false translation

I thought it would be fun to practice doing false translations, so I took the writing prompt from NaPoWriMo as a jumping off point for Day 16. But, I’m posting it today because life.

Since I first learned about this exercise while studying with Diane di Prima, I’ve become more compelled by this idea of the vagaries of translation: from language to language, from perspective to perspective, from identity construct to identity construct. How all we are and see and do alters our perception so that really, everything becomes a translation filtered through our human, our animal skins.

I do not especially like this poem. In fact, it irritates me and I almost feel shamed by it. I’m posting it anyway because fuckit. (original poem follows)

Bimbo, nestled placenta

Bimbo, in cup of media

Morbid curtain of Pele

Enduring the putana

Rose red, flame of what disgrace

Red of your bloody body tongue

Appending the fat

Bimbo, ladled out there.

Bimba nella
placenta, bimba
sotto coperta,
nella corteccia
morbida di pelle,
indurita dal
bosco, rossa
come scottata,
rossa che nuoti nel
tuo sangue,
appena fatta, bimba
qui scodellata.

© Elisa Biagini
From: Cappuccio Rosso
Publisher: Einaudi

Dictionary Poem

Cleavage appears first

Any member a mouth


Developing indeterminate isotopes

The sea squirts, the fish in layers


A penetration of epithelial

A substance of killing


To draw in water

A baby, a cloud

The edentate

Colorless material relating


Latitudes for the sidereal

Established for the treelike


Used furs a number of ornamental loops

Haunt of the ferocious


Armor from the splinters

I made my own scaffold



Granular anthems the shrub of a genus

Sometimes used as a gemstone

Married, transparent, from rendered fats

Dinner with Phoenix and Aphrodite

My son (6) asked: “where do people go when they die?” I explained that no one really knows, but that people have different theories – sometimes based on which religion they believe in, and whether or not they believe in God. He quickly maintained that he does not believe in God, which he’s mentioned before. So, I asked him what he believes in.  He replied: “I believe in you. I believe in love. I believe in the goddesses.”


The mother of love says go on give it open up

The crown heart thrush rises – to overlook precipice

Take aim, glowing out light embers

Cicatrix phosphenes in the fire radial


Belly was the boulder belly the chasm

Upright stone slab – a storm of grey wanting

She lifts, fragments:


Membrane wing,

two breath,                         flesh devour


Spiny,                                     comb bearer,                                                 little ring




Love says: look and I am you.



In the garden


I water                        I watch


The lace-winged labor of play

The animals loll and swat at plants


Fur rubs the sidewalk

Camouflaged skins burrow inside

Fur lines the flesh light



In the gnawing chew             of sidewalk hum

I played street games


The sun a vector                                     I hid in the cool dark


Aimed cue ball at bruised knuckles

My father taught me


How to hurt

How to be pennies



On the fire escape             I grew like a dandelion

Greedy for pigeon talk and flowered skirts


I wanted to be a garden

So I doused myself with hosewater


Painted my arms with thorns

In the wandering dusk


How to be a fortress

Tenement of my red mouth


How to be quiet

Dig under the belly

Lift the stone slab


(from a writing prompt by Elizabeth Treadwell and anthologized in “Hereditament”: http://secretmint.blogspot.com/2013/04/hereditament-flash-anthology-no-2.html)

Light: NaPoWriMo Day Ten

When light sticks inside bodies

The viscous imaginary

A protective sheath, a plastic coating, a waterfall


Orbital schema – an awkward grinding

Grey over buoyant grey, a rainbow scrape


When light sticks inside bodies

Bug jelly maths

Porifera make new hydras

Give Zeus the finger

A parthenogenetic hum

stuns the ocean floor


Leaves shoot duodenal refuse

A vein of cellular debris

But, to chop it –

A clutch of pearls through the stained glass

A pawing at the branches


When light is a family of bones

When light deviates

NaPoWriMo Day Eight


There is a fur in making

Scratches markings on its dorsal side

Spins irregular – is disorderly – chances



Danger: Keep arms and legs inside

Covers abdomen, swallows pill, depresses tongue

A mother rat after the maternal heart



Torn from its parietal (parent)

Sponges and other invertebrates

Stand motionless with pedipalps raised

NaPoWriMo Day Seven

The thin connective tissue a wedding song

Outside, an organism –

Gregarious leaping from branches

            A dull musical hum


            All coordinates marry distance

Measure hostility of an old heart

Slowly – a meat snap



A stitched wedding dress

The heart now feathers for plucking