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[Yusef Komunyakaa]

Believing in iron
Camouflaging the Chimera
Meditations in a swine yard

You and I are dissapearing
[Tu i jo estem desapareixent]
[Tu e io stamo sparendo]

Snow tiger




You and I are dissapearing



                                               You and I are dissapearing
                                                                 Björn Håkansson   


The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning 
inside my head. At daybreak
she burns like a piece of paper.
She burns like foxfire
in a tigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
at dusk.
We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
like a sack of dry ice.
She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker’s cigar,
silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
at nightfall.
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like a dragonsmoke
to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.


Tu e io stiamo sparendo

                                You and I are dissapearing
                                                            Björn Håkansson

Il grido che porto dalle colline 
è di una ragazza che brucia ancora 
nella mia mente. Brucia 
all’alba come un pezzo di carta. 
Brucia come un tizzone
in una valle a forma di coscia
Una gonna di fiamme 
le danza intorno 
al crepuscolo
Siamo in piedi con le mani 
lungo i fianchi
mentre brucia 
come una balla di ghiaccio secco
Brucia come petrolio sull'acqua
Brucia come una torcia di paglia 
intrisa di benzina. 
Brilla come la punta grassa 
del sigaro d'un banchiere,
silenziosa come argento vivo
Una tigre sotto un arcobaleno 
al calar della notte
Brucia come una bevuta di vodka. 
Brucia come un campo di papaveri 
al margine d'una foresta di pioggia
Sale come fumo di drago 
alle mie narici
Brucia come un cespuglio infuocato 
spinta da un dannato vento.


Tu i jo estem desapreixent

                                        You and I are dissapearing
                                                            Björn Håkansson

El crit que baixo dels turons
és d'una noia que encara crema
en el meu cap. A punta de dia
crema com un tros de paper.
Crema com una tisa
en una vall en forma de cuixa.
Una faldilla de flames
balla al seu voltant
a l'hora baixa.
Estem dempeus amb les mans
penjant als costats,
mentre crema
com un sac de gel sec.
Crema com petroli damunt l'aigua.
Crema com una torxa de palla
submergida dins gasolina.
Brilla com la punta grassa
del cigar d'un banquer,
silenciosa com argent viu.
Un tigre sota l'arc de Sant Martí
en fer-se fosc.
Crema com un glop de vodka.
Crema com un camp de roselles
a la vora d'una selva tropical.
S'eleva com el fum del drac
als meus narius.
Crema com un arbust ardent
empentat per un vent maleït.

[Traducció Maria Gironés i Joan Navarro]


Believing in iron

The hills my brothers & I created
Never balanced, & it took years
To discover how the world worked.
We could look at a tree of blackbirds
& tell you how many were there,
But with the scrap dealer
Our math was always off.
Weeks of lifting & grunting
Never added up to much,
But we couldn't stop
Believing in iron.
Abandoned trucks & cars
Were held to the ground
By thick, nostalgic fingers of vines
Strong as a dozen sharecroppers.
We'd return with our wheelbarrow
Groaning under a new load,
Yet tiger lilies lived better
In their languid, August domain.
Among paper & Coke bottles
Foundry smoke erased sunsets,
& we couldn't believe iron
Left men bent so close to the earth
As if the ore under their breath
Weighed down the gray sky.
Sometimes I dreamt how our hills
How it all became an anchor
For a warship or bomber
Out over trees with blooms
Too red to look at.


Camouflaging the Chimera

We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,

blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits. We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird's target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover
throwing stones at the sunset. Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black. But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
We weren't there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man's eyelid.


Meditations in a swine yard

A god isn't worth the salt
In our bread if we can't
Stamp our feet & shake balled fist
At eaters of the brightest insects

On their first day here.
Sometimes we must tug him out
Into the hog's bloody mud.
His beauty is our blue

Derision, like a child banging
Her ragdoll against the floor,
Calling for Daddy. A god isn't worth
A drop of water in the hell of his good

Imagination, if we can't curse
Sunsets & threaten to forsake him
In his storehouse of belladonna,
Tiger hornets, & snakebites.






Snow Tiger


Ghost sun half

hidden, where did you go?


There’s always a mother

of some other creature

born to fight for her young.


But crawl out of your hide,

walk upright like a man,

& you may ask if hunger is the only passion

as you again lose yourself

in a white field’s point of view.


In this glacial quiet

nothing moves except–

then a flash of eyes & nerves.


If cornered in your head by cries from a cave

in another season, you can’t forget

in this landscape a pretty horse

translates into a man holding a gun.





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