Richard Hoffman|A Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory
Calvary Bruce Bond
What you have heard is half true, half forgotten. It’s what we have, a rubric written in old blood whose spirit of inclusion admits the occasional invention, the apocryphal goat at midnight, for one, who has broken down the gate again, and wandered through the refuse of our neighbors. Forgive him. Him and the others of a now more distant Jerusalem whose pattern of lesser hardships and small routines goes largely unreported. No less imagined than the clouds of certain portraits of the killing, the same weather that hung above the clueless who pulled in their laundry, looking up to see future there. What they do not know cannot save them. Or bring them comfort.Or the vague weight of clouds when they make a night of day. Imagine then, once the body is deposed, the men who take the burden on their shoulders go nameless through the margins to the grave. Forgive them.They know not what they do. Take this young man, a soldier of low rank, his wave of nausea slow to gather and withdraw into the obscurities holy books are made of. He is sitting beneath an olive tree, counting coins, fouled with blood, less a true believer in the entitlements of kings than an otherwise impoverished soul with a wife, an oath, a child. A drudge of circumstance.That is the story he tells himself, and the need for the ever better listener feels fundamental, as work is, and wine at dusk, and whatever cut of meat and means the heirs of grief and privilege refuse.
Philip Nikolayev is editor ofFulcrum. His poetry collections include Monkey Time (Verse/ Wave Books) and Dusk Raga (Salt).
Alexander Pushkin (1799-83) is widely regarded as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature.
It’s for you that my soft and affectionate voice Disturbs at this late hour a silent night’s repose. Where by my bed a melancholy candle glows, My verse rushes along, burbles and overflows In brooks of love, filled with you, and at last I see Your eyes, out of the dark shining, smiling at me, And finally my ear makes out the cherished words: My gentle, tender friend… I love you… I am yours!
August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin
After training for multiple years with womxn boxers who had the Olympics on their minds, I began to grapple with the dynamics of control I observed within the spaces I encountered. These poems are from a longer series which ask: what does it mean to be a womxn fighter (both inside and outside of the ring) in a world still dominated by men? In what ways is the ring an escape or subversion of the power dynamics encountered outside of it, and in what ways does the ring reinforce or sanction manipulation, harassment, and abuse? Both of these persona poems are composite portraits, representative of the osmosis between bodies and narratives that occurs among close training partners. Though I didn’t have what it took to pursue a fighting career, these poems are a way of writing into the imagined life where I became a boxer instead of a poet & scholar. Through this work I am also asking: how does the poem function as a body? How does the page function as a ring?
Recreating the poetry of Anzhelina Polonskaya in English is tricky because her favorite poetic trope is ellipsis, which is easier to achieve in Russian. Russian, as an inflected language (like Latin), can place words in pretty much any order within a sentence, and the poet can use case endings to indicate the relationship of nouns to each other and adjectives to nouns. When something is left out of a sentence, the empty space can be filled in by the reader. Thus, a Russian poem, at least grammatically speaking, looks like a Lego construction, from which many blocks can be removed without destroying the structure. By contrast, English translations in our (almost) non-inflected language are more like houses of cards – and when you try to remove pieces of the grammatical structure the whole thing tends to fall down.
Anzhelina Polonskaya: Russian Poetry in Translation
Please welcome back long-time TC contributor Loren Goodman.
Table of Contents:
—G-d in a Cup
—Due to the Light
Loren Goodman was born in Kansas and studied in New York, Tucson, Buffalo and Kobe. He is the author of Famous Americans, selected by W.S. Merwin for the 2002 Yale Series of Younger Poets, and Non-Existent Facts (otata’s bookshelf, 2018), as well as the chapbooks Suppository Writing (The Chuckwagon, 2008), New Products (Proper Tales Press, 2010) and, with Pirooz Kalayeh, Shitting on Elves & Other Poems (New Michigan Press, 2020). A Professor of Creative Writing and English Literature at Yonsei University/Underwood International College in Seoul, Korea, he serves as the Chair of Comparative Literature and Culture and Creative Writing Director.
These two poems by George Seferis explore the disorienting confusion and fear that arises from living through war and catastrophe. Seferis spent his life as a spokesman for the Greek state and Hellenic culture, working as a career diplomat and poet. He lived through the Balkan Wars, World Wars I & II, and the Greek Civil War as well as continual political crisis.
His poetry interprets Greece’s contemporary tragedies as the result of a mythical hubris, especially internecine murder in the heroic past. Bloodshed in the present is due to an endless chain of retribution set in motion by ancient Greeks who transgressed against the laws of nature, the gods, and the rights of their fellow men in pursuit of power and self-gain.