by atosun

Lives Hidden

August 1, 2019 in Fiction, Poetry, Spanish by atosun

Original by Andrea Zelaya
Translated, from the Spanish, by the author

We were lying down, at night, looking at the stars, you and I. Only there weren’t any stars that we could look at. We were pretending. We were on top of all those boxes, covering ourselves from the cold with a shared blanket, and the sky was the dark above and around us. We were the last to still have some human in us. The rest were all gone. They had been killed on earth during the war and then during the migration, when the technologicals were trying to stop us from coming in. I was telling you about how you had to hold on because we were the only ones still with some human in us. We were part machine but we were still human, unlike the others. The others were all technologicals. I was telling you all this. I was telling you about how we were the only two children who had survived the cages and the mutilations. All adults were meant to be killed, and some of their children were captured and put in cages to await mutilations, to open us up, to see what made us human, and to take it away. Most died. But we didn’t die, you and I, because of that guard, that guard who was a mixed one. Somebody had helped her survive before and then she helped us too. She tried to help others but then she got caught and killed. She knew how to perform the operations and gave me a technological arm and foot and gave you a technological leg and a half face. She also gave us this blanket. I was telling you all this as we were lying down on all those boxes filled with technological parts she kept hidden inside this broken vessel. But I couldn’t read your expression. I think that you were scared, and tired, and in pain, like I was, but I couldn’t tell anymore. I think you tried to move your lips, but then nothing really happened. So I told you to try to rest. I told you we would figure it out. We would have to live our lives hidden from now on but we would try to keep surviving, day by day. Rest your eyes, I said to you, while I closed your human and your technological eyelids at the same time, and imagine that we’re on a terrace on earth, lying down at night, looking at the stars. 

Vidas escondidas 

Estábamos acostados, en la noche, mirando las estrellas, tú y yo. Sólo que no había ninguna estrella que pudiéramos ver. Estábamos fingiendo. Estábamos arriba de todas esas cajas, cubriéndonos del frío con una cobija que compartíamos, y el cielo era la oscuridad sobre nosotros y alrededor de nosotros. Éramos los últimos que todavía tenían algo humano dentro. Los demás ya no estaban. Habían sido aniquilados en la tierra durante la guerra y luego durante la migración, cuando los tecnologianos estaban tratando de impedirnos llegar aquí. Te estaba diciendo que debías aguantar porque éramos los únicos aún con algo humano dentro de nosotros. Éramos parte máquina pero éramos todavía humanos, a diferencia de los otros. Los otros eran todos tecnologianos. Te estaba diciendo todo esto. Te estaba diciendo sobre cómo éramos los únicos dos niños que habían sobrevivido las jaulas y las mutilaciones. Todos los adultos tenían que ser aniquilados, y algunos de sus niños fueron capturados y puestos en jaulas a esperar la mutilación, para abrirnos, para ver qué nos hacía humanos, para quitárnoslo. La mayoría murió. Pero nosotros no, ni tú ni yo, gracias a esa guarda, esa guarda que era mixta. Alguien la había ayudado a sobrevivir antes y ahora nos ayudaba a nosotros también. Trató de ayudar a otros pero fue descubierta y aniquilada. Ella sabía cómo realizar las operaciones y me dio un brazo y un pie tecnológicos y a ti una pierna y la mitad de la cara. También nos dio esta cobija. Te estaba diciendo todo esto mientras estábamos acostados en esas cajas llenas de piezas tecnológicas que ella mantenía escondidas en esta nave averiada. Pero no podía descifrar tu expresión. Creo que tenías miedo, cansancio, y dolor, como yo, pero no lo podía asegurar más. Creo que intentaste mover tus labios, pero nada sucedió. Entonces te dije que descansaras. Te dije que lo solucionaríamos. Tendríamos que vivir nuestras vidas escondidas desde ahora pero intentaríamos seguir sobreviviendo, día con día. Descansa tu ojos, te dije, mientras cerraba tu párpado humano y tu párpado tecnológico al mismo tiempo, e imagina que estamos en una terraza en la tierra, acostados en la noche, mirando las estrellas. 


Andrea Zelaya is a student in the PhD literature program at UCSD, and has published her short stories and poetry in both English and Spanish. She has also worked as a pro bono translator.

by atosun


August 1, 2019 in Crossgenre, English, Fiction, Poetry by atosun

Original by Siloh Radovsky
Adapted, from the Lasse Hallström film, by the author

Let’s pretend: 

I am the Chocolatier. 

Carrying colonial blood around in wooden vessels; also, the woman who refuses to stay, moving from place to place only to rescue restless souls from Christendom. Her father (my great- grandfather) was the one to collect the secret Cacao rituals with his ethnographic apparati— transcription, transmission, etc. But her professional peddling most closely mimics matrilineal survival strategies. 

Relocating to the tweed town full of broken marriages wrapped in wool jackets, Vianne began to foil the sweets. 

Finding the correct flavor unlocks the stuck blood portal due to chemical traces they crave. Though at the time what comes across is a hint of understanding—lumps of sugar which know the soul. 

She means it truly, wrapping her own self up in her woolen coat and visiting tropical sunshine upon citizens’ calcifications, agitating them out of daily abuse: “This delicious flavor filling your mouth means you deserve better—the best each day.” Hot cocoa for wayward boy-child, pastilles for his secretly diabetic Gran. But the danger lies not in the indulgence itself but the suggestion of pleasurability. 

Culturally, our broken sweet tooth soothed in but one way such that the Gremlin shirks off to its alternate enclaves leaving behind a slime trail of ethical hedonism interspersed with some badly- needed nutrients. 


My grandmother was beholden to the brick & mortar, with all the trappings and covered in fog, castle-like, with some excessively repentant village mayor breathing down her neck about Catholicism. Back then, the 1950’s, the technology was social engineering. Things are different now but the same—the technology is still social engineering—except now I’m beholden to the app, freed and not freed from the constraints of physical place. The app is called Cafe. It says, Take this quiz, this personalized quiz regarding which category to place you in then the advice will algorithmically follow. We chocolatiers have been both aggregated and multiplied so I’ve been teleporting my emotional labor into the privacy of the home while the Developers work on building a market for us. The Developers say, Thanks for believing in the work we do every day! Only they’ve programmed that saying, and everyone gets the same message. Meanwhile, I play the roulette one-on-one, inviting my customers to dig deeper inwards. They take the quiz and I match them with a chocolate box; they receive the box in the mail after they spin the Plate and interpret it all Rorschach-like. 

Once and a while while that digitized relic blurs on-screen someone will say, “I see my employment prospects.” Ah, the hunger for financial security—I recognize and resonate but must uphold my position of transcendence. I tell them that if they master themselves as students of their own desire, they too can occupy this position, refracting their positivity and good taste; it’s a good side-hustle. We were not the first to digitize this highly-structured system of understanding, externalizing the pathways of our diagnostics, but we’ve learned to work within the constraints we were given. My lineage is a lineage of restless wanderers and we’ve always learned to make a place for ourselves in a less-than-ideal circumstance, while earning for ourselves a nominal fee. While clicking the buttons for cayenne pepper recipe (lacking-passion- dominant) and rose cream packet (needing-sweetness-dominant) I try to reconnect to my grandmother and think about how much more efficient our job has been made. She was so dressed up and ready for the show, in that dollhouse for chocolate she spruced up real good (the place was such a cave before) for the pleasure of the townsfolk. But now we can go ahead and wander around as we please, and we are even free to work other kinds of jobs, and develop other aspects of our personhood. Even so, as I assign chocolate boxes for my customers, I try to keep the spirit alive. I send out a little prayer for the renewed manageability of their daily lives, reminding myself that in the faintest personal realignment is the potential for an unquantifiable expansion. “Will it or will it not change the whole lonely city,” I wonder, while peering out the window of my apartment, wondering if I have earned enough that day to take myself to the cafe down the street for a little treat, squeezing my eyes shut to relieve the pressure of digital eyestrain. I think Damn, I sure could use some chocolate. 


Siloh Radovsky is a graduate student at UCSD in the Literature department, pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. Much of her research and creative work concerns the contemporary landscape of self-care, its connections to the violence of colonization, and the perimeters between science and pseudo-science in medicine and health fadisms. On this adaptation: “I’m probing the ethics of the contemporary self-care trends that the film anticipates, applying its representation of magical commodities to the digitally-mediated context of the present.”
by atosun

organic chemistry; prelude in b sharp

August 1, 2019 in Poetry, Spanish by atosun

By Laura Yasan
Translated, from the Spanish, by Phoebe Carter 


organic chemistry

all the time it takes the heart to forget music
and get used to the sound of dead leaves
emitted by memory when it moves on

all the time it takes to divide
impure strands of oxygen
earthquake’s heartbeat
signals in the fault

all the time it takes its obedient angel to react
his blue mouth against the night
that dark gush running through the scar
like a fish in mystery’s riverbed

all the time it takes the carbon cycle
to rot
and burn its tree trunk below the nape

a silk rug rubbed on cheeks
the tongue floating in a swamp
and it’s a salt kiss on the wound
all the time it takes the heart
to let you go

prelude in b sharp

so let them tie me
to a hospital bed
let a mute nurse open her pillbox every twenty minutes
let her play me chopin’s preludes
at six in the evening when the mercury blows
and my body is the sheath of a dragon trained
for great numbers of fire

let her rub anesthesia on my gums
and sew up my lips
and twice a day give me a hundred-volt shock
if my arms don’t let go
if I repeat that name

let her say a prayer over my heart
so it doesn’t wake up on me

and the hours shape the spaces
where oblivion might hold it back


Born in Buenos Aires in 1960, Laura Yasan has published twelve books of poetry and anthologies, including ripio, awarded the Municipal Poetry Prize of La Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires in 2005; la llave marilyn, awarded the Casa de las Americas prize in 2009; and animal de presa, awarded the Carmen Conde prize in 2011.Her work has been partially translated into English, German, French and Italian.

She lives in Buenos Aires where she runs writing workshops in prisons, libraries, nursing homes, and virtually through her program “Palabra Virtual.”


Phoebe Carter is a graduate student of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She earned her BA from Kenyon College in 2017, where she began studying translation with Kate Hedeen.

by atosun

Antipolo is still in Antipolo (and four other poems)

March 19, 2019 in Poetry, Tagalog by atosun

Original by Abner Dormiendo
Translated, from the Tagalog, by Ethan Chua

Antipolo is still in Antipolo

In Antipolo I started my studies

In Antipolo, maybe we’ll live together 

In Antipolo, they’ve put up many resorts

I still go home to Antipolo

Sa Antipolo pa rin ang Antipolo


Sa Antipolo Ako Unang Nag-aral

Sa Antipolo Siguro Tayo Titira Nang Magkasama


Sa Antipolo Maraming Nakatayong Resort

Sa Antipolo pa rin Ako Umuuwi

Abner Dormiendo is a writer and a teacher from the Philippines who graduated with a degree in philosophy in Ateneo de Manila University. He received the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature last 2015 for his poetry in Filipino. His other works, both in English and Filipino, appeared in High Chair, Plural Prose Journal, and Heights Ateneo, among others.

Ethan Chua is a Chinese-Filipino spoken word poet and scholar-activist. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart prize and published in The Journal, Strange Horizons and Hobart. His graphic novel, Doorkeeper, is available in Philippine bookstores. He is happily part of the Stanford Spoken Word Collective.


by atosun

Breaking News: Mass Grave Found Near… (and two other poems)

March 19, 2019 in Arabic, Poetry by atosun

Originals by Kadham Khanjar, Areej Dawara, and Malik Al-batly
Co-translated, from the Arabic, by authors and David Allen Sullivan


Breaking News: Mass Grave Found Near…
Kadhem Khanjar

I went to the Coroner’s Office.
They asked for a DNA sample,
and told me they found some unidentified bones.
Every time I hear that I rotate on the knife of hope, like a stuck orange.
I am home now, brother, dusting the plastic flowers around your photo, wetting them with tears.
The medical report says the sack of bones I signed for are “you.” 

Too little. I empty them on the table. Catalogue them again:
a skull, a clavicle, three ribs, a shattered femur, a pile of metacarpi, and a dice roll of vertebrae.
How can these be a brother?
but the medical report confirms it is.
I put the bones back in the sack,
dust off my hands, blow the remainder from the table, hoist you on my back and leave.
On the bus I place you next to me and pay for two seats. (Yes, I’m paying this time.)
I’m old enough to carry you on my back and pay your fare. 

I do not inform anyone what I’ve received.
I watch your wife and children pass by the couch where I’ve set you down.
I want one of them to open the sack,
to see you one last time,
but you’re stubborn to the bone. 

Later, they wonder about the wet marks on the couch.
For an hour, I had arranged the wet bones in a makeshift coffin, trying to complete you.
Only the shiny nail heads knew that this was too little.


Night, Alone Again
Areej Dawara

She’s a child looking for the cave,
the beautiful cave
where they buried the pelican.

She used to suck her toes . . .
but I . . .
I’m no longer her.


You, my lover, left without a bag, and I had to
exhume the memory of sky from my hair
so the stares of strangers
wouldn’t spill down my back.

The ground will never lose
the touch of your feet.

You’ve never left here.


My grandmother never told us
a story of how war eats children.

She didn’t. I don’t believe
for a second in the boogie man.

I don’t. My eyes grow wheat-
patterned wallpaper. It’s what
I stared at. The ground

will never lose the touch of my feet.

I’ve never left this country.


The trees, fallen, cut into lengths,
but never to be split, are set on fire
in front of an amputated wooden leg.

I make myself stare into your eyes
so I don’t shake when September’s burned
in front of our immigrant houses.


Your jacket’s my only tent,
your hands are the poles.

I plant them in my body,
stabbing one end in the sand
the other in my veins
to stop my shaking.


It’s done.

But how can this Syrian war
lick the forehead of every other man
without ever touching yours?


I’m like the night’s panic hours,
afraid to remember the light.

I fight not to sleep, afraid
he’ll enter through my dreams.


The war’s thin.
Your fingers run under my skin
like needles.

Chopped flesh
is no longer soft,
just an ugly white mass.

How helpless I am
to straighten a bent cloud.

I’m skinny
as a metal bedrail.

My fingers are stuck to the rust
coloring its upper parts.

You held love for only a moment.

You never let go.


The sand’s stuffed with blood
like a song stuck in my throat.

Your smile
knocks down doors
which fear the traveling wind.

The doors are aged
like second hand crutches,
like bitter candy
after it’s lost its color,
like the hand that lets go of
the small animal it caught
so it won’t drown it.


Your face is a still and stagnant sea
which won’t kneel before the sky.

Put down your eyes calmly
like a strangled cigarette.


You are leaving without a bag.

My features have became mere words.

The mirage of meandering streets,
the chewing of bread in many mouths,
the sleeping cats that will never
be swollen with kittens—
no one and nothing is sheltered here.

I’ll let my child die inside me
so no one will be able to kill it.


Oh Al-Taf…
Malik Al-batly

Al-Taf faltered,
the light died,

its dead shadows
were encased in sand.

Until then I hadn’t known
light could be slaughtered.

Oh Al-Taf!

Do you remember our tent,
the ridgepole snapped like a spar?

Do you remember the eyes of the people,
all painted red?

But they still held their heads high,
no one could approach their high rank.

Oh Al-Taf…

like a nymph
from paradise
you made us ask painful questions,
you said the last text
was thirst
for earth.

Oh Al-Taf,
injured dove being slain,
jerking its neck from the pain.

Blood smiled in the hand of a great man from Hashim’s family—
bloodline a gift from Allah—for Allah.

The tears of the sky will never dry,
oh Al-Taf.

The last poem came out as a cry.
It tried to hug itself to verses
but it had no words.

The last river tried to enter
and hug another river
but it had no arms.

I had never seen two rivers
burn together.

I’d never heard a poem
wail for a verse without words.

I remember the stories from long ago:
whenever one of the children
fell in battle

Al-Montathar fell
in front of Zainab’s tent.  


عاجل : العثور على مقبرة جماعية بالقرب …”

البارحة ذهبت إلى الطب العدلي. طلبوا بصمة مطابقة للحمض النووي. قالوا أنهم عثروا على بعض العظام مجهولة الهوية. وفي كل مرةٍ أدور مثل برتقالة على سكينة الأمل.

الآن أنا في المنزل يا أخي، أمسح الغبار عن الزهور الاصطناعية التي تحيط صورتك، وأسقيها بالدموع.

* * *

يقول التقرير الطبي بأن كيس العظام الذي وقّعتُ على استلامه اليوم هوأنت“. ولكن هذا قليل. نثرتُهُ على الطاولة أمامهم. أعدنا الحساب: جمجمة بستة ثقوب، عظم ترقوة واحد، ثلاث أضلاع زائدة، فخذٌ مهشّمة، كومة أرساغ، وبعض الفقرات.

هل يمكن لهذا القليل أن يكون أخاً؟

يشير التقرير الطبي إلى ذلك. أعدتُ العظام إلى الكيس. نفضتُ كفيَّ من التراب العالق فيهما، ثم نفختُ بالتراب الباقي على الطاولة، وضعتكَ على ظهري، وخرجت.

* * *

في الباص أجلستُ الكيس إلى جانبي. دفعت أُجرة لمقعدين (هذه المرة أنا الذي يدفع). اليوم كبرتُ بما فيه الكفاية كي أحملكَ على ظهري وأدفع عنك الأجرة.

* * *

لم أُخبر أحداً بأني استلمت هذا القليل. أُراقب زوجتك وأطفالك يمروّن بالقرب من الكنبة التي تركتكَ عليها. أردتُ أن يفتح الكيس أحدهم. وددت أن يروكَ للمرة الأخيرة. لكنك كنت عنيدا حدّ العظم. فيما بعد تساءلوا عن بقعة الدمع التي على الكنبة…!

* * *

منذ ساعة وأنا أرتّب هذه العظام الرطبة في بطن التابوت، محاولا اكمالك. وحدها تدري المسامير التي على الجانبين بأن هذا قليل.


اللبل مرة أخرى

هنا يوء د البجع

الطفلة التي كانت تمص أصابع قدميها

لم تعد تشبهني

لإنك ستمضي بلا حقيبة

نبشت سماء الحنين من شعري

حتى لاتسيل النجوم على ظهري

لن تفقد فوق هذه الأرض قدميك

لم ترحل من هنا


لم تقرا جدتي لنا حكاية الحرب التي تأكل الأطفال

مادمنا لم نصدق يوما

أن الغول سيظهر على الغطاء

مادامت عيناك تزرع القمح ليلا على الجدار

لن تفقد فوق هذه الأرض قدميك

لما ترحل من هنا


الأشجار التي لم تقطع بعد

تحترق أمام ساق مبتورة

كان علي أن أنظر في عينيك

حتى لا أرتجف حين يحترق أيلول أمام بيوتنا المهاجرة


معطفك  خيمتي الوحيدة

يداك أوتاد أغرسها في جسدي

بالرمل في عروقي

حتى لاأرتجف..

هناك ..

حيث الحرب تلعق جبين كل رجل

دون أن تطال جبينك


الليل ساعات فزعة

تغلق عينيها بشدة

حتى لاتذكر الضوء فتبكي


أسحب الخنجر من أحشائي بصمت

دون أن أمسح الوهم النازف من بطني

حتى لاألمس جسدي بحنان مجددا

أوأستعير خبال يدك


الحرب نحيلة

اصابعك تسري في جسدي كإبرة

اللحم المتقطع لم يعد أملسا

هو كتل بيضاء قبيحة

كم بدت عاجزا عن مسد غيمة

أنا نحيلة

كسرير حديدي صدأ

التصقت على أجزائه العلوية بقايا أصابع

أمسكت بلحظة حب ولم تفلتها


الرمل يغص بالدماء

كتلك الأغنية العالقة في حلقي

وحدها ابتسامتك

تصرع الأبواب الخائفة من سفر الريح

رغم أنها كبرت كخشب العكاز

كمرار الحلوى التي لم تعد ملونة

كاليد التي أفلتت ذلك الشيء الطافي الصغير

حتى لاتغرقه


وجهك هذا البحر الراكد الذي لن ينصاع للسماء

أطفئ عينيك بهدوء

كما أفعل حين أخنق سجائري


لأنك ستمضي بلا حقيبة

ولإن ملامحي باتت مجرد كلمات

الشوارع وهمية

الخبز المتعجن

القطط النائمة لن تلد صغارها

لاملاذ لها هنا

سأدع طفلي يموت في بطني

حتى لايقتل.



نعم .. سأرسلها لك للغة أيضا

لقَد عثرَ الطَفُّ وذُبحَ الضوءُ

وماتتْ الظِلال

في حضنِ الرِمال !

وإلى الآنَ لم أَكن أعرف أنَّ الضوءَ يُذبح!


أيُّها الطفُّ

لقد إنكسرَ غصنُ الخَيمة وباتت عيونُ القطيعِ ناراً

وما زالت إلى الآن شامخة ولم يَهتك سترُها أحدٌ!!

آهٍ أيّها الطفُّ

مثلَ حوريةٍ سقطت من شجرةِ الفِردوس

وفتحت جرحَ السؤال بينَ حوافرِ الخَيلِ

وهي تَتلو آخرَ آياتِ العَطشِ

على وجهِ التُراب !

آهٍ أيُّها الطفُّ

هُنا نُحِرَ جناحُ حمامةٍ مكلوم

يرفرفُ وسط حرارةِ الآخ

ودمه المبستمُ بكف عامودِ آلِ هاشِمٍ قربانٌ لوجهِ السَماء

وإلى الآنَ لم ترشحْ دموعُ السَماء!

آهٍ أيُّها الطفُّ

وهناكَ تنوحُ آخرُ قصيدةٍ

تعانقُ الشعرَ بلا كلِمات

وآخرُ نهرٍ يُعانقُ نهراً بلا ذِراعين

وإلى الآنَ

لم أرَ نهراً بقربِ نهرٍ يَحترق !

ولم أرَ قصيدةً تخرجُ عن النصِ وتعانقُ أَبياتَها وهي بلا أَكفٍ..

والى الانَ..

الى الانَ

كلّما وقعَ طفلٌ في ارضِ المَعركة يتعثرُ المنتظرُ في خيمةِ زَينب.

مالك البطلي | شاعر وكاتب عراقي


Kadhem Khanjar is a modern poet from Iraq. He is part of a ten poet collective from Babil province who recently recited their poetry in a field full of unexploded mines.  This collective of poets from the center of Iraq, have conducted a series of performances based on the theme of the violence that is destroying their homeland. During these performances, they literally flirt with death. 

Areej Dawara is a filmmaker, novelist, and poet from Damascus, Syria. She recently received her Diploma in Cinema. Al-lail marra okhra, her Arabic poetry collection, was published in 2016, and she has published novels and short stories as well. She has written: “As a poet, I put my faith in words, so that they can touch souls and bridge the distances between us.”  

Malik Al-Batly is an Iraqi poet and writer from Basra province. He’s written short stories and news articles as well as poems, and has been published in Arab and Turkish newspapers. He studied painting at the College of Fine Arts, but now devotes his attention solely to writing.  

David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. He won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing, and his book of poems about the year he spent as a Fulbright lecturer in China, Seed Shell Ash, is forthcoming from Salmon Press. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family. His poetry website is:, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at:, and he’s searching for a publisher for an anthology of poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel he edited with his art historian mother who died recently. 

by atosun

Unsent Letter (and two other poems)

March 19, 2019 in Poetry, Spanish by atosun

Originals by Ángel José Fernández
Translated, from the Spanish, by Yasmín Rojas

Unsent letter

[A terrestrial message]
… love towards cherished ones is in you a lot more than in me. In you, it is a daily state, in me
it flowers after many tough fights with my bad

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga,
Letter to Manuel Magallanes Moure

I have, Angel for a name, a bad angel
that pushes me in its woes to the abysm.
It arrives and it mounts. It climbs the villages’ mountains
it plows through the backs of clouds, it travels through an air boat;
it governs my force: it confronts me with my bottomless reigns.

The day of the dissension from the heights you knew your fear,
of foliage and irrational nerve, and darkened forests.
Does it come from your house, of buried sidereal roots,
from the backyard or the garden? The camouflage comes with you,
placing a chain on your foot, silence to your silences.

Where is that well? Hidden between mists?
Under interior, reddened skin? Between your livid and fresh hands?
In the flushed shadow of the pine forest, and childhood hill?
It arrives and it mounts, that fear is agile, it gets tangled up with your step,
that avoids thickets, short cuts and wishes.

I have, Angel for a name, a devil against time,
a puddle made of dreams and courage.


Before you

Before you, a flood.

After you, shipwreck and orphan hood
upon the sea of your eyes, water islands.

There is no tempest or calmness in the premonition,
only silence and gleam with no words.



I will not find a  new sea
in the island of your eyes.

I will not carve your ruin in this earth
that will only cover me a night.

My arms will not embrace
the moon’s agony.

I will stay in the shadow of your eyes.


Carta no enviada

…el amor a los seres está en Ud. mucho, mucho más que en mí. En Ud. es estado cotidiano, en mí florece después de luchas reñidas con mi ángel malo.

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga:
Carta a Manuel Magallanes Moure

Tengo, Ángel de nombre, un ángel malo
que me empuja en sus lances al abismo.
Viene y cabalga. Trepado va en los montes de la aldea,
surca en lomos de nube, viaja en un barco aéreo.
Mis ímpetus gobierna. Me enfrenta a sus dominios insondables

Aquel día del descenso a las alturas supiste de tu miedo,
de fronda y nervio irracional, y anochecidos bosques.
¿Proviene de tu casa, de enterradas raíces siderales,
del traspatio o del huerto? Aquí vienen contigo los embozos,
ponen cadena al pie, silencio a tus silencios.

¿Dónde estará ese pozo entre neblinas escondido?
¿Bajo piel interior, enrojecida? ¿Entre tus manos lívidas y frescas?
¿En la encendida sombra del pinar de la infancia?
Viene y cabalga, es ágil ese miedo; se enreda con tu paso,
que esquiva matorrales, atajos y deseos.

Tengo, Ángel de nombre, un diablo contra el tiempo,
un charco hecho de sueños y coraje.


Antes de ti

Antes de ti, el diluvio.

Después de ti, naufragios y orfandades
frente al mar de tus ojos, islas de agua.

No hay tempestad ni calma en el presagio,
sólo silencio y brillo sin palabras.



No hallaré nuevo mar
en la isla de tus ojos.

No labraré tu ruina en esta tierra
que sólo ha de cubrirme en una noche.

No abarcarán mis brazos
la agonía de la luna.

Me quedaré en la sombra de tus ojos.

Ángel José Fernández was born in 1953 in Xalapa, Veracruz. He has published several poetry books. He is currently an academic in the PhD program of Latinamerican literature in the Universidad Veracruzana.

Yasmín Rojas Pérez was born in 1991 in Mexico City and is a Master’s graduate in Mexican Literature and translator.

by atosun

My Three Flowers Are Thirsty (and two other poems)

March 19, 2019 in Arabic, Poetry by atosun

Original by Sara Shagufta
Translated, from the Urdu, by Arshi Yaseen


My Three Flowers are Thirsty

Falling of the mother’s tears to the ground
Is mere a thing of fun for the folks around
I’ve only seven days left to meet the death
The farewell shouldn’t be something like that!
The motherly hand is going to rest,
The tales would be weaved by my clothing’s thread
Thou don’t wail, as so much depressed is my blood
Thou don’t need to shower petals over my gravestone
As, the departed eyes would continue to live somewhere around

Maniac I wasn’t but they’re
Who stepped into my blood
I wish I could gift thee, wrapping my eyes
The eyes, which have been the most spendthrift
I had shared out a plenty of smiles
That my lips were bereaved of their own

Somebody shares food on my soul’s behalf
And himself starves
Someone carries my bier on the shoulders
And then goes past

Three flowers of my garland are left thirsty
Before then I get soften into the mud
Please do justice with me ___
Pardon me for my wrong ways,
I’m like a rope wavering in the well
That could burn to ashes
But couldn’t quench its thirstiness
On thy palms, I wish to put my eyes
And to many, I don’t even want to say goodbye

The Bridewell

Our half a torso is virtue and the other half is evil
And that’s the true human who honestly owns the whole

A supreme man-eater is a word
Subject thou to the bridewell

My arguments were a thing of fun for the folks
But I pleased much my dummy pretences
I continued to pilfer fortunes from the life’s selvedge
I never spent and distributed the whole coinage
I had been filling my flagons for the price
And my thirst costed me very high-priced

Someone told!
“Who born out of your wombs,
Because of your forbearance they had died:”
And the generous maid had to be exiled

Since the ocean begin to flow nearby
The children of my neighbourhood don’t go far away
Their mothers say
The ball is more expensive than the play
The tellers tell
Your mother is coughing
And costs four-annas even the empty bottle of the medicine
Either I’m the cause of her torment
Or the grave placed at somewhere land

The birth of a serpent-stone is a celebration too
But I have become more venomous than that
I cannot dance around my bead like heart

The peacock is crying for his feet
I’m crying for my humans
Whose fields’ wages are fixed up to the starvation

One more nail is driven into, when the shoes are damaged
So a new journey may be invented

Someone’s imaginary art-pieces will be paid off
And somebody might not even come up to perfection

Before the sunrise,
Instantly, the name of neighbourhood is changed
And the baby’s age is engraved on the gravestone

I was too used to think like the wooden-bars
I’d congratulate the departing one
And say good-bye to the coming one
Sculpt the bars so that we may create a new meaning of this imprison


O’ My Magnanimous God

The complainers always
Embraced me half-heartedly

While a human has two births
Then what is the purpose of this
Prolonged evening-interlude?

Living under my own watch
Made me dwindling
When the dogs sighted the Moon
They forgot to keep their clothing

Remained firm, even when I was severely hurt
But too repressed now under thy command
Hunting me, the solitude
O’ my magnanimous God
I kept praying to you even in the autumn season
But thou sentence the killer to keep slaying the killed one

I couldn’t bring home the unseen wild creeper
Then I engraved on my eyes’ jute-floor
I always would depart my body through the eyes
Then would return to life by the treads.
















Sara Shagufta (1954-1984) was a Pakistani poet who wrote in Punjabi and Urdu.

Arshi Yaseen is a graduate in English Literature from Lahore, Pakistan. She loves to translate Urdu poetry into English. Her translations have appeared in Columbia Journal.

by atosun

The Ballad of Magnolia

March 19, 2019 in Chinese, Poetry by atosun

Translated, from the Chinese, by C.F. Helsinki, or:

Englished from the Chinese by that eminent Divine, Dr —–, using the admirable Gloss of Mr Rosenfelder

Ji-ji, ji-ji, Magnolia weaves the thread,
And sighs, so that the loom seems quieted.
“What’s on your mind?”––“I’m fine, Mom. Nothing’s wrong.”
“But you don’t usually weave this long…
Or weave that much at all. Or face the door,
Looking distraught, and sighing…”––“It’s the war.”
“Well, trust in Heaven, and trust the King’s command;
Our men will triumph.”––“No, you don’t understand.
When I went to the market yesternight,
I saw the young men gathered in the light,
Squinting intently at the notice pole,
And turning pale, or joking, ‘He’s in the scroll!’
I had to check…And Father’s name was in them all.”
“That can’t be true! He’s sixty, ill, grown slow,
The draft would be his death!”––“Yeah, Mom, I know.”
The two are quiet. At length Magnolia says,
“I heard an old song in my girlhood days…”

        Hold two rabbits in the air:
       The male will kick, the female just stare.
       But when they run on the grassy plain,
       He and she are just the same.

Mom furrows her brow, then gasps. “You don’t intend…
Oh, no, no, no, how awful! Heaven forfend!”
“Mom,” says Magnolia, “don’t think I’m unfilial,
Or un-Confucian. That would just be silly. I’ll
Marry someday, bring a fine dowry home,
And spend my life thenceforth hunched over a loom.
But in the meanwhile, it is no disgrace
If I buy saddle and horse, and take my father’s place.”

Magnolia rises early, with the dawn,
Scrubs off her makeup, cuts her hair, is gone,
Searches the market for a horse to buy;
A dealer claps his hands, catches her eye:
“My soldier-lad! I’ve just the mount you need,
A fair, a swift, a strong, a loyal steed!”
She takes the horse and saddles him. “Gee up, gee!
We’re off to join the imperial soldiery!”
She’d left at dawn; by twilight, she can hear
The camp––the dice, the cups; each curse, each cheer––
And over all, the Yellow River’s dyen-dyen.
She doesn’t think she’ll hear her parents again….
The soldiers’ sleep is fitful; and at dawn
They’re in the saddle, full tilt toward Mount Yan.

Now flying, flying swiftly as a hawk,
Over a thousand miles of sky-seared ice and rock.
The icy wind that carries the watchman’s word,
The icy moon that burns on the trembling sword,
The wait for the command––“Advance!”––“Retreat!”––
The rattling tattoo that the horse-hooves beat,
The shaking foot that holds the stirrup close…
The characters of war, that no outsider knows.
Drums roar and pound, and rattle mountain and sky,
And trumpets mock the yells of agony:
Soldiers and generals alike stand, fight, and die.

“Your Majesty is too munificent.
Far less would make Magnolia content.”
“For seven years,” the King says, “you went forth
To guard the bloody borders of the North,
With valor such as nine of ten men lack,
Nine generals of ten, in point of fact….”
“A horse to take her home to her old father––
That’s what reward she asks. She needs no other.”

“They’re coming home,” the elder sister hears;
She rouges her face, perfumes under her ears,
While Mother and Father stagger through the street,
Swaying arthritically in summer heat,
Holding each other up––but moving apace––
They reach the wall, they scan round for her face––
Magnolia runs to smother them in an embrace.

“It’s good to sleep at home, not in a yurt,”
She thinks, “to doff my armor for a skirt,
To rouge my face with disproportionate care,
To put a yellow blossom in my hair.”
Her buddies from the unit have come back;
They’re milling by the wall. “Check out the rack,”
One says, “on that broad over there…hey, wait.”
Magnolia grins, and runs toward the gate.
“Hey there,” she says. “I’m sorry I’m so late.”
“Well, fuckin’ heaven!” they shout. “For seven year
You fought, swore, diced, drank crappy nomad beer,
Like you were any ordinary Zhou––
But you’re a chick!”––“Well, there’s a song I know…”

       Hold two rabbits in the air:
       The male will kick, the female just stare.
       But when they run on the grassy plain,
       He and she are just the same.




































by loe001

“Ode to Oranges”

June 12, 2018 in Poetry by loe001

Original poem by Joel G. Burke

Ode to “Oranges”

The first time I walked

with a girl, I was fifteen.

November. Her hair shivered

crisply, her breath, a circling

hummingbird that cannot land

on a flower

trapped under snow. But

she kept warm,

so weighed down under

her jacket, my own.

Both of us ruddy

from cold, each suppressing

our own trilling


Her hand felt unreachable

behind that warm and fuzzy

gauntlet, but mine was bare

and finally getting cold,

so I took hold anyway

and stuck them both in

my left pocket.

In that moment she

was a splendor, like the

flowers that only bloom once

a year. It was no

difficult task to imagine



Translated by Joel G. Burke

Oda a “Oranges”

La primera vez que caminé

con una chica, tenía quince.

Noviembre. Su pelo temblaba

con frescura, su aliento, un colibrí

dando vueltas que no puede posarse

en una flor

enterrada con nieve. Pero

ella se quedaba calientita,

pesada adentro de

su chamarra, la mía.

Los dos colorados

del frío, cada uno suprimiendo

el trino en el pecho,

los latidos.

Su mano pareció inalcanzable

detrás de ese suave

guante tibio, pero la mía estaba desnuda

y por fin me dio frío,

entonces así su mano

y puse las dos en

el bolsillo izquierdo.

En ese momento ella

era un esplendor, como las

flores que solo nacen una vez

al año. No era

nada difícil pensar en

la primavera.



Joel G. Burke 

Joel G. Burke is a third-year Literature/Writing student at the University of California, San Diego. He began working with Alchemy during the Fall 2017 quarter and quickly grew fond of everything about the journal. He began his writing career in high school and has developed much upon his writing since then because of the various courses and mentors which have helped him to improve and prepared him for working with Alchemy. In his free time, he mostly enjoys playing, listening to, and writing music; but also hangs out with his friends and family.”

by loe001

“You and Thou”

June 3, 2018 in Poetry by loe001

Translation by Azura FairChild

You and Thou

How sweet thou art

How empty you are

She slipped, and made a substitution

And all the happy dreams

In the soul that is in love, were aroused

Before her I stand pensively

I couldn’t look her in the eye

And she says: How endearing thou art!

And I think: How I love thee




Original by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Ты и Вы

Пустое вы сердечным ты

Она, обмолвясь, заменила

И все счастливые мечты

В душе влюбленной возбудила.

Пред ней задумчиво стою,

Свести очей с нее нет силы;

И говорю ей: как вы милы!

И мыслю: как тебя люблю!



Azura FairChild

Azura FairChild (Азура Фэйрчайлд) is a student in the Linguistics Language Studies and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program. Always surrounded by languages growing up, she has studied Japanese, Russian, American Sign Language, Hebrew, and Russian Sign Language. She currently translates both Russian and American Sign Language into English, but is working on translating into other languages as well. Set to study abroad in Russia for the 2018-2019 school year, FairChild will continue to learn and perfect the languages she already knows.


Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin 

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (Алекса́ндр Серге́евич Пу́шкин), was a Russian Poet during the Romantic era in Russia from 1799 to 1837. He is considered to be the founder of modern Russian Literature. Born to nobility in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at the age of 15. Focusing on romanticism and realism, his literature went on to become extremely well known in Russia and countries throughout the world continue to cite his work. Fatally wounded in a duel with his brother in law in 1837, Pushkin continues to be remembered in all aspects of literature.