For National Poetry Month this year, I've decided to practice translating poems from English into English. I previously practiced this fun exercise with fellow poet Craig Santos Perez for our chapbook Origami Shipwreck. Below are the three poems I chose with the inspiration and help of Jenni B. Baker and Beth Ayer Chelotti. Thank you, ladies!
Songs to Joannes by Mina Loy
We might have coupled
In the bed-ridden monopoly of a moment
Or a broken flesh with one another
At the profane communion table
Where wine is spill'd on promiscuous lips
We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily news
Printed in blood on its wings
[In the Pearly Green Light] by Frank O'Hara
In the pearly green light
of early morning when dread
of day and some distant event
is just breaking off my head
of dreams and the security
of nightmares where a note
of myself is always throbbing
its characteristic rote
of personal anxiety, I wake
to real fears of war and chance
and, worse, of duty to the dead.
Yet I never wholly fear the romance
of my interior self no matter
how asleep I am, how nearly dead.
[New York, April 15, 1954]
A Sort of Song by William Carlos Williams
Let the snake wait under
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
--through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits