The Hat

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

I walked her home and to the back-door where she lived. There was nothing else or anything more remarkable about it.

Goodbye, and thank you for walking me home, she said.

Bye, I said.

Your Hat!

It’s better off that way, I said, and carried on taking leave of the girl.


By Jón Thoroddsen
Translated from the Icelandic by Chris Crocker


 
Chris Crocker is a PhD student of medieval Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. He was born in Newfoundland, Canada.

Jón Thoroddsen was born in Ísafjörður, Iceland, in 1898. The son of the poet Theódóra Thoroddsen and Skúli Thoroddsen, an important figure in the independence movement, Thoroddsen died in Copenhagen at age 26 on New Year’s Eve, 1924, after having been struck by a street-car on Christmas day. During his lifetime he published a book of poetry, Flugur (Flies) in 1922, as well as several other plays, poems and short stories.

 

Woman

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

She was an introduction to men’s love stories.

She was an added chapter.

She was the division between chapters.

And now she is my love story. But they’ve forgotten to print the words: All rights reserved.


By Jón Thoroddsen
Translated from the Icelandic by Chris Crocker


 
Chris Crocker is a PhD student of medieval Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. He was born in Newfoundland, Canada.

Jón Thoroddsen was born in Ísafjörður, Iceland, in 1898. The son of the poet Theódóra Thoroddsen and Skúli Thoroddsen, an important figure in the independence movement, Thoroddsen died in Copenhagen at age 26 on New Year’s Eve, 1924, after having been struck by a street-car on Christmas day. During his lifetime he published a book of poetry, Flugur (Flies) in 1922, as well as several other plays, poems and short stories.

 

Vision of Moth-Eaten Pianos Falling into Ruins

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

A man in a frock coat representing incest

Receiving congratulations from incest’s hot wind

An exhausted rose supports a bird’s corpse

Leaden bird where do you keep your basket of songs

And the rations for your brood of clock-like snakes

When you’re done being dead you’ll be a drunken compass

A halter on the bed waiting for a dying gentleman from the Pacific islands sailing a divine, cretinous musical turtle

You will be a mausoleum to the plague’s victims or an ephemeral equilibrium between two trains that collide

While the plaza fills with smoke and rubbish and rains down cotton, rice, water, onions, and traces from highest archaeology

A gilded skillet with my mother’s portrait

A park bench with three coal statues

Eight copies of paper manuscripts in German

A few days of the week made of cardboard with blue noses

Beard hairs from various presidents of the Peruvian Republic driving themselves like stone arrows into the pavement and producing a violent patriotism in people with bladder disease

You will be a tiny volcano prettier than three thirsty dogs curtsying and giving advice to each other on how to grow wheat in mothballed pianos


By César Moro
Translated from the Spanish by Esteban Quispe


 

Esteban Quispe is currently a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, studying Modern Languages and specializing in Spanish and French.

César Moro (born Alfredo Quíspez Asín in 1903) was a Peruvian Surrealist poet who wrote in Spanish and French. He spent many years in Paris and in Mexico in connection with artists and poets such as Andre Breton, Leonora Carrington, Wolfgang Paalen, Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, Xavier Villaurrutia, etc. While in Mexico he wrote his best known collection of poetry, La tortuga ecuestre. He died in 1956.

 

Odor and Gaze

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

The fine, secluded odor of your armpits

Heap-on-heap of straw crowns and fresh hay cut with fingers and asphodels and fresh skin and far off gallops like pearls

Your hair’s scent under the blue water with black fish and sea stars and sky stars under the infinite snow of your gaze

Your gaze of sea cucumber of whale of rain of diaries of suicides with wet eyes of your white coral branch gaze

Daytime sponge while the sea spits out sick whales and every staircase repulses its wayfarer like the plague-infected beast that inhabits the wanderer’s dreams

And sparkling blows to the temples and the wave that erases the sparks to leave on the tapestry the eternal question of your dead object’s gaze your putrid, flowery gaze


By César Moro
Translated from the Spanish by Esteban Quispe


 

Esteban Quispe is currently a student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, studying Modern Languages and specializing in Spanish and French.

César Moro (born Alfredo Quíspez Asín in 1903) was a Peruvian Surrealist poet who wrote in Spanish and French. He spent many years in Paris and in Mexico in connection with artists and poets such as Andre Breton, Leonora Carrington, Wolfgang Paalen, Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, Xavier Villaurrutia, etc. While in Mexico he wrote his best known collection of poetry, La tortuga ecuestre. He died in 1956.

 

In the Woods of Pennsylvania

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

When a giant tree commits suicide,
Tired of already being dry and not producing
Birds, without waiting for man to cut it down,
Not waiting for the wind,
With no leaves, it launches its last tune

Symphonic explosion where once were nests
All its wooden holes creak,
Two drops of sap still drop
When its stem bursts the air,
Its tons roll down the fields,
The wolves cry and the deer tremble,
All squirrels go to meet it,
Foreseeing that is some beauty what dies.


By Gloria Fuertes
Translated from the Spanish by Sofia Sharkey


 

Dianny Sofia Sharkey was born in Cali, Colombia in 1990 in a working class family. She was raised moving back and forth between Bogota and Bucaramanga. At age 19 she moved to the United States. She graduated with honors from the University of Missouri Kansas City in May 2015.

Born in Madrid in a working class family, Gloria Fuertes (1917–1998) considered herself a self-taught poet. She participated in the mid-century poetic generations (“Generación de los 50”, Postism) and taught for a short period in the United States in the early 1960s. Later she became a popular writer of children literature in Spain.

 

Death in Beverly Hills

May 30, 2015 in Poetry

In telephone booths
There are mysterious inscriptions drawn with lipstick

They are the last words of sweet blond girls
That, with bloody cleavage, take refuge there to die.

Final night under the pale neon, final day under sky of hallucinations,
Streets newly watered with magnolias, yellow lights of
The patrol cars at dawn.

I will wait for you till half past one, when you leave the cinema – and at
That hour, the one who’s body was like a branch of orchids
Is dead in the Morgue.

Wounded in the nightly shooting, kept in the corners
By the search lights, slapped in the night-clubs,
My true and sweet love cries in my arms

A final light, the most slender and clear,
It seems to be sliding away from the closed night-clubs:
This light that stops those passing by
And speaks gently about their childhood.

Music from another time, song to the beat of those old
Notes from the night we met Ava Gardner,
A girl wrapped in a clear raincoat that we kissed
One time in an elevator, in the dark between two floors, and
She had such blue eyes, and she always spoke in a very low
Voice — Her name was Nelly.

Close your eyes and listen to the song of the sirens in the night
Made silver with bright signs.

The night gets warm blue avenues.
Shadows embracing shadows in swimming pools and bars.

In the dark sky the stars fought
When she died of love,
And it was as if she smelled a perfume very slowly.


By Pere Gimferrer
Translated from the Spanish by Jesse Wells


 

Jesse Wells is currently a student at the University of Missouri Kansas City.

Pere Gimferrer is a Spanish poet born in 1945. Gimferrer’s first poetry books in early 1960s (Message from the Tetrarch, The Sea is Burning, Death in Beverly Hills) made waves with their fantasy, references to popular culture, film, adventures and exoticism, in a time when Spanish poetry was considered also a political arm against Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975). Gimferrer was part of a new generation of poets, influenced by mass media and international authors like Ezra Pound or Saint-John Perse. In the 1970s, he wrote his poetry mainly in Catalan and garnered many awards.

 

Androculous and the Lion

May 30, 2015 in Fiction

In the Circus Maximus a very magnificent hunting spectacle was given to the people. There were many raging beasts, but above all the others, a lion attracted the attention of everyone with its enormous body and its loud and frightful roar. The slave of a man of consular rank had been led in among many others who had been sacrificed to the battle of the beasts; that slave’s name was Androclus. When that lion saw this man in the distance, suddenly it stood still as if admiring Androclus, and then it approached the man gradually and calmly as if he were a friend. Then the lion moved its tail mildly and charmingly, in the manner of flattering dogs, and fastened itself to the body of the man, who was almost already lifeless with fear, and the lion gently caressed his legs and hands with its tongue. Androclus, in the midst of the blandishments of such a ferocious beast, recovered his lost breath, and little by little brought his eyes toward gazing upon the lion. Then, as if with mutual recognition having been made, you might have seen the man and lion rejoicing with each other.

This wonderful event stirred up very great shouts among the people. Androclus was summoned by the emperor, and was asked the reason why that very ferocious lion spared only him. Then Androclus told an amazing and wonderous story. He said “When my master governed an African province with the authority of a proconsul, I was forced to flee on account of his unjust and daily beatings, I went to the flat, sandy wildernesses so that there would be safer places for me to hide from my master, who was the governor of that land; and if I had been lacking food, my plan was to seek death in some way. Then with the midday sun burning fierce, having found a remote cave full of hiding places, I betook myself into that cave and hid myself there. And not much after, this lion came to the same cave with one paw bloody, weakened and uttering groans and murmurs on account of the pain and torture of its wound. And in that cave, indeed, I was terrified and dismayed at the first sight of the approaching lion, but the lion having entered, after he saw me hiding from far away, the beast approached gentle and kind, and it seemed to extend and show to me its disabled paw, as if for the sake of seeking help. Then I tore out the huge stem sticking into the sole of its paw, and I pressed out the pus from the innermost wound, and now without great fear, I thoroughly dried and cleaned the bloody gore. Then, having been relieved by my help, with its paw placed in my hands, the lion reclined and fell asleep.

From that day, for three whole years the lion and I lived in the same cave and ate the same food. The lion brought to the cave the more fatty limbs of the beasts which he had caught for me, which I ate by roasting in the midday sun, not having the capacity to build a fire. But when I became bored by that wild life, when the lion had departed for its hunt, I left the cave and travelled for about three days, but I was seen and caught by soldiers and was brought back from Africa to my master in Rome. He immediately had me be convicted of a capital charge and handed over to the wild beasts. But I understand that this lion was also captured after I had been separated from it, and now is returning the favor to me for my help and medical treatment.

Androclus said these things; and when all those things written and circulated on a tablet were announced to the people, with all the people begging, Androclus was dismissed and set free from the punishment, and the lion was given to him by the votes of the people. Afterwards, Androclus and the lion, tied with a thin leash, went around to the taverns and throughout the entire city; Androclus was given money, the lion was sprinkled with flowers, and all who met them everywhere shouted “This lion is a friend to that man, and this man is the doctor of that lion.”


By Aulus Gellius
Translated from the Latin by Amber Knight


 

Amber Knight is currently a student at the University of California San Diego, where she is a Classical Studies and History double major. Her main interests include Roman religious traditions, classical rhetoric, and the history of Italy. While Latin is her focus, she also enjoys translating Attic and Homeric Greek. She is an intern for Alchemy and will be studying abroad in Rome this fall.

Aulus Gellius (120-180 AD) was a Latin author best known for his book Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights), in which this story appears.

 

Letter from the Editor

December 21, 2014 in Letter from the editor

Translation was never limited to literature. An essential practice, its traces are all around us.

In the latest issue of Alchemy, we celebrate how languages surround us — not only in texts we choose to read but in the kind of murals and graffiti encountered in cities worldwide. Two highlights of this, our seventh issue, are translations from the streets of Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Toledo, Spain.

Translation also reaches back into the past to cast light on our present moment. Our issue features Spanish poetry that spans almost a thousand years — including both a fragment from a medieval lyric written in Old Spanish and the innovative work of a contemporary poet in post-Franco Spain.

The translations featured here also cross borders and genres: We have even more micro sci-fi bursts from Tijuana, part of a series started this summer, and we round out the issue with a set of sparse, striking poems from Korea and a contemporary fairy tale from Russia.

Translations connect us in myriad and unexpected ways. We are pleased to share this issue of Alchemy with you, and we hope it fosters even more connections that transcend boundaries and languages.

Sarah Ciston, editor

Survival

December 20, 2014 in Fiction


While waiting her turn, her mind flashbacked to the time of the separation — a year she will never forget. It was in early June of 2011 when it was announced that the economies of all countries would be collapsing due to…what? She no longer remembered. Besides, did it matter now? She had just turned 18, she had been born here on the northern border…Aha! She thought, 34 years ago. It seemed to be like a disgrace but now it was the only way to live…well, one would say to survive. First began a shortage of everything: of food, of medicine, of governmental services, and of jobs. In less than six months, the structure of life that everyone had known for years or, rather, centuries had disappeared. Ten more years had to pass so that some type of order could be established. Today, the legal intersection, at least in what is left of our continent, is precisely Tijuana, and the only ones allowed to cross over are the ones that rely on dual citizenship, are authorized, and most importantly, are healthy—since those with the slightest sign of illness are terminated. “20451993,” she overheard. She stood before the tracker, her heart beat loudly…then a robotic voice said, “Clean.”


By Kim Ochoa
Translated, from the Spanish, by Pepe Rojo


SObrevivir

 
Pepe Rojo (1968) has published five books and more than 200 texts (short stories, essays and articles dealing with fiction, media and contemporary culture). He cofounded Pellejo/Molleja (with Deyanira Torres and Bernardo Fernández), an indie publishing firm, and edited SUB (sub-genre literature), NUMERO X (media culture) and PULPO COMICS (mex-sf comics anthology) for them. He has produced several interactive stories for Alteraction, and published two collections of Minibúks (Mexican SF and Counter-versions) at UABC, as well as the graphic intervention “Philosophical Dictionary of Tijuana.” He is currently an MFA Candidate in Writing at UCSD.
 

Tijuana: Host of the 2044 Olympic Games + Copyright

December 20, 2014 in Fiction


TIJUANA: Host of the 2044 Olympic Games

Tijuana, B.C.: Juan Pérez is the first Mexican to win a gold medal in the obstacle course. He exclusively tells us, “My main motivation was that they’ve replaced the hurdles with border walls.”

 

TIJUANA: Copyright

The discussion regarding intellectual rights has risen to such absurd extremes that now Tijuana has been charged with plagiarism. Credit to the authors is demanded or Tijuana will be stripped of its status as a city.


By Edgar Hernández
Translated, from the Spanish, by Pepe Rojo


Olimp

 
Pepe Rojo (1968) has published five books and more than 200 texts (short stories, essays and articles dealing with fiction, media and contemporary culture). He cofounded Pellejo/Molleja (with Deyanira Torres and Bernardo Fernández), an indie publishing firm, and edited SUB (sub-genre literature), NUMERO X (media culture) and PULPO COMICS (mex-sf comics anthology) for them. He has produced several interactive stories for Alteraction, and published two collections of Minibúks (Mexican SF and Counter-versions) at UABC, as well as the graphic intervention “Philosophical Dictionary of Tijuana.” He is currently an MFA Candidate in Writing at UCSD.
 
Edgar Hernández is a Communications grad student from UABC, Tijuana.