Another look at time

The unexamined life is not worth living. ~ Socrates

So, I’m waiting for this horseman,
Windows barred, doors flung shut
In a vast pretense
Of indifference.

Only, I see roaches,
Resigned, driven by doom
Under cracks, seared by dim
Flashes of light, some blue,
Some red, not just unaware,
But irrelevant

Like distant quaking nuclei
Star struck long, long ago.

This means little,
For now not only exists,
But does not exist.

A man, blind from birth

A parable

A man, blind from birth,
Is given the gift of sight.
The bandages come off.
He hears the voice of his beloved wife,
And sees…

An incomprehensible blather of light,
A tide of something he has never experienced,
Like water poured on the back
Of a desert beetle,
Or love in the heart
Of a man who has known only
Survival.

A week later,
He is blind again,
Rejecting the meaningless confusion
He has lived without his whole life.

His wife, devastated,
Leaves him,
Thinking she has seen him as he really is,
Ungrateful, mean.

He thinks he knows her at last
For the first time,
A creature wholly devoid of empathy.

Meanwhile, the sun rises over the desert,
And light falls on a beetle,
Scuttling under gathering clouds.

Goodbye, Charlie

Rage. Bullets fly, blood,
Precious blood, flows unstinted.
Twelve people lie dead,
Bereft of all but meaning,

And the bells of Notre Dame peal fiercely,
Clouds part and the gates of heaven
Swing ponderously open.
“Sweet Jesus,” says St. Peter, eyes rolling, “here they come!”

This poem was inspired by a cartoon by Tommy Dessine.

 

The guitar, by Federico García Lorca

I have written about the difficulty of translating poetry elsewhere; I have been struggling with this well known poem of García Lorca seemingly forever. Last night, just as I was drifting off to sleep (of course!), it all came together. It is not a faithful, verbatim translation, but it is what I think works.  Here it is, first in the original Spanish, then my translation.  See what you think:

La guitarra

Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Se rompen las copas
de la madrugada.
Empieza el llanto
de la guitarra.
Es inútil
callarla.
Es imposible
callarla.
Llora monótona
como llora el agua,
como llora el viento
sobre la nevada.
Es imposible
callarla.
Llora por cosas
lejanas.
Arena del Sur caliente
que pide camelias blancas.
Llora flecha sin blanco,
la tarde sin mañana,
y el primer pájaro muerto
sobre la rama.
¡Oh guitarra!
Corazón malherido
por cinco espadas.

The guitar

Suddenly, the guitar
And the cups of dawn lie shattered.
Suddenly, the guitar,
Useless to silence,
Impossible to silence,
Weeping relentlessly,
Like water,
Like snow-bound wind,
Impossible to silence.
It weeps for distant things,
Sands of the searing south
Begging for white camellias.
It weeps for the arrow with no target,
The evening with no tomorrow,
And the first dead bird of winter.
Oh, guitar!
These five swords
Are piercing your heart!