Monday, May 31, 2010

Three by three

Ants marching in line
Only to wither away.
Why save the queen?

Graham Pough

The soft silhouette
Of the girl in the red dress

Shines dark seduction

Sam Aguirre-Kelly

Pry the wave’s blue verse
Translate the rock’s assonance
Into love sonnets

Alejandro Castro

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Am by Sam Hunt

This is no Grimm Brothers fairy tale, nor is this Snow White; but rather, the story of a little girl and her three friends.

It was just another typical day in the park for Rose Kelly. Only five years old, with her long blonde hair pulled back into a high pony-tail, Rose thought and thought about where she was going. She wished and wished that she would just get there already, instead of having to sit for another hour with her other five siblings. Rose was going to the Central Park Zoo. Rose had never been to the Zoo before, let alone the Central Park Zoo. She couldn’t wait to get out of the car and run all around, saying hello to all the different animals and people she would see. However, being only five years old, Rose quickly fell asleep due to all of the excitement rushing around in her head. The hour had passed and finally they were there. They were at the Central Park Zoo.

“Take my hand Rosie,” Rachel, her mother, said.

“Everyone stay together now. We don’t want anyone being taken by any of the animals, do we?”

Rose didn’t know what anyone meant by that. How could the animals take people? How could these adorable, cuddly things ever hurt someone? Everyone else laughed at the comment their mother had made. Rose was the only one who couldn’t grasp the idea.

“Mommy, why are the animals going to take us?” she said, looking up at her mom

“Oh, sweetie, I’m only joking,” she replied.

Rose took hold of her mother’s hand, and began walking towards the Zoo. She passed hundreds, thousands of people, all walking the other way. They were all walking away from the Zoo. Rose could only assume that they were all trying to get out because the animals might try to take them. They continued to move closer and closer to the entrance of the Zoo. People were lined up, holding their money in hand, waiting until it was their turn to buy a ticket. DING…DING…DING. A large bell chimed three times, signaling that it was three o’clock in the afternoon, and that the Zoo would be closing in four hours, at seven. Rose, not knowing what it was that initially made the dinging noise, threw her hands around her mother’s legs and would not let go.

“Rosie, what’s wrong baby?” her mother asked.

“The loud noises are scary,” you could hear faintly under Rosie’s whisper.

Once again, everyone around her let out a little chuckle. Chuckles from the crowd, and a loud, “Aw” from behind the family.

“Don’t you worry little girl” the man behind the glass counter said to Rosie, handing her a ticket and a small strawberry lollipop. “The Zoo’s a very safe place.”

“But…but what if the animals come and take me?” she said, watery eyed.

“They won’t be doing that today sweetheart. All of the animals are locked in their areas, and go to sleep early. They won’t bother you,” the ticket man said, in return. “Well…” he continued.

“Well? Well what?” Rosie hastily asked.

“Well…some people say, at night…late at night around midnight, the Zoo comes to life.”

Rosie’s face slid behind her mother’s sleeve, and began tugging on her jacket to get her attention.

“Mommy I don’t want to go!” Rose said.

“Don’t be silly Rosie, the Zoo doesn’t come to life. He’s only joking, trying to make you smile.”

“I never used to believe it,” the ticket man said. “Until one night, I was walking along the outside of the Zoo’s walls, and heard some noises.” Rosie came out from hiding behind her mother, and started listening to the man. “It was two weeks ago. I stopped where I was, looked around, and continued on my way. It was only after I had passed the gates, that I looked into the Zoo, and saw them.”

“Saw who?” Rose shouted. “Saw who?!”

“Saw the animals. The ones around the top of the gates. Circling the big clock.”

The line behind the family was growing faster and faster, but the ticket man would not give up on telling his story to Rose. So, everyone waiting in his line, just went around to either side and went on to the next ticket person. Rose was captured in this story, even with the little about of detail that was given, Rose couldn’t bring herself to walk away. Even her mother, and rest of her family stood there and listened. Stood there and listened with confused and troubled faces, but stood and listened either way.

“Gus, the polar bear. Joey, the kangaroo. Fumbles, the monkey. And Tiny, the elephant.” The ticket man said pointing up above his head to where each of them should be at three o’clock. “I named them myself. I thought they deserved names since they’ve been here as long as the actual Zoo has.”

Rose’s mother and family had heard enough of this crazy tale, and began walking through the tall, brick archways into the Zoo. “Come on Rose,” her mother shouted, holding her hand tight. Rose looked up at her mother, started walking with her family, but turned back around and looked at the ticket man.

“Midnight! Midnight is when they come to life!” he shouted from his booth.

People surrounding us, and people around his booth all looked at him as if he were crazy. I mean, statues of animals, made of stone, that magically come to life at midnight? Seems a bit crazy to me. One hour went by, and about one third of the Zoo’s map had been discovered by the family. Two hours down, and another third done. The family then walked by one animal that caught Rose’s attention. Not weighing too much, Rosie tried to stop her mother, but couldn’t. Her feet skidded along the concrete, and she began to trip.

“Mommy! Mommy! Wait!” Rose yelled up at everyone. “It’s Gus! Look, it’s Gus! The polar bear!”

“Yes Rosie, that is Gus, a real animal that was never made of stone.” Her mother reassured her.

Another thirty yards of walking later, and along came the monkeys. “Fumbles mommy! Look, it’s Fumbles!” Rose began to jump up and down, trying to get the attention of the one monkey she had deemed ‘Fumbles.’ The monkey hung down from a branch with one hand, and was scratching his head with his free hand, giving this funny little jumping creature a confused look.

“Yes Rosie, that’s great, I see him. Yep, Fumbles,” everyone kept saying back to her, trying to validate what she had been saying.

The smile on Rosie’s face grew bigger and bigger with every different animal she cam across. Next was Tiny, the elephant. He wasn’t so Tiny up close. Then, Joey the kangaroo. As the map got smaller with every animal the family saw, the hands of the clocks got closer to twelve. DING…DING…DING…DING…DING…DING. It was six o’clock now, and they had seen all of the Zoo, except for the little playground area for the kids. The family decided that they had seen enough for one day, and that they would to finish the Zoo tomorrow. Joe, Rosie’s father, picked her up and carried her the rest of the way out of the Zoo. It was late, and they had walked a very long time. Rose was tired, very tired. As they all left the Zoo, they took a look back to see if the same ticket man was in his booth. All of their heads turned, and there he was, sitting in his booth with a big smile, waving goodbye to the family.

“That guy’s nuts.” Joe said, with a light chuckle afterwards.

Walking back to the car, Rose had no other option than to look behind the rest of the family, seeing as how she was still being carried. She looked up high, up towards the stone animals going round the clock. They were all still, and right when Rose was about to turn and look away, she saw Gus’s paw move just a little bit.

“Mommy! Daddy! His paw moved, his paw moved!” she woke up, screaming.

However, no one was willing to listen to such stories at the time. They were focused on one thing at the moment, and one thing only. Finding dinner. Fortunately, the car wasn’t too far away, and the hotel in which they were staying wasn’t much farther. They got to the car, got everyone buckled into their seats, and started driving towards their hotel. The hotel was just across the street from the Zoo’s entrance. Getting back to the hotel, Joe walked into the living room and picked up a folder with names and numbers of different places to eat. Rachel walked into the bedroom with Rosie and sat watching T.V. for a bit. The rest of the family, Rose’s three other siblings all went back to their respective rooms and just relaxed. Rosie’s room had a great big window in it, that looked out on the main entrance of the Zoo. She could go over and look toward Gus, and Fumbles, and Tiny, and Joey, whenever she wanted.

Time flew, and it was already nine o’clock. The family was out to dinner at some small but well known restaurant down the street. They waited at their table for an hour before someone came over to take their orders. Light conversation filled the space across the table, and laughter rolled through the air. But, no matter what was going on, Rose just could not get her mind to settle down. It was racing from animal to animal. Polar bear to monkey, elephant to kangaroo. Dinner came, and went just as quickly as it came. A loud noise in the back of the restaurant echoed. It was now eleven o’clock at night. Just one hour before midnight. Rose was awake, and had no intention of falling asleep, while everyone else was ready to go back to the room and pass out. Joe left to bring the car around to the street, and everyone got back in. As soon as the car started moving, everyone had fallen asleep. Everyone except Rose.

“Come on Rosie, close your eyes,” her mother said, looking back at her.

“No. I want to see the animals,” she said right back.

Rose didn’t know what time it was when they drove by the Zoo’s entrance, but the stone statues appeared to be still where they were during the day. The elephant was still there, looking up into the air, with his trunk straight. The polar bear was still where he had been too, dancing in place with a smile. The kangaroo was still hopping around on one foot trying to get away. The monkey was still…where was the monkey? Where was Fumbles? Gus, Joey, and Tiny were all there, but Fumbles was missing. Rose jumped up out of her seat, and made as much noise as a five-year-old can. Everyone who was sleeping jolted awake and sat up, thinking something awful had happened.

“Go back Mommy! Go back!” echoed through the car. “He isn’t there! The monkey, Fumbles isn’t there!”

“Yes he is sweetie, I can see him. See! There he is, dancing around holding his little hoop in the air,” Rachel said back to her, trying to get her to be quiet.

“No Mommy, you’re wrong! Go back!”

“Rosie, we’re not going back, it’s after midnight. We’ll go back in the morning.”

Joe parked the car, and everybody went back up to their rooms. Rosie, of course, ran right to her room as soon as the door had been opened. She jumped up onto her window ledge and sat there, staring out towards the Zoo. Where had they all gone? There were no animals around the clock! None! The Zoo was dark, you couldn’t see anything except for the front entrance, from a number of dim lights shining up on it. But what was THAT? A light came on. A light came on near what looked to be the polar bear aquarium. A bunch of birds then flew up from a tree near the gates. Rose couldn’t see much, but she could see that there was something making the branches of the tree move. Something bigger than a bunch of birds. It could only be one thing, Rose thought. The animals are alive. The Zoo is alive.

Rose jumped out of bed and ran towards her door. “Mommy!” she yelled. Everyone, not just Rachel, had woken up, and they weren’t too happy that they had been woken up by screaming.

“Rosie, that’s enough. That man told us a nice story, but it isn’t true. Be quiet and go to sleep, or we won’t go back in the morning.”

Rose stopped talking and yelling, and walked back into her room. She sat up awake for quite some time, staring out the window wishing she could go and play with the animals in the Zoo, but she was so far away. And with just one thought, Rose closed her eyes, and wished that she could be with the polar bear, and the kangaroo, and the elephant, and the monkey, playing in the Zoo.

As Rose opened her eyes, she started to see that she was no longer in her small, warm hotel room with the rest of her family, but in the middle of the Central Park Zoo, in the middle of hundred of animals running and playing with each other, everywhere. It was too much to handle at one time for the little five-year-old. She was overwhelmed by all the running and noises around her. She was too scared to move from where she was because she didn’t want to get in the way of anything bigger than her. She stood in the same spot, not moving, until out of nowhere, Gus, the polar bear came to see her. He walked over to Rose. Each step he took he would shake the ground. Rose was a little scared of such a sight. Gus strolled right up in front of Rose, and looked her in the eye. Rose just stood there, looking at the big white fur ball in front of her, and seconds later, Gus slid back onto his big cushiony butt, and rolled back and forth until he was sitting up straight in the direction facing Rosie. He sat up straight, and brought his face close to Rose’s. They continued looking into each other’s eyes, without saying anything. “Ahchoo!” Rosie sneezed. The sneeze caught Gus off guard and rolled him back onto the ground. Rose giggled at the sight of a grown bear rolling around on the ground. Especially one as big as Gus. Gus picked himself back up and returned the favor by pushing Rosie onto her butt with his nose. She giggled, and giggled some more. Rosie then pushed back. This went on for quite some time. Eventually, Fumbles, Joey, and Tiny saw that Gus was having a fun time, and started moving over towards him. Not knowing what exactly was going on, because none of them could see Rose at the time, they were all shocked to see that such a little girl was playing with such a big bear. Rose saw the rest of the animals, and was a little scared to see such big animals so close to her. Gus saw that Rose was scared and tried to show her that none of the animals would hurt her. Gus stood up on his back two legs and bumped Joey with the side of his butt. Joey flew through the air, and landed on his feet further back. Rosie then joined Gus, Fumbles, and Tiny in laughing at the magical flying kangaroo. Now seeing that the animals were not scary at all, Rose walked over to Tiny and tried pushing him. It didn’t work out as well as it did with Gus. Tiny saw that Rose was trying to push him over, reached down with his trunk and picked her up. He wrapped his trunk around her little body and picked her up and held her in the air. At first Rosie was laughing, but then she started getting scared because she was up so high. Fumbles saw that she was becoming frightened, and quickly climbed up the back of Tiny. He grabbed onto his tail and swung up onto Tiny’s back. He sat right on top of his head, and tickled his big floppy ears. Tiny couldn’t do anything but let Rose down, and squirm like a bug. Gus and Joey roared out loud with laughter. Fumbles jumped down off of Tiny, Joey hopped back to join the rest of the gang, and Tiny calmed down after his tickle attack.

DING…DING…DING…DING…DING Rose couldn’t tell what time it was because it was still dark outside. Only a little bit of sun was coming out, slowly rising above all the skyscrapers. But, from the sound of the clock, it had to be five. The Zoo opens every day at six o’clock in the morning. This meant that all of the animals, Gus, Tiny, Joey, and Fumbles, needed to get back to their places around the clock before the park opened. Rose had to get back home, but she didn’t know how.

Tugging on Gus’s fur, Rose asked, “how do I get back home?”

Gus looked at her, and tightly closed his eyes, and moved his mouth. From the look of it, it just seemed like he was eating. Gus was trying to tell Rosie that all she had to do was close her eyes, and wish to be back home. And with that, Rosie said goodbye to her new friends, closed her eyes, and wished to be back home. When she opened her eyes she was right back in her bed, under the covers as if she had never left. Rose looked around frantically, threw the covers off, and jumped down to get over to the window. She climbed up and sat on the sill. She put her face to the glass and cupped her hands around her eyes. She saw all of them, back around the clock, waiting for a new day to start.

It was six thirty-three, and Rose was all ready to get back to the Zoo. She got dressed, and cleaned up her room. The alarm went off at seven o’clock and soon after, everyone else was awake. Joe left first, to go get the car. Everyone soon followed and then they were all off, once again to the Zoo. Rosie had a great big smile on her face, ear to ear. She couldn’t slow down, she was practically running. Back at the ticket booths, Rosie looked at the same man who had sold them tickets from the day before. The man in the booth looked up over his desk and saw Rose. “So, what did you think? Fun, huh?” he asked her. Rose responded with a smile.

He handed them the tickets for the day. Waved goodbye, and returned to selling tickets to other people.

“Rose, take my hand,” Rachel said.

Rose ignored what was said, and ran off by herself. She only had one thing on her mind. “Mommy come here.” Everybody ran after her, wanting to make sure nothing had happened to her. Rose stood still, looking up into the sky, at the animals circling the big clock. “Mommy, Mommy! I sneezed in Gus’s face and he fell back onto his butt and then he pushed Joey with his butt because I was scared of the other animals but then I laughed at them because they’re funny and Tiny picked me up with his trunk but I got scared because I was so high up in the air and then Fumbles jumped on top of Tiny and tickled his ears so I could get down,” Rose said, in what seemed to be one breath.

Rachel took Rosie’s hand and brought her along the way. Rose turned around and looked at each of her friends. Gus, the polar bear, Joey the kangaroo, Fumbles the monkey, and Tiny the not-so-tiny elephant. Rosie cried and cried to go back and play with the animals, but no one would take her.

Another hour or so had passed, and everyone was ready to head home. Everyone except Rosie. One by one, each family member walked out through the same gate they walked in the first time. Rosie left last of the bunch. The ticket man stood up and stuck his head out of his window.

“You were right” Rosie said to him. “I don’t want to leave, I want to play more with them.”

“Don’t you worry sweetheart, they aren’t going anywhere,” he reassured her. “Whenever you want to come back and play, just remember to close your eyes, and make a wish after midnight.”

Rose held her head up high, and looked up at the four animals looking back at her. She waved goodbye to each of them, and smiled as she walked away down the street.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

photo by Zach Elston

taken from the back of a moving elephant

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poem by John Alter

Yawn: a somewhat inadequate translation

whoever invented the yawn or
if it came into this world with us
from that other where lions sprawl

on sunwarmed stone no
matter he or she or they deserve

a cup of leftover coffee
a magazine about a war that no longer
goes on although the world to be sure

goes on being bloody and
tonight is going on like a man hired to
edit and revise a manuscript written

by somebody who
has by now drifted off into sleep or
lies beneath a comforter of moon-chilled

he earns very little this editor this

The translation—

Yawn…eyes burning,
I am dropping slowly down through
A trapdoor
Into eternity…drift

The pawn has something to say
To the King…

The page of today is turning
Into the beginning of the next chapter
& through-

Out there is the odor of burning

What is more,
Eternity will take the next shift…
What can I say?
Partaking as I do in the ritual burning
Of books—

A raptor lands
On the telephone wire

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Theodor Storm translated by Danny Zoldy

by Theodor Storm (1817-1888)

I (1845)

Schon ins Land der Pyramiden
Flohn die Störche übers Meer;
Schwalbenflug ist längst geschieden,
Auch die Lerche singt nicht mehr.

Seufzend in geheimer Klage
Streift der Wind das letzte Grün;
Und die süßen Sommertage,
Ach, sie sind dahin, dahin!

Nebel hat den Wald verschlungen,
Der dein stillstes Glück gesehn;
Ganz in Duft und Dämmerungen
Will die schöne Welt vergehn.

Nur noch einmal bricht die Sonne
Unaufhaltsam durch den Duft,
Und ein Strahl der alten Wonne
Rieselt über Tal und Kluft.

Und es leuchten Wald und Heide,
Daß man sicher glauben mag,
Hinter allem Winterleide
Lieg' ein ferner Frühlingstag.

II (1847)

Die Sense rauscht, die Ähre fällt,
Die Tiere räumen scheu das Feld,
Der Mensch begehrt die ganze Welt.

III (1851)

Und sind die Blumen abgeblüht,
So brecht der Äpfel goldne Bälle;
Hin ist die Zeit der Schwärmerei,
So schätzt nun endlich das Reelle!

by Theodor Storm, translated from the German by Danny Zoldy


Already in the land of the pyramids
The storks flew over the sea;
Swallow’s flights have long concluded,
And the lark sings no more.

The wind, sighing in secret lament,
Caresses the last of the green;
And the sweet summer days,
Oh, they are gone, gone!

Fog has consumed the forest,
That your solemn fortune has seen;
All of scents and twilight
Want the beautiful world to fade.

But once more the sun breaks
Inexorably through the scents,
And a ray of the old joy
Trickles over valley and chasm

And brightens up wood and heath,
So that one may safely think
Beyond winter’s suffering
Lies a distant spring day.


The scythe swishes, the ear falls,
Animals timidly clear the field,
Man desires the entire world.


And the flowers are withering,
So breaks the apples’ golden spheres;
Gone is the time for passion,
So esteem honesty at last!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Poem by Haizi translated by Michael Yuze Sun

Your hands
Holding your hands
Your hands
When you take off your gloves
They are two little lights
My shoulders
Are two old houses
They have held too much
Even the nights
Your hands
Are on them
Lighting them up
So here comes the morning after we said our farewells
In the morning light
I hold up a bowl of congee
Thinking of the distant north
There are two little lights
That can only be touched from far away

click here for more translations from the Chinese of Haizi (1964-1989) by Michael Yuze Sun