For What It's Worth – a literary site

The literary site of Jason Bentsman and Contributors. Entertainment, illumination, edification

My Grandparents

 

 

There are no photographs

of who they were

what they did

 

One was beautiful

with hair like the sun

setting in late August

but more pale

 

Another was slow, a third fat

with fingers so strong

they never let go

 

The last, a wanderer

who became lost searching

for work in Galicia

 

They come to me

as I sit after breakfast

in the kitchen

and I tell them

the truths I have found:

 

Time is a windmill

the world exhales each day

inhales each night

 

Friends come to us

when we are dying

or struggling with mysteries

or joyfully shedding our skin

in summer on a beach

somewhere

 

Don’t worry, I tell them,

we are never alone

 

And I tell them stories,

true ones, like this:

 

Once in an airport

while I sat alone, writing

a poem about Primo Levi’s

death in Turin

 

An Asian woman walked

back and forth near me

singing deep in her throat

  

de    de    tay

               de de     tay     tay

                             de      de      tay

 

and she stayed by me

singing

 

singing

 

until I finished

the lines about Levi’s

guilt and forgiveness

in the moment before

he threw himself down

to his death

on the stairs

in Turin

 

She did not see me

hearing her song

as she walked there

singing

 

her song

as deep in her throat

as Jesus or love

as deep in my throat

as it was in hers

 

de    de    tay

               de de     tay     tay

                             de      de      tay

 

And when I tell my grandparents

this story, they sit

in their brown suits

and dark babushkas, smiling

 

and nodding as if they

understood my words, as if

my English was their Polish

 

 

 

 

     —About the poet, John Guzlowski



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 It Is All Undone

 

 

       “Many and splendid are the works I have wrought”   
              —Adonai

 

 

I. 

 

A solitary bird traverses the blasted heath,

where life has been forsaken.

 

I dug myself in a hole,

and yet the Father reached down

with his hand to lift me.

I gouged holes into myself,

and yet the Son had mercy on me.

But now I have sinned against the Spirit

and cannot be forgiven.

 

I have learned to climb

out from hell after inviting its worst to try me.

I have traveled casually

through many-dimensional cities.

All the while I would slip

into the doing of unspeakable acts,

knowing full well God

is massive enough

to erase it all.

No cycle too cruel to jump

into and out of, no addiction

too abysmal for my visitation.

But now I have sinned against the Spirit

and cannot be forgiven.

 

Turn your head as I walk past—

you want no part of this

that I’ve become.

I draw my power from the darkness,

I would bring down all humans

with me— what is that to me?

For I have sinned against the Spirit

and cannot be forgiven.

 

 

II.

 

“Look!” A solitary bird traverses the blasted heath—

and sings.

 

Just then, he and I shared

our two souls.

He took what was turned in me

and let it into his heart,

and replaced it,

now a thing quite new.

No one could believe this. “Look!”

Over the blasted heath— the birds are

returning to the place that God had denied

life for three blackened years.

 

I once sinned against the Spirit

but I have been forgiven

because I sin no more.

I have returned from the waste and void.

 

 

 

          —By S.W. Whelan. From the poetry collection Holy Hell



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It is a pleasure bringing you writings and other media through FWIW, but the site takes a lot of time to run (curate, write for, illustrate, code, share, etc)— sometimes a hundred plus hours a month— and incurs considerable costs to sustain. Donations from engaged readers like yourself are indispensable for it to continue running and remain Ad Free... If you derive any joy and value here, please consider becoming a Supporting Regular, with a modest recurring Monthly Donation of your choice, between a cup of tea and a dinner. (Note: You don’t actually need a PayPal account; just use any credit or debit card and click through.)

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A new translation of the poem Corona by Paul Celan—

haunted examiner of the Holocaust, and one of the most renowned poets 

to emerge post World War II— from the German by Matthew Saks

 


 

 

 

Corona

 

Autumn eats a leaf from my hand: we are friends.
From the nuts we shell time, and we teach it to walk:
time returns to the shell.

 

In the mirror it’s Sunday,
in the dream there will be sleeping,
the mouth speaks the truth.

 

My eye descends to the sex of my lover:
we look at each other,
we speak darkly,
we love one another like the poppy flower and memory,
we sleep like wine does in mussels,
as the sea in the bloody light of the moon.

 

We stand embracing in the window, people see us from the street:
it is time that they knew!
It is time that the stone consented to bloom,
that a heart beat with restlessness.
It is time that the time come.

 

It is time.

  

 

* * * 

 

  

Corona

 

Aus der Hand frißt der Herbst mir sein Blatt: wir sind Freunde.
Wir schälen die Zeit aus den Nüssen und lehren sie gehn:
die Zeit kehrt zurück in die Schale.

 

Im Spiegel ist Sonntag,
im Traum wird geschlafen,
der Mund redet wahr.

 

Mein Aug steigt hinab zum Geschlecht der Geliebten:
wir sehen uns an,
wir sagen uns Dunkles,
wir lieben einander wie Mohn und Gedächtnis,
wir schlafen wie Wein in den Muscheln,
wie das Meer im Blutstrahl des Mondes.

 

Wir stehen umschlungen im Fenster, sie sehen uns zu von der Straße:
es ist Zeit, daß man weiß!
Es ist Zeit, daß der Stein sich zu blühen bequemt,
daß der Unrast ein Herz schlägt.
Es ist Zeit, daß es Zeit wird.

 

Es ist Zeit.

 

 

 


 

About the translator, Matthew Saks

About the poet, Paul Celan 



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It is a pleasure bringing you writings and other media through FWIW, but the site takes a lot of time to run (curate, write for, illustrate, code, share, etc)— sometimes a hundred plus hours a month— and incurs considerable costs to sustain. Donations from engaged readers like yourself are indispensable for it to continue running and remain Ad Free... If you derive any joy and value here, please consider becoming a Supporting Regular, with a modest recurring Monthly Donation of your choice, between a cup of tea and a dinner. (Note: You don’t actually need a PayPal account; just use any credit or debit card and click through.)

Or you can make a One-time or Recurring donation in Any Amount of your choice:


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