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

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