Zoe Skouldings and Bill Herberts translations of some of my Poems

Poems translated by Raphael Urweider and Zoë Skoulding:

from: self experiments

vodka you transparent defeat you ice-cooled
mirror-smooth vertical illusion of sea potato rye
grain of life food-funnel my man will have one more
a drill through my upstairs mercy of bread and sugar
my gangway sway never rocked so bright sun-
headed my balance left at the table while pissing
standing hurts the chest funny actually such
seasick defeat bottomless stupidity a condition
that in short can only be called unclouded

from: eight seasons

 

post autumn

i did not invent the
trees but learnt their
names gave yours
to some they did not
object and repeated it
in the wind the wind
also carries it well
from tree to tree to you

from: a round dance

beatrice i sing when no one’s listening
i dream your names as softly sung
i am well beatrice thank you i hum
and you’re not only on my lips but with
full lungs i force you out from me and
love you in my memory as a high tone
in the head in the ear beatrice i hear you

cecilia the lilies are pale and failing fast
they cry out scent in despair i think

you don’t cry out cecilia you only close your eyes
you don’t smell of lilies no you only smell of me

i cecilia smell absolutely nothing i only watch
your eyelids imitate the skin of lilies I’m amazed

norma and i that is a rhyme
a mesh a thicket in which there’s
room only for norma and me
norma and i slash our way through
the poem pitch a tent on our patch
norma and i sleep tight and our
tent’s made of words that mean us

if it’s quinta or quarta
i can’t decide
on monday comes quinta
on tuesday there’s quarta
on wednesday however i
rack my brains and later
in the week i hesitate
quinta i like and quarta
a lot and fridays with
quinta are instructive and good
and saturdays with quarta
i’m away from it all but
sundays on the phone
with quinta and quarta
no decision made

zoe you have lost an earring
i stroke the grass like a sleeping beast
zoe you have lost an earring
i comb the grass like you comb your hair
zoe i can’t find your earring
i grope in the grass that’s grey in the night
zoe your earring must be somewhere else
i have knelt for so long in the darkness before you
zoe the air smells of earth
i search in vain the soil is soft
zoe your earring may be lost forever
i can only find twigs and stones in the grass
zoe just have a little more patience
i stay on my knees and i search for your sake
zoe you have lost an earring
i will not give up till you have it again
zoe you bend down to help with the search
i find the earring in your hair

Translated by Bill Herbert:

whisky with your brown belly and your
mahogany-resin-miscellany you speak from barrel to
beer to me your clear amber-thrumming stabs
into the middle of migraine’s quarters crawl whisky crawl
you can’t catch me you’re good at burials
piss-poor at betrothals dear whisky
yet again I take another slug give you
my shakes that’s how your brow-clamps warm me
you show the cornfield the charcoal-makers the woods’ gloaming
acrid tyre fire glow slowly going out inside
you in the heart of beige where the sugar lies buried

(bill herbert)

without doubt francesca we belong to you
we are your lips your arms
and eyes, this smile for you
reminds me of me when I
am full of joy joy francesca
is a warm hand that effortlessly
lifts the heart I hardly
care whether your smile is meant for me
I am taken by it francesca I trust
your hands they know
my heart’s true weight

(bill herbert)

magdalena you may not know
how to work the washing machine
but you do know what’s what
I for instance mean something to you

and that makes about as much sense for you
as it makes me into some thing so
the fact of the matter is magdalena
if I may now think of myself as a thing

I can then say that there are things
you don’t know how to work
and I take that to mean that you also
wouldn’t know how to work me

all things being washing machines
but magdalena we are not we say
happily we other things we
are ready to help please help yourself

(bill herbert)

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