge 

of the current 

and a canoe of used sheets 

and untrue grasses, yellow, violent 

like the sunflowers you were always looking for.

Jacques Fux is a writer and mathematician. He is the author of Antiterapias (Scriptum, 2012), winner of the São Paulo Literary Award; Brochadas: confissões sexuais de um jovem escritor (Rocco, 2015) – Award Cidade de Belo Horizonte Award; Meshugá: um romance sobre a loucura (José Olympio, 2016) – Award Manaus; and Nobel (José Olympio, 2018). He is also the author of Literature and Mathematics: Jorge Luis Borges, Georges Perec e o OULIPO (Perspectiva, 2016). His work has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Hebrew. 

Elton Uliana is a Brazilian translator based in London. He has a master’s degree in Translation Studies from University College London (UCL), and a BA Hons. in English Literature from Birkbeck College, University of London.  He is the co-editor of the Brazilian Translation Club at UCL and member of the Portuguese-English Translators Association (PELTA). His published work includes short stories by Carla Bessa (Asymptote), Ana Maria Machado (Alchemy), Sérgio Tavares (Bengaluru Review, Qorpus) and Jacques Fux (Tablet), and forthcoming Portuguese translation of three plays by Howard Barker (Temporal), as well as a collection of poems by Rufo Quintavalle (Rascunho). 

The Mad Jew in the Garden of Species

    Shver tsu zayn a yid [It’s hard being a Jew]

              Sholem Aleichem

He thought that writing this book would be enjoyable. That the myths, beliefs and fallacies attributed to the mad Jew – meshuga – could be discussed light-heartedly. He envisaged demolishing these nonsensical arguments, creeds and theories through the use of irony. He expected the whole question of madness to be merely a game, but he was wrong.

He knew from the beginning that experiences could not be fully described in any particular way. That a novel could only emerge from the personal and unique perspective of each individual. He knew that in order to make each person’s fable exceptional and spectacular it would be necessary to seek new narrative forms. And that it was the task of a good writer to unveil the beauty and poetry behind these infinite stories and fictions. And so, he conceptualized a formal detachment from his own work in order to address these issues. He researched, scrutinized and sketched the life, fears and writings of each of the characters he created. He understood the loneliness and the repressed desire of his protagonists, as well as their suicides and searches, but he also manipulated and concealed them. And he thought that he could master his craft simply by being rational. From a distance. Without getting too involved. Just by playing with words. Sad illusion.

As the narrator started to devise and compose, he suddenly began to re-live his fears, uncertainties and insecurities. To remember vividly his most personal moments. And to become emotionally involvedwith his actors. And so, he went on, unhinged, gradually allowing his reason to retreat, and creating horrific monsters. His persistent nightmares became not only his, but everyone else’s. Whilst the torments, the suffering, and the self-hatred of others were entirely his. He was transformed into his own fictitious personalities. And he went mad with them.

(Originally published in: Fux, Jacques. Meshugá: um romance sobre a loucura [Meshuga: A Novel About Madness]. José Olimpo: Rio de Janeiro, 2016.)

Gabor G Gyukics, (b. 1958) Budapest born Hungarian-American poet (jazz-poet), translator, author of 11 books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 19 books of translations including A Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published in 2006 by Green Integer, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015 and a brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for Seed published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. based in Connecticut. He is writing poetry in English and Hungarian. He published his third jazz poetry CD in English with three Hungarian jazz musicians (Béla Ágoston, Viktor Bori, Csaba Pengő) in 2018. At present he is living in Hungary.

Károly Bari (b. 1952) is a poet of prodigious ability and precocious achievement who at the age of seventeen published a volume of poetry of such startling originality and power that he immediately established himself as a major figure in Hungarian literature. Bari’s poetry features arresting imagery, passionate intensity, and exotic evocations of Gypsy life. He is also a storyteller, translator, editor, painter, and folklorist. Author of over forty publications in different genres. He received most of the major Hungarian literary prizes.

Silence

Passing sketches of splendor,

leaves departing from the branches, aged grass,

what was is leaving and approaching,

seaweed tied in the gray bundle of the lake,

veiled basement wall,

table, glass, knife,

objects do not know the world,

a cavity filled with designations,

and the breath equal to absence,

which is

as if it wouldn’t exist,

as if it were lost

in the paws of prehistoric times,

as the prey of what not yet begun.

Autumn

My God, can you hear, what I say?

It’s me who is speaking,

I’m ready to take the road again

after many years of wandering,

trees that lost their leaves

wave farewell,

the meadows wounded

by the silver needles of

heavy rain

the colors

the furiously howling flowers

fighting with the seasons

all know about my preparation.

Leaving reality

that can be touched by human notions

won’t free me from existence

whisper the fallen leaves,

what is the gate of finitude?

Where am I to go?

Gypsy Row

The calmness deters from

the adobe knot’s hidden fire:

the fiddle carved from the rose tree ran away

death-black-haired women split open their faces for it,

they have burnt a star to the sky’s forehead

with their breasts chopped off

because of some unfaithful nights,

at the midnight hours dragons paved the song-red land

wind circled the snow-white shirts of clouds,

crows rumbled with flashy wings,

the moon grieved on the backs of roving horses,

rose tree carved fiddle, where have you gone

with the fleeting time, with your back-stabbed music,

in the windows candles nurse your return,

memories lashed by lanky wings linger on the streets;

those who choke their hearts into music

cannot be forgotten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Csönd

Elmúlás vázlatai a ragyogásban,

ágaktól vált falevelek, megöregedett füvek,

távozik és közeleg, ami volt,

hínárok a tó szürke batyujába kötve,

lefátyolozott pincefal,

asztal, pohár, kés,

a tárgyak nem ismerik a világot,

a megnevezésekkel teleöntött üreget,

s a távolléttel egyenrangú lélegzetet,

amely olyan,

mintha nem lenne,

mintha ottveszett volna

előidők mancsai között,

a kezdetlenség zsákmányaként.

 

Ősz

Hallod-e, amit mondok, Istenem?

én beszélek,

sok évig tartó vándorlás után ismét útra készülök,

búcsúznak tőlem

a lombjukat vesztett fák,

a záporok ezüst szúrásaitól kisebesedett rétek,

a színek,

már tudnak készülődésemről

az évszakkal harcoló, vadul ordító virágok,

az emberi fogalmakkal megérinthető

valóság elhagyása

nem kiszabadulás a létezésből,

suttogják a lehullott levelek,

a végesség minek a kapuja?

hová indulok?

 Cigánysor

Vályogcsomók közt rejtező
tűztől visszaretten a nyugalom:
világgá ment a rózsafából faragott
hegedű, halál fekete hajú asszonyok
hasították meg érte arcukat,
hűtlen éjszakáikért levágott
mellükkel csillagot égettek
az ég homlokára, éjfélórában
sárkányok toporzékoltak
az éneklő piros vidéken,
szél hordozta a fellegeket
patyolat-ingeit, zúgtak
villámló szárnyakkal a varjak,
elbitangolt lovak hátán kesergett a hold
rózsafából faragott hegedű, elmúlással
hátba szúrt énekeiddel hova mentél?
putrik ablakaiban visszatérésed virrasztják
a gyertyák, nyurga szelek korbácsolják
emlékre a fákat: nem lehet elfelejteni,
ki dalba fullasztotta szívét!

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