Found in Translation

  • The steam that rises from a slaughtered hog on a cool morning in October, mingling with our breath
  • The missing links from a game of Telephone, complete with shrugs
  • A hole in the wall just big enough for an empty hand, a hand without a fist in it
  • A spotted feather dropped by a striped bird
  • The tribal woman pressing her face into the anthropologist’s wet clay, then raising her head & laughing, so that flakes of clay fly off
  • A formula for silence that doesn’t involve wind or distance
  • The reptile claws of ferns before there were fiddles
  • The self-censorship of clouds on a clear day
  • Tears of a potato rendered chemically unable to sprout
  • A nest of spray cans under the railroad trestle & the deep-sea visions of those who used them in lieu of oxygen
  • The royal carpet a thistle extends to bees
  • The silver hair of water going over the concrete spillway that no one stops to look at on their way to the pig roast
  • Young thrushes practicing their song over the noise of the mining trucks, perched in the shadow of the disappeared mountain
  • A stranger’s finger on your face, causing you to forget your own name for a few seconds
  • Foghorns & their incidental summons to a new life

13 Replies to “Found in Translation”

    1. Yes, I think I was influenced by that poem (which was even better on the 2nd reading), at least in the idea of trying to explicate the title in multiple ways.

      I need to get back in the habit of writing poetry first thing in the morning, too — that’s where this one came from.

  1. “A formula for silence that doesn’t involve wind or distance” — really something to ponder about….

    Lovely piece. And I like Dana’s too.

  2. I’ve been reading and rereading on Reader. These are fantastic — there/not there, here/not here. These lines make me want to visualize them as surrealistic art. Not too many poems or poem-like things do that to me. They are waking dreams.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Deb. I can’t help thinking, though, that that head cold of yours might have weakened your defenses against my brand of B.S. :)

  3. I like the formula for silence, too. I love the movement and, for lack of a better term, rhythm of this poem. The silver hair of water going over a concrete spillway…yow. And those flying flakes of clay. Thanks for this.

    1. Thanks for listing your favorites. The clay print image was the only one I’d been thinking about in advance of sitting down to write. All the others just spilled out.

  4. Dave, these are great. I got back from vacation, and I just feel like I got another one, reading this.

    My favorites, in order: “A spotted feather,” “The steam,” “The self-censorship,” and “A formula.” But the last three slap me silly. Wonderful.

    BTW, I don’t get this one: “The reptile claws of ferns before there were fiddles” I guess it’s because I can’t picture the claws or because I don’t predate fiddles.

    1. Well, I associate ferns with, you know, the Dawn of Time, so it just doesn’t seem right to call unclurled fronds fiddleheads. Maybe a tightly curled claw is a bit of a stretch, though.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Michelle and Richard. “A life in motion”: considering the relative statis of my own life, that’s an interesting observation. I guess there’s no reason why my poems shouldn’t be more exciting than I am.

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