Today, the napowrimo website challenges us to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not our own. We are to begin with a photograph. Then we are to find a poem in a language we do not know. Ignoring any accompanying English translation, we are to then translate the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” our photograph. On the face of it, this seemed like a super difficult task, but an intriguing one. So I gave it a try, with apologies to Xavier Roelens from Belgium, by “translating” his poem “Coda,” inspired super loosely by the photo above. Prepare yourself for some serious nonsense. I found myself a slave to making English-sounding equivalents of the words in the original language.
Coda (Zebra Boat)
The ship in raging water, zebra hoofed, named him
by the poison that overcame the obstinate rain and
cries words she puts on.
That the zebra harnesses blood & guts defies understanding.
But the shipmaster reopens, sparkles in soft oblivion, while
in the bilge, zebras, invisible, even in Homer’s ear,
ooh, contact problems in the making, have more angels
speaking, have more hair round a kitchen, up so near
islands that they might blow, soak, die in the opposing
Gross most stinkingly, the sun comes as an actor,
waking, almost a sinker, as our zebra ship
recharges herself. This damned longitude,
like a zeitgeist from on high that has never heard,
never beheld zilch, sails our boat of zebra.