Poetry

September 2020 Poetry Feature

By BRUCE BOND, ADRIENNE SU, RACHEL MANNHEIMER, ALANA FOLSOM, and RICHARD HOFFMAN

New poems by our contributors:

Bruce Bond  |  Calvary

Adrienne Su  |  Buford Highway

Rachel Mannheimer  |  The New Me

Alana Folsom  |  Precoitus Floss

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. 

September 2020 Poetry Feature
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Poems From The Life Assignment

By RICARDO ALBERTO MALDONADO

Join us as we celebrate The Common contributor, Ricardo Maldonado’s, Pub Day with poems in both English and Spanish from his debut book of poetry, The Life Assignment.

book cover.jpg

 I Give You My Heart

I find myself on my feet with fifteen leaves.
Everything carries its own light on the walls.

I woke up to slaughter, my heart opening
to cemeteries of moon—

the parasites, the drizzle. The mud crowning
the undergrowth with immense sadness.

I knew death when I dressed
in my uniform.

I found the index of solitude: my country
in its legal jargon, its piety, its fiction—

Yes. It loves me, really.

I give my blood as the blood of all fish.

Poems From The Life Assignment
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August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin

Two poems by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev

Table of Contents:

  • Night
  • The Burned Letter

Philip Nikolayev is editor of Fulcrum. 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. 

Night

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
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August 2020 Poetry Feature: Raisa Tolchinsky

Poems by RAISA TOLCHINSKY

ON BOXING:

Table of Contents

  • A Note by the Poet
  • Circling the Ring
  • Below the Belt

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? 

—Raisa Tolchinsky

August 2020 Poetry Feature: Raisa Tolchinsky
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Anzhelina Polonskaya: Russian Poetry in Translation

Poems by ANZHELINA POLONSKAYA
Translated from the Russian by ANDREW WACHTEL

Translator’s note:

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
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July 2020 Poetry Feature: Loren Goodman

New poems by LOREN GOODMAN

Please welcome back long-time TC contributor Loren Goodman.

Table of Contents:

—G-d in a Cup

—Dear Jeremy

—Due to the Light

—Dolphin Facts

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.

July 2020 Poetry Feature: Loren Goodman
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George Seferis: Poetry in Translation from Greek

Poetry by GEORGE SEFERIS

Translated from Modern Greek by JENNIFER R. KELLOGG

Poems appear in both English and Modern Greek

Translator’s Statement

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.

George Seferis: Poetry in Translation from Greek
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