All this talk through a tunnel of kid gloves and landmines went underground. You were catching my limbs in sequels and spoofs, commemoration my organs with friends lost, whose names like patients’ names. Our clumped desire stirs and how when unwound, as with DNA, it sweetly wounds us. Hope in the right place, you said, is hope misplaced or no hope at all. But I say, in my dreams I dream, in my dreams I do not hope. Where were you when was I? Counting down the decades for the prize as victim of our previous war. Were you my cactus heart and kelp forest, a gluttonous hunger I ate myself famished, an app, a tower or two, and flew as a swan flies into a sand file that said, “No more monkeys dead on the bed”? In my dreams the universe anneals for tents that fall like mamas from heaven. And you were tablet and me pill, surgery and me drone, firefly and me shooting star, where when my clone was made interminable no illness could. And the space between raindrops a shelter, the mountaintop a lake, the gecko an oriole, the athel a bulbul, and I was seagrass and you the banyan.
Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © 2018 by Fady Joudah. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.
translated by Mac Dunlop and Natalia Bukia-Peters Three years ago, during the war, our house was burgled. When I returned everything was upside down, Our possessions had probably borne those alien fingers with hatred. They stole my gold ring and several bottles of wine. They were probably in a hurry—only the drawers had been emptied. They took nothing from the shelves. And yet I was grateful—they had not burned my family album, nor ripped up my books, even that they had left the house at all. This will always be my shameful gratitude. And today, just around the corner, almost in town the military drills sound again as my child sleeps in the room, while each passing tick of the clock feels like a slap in the face. One-man empires threaten everything. Our skeletons for them are sticks and stones, as if they would fight each other using our bones as weapons. As for us, let us carry our invisible kingdoms through alien lands and alien harvests, for all eyes to see kingdoms where we ourselves are the crowned kings. Let us carry them, and in this coziness let us have temporary shelter until dwarfs and giants drill into them and crush them. My child, I am ashamed of these tales. Don’t get accustomed to malevolent endings like “the plague is there and so joy here.” That doesn't exist. If it could, you mustn't wish for it. Bringing out of our hidden kingdoms this inherited tumor, this love not for homeland but for soil. The lullaby of the machine gun. Who can escape his own charisma, when time so firmly, so loyally hardens the fontanels of all our children.
Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Lela Samniashvili. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Mac Dunlop. All rights reserved.
a velvet chair standing by itself on a highway a chair standing by itself on a highway means its life is over a life of ups and downs before it was brought here and left beside the grass nevertheless it was laid down squarely maybe thanks to a final gesture of love with all four legs standing against the asphalt this rushes an image to my mind: a wandering soul who leisurely sits here between the passing cars and the mud but really no soul can be so foolish to come and sit on a torn old abandoned chair on a dark cold rainy September afternoon on a lightless highway or to give the chair a little consolation I conclude as follows: there exists such a soul just that he, or she, is not here not now
Originally published in the November 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. “Cái ghế giữa xa lộ vào một buổi chiều mưa” first published in Tiền Vệ (www.tienve.org). © P.K. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by P.K. All rights reserved.
Translated from the Georgian by Mary Childs Today is the First of September and As natural, As the sun’s setting and rising, The flowers’ budding and wilting, The healing of open wounds, And death. This isn’t a school bell ringing, It’s the bells of a church. The mothers woke us up from our summer games, But the fathers took our hands more sternly and more proudly than never before. The fathers left work for the market, Carrying heavy bags and All kinds of thoughts and rubbish in their heads. We left toys with wilted smiles on the beds, Little sisters and brothers in the windows, Grandmothers who had combed our hair and Crossed us as we were leaving home, To meet with God, or our first teachers. Here, our empty, silent notebooks, Here, our unopened books and flat, inanimate illustrations, The red pens, which retain their strictness, but can’t express it, A roster, read from the grade book with no answers, Desks without purpose and The boards, painted black, On which is written our first, short history. Here, our flowers for you, who Were supposed to open the door of life’s wisdom for us, But the flowers have chosen a better fate. Again, light backpacks Are hanging like crosses upon our weak shoulders and White shirts— Like sacrificial lambs, we make our way to the last class. Don’t look at the road so often, We won’t return from here, We continued our summer games and We are hiding behind September first.
Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Irakli Kakabadze. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Mary Childs. All rights reserved.
Translated from the Vietnamese by Kaitlin Rees 1 Love I liberate the captive herd within me I summon back the fossilized kisses 2 If things have souls then things bear static souls 3 Hungry birds are building nests in space Affliction gathers in the handkerchief of a bride on her wedding day 4 We kidnap fear by the sharp-edged tongue of a knife 5 The sound of your crying purifies the darkness A sacred place is where I begin an entrance 6 Each grain of sand is the carcass of a dried star Distilled in the deep pool of tears 7 Dissonant music lingers in the bodiless ear of the present tense 8 Truth is the wafting shadowy zone of doubt 9 The night deepened The toiling laborers continued beating moon rock 10 In the rat-hole quarters Cheap dreams have no anchor to hold They float together straight down pipes after an unseasonable rain 11 If the sheep become authors They will write about their innocence being lost 12 We Evolved animals Excessively preoccupied with petty calculation While in trees with a tribe of orangutans Naturally admiring the moon in ascent behind mountain tops 13 The loneliness in a dark corner contorts a self-constructed pain I welcomeparty a friend from afar at the first break of light The wind blows across the sky of Brothersisterhood 14 Buddha never speaks precisely about Truth except for when the Sir is protecting silence 15 The lunchtime napping people are evolving a dreamy fountain of energy 16 Buddha is assembling a labyrinth of love exclusively reserved for evil 17 Your heart infuses my heart with a consoling word packed with spring bounty Not a fresh flower remains on the Sunday morning eating table Dusty rain beyond the garden makes a pair of hands far exceed cerulean 18 Pass me along to the lighthouse and burn me bright like fire Let me become the jagged underground rocks that rupture a boat in the night Let me grow like the flecks of light breeding in the deranged brain of a man Let me chant while watching my standing legs battered and buried in the hurricane 19 The mutual affection in a couple of supine beings asleep beneath a shadowy patch of orange trees Amorous feelings in repose and a summer of increasing heat In the cluttered tunnels of stacked sensual flesh They search for each other beneath scalding bellows of a ruminating ox with broken horns 20 Indulge yourself in the food of breasts teeming with life Netting hope throughout the jungle with a web of sound Carry the wandering songs of those romancing strollers within Entangled fresh flowers climb up the roof where the spring rain flutters 21 In a midnight dream this spring The East was a river skin of visionary sleep I sense I am a lethargic carp lost in thought Drifting with the stream and gulping stars as they take shape 22 The universe can be constructed out of the dried skeleton of a mythical deity This morning a steamroller’s pulverized dust billowblurrs every place As hundreds of planets open their delirious eyes plunging head first into each other The bloated vigor in every desiccated vein of the late harvest flowers 23 Everything around us is blindingly present A rose a gripped cinder a hand a scythe A clenched diamond can be launched into each corner edge of the present Time putrefies with its abiding richness! 24 All people should self-immolate their faces and on them search for light 25 Humans will be mutually set free upon entering the final judgment day All saints should be too 26 If people could live one thousand years then there would remain neither guilds of saints nor of the woeful 27 The conscience is a grain of sand in the shoe of Consciousness 28 Only those with true digression step in hoping search for home
Originally published in the November 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. "Những mảnh vỡ" © Pháp Hoan. First published in Pháp Hoan, Lịch mùa, AJAR press, 2016. By arrangement with the author. Translation © Kaitlin Rees. All rights reserved