From IF I WERE A SUICIDE BOMBER by Per Aage Brandt, translated by Thom Satterlee

what can you do, the evening falls over your shoulders

with a secret sound, like a moth-eaten rug, you know

exactly what I mean, you blue sparrow you red robin, you

old raven, to be precise, that the skies are flat and spread

out on every side, a dark-gray morning stares at the whole,

thinking heavily to itself: are you still here a little?

(night and day)

 

 

what can you do, the evening falls over your shoulders

with a secret sound, like a moth-eaten rug, you know

exactly what I mean, you blue sparrow you red robin, you

old raven, to be precise, that the skies are flat and spread

out on every side, a dark-gray morning stares at the whole,

thinking heavily to itself: are you still here a little?

(night and day)

 

 

a blue bird stares at me like an expert

at a dubious painting, not convinced

of either authenticity or goodness, but

elegantly and discreetly tolerant, the way

certain birds can be; a tall, heavy thing,

slow and slow-witted, it thinks: but maybe

we have to be here together for a time, so

one must pretend as though this fool

is good enough and just as authentic as

that worm despite its patent lack of stature

(this and that, romance)

 

 

what can you do, the evening falls over your shoulders

with a secret sound, like a moth-eaten rug, you know

exactly what I mean, you blue sparrow you red robin, you

old raven, to be precise, that the skies are flat and spread

out on every side, a dark-gray morning stares at the whole,

thinking heavily to itself: are you still here a little?

(night and day)

 

 

postcard from the country way

out in the country, where birds

circle and the woods are fading,

while churchbells toll and the corn

moans and groans like a person

who’s either joyful or desperate,

but in the middle of a field there’s

a billboard that reads, hell exists,

and another, thou shalt not fornicate;

just what I was thinking of doing

(cincinnati: hell is real)

 

By Per Aage Brandt

Translated by Thom Satterlee

IF I WERE A SUICIDE BOMBER

Written by Per Aage Brandt

Translated by Thom Satterlee

Published by Open Letter, 2017


In addition to his poetry, Per Aage Brandt has published a large number of books on the subjects of semiotics, linguistics, culture, and music. He has also translated Molière and the Marquis de Sade, among others, and has had some of his translations set to music in Frederik Magle’s Cantabile.

Thom Satterlee received his MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas, and has published two previous collections of Danish poetry in translation. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN America, and won the Translation Prize from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.

Photo of Per Aage Brandt by Morten Langkilde/Polfoto

Category: Translations

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