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Anthony Seidman Amphorae for Boris Dralyuk, Poet Translator

Verb flexes
when you’re not

Dozing in the sun-glimmer,
the blank page.

Vodka, Pinot…occupational hazards.
      Or pencil shavings.
            False cognates.

For you
I keep these lines lean.
Dust abounds.

Speak, Sphinx!
or else your tongue…

Translator aint’ no newborn
wailing in his Crib.

Here you rest
atop the tower of tongues…
must’ve cost you plenty of Babble
to work from the ground up.

Ain’t no riddle riddle

just Leaves which
in the Latinate tongues imply
paper and anything

*Little water, a
little more just
a tiny bit more for Boris

Words turned into ants
and the ants into letters

and the letters into the alphabet
and the alphabet

into the constellations

Just here…
cleaning my claws

Origin in original
and Knowledge in narration

Thus. When you
plough your field at the right time, it means just that

Language field
and the opening

ground work
words ground


Speak! You
      sly cat!

Sphinx O sphinx
best not speak
it in the eyes

The poorer the country
the more festive the passport
the coat of arms

But translations like marble
unpainted or
(better yet)

Honey brown and weathered
brittle and of Attic severity

(Far off: sundazzled shore and the calcification)

It stood before you
and you inhaled the silence

Then the leaf-storm
the air darkening as if to rain

and the riddle….

There will be time there will be time to
rest before the fire
but tonight Boris opened a box and
found another one within

An abstraction a
sweet disorder in the dress

the juncture between blue and blue

and the certainty
that language is spoken

When you trap the word exact
it means just that

the Beast and
It flits to some idiom or other

many siroccos await you

Inside the translator
there’s a man

Inside the man
there’s a boy learning a new tongue

Within the boy there’s
a man learning how to respond
to the boy

who asks the grown man
about the language from their boyhood

Not an oasis in sight

Although the caravan passes
the fire’s lit
the wine’s sweet

Rest for once while
someone else turns the spit

and seasons the meat

the word Vodka in Russian means lil’ water, that is, water in the Russian diminutive. Thus, a little water is always better than too much water.

Anthony Seidman is a poet translator, born and raised in Los Angeles. The years he lived in Ciudad Juarez introduced him to contemporary poetry from the border region, as well as Latin American poetry. His most recent collections are The Defining Crisis of Your Lifetime is Utopia, a chapbook published by Trainwreck Press of Canada, and a translation of Rodolfo Hinostroza’s Contra Natura, to be released in early February from Cardboard House Press.
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