Issue 3-March 2022

—-Dedicated to the brave people of Ukraine

Ioana Cosma is a writer and lecturer at The University of Pitești in Romania. She has published four volumes of poetry: By the Book in Romania, In Aevo and The Psychogeography of Love  with Silver Bow Publishing, and With the Vagabonds with New Meridian Arts. Her chapbook, The Book of Stephen, is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in Chicago and her first novel, The Ones from Afar, will be published by Institutul European Press in Romania.

Ducks and Hunters

            Every evening, Melania returned from the small secondary school where she taught, in the small town of Loches in the French Loire. She lived temporarily with her relatives in the village of Chatenay Villedieu, fifty kilometers from work, and since she had no car, in the evening, after arriving at the train station, she had to cross the hill to her relatives’ house.

            She walked carefully, so as not to slip, it was something all the women in her family had, an excessive fear of slipping, falling on steps or any rather steep place. Ever since she had settled in France, she had admired the bucolic villages of the northwest, the neat and chic way in which the houses of somewhat modest size were built. She looked at the village of God, which lay quietly at her feet — people were probably getting ready for dinner, it was seven in the evening, and she knew that mealtimes were observed with acrimony there.

She was eager to taste the apero, her favorite drink, Kir Royal. The fact that she liked apero and foie gras did not necessarily mean that she had adapted, but she tried hard, although she felt a deafening hostility from her colleagues and the few other French people she had met, which she had never felt in Canada.

            The harvest moon, as that infused linden-moon was called there, had appeared in a pale-blue sky with pink clouds. Someone had told her that the rosy color was due to pollution, but she didn’t seem to believe that something so beautiful could be caused by something so harmful. The sky was like a plate of fine porcelain with painted scenes from the eighteenth century, with dukes and duchesses, hunters and Amazons. She felt safe under this pastel sky, not like that awful morning when she waited for the bus alone at the station and a stranger rushed toward her. Then he had run away. Now everything was calm and gentle, the village, so provincial as compared to Toronto, with its chimneys from which came out a white smoke like a, with the houses with chestnut wood blinds, with white or beige painted walls and black slate roofs. A slightly boring harmony, Melania thought, but she needed it at that moment.

            Suddenly, she heard a loud thunder-like noise and looked up at the sky. It was unchanged. It had to be something else. There was the same deafening noise again that gave her a sensation of disintegration. She looked at the edge of the forest where the terrible sound came from. Then again, boom, boom, boom, one after another, like in a war. She stood still, not knowing what to do. It was at the entrance to the village, near the edge of the forest. She felt the need to look up to the sky again, though she knew that was not where the noise came from. Instead, she saw a brown object fall toward where she was and stop on the grass, about five feet away. She hurried there, in the fading noise, and saw, lying in the sparse grass, a dead wild duck. With its long neck clenched in its fall and pain, the bird had its head bowed like a lamb for Easter and its orange paws clenched as if trying to hold on to an invisible beam. Melania touched the bird’s head lightly, stroked her immaculate white scalp, and then lay down beside her under the violet sky.

         She stood like that for a while, her head touching the forehead of the duck, then, as if in a transfiguration, she took off her raincoat and wrapped that small still body. The pattering had stopped, and she left for home unaware of this, feeling an emptiness in her stomach and cold shivers on her bare skin, as when she had been attacked in the bus station. It had occurred to her that the hunting season had begun, but she would have never thought that she would witness such a thing. She had always loved ducks; they had been her friends on the river as a child and in her grandparents’ country yard and on the lakes of Ontario. Her colleagues in Toronto had even given her a huge papier-mâché duck because she had said, at one point, as they were walking along a lake, sometimes, I wish I were a duck. Melania murmured, more to herself, I love you, and from that day on she never tasted meat again.

Kapka Nilan was born in Bulgaria and lives in the UK. She writes and translates flash fiction and poetry and has work published online and in print, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award Volume Three. She is the creator of www.flashzonebg.wordpress.com , a bilingual flash fiction and poetry website.

Sea or Sky 

Sea or sky, 

hungry grey dinosaurs, 

and a cloud pressed between them, 

young, naked, white, 

waiting to be gold plated,  

nobody’s child. 

Sea or sky 

will swallow it whole, 

no golden edges 

will remain,

there’s no permanence in beauty. 

I say don’t crave it,  

large or small, 

it would be no news, 

that things born get lost in impervious waves, 

that life oozes in the imperiousness  

of the present and only present, 

and is a small victory 

a mediocre existence even, 

harsh and hurried, 

balls of glitter with no glitter in the eye 

Sea or sky 

are befitting characters  

on this grey occasion 

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.

recognition of ennui

the wind is lost in my hair
and fell into my shadow
on the other side of the earth
in this invisible cold

questions lurk in my eyes
my organs slowly evaporating
their absence leaves a gap in the water
my face shows no killing intent
every wound heals on the trunks of unknown trees
the arches of the future disappear on their greenish branches

naked darkness multiplies my shoulders
my chest is a bed of miry leaves
frogs bathe in the pools of my footsteps
stories splash onto the shore’s sand
every part of my body is a hired message
my features are a lost smile
in clayey slush

pine needles- rain fail from the sky
no one cries for the wound of another
I carry an avalanche on my fingertips
earth grows wings on the sides of the mountains
and flies up to the stars that burden her body with life

the stones with our names
don’t belong to
aren’t magnetized by

any shadowy figures

the smoke of burning birch bark
colors my skin
makes my eyes water
tests the orifices of my skeleton
roots of clouds snake through my intestines

our innocence is based

on the forgotten dreams of the night

the roof of our silhouettes

overshadowed our decisions

the tree branches penetrated millions of parchments

our relationship might not be correlated to any behaviors

poem written under pressure/pleasure

The days of stolen hours

seem to fall short

during this unruly journey

dropping off assorted burdens at once,

full of our own private wanderings

dragging on

or stopping

only for bittersweet moments

off to the celestial

burials in the sky

above the tree line

thwart unnecessary obligations

no need for compulsory rules

no need to outline the circumference

or to be harsh

or relentless

but to step on the path

on a rocky dais

follow a shallow ravine

or dry crevice

inviting scavenger birds

to the charnel ground

to feed on cut up humans

whose souls have

already flown

to the sky

light incongruity

calibrate your expectations

before walking through

revolving doors

to see ashes choking

inflexible flames

erasing tainted rectangles

in the framed-up fireplace

in a clearing

to figure why porcupines

have quills before

someone else does by

pretending indifference

as if they were reading

to the waves of the nearby

remorseless stream which

very recently swallowed

a nefarious grinder

with bloody remains

of a pedantic misogynist

who left his bindlestiff

in the virgin mind of

a female pauper

in her death shack

along with a

removable third eye

that has never ever

been shut

Elline Lipkin’s first book, The Errant Thread, was selected by Eavan Boland for the Kore Press Book Award. Her second, Girls’ Studies, explores girlhood in the United States. A Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women, she teaches for Los Angeles Writing Workshops and recently served as Poet Laureate of Altadena.

I Think of the Lipsticks

lonely in a drawer,

magnetic caps clicked tight,

waiting to be pulled off.

Their cylinders coiled

as a snake asleep in a den,

ready to strike, a slingshot

loaded, needing to arc.

Oil, wax, and pigment

molded, then angled off,

silos of color, at attention,

soldieresque, ready to swipe

— mouth, towel, tissue, air.

I think of the lips, naked

beneath masks, dressed instead

in hammocks of print or

paper pleated surgical blue.

The expressions buried against

these screens, applied

to blot everything out. 

I think of the kisses, barred

from release, like inmates

touching through Plexiglass,

a grandparent wrapping a

shower curtain around a child

so the body is outlined and

traced in ridges.  The hands

powdery with gloves, capped

against touch, keeping warmth

from seeping through.

Black Honey, Viva Glam,

Russian Red, a taxonomy

of color and mood, stored,

stilled.  At the bottom

of each tube the bullet idles,

wanting to swivel, to ricochet out.

Shocking Pink

“Bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life giving, like all the lights and the birds and the fish in the world together…” — Elsa Schiaparelli

A bright slap,

swiped slice

embossing

lips bold.

Dial set to shock

so a woman’s words

are seen as they emerge.

The dress in the back

of the closet,

shoes teetering into themselves

in a corner.

Power, stuck,

at revving

and stalled.

Pulled out

when needed,

permission granted.

What does a dream,

volcano, do deferred?

Color encases,

enrobes, torches,

a spark

smouldering

at the edge

of what had been

snuffed out.

 Color of the Year

“Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. The color Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.” — Pantone, 2016

Deadheaded, the bushes

barely line the drive.

Stalks and stems that once

tipped to blooms now point —

blunt, blatant, witchified

sticks, each a finger slashed

to rheumatoid grasp.

The pink, padded flesh gone,

macheted against the far blue.

We park by their side,

slump a little, try to wonder. 

In this stark decade,

will we have it, that U-turn

back to happiness?

Can that soft fullness

ever come back?

Anna Blasiak is a poet, writer, translator, journalist and literature co-ordinator of the European Literature Network. She has recently co-translated Renia’s Diary by Renia Spiegel and also published a bilingual poetry and photography book (with Lisa Kalloo) Kawiarnia przy St James’s Wrena w porze lunchu / Café by Wren’s St-James-in-the-Fields, Lunchtime, as well as a book-length interview with a Holocaust survivor Lili. Lili Stern-Pohlmann in conversation in Anna Blasiak.

Poem 1

HANSEL AND GRETEL

In my grandma’s version the witch fed Jaś-Hansel and Małgosia-Gretel chunks of chocolate-like product. That’s what we had instead of chocolate in the eighties. She also gave them some sugary oranżada, the one of explosive tendencies. Her house was not made of gingerbread but simple herbatniki biscuits, and was equipped with a small electric oven. She drove a straight-lined Fiat and smoked Mocne cigarettes.

But the woods she lived in were the same as always.

Poem 2

***


English is a
series of tracks,
series of traps.
Tricking. Me into tripping.

(S)mothering silence.

Poem 3

MOJE BOYE

I didn’t dress up as a boy.

I dressed up as a pirate,
as an interwar dandy
in my Grandfather’s hat and waistcoat,
with a long scarf turned into a tie.

Sometimes I wore a peasant’s shirt,
a baker’s white coat or
a prisoner’s stripes
(I even made a papier mâché ball and chain).

I never dressed up as a princess,
a housewife,
or a whore.

Poem 4

LIKE A MOVIE

A few dates, then his place, eventually. My gut was sending yellow flares of warning. I didn’t listen. I looked up when in bed. His friend was there, with a camera, filming us. Flight instinct took over. I quickly mapped my things: my bag, clothes, shoes, coat. I was out the door before they realised. I’ve never run so fast. Through the night, looking for a bus stop or tube station, my pocket vibrating heavily with his calls. These were followed with
voicemail
voicemail
voicemail.

The police said to change the number. The police were not interested in names, addresses. The police didn’t care that they were both psychologists, working for the local council.

Poem 5



Family holidays, a safe cocoon.
Sun is bright, sand whistles whitely,
water hums with salty blue.

In my family we go for walks along the beach.

I go for a walk along the beach
with my girlfriend.
We hold hands.

Like honey for bees we attract looks.
Nothing more, just looks.

Like rotting meat for flies.

Initial defiance and pride
quickly sour into something stifling.
That’s the taste of fear.

A man gets up from his beach towel and starts following us.

Norma DaCrema is a veteran high-school teacher of Religion and English at an independent girls’ school in Pennsylvania. A student in Arcadia’s low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing, she has published in The Lyric, Red Eft Review, The Night Heron Barks, and Wingless Dreamer. She lives in Rosemont with her son, four indoor cats and Bad Randy out back.

Tāʾ marbūṭa


I taught them a better way 

to curve the hand and wrist

and caress, not clench, al-qalam
–to let your line glide into the shape

of the slender neck of every letter
as though your own words in script
could summon the tones of the morning call.

To write well is itself a kind of prayer.

Mim, jim, lam-alif

–some letters have music

independent of the ear.

See how the sound is framed

in the breast of the phrase

where the root lies.

Knowledge is not at the root

of the pen–the beauty of the letters

stays separate from the science.

It spirals outward into sense

or inward into silence

lacing together

morpheme, phoneme, 

meaning…

Their Arabic was poor on the page.

But they did like to make the tāʾ marbūṭa,

the feminine ending, 

a surprised little face with tiny eyes, 

round mouth, petite nose.

“Oh my–a girl!” it seems to say

at the end of sadeeqa

a feminine friend,

or qessa, her story.

Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. His work is no stranger to lit mags, appearing in decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro, UK—to  name just a few.

There Will be a Time When All Things Come to Their Sudden End.

In that said-same second
between
life and death,

a child is born to a
woman—
not quite ready.

Ribbons are awarded
to winners of the
McCarthy County Spelling Bee.

A bottle of bubbly is
popped
in Paris,

while a man in Colorado is
sentenced
to prison (though innocent of his crime).

The world contemplates,
realigns its incongruities
among a misaligned universe,

tentatively raises the shade on morning
and blows out the candle—
signaling night.

        The moon
    swings
low.

The second
between
life and death is an unending continuum,

one that does not decipher laughterfromtears
or as in this passage—
poetryfromprose.

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014). Recent work in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, The Black Bough, and The Fortnightly Review. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

No Access

A Coca-Cola bottle top

clutters across the square

            you pace in circles lips pursed

frowning, kicking at the kerb

the whispers of late-night lovers

who pause

            blind to feeling the wind blows

until the world becomes dust

rail-track bells clang at midnight

            your thoughts spiral,

split and subdivide the ground

empty benches circle

the hushed bounds of malls

the reflection of a high-rise

in rainwater

that brilliance behind your gated door

            deserves to be spat on by a lover’s anger

all who desire to know you more.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and (soon, three) children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.  

Jailbreak

My shadow walks

through the window.

My cohort strips, skinny

dipping at dawn

and I, a raised graverobber,

a jailbird jouncing

in stiped pajamas, am bird heist

October cageless.

A Field of Geese

I step toward the flock

and the geese begin to waddle away.

 I step into the field

and a hundred 

stir in disbelief. To them,

I am death, closing in

at leisure. To me, they are living

days starting slowly, picking up speed,

then lifting all at once into the flurry of flight.

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.)  In April, Red Hawk will publish his 20th collection, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021.

The Danger of Summer Picnics

                                    for Al Maginnes

Consider the extravagance of the man who tied his

Wrist to a horse’s tail as part of a marriage proposal.

He did this as, across the plains, a thunderstorm approached.

People still remember his gesture, but somehow forget her answer.

The horse was grey and spotted and the fastest in the county.

A four-month drought ended on that August day.

An Almost Forgotten Thing

Some forests are more shadows than trees

Think of Vasko Popa

Day after day he would go to the same corner

With his dented bucket of darkness

And drink all morning

His wooden ladle grew dark with years

At the bottom of the bucket

Were two tiny stars,

A copper coin, no longer in circulation,

And the single hair of a she-wolf

Once the bucket was empty

He wore the hair as a ring

Each night, he put the ring away

Before he turned down his covers

Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. He is the author of several chapbooks. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Feral Journal, K’in, Gargoyle Magazine, and Book of Matches. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.  

Firebreak Holds the Morning

I salvaged you today     held you

in my arms while between us the fire

burned     ripping down the valleys

and leaping breaks     rapidly engulfing

my bitter green profusion     the soft

white milk of your intensity     and ripples

formed across our river     growing larger    

growing fainter     till all that still

remained was the echo of a memory    

the cadence of an artery     the dissipation

of connection     the coldly visible steam

from our nostrils     dissolving within

the frozen timeline     that iced the blackened

stubble     still attempting to sell itself

as the miracle we saved from plunder.  

João Luís Barreto Guimarães was born in Porto, Portugal (1967) where he graduated in Medicine (Reconstructive Surgeon). He is the author of 11 poetry books since 1989, including his first 7 books in “Collected Poetry” (2011) and the subsequent “You Are Here” (2013), published in Italy, “Mediterranean” (2016) – National Award of Poetry António Ramos Rosa, published in Spain, France, Italy (Finalist of the International Camaiori Prize 2018), Poland, Egipt and Greece;  “Nomad” (2018) – Best Poetry Book Bertrand 2018 and Armando Silva Carvalho Poetry Award, published in Italy (also Finalist of the International Camaiori Prize 2019); the anthology “Time Advances by Syllables” (2019), published in Croacia, Macedónia and Brasil, and “Movement” (2020). The English translation of “Mediterranean”, by Calvin Olsen, won the Willow Run Poetry Award 2020 in the USA.

Calvin Olsen holds an MFA from Boston University and is currently a PhD student at NC State. His work has appeared in The Adroit JournalAGNI,The London MagazineThe Los Angeles Review, and The National Poetry Review, among many others. He is the recipient of a 2021 Travel Fellowship from The American Literary Translators Association, and his translation of João Luís Barreto Guimarães’s Mediterranean won the 2020 Willow Run Poetry Book Award and is forthcoming from Hidden River Arts. More of his work can be found at calvin-olsen.com.

Beer & Contrition

Some days: I dump them on my skin. God (or

something commissioned by Him) is certainly

behind this Sunday afternoon (summer is

slowly getting lost

in an immense labyrinth)

we brace ourselves for defeat one millimeter

at a time. Now and then

(more distracted) we are

technically happy –

breaking walnuts exactly in half (like neurosurgeons slicing meninges)

unrolling croissants in search of

the infinite. But

can you tell when

victory’s gotten a taste of defeat?

You never really win the war when

time is the enemy.

Cerveja & Remorsos

Os dias: deposito-os na pele. Deus (ou

qualquer coisa por Ele) está com certeza

por trás desta tarde de domingo (o

Verão chegando ao fim imenso

em seus labirintos)

acautelamos derrotas milímetro a

milímetro. Por vezes

(mais distraídos) somos

tecnicamente felizes –

abrindo nozes ao meio (quais cirurgiões das meninges)

desenrolando croissants à procura

do infinito. Mas

sabes quando sabe

a derrota apesar de ter vencido?

Não se vence por inteiro quando o

tempo é o inimigo.

Anatomy of beauty

for Jorge Sousa Braga

It would be a cat

in Venice. It certainly wouldn’t

get to St Mark’s by vaporetto (by Easter

the Doge would personally visit

the Benedictine

neophytes). But they run the alleys of the Cannaregio ghetto

where beauty is symmetry

and time:

permanence. One can lose everything in Venice

(a life a

friend the

last boat to Lido) but you can’t

lose beauty or so says this feline

who has ignited my soul

(more than a sip of Bellini

a glass of Bardolino) and

restored to me the certainty that the

perishable beauty was palpable

for once.

Anatomia do belo

ao Jorge Sousa Braga

Em Veneza

seria gato. Por certo não entraria

em San Marco de vaporetto (pela Páscoa

o doge vinha visitar pessoalmente

noviças

beneditinas). Mas são deles as ruelas do

gueto de Cannaregio onde o belo é simetria

e o tempo:

duração. Pode-se perder tudo em Veneza

(uma vida um

amigo o

último barco para o Lido) só não       

se perde a beleza que o diga este felino

que me incendiou a alma

(mais que um trago de Bellini

uma taça de Bardolino) e

me devolveu a certeza de que a

perecível beleza por uma vez

foi palpável.

Gradual Focus

There are so many things besides the asphalt

that lead to work (the

vestiges of voyages

the voice emanating from books) out there

beyond the blind rush of

every morning (that brief skirt of yours

the fire of being alive)

things beyond the

vile use of minor power:

there is

(for example)

the return trip.

Focagem gradual

Há tanta coisa para além do asfalto

que leva ao trabalho (o

que fica das viagens

a voz que vem dos livros) tanta

para lá da pressa cega de

cada manhã (essa tua saia breve

o incêndio de estar vivo)

coisas para além do

uso vil do pequeno poder:

(por exemplo)

o regresso.

Ioan Flora (1950–2005), author of fifteen books of poetry, among them Lecture on the Ostrich-Camel(1995), The Swedish Rabbit (1998), Medea and Her War Machines (2000), died days after his final book of poems, Luncheon Under the Grass, was published. Flora was born in Yugoslavia in the multilingual region of the Banat across the border from Romania and from the early 1990s until his untimely death, lived in Bucharest, where he had studied at the university. In 2011, Sorkin published Flora’s Medea and Her War Machines (UNO Press) and in 2012, a chapbook Flora’s work, The Flying Head (Toad Press).

Adam J. Sorkin has published sixty-five books of contemporary Romanian literature in English. His recent co-translations include, A Spider’s History of Love by Mircea Cărtărescu (New Meridian Arts), Lavinia and Her Daughters by Ioana Ieronim (Červená Barva Press), and The God’s Orbit by Aura Christi (Mica Press, UK), all published in 2020. He is the primary translator of Carmen Firan and Adrian Sângeorzan’s book of poems Quarantine Songs (New Meridian Arts, 2021).

Andreea Iulia Scridon is a Romanian-American writer and translator. Her translation of Ion D. Sîrbu’s series of short stories, a representative of subversive writing under the communist regime, is forthcoming in 2022 with ABPress. Her co-translations with Adam J. Sorkin of the Romanian poet Traian T. Coșovei are due out with Broken Sleep Books. Scridon’s chapbook of her own poetry is appearing with Broken Sleep Books in 2022, as is a poetry book with MadHat Press.

Raising the Scaffold

My hands are bloody. With all ten fingers

I crush thousands of caterpillars

that dared make the journey across the only grapevine trellis in the yard.

With the patience of a stylite, I pick off the moist, hairy pods

one by one, I stack them in my left palm,

grinding them with my right.

The greenish, doughy paste could now cover the exterior wall

of Voroneț Monastery, the one with The Last Judgment.

Last night’s storm knocked the caterpillars down from the mulberry trees

into the vine’s foliage, with its ruby-colored bunches of grapes.

I’ll scrub my hands with soap and water, with laundry detergent –

the raw green has forever permeated the subcutaneous mortar.

Last night’s storm, the millions of worms, the violent rain,

the grapes almost ripe, the bloody hands.

The anonymous painter sacrificing a thousand lives, at the very moment

of raising the scaffold.

Înălțarea schelei 

Am mâinile însângerate. Cu toate cele zece degete

strivesc miile de omizi

ce s-au abătut peste singurul lăstar din viță din curte. 

Cu răbdare de stâlpnic, culeg, una câte una, păstăile

moi și păroase, le stivuiesc în palma stângă,

măcinându-le cu dreapta. 

Pasta verzuie, dospită, ar pute acoperi până și peretele 

exterior al Voronețului, acela cu Judecata de Apoi

Furtuna de-aseară a strămutat îmi omizile din duzi în stufărișul 

de viță cu ciorchini rubinii.

Mă voi spăla pe mâini cu apă si cu săpun, cu detergent de rufe –

verdele crud a pătruns definitiv în mortarului subcutanat.

Furtuna de-aseară, milioanele de omizi, ploaia năprasnică, 

strugurii în pârg, mâinile însângerate. 

Zugrav anonim sacrificând o mie de vieți, în chiar clipa înălțării 

schelei. 

Just When I Was About to Put my Foot in the Door

I was tens of thousands of meters over the world’s axle.

I flew over desert or ocean, it’s all the same.

I drank only juice, gallons of nectar with ice

(time never ended)

we hurried, precipitously, to the privy.

We advanced with difficulty, centimeter by centimeter

and yet I very nearly (or so I told myself)

triumphantly conquered the redoubt.  

But it wasn’t meant to be, because when I was about to put

my foot in the door, just then, a pale guy

burst in out of nowhere

and bang! hit the mark.

In terms of staying, he stayed no more than half an hour,

time seemed an endless rut, and he, when

he twisted his face towards me,

was but a stunted and dried-out tree, scattering

through space mounds of pale leaves.

I was in a Boeing 404 and taking account of my small

and great sins from the past couple hundred years.

I didn’t want to appear too happy.

Tocmai când era să pun piciorul în prag 

Eram la zeci de mii de metri peste osia lumii. 

Survolat deșertul sau oceanul, totuna. 

Beam numai sucuri, tone de nectar cu gheață

(timpul nu se mai sfârșea)

ne-nghesuiam să ajungem, precipitați, la privată. 

Înaintam anevoie, centimetru cu centimetru 

și totuși, era cât pe-aci (așa mi-am zis)

să cuceresc triumfal reduta. 

Dar n-a fost să fie, căci tocmai când să pun 

piciorul în prag, tocmai atunci, unul gălbejit

a dat, de nicăieri, buzna 

și pac! la țintă.

De stat, n-a stat mai mult de-o jumătate de ceas, 

timpul părea o dâră fără de margini, iar el, când 

și-a răsucit chipul spre mine, 

el era simplu copac pipernicit și uscat, împrăștiind

prin spații mormane de frunze livide.

Eram într-un Boeing 404 și treceam în revistă micile,

marile mele păcate din ultimele câteva sute de ani. 

Aș fi vrut să nu par fericit. 

The Red Clover

I thought that had been it: from spring to autumn,

but it didn’t happen that way.

In terms of picking it, I gathered it around May, from Novaci, when the climb

of mountain herds begins and when we eat

lamb stew with mămăligă.

It was at this sort of party that I ended up with it in my hand,

in a plastic cup of light mountain soil,

covered by a heap of purple flowers, thin as the wind. 

It sloshed, it spoke, it swirled around in my arms, shyly pinched

by the cold outside air.

But why don’t they call it mountain clover, that would make sense,

I asked myself a day or two ago, why calf’s peony and not cat tail,

hero’s tassel and not grass’s sleep, why horse clover and not

wolf’s paw or trefoil or cheese dumplings?

Come February, you began to cut them down mercilessly, the body made up

of dozens and dozens of dried leaves, of a straw-yellow color,

fallen on their side over the lip of the plastic cup.

I was convinced that your work was useless, I thought later that

                                                                                     had been it,

but it didn’t happen that way.

Trifoi roșu 

Credeam că atâta i-a fost: din primăvară până-n toamnă,

dar nu s-a întâmplat așa.

De adus, l-am adus prin mai, de la Novaci, când începe 

suitul turmelor la munte și când se mănâncă 

tocanul de miel, cu mămăligă.

Tocmai la o asemenea petrecere m-am trezit cu el în brațe, 

într-un pahar de plastic cu pământ de munte afânat, 

acoperit de puzderia de flori purpurii, subțiri ca vântul. 

Se vălurea, vorbea, se vălurea în brațele mele, ciupit cu sfială

de aerul rece de afară. 

Dar de ce nu i-o fi zicând trifoi de munte, cum ar fi fost firesc, 

m-am întrebat deunăzi, de ce bujorul vițelului și nu coada mâței

ciucurul voinicului și nu iarba somnuluitrifoiul calului și nu 

talpa lupului sau ghizdei sau papanași?

Prin februarie, te-ai apucat să-i repezi, fără milă, trupul constând 

din zeci și zeci de foi uscate, de culoare galben-pai, căzute 

într-o rană peste buza paharului de plastic. 

Eram convins că faci munci inutile, credeam în continuare că atâta 

                                                                                                       i-a fost,

dar nu s-a întâmplat așa.

Miriam Calleja is a Maltese poet and translator. She writes in Maltese and English. Her poetry collections, Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015), and Inside Skin (EDE Books, 2016) have been described as ‘fresh’, ‘intimate’, and ‘sensual’. Her recent poetry collections are Stranger Intimacy (Stamparija Reljic, 2020) and the collaborative art book Luftmeer (2021) published in Holland. She has been published and translated in several poetry anthologies worldwide. Miriam has performed during the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (2020/2021) and Schamrock Festival for Women Poets (Munich, 2020).

[untitled]

Translated from Maltese, from ‘Varjazzjonijiet tas-skiet’ by Nadia Mifsud

under this woven sky

a few scribbled lines

a few notes from a waltz

among the moments we’ve preserved, persist

your eyes

tasting of night sea

hold me

I’m about to slip

I’m about to slip

hold me

tasting of night sea

your eyes

among the moments we’ve preserved, persist

a few notes from a waltz

a few scribbled lines

under this woven sky

taħt sema rrakkmat

ftit versi mħażża

 ftit noti ta’ valz

 mill-waqtiet li faddalna fadal

  għajnejk

  togħma ta’ baħar skur

  żommni

   daqt niżloq

daqt niżloq

żommni

togħma ta’ baħar skur

għajnejk

mill-waqtiet li faddalna fadal

ftit noti ta’ valz

ftit versi mħażża

taħt sema rrakkmat

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