Heavenward (귀천) by Cheon Sang-byeong (천상병)

translated from the Korean by Geul on the blog Cardiac Slaves of the Stars

Cardiac Slaves of the Stars

(translated from the Korean by geul)

I shall return to heaven.


When dawn alights, hand
in hand with the vanishing dew


I shall return to heaven.
Together with the red glow of the sun,
just the two of us playing at the foot of the
mountain when the clouds beckon


I shall return to heaven.
The day the picnic ends in this lovely world,
I shall go and say
it was lovely. . . .

poem in Korean

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Remembrance by Melih Cevdet Anday

Should a pair of doves take wing
Should a smoldering scent in the pinks be perceptible
It isn’t–is it–something all that memorable
It just suddenly comes to my mind

The day must have been just about to begin
You, like the others, about to arise
You may still well have been sleepless
That night of yours comes to my mind

Like the names of the flowers I love
Like the names of the streets that I love
Just like the names of all those whom I love
Your names come into my mind

So the comfortable bed shames itself perhaps
So a passionate kiss finds my thoughts in a lapse
As the touch of those fingers of yours through the gaps
In that metal grating comes to my mind

How many loves and friendships I have seen
Heroic deeds abounding in the tales of history
What’s most attune to the present though, is the dignity
Of your composure that always strikes my mind

Should a pair of doves take wing
Should a smoldering scent in the pinks be perceptible
It isn’t–is it–something that’s forgettable
Of itself it comes into my mind

translated by Jean Carpenter Efe

What Is Left by Hüseyin Yurttaş

what is left
of the streets I thundered through like a raging wind
of my youthful steps whose echoes are imprinted on the walls
what is left

in the ravishing summers where docile shadows swayed
the light that flowed through me like a legend
which darkness is it now pursuing in the cascade of the years

the lightning flashing distantly on my horizons
what does it now want to reveal of the beyond
which unanswerable questions in this endless inquiry
are reiterated unceasingly in the desolation of my life
in this blinding flood that may never end

yes, in truth, what is left
of my youthful steps whose echoes are imprinted on the walls

translated by Suat Karantay

from An Apocalypic Chain of Melody by Metin Cengiz

no, my love, I will not spell out this song for you
with its aroma discarded, metamorphosed in riots
I have long since stamped my seal
put down my clumsy signature
on the most challenging part of life
and at every sunrise I have brushed my teeth
pressing life hard onto my flesh

–come on, pick up that comb that adores poems
and start the day by combing your hair

translated by Suat Karantay

Zero by Ion Vinea

Moon letters in the sand silence
shine on me with your hand to your heart
Diana dust-blown name Diana
souvenir, willows with white teeth
still cackling today–
it’s so still that all the fragrances
wriggle like cats.

translated by Julian Semilian

once again by James K. Zimmerman

Once again and once again
if only once again your eyes
could open, eyes could see
no need for lambs, for lambs
to slaughter, for martyrs
mothers, fathers, teachers
children once again

Do you listen? Can you hear?
Again and once again
do you need the darkness
hardened hearts, helpless
shrugs, no light to shine, no
light to shine once again?

Do you listen? Can you hear?
Once again and once again
they are children, they are ours
they are yours, they are
someone’s children once again

Again and never again, never
Columbine, Virginia Tech
Giffords and Aurora, Sandy Hook
Fort Hood, Charleston, Umpqua
San Bernadino, Pulse, Las Vegas
and now Parkland, once again

Once again and once again and
never again, help us, help us
they say, no more, but you say
they are only children, ones
who ran, ones who hid

Ones who will not run away
again, once again and again

Do you listen? Can you hear?
Do you feel again the need to run
the need to hide, a nod, a helpless
shrug, thoughts and prayers
you say, pretended sympathy
with eyes that do not see
that do not want to see


but your hands are open
eyes are open to money
over lives, power over heart
you run away once again
and again and again and

Never again, the children say
Never again once again

Wheatfield by Lucian Blaga

The grains burst from too much gold.
Scattered around red poppy drops–
girl in the field,
eyelashed as long as barley stalks,
gathers bundles of clear sky in her gaze
and sings.

I lie in the shadow of poppies
Without desires, needs, remorse.
I am flesh and dirt.
She sings.
I listen.
On her warm lips my soul is born.

translated by Andrei Codrescu

The Flower-Eater by Gabriela Melinescu

You arrived with sixteen gladioli
to pay respects to the dead.
Under my gaze, the colors live
a secret life.
For food we need only
beauty on a plate.

In the morning: saffron.
For lunch: violets with mussels.
In the evening: pollen from sixteen gladioli.

Food is love as yet unborn.
On the table, among your flowers,
the body of the Lord,
offering itself eternally to all.

translated by Adam J. Sorkin & Inger Johansson