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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Cigale’

Ahura Mazda; Thus Spoke Zarathustra

September 27, 2012 Comments off

by Alex Cigale


I call on the spirits of those who died
in the fire: be with us, live on in our hearts.

The girl dropped her pink hat like a small cloud.
In weightless silence this seemed proof enough.

She was gently prodding the cat’s feelings.
Why are you so rude and unkind to Lola?

The New Year heralds the coming of spring.
Urban leprechauns leap over the flames.

Excuse me! I shouted, pointing to the floor.
Between us we could hold onto nothing.

Black fur standing on end on his arched back
like a thousand tiny exclamation marks.

After an hour, the dwindling bonfires
were banked, consolidated into one fire.

Desperately searching all my pockets,
patting myself down for the lost wallet.

He was shredding the notes she had taken.
Gatti! I see you will need some more work.

And a few people gathered to reflect.

He had belonged to a really crazy friend.

For a while after that, I lost nothing.


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Alex Cigale’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Tampa Review, and The Literary Review, and online in Asymptote, Drunken Boat, and McSweeney’s. His translations from the Russian can be found in Ancora Imparo, Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, PEN America, Brooklyn Rail InTranslation, The Manhattan Review, St. Ann’s Review, and Washington Square Review. He is currently Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Categories: Fragments Tags:

Keats in America; Ode to Wilderness

April 9, 2012 2 comments

by Alex Cigale


No mythic grange of crag in snow and horn
Nor forests thick beyond numbering nor
Beasts uncountable dense upon the plain
Nor unspoiled terrain of river and glade

For not even the habitation of awe
That grandest scree of sublime solemnity
Has ‘scaped the ken of the learned geographer —

In leaden skies aligned on Canyon’s deep
As atmospheric growling scours the night
And astral satellites hurtling by sweep
The mottled towers in invisible light

In bottomless oceans scuffle machines
That bathe the abyss in resonants of sound
Etching an exquisite topography —

The most remote top of butte and plateau
Scarred by boot track and route littered with
Candy wrappers film canisters spent batteries

Where no road leads in but many peter out:
Wilderness; where I am and you aren’t.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in the Colorado, Global City, Tampa, Green Mountains, and North American Reviews, Drunken Boat, Hanging Loose, McSweeney’s, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, and 32 Poems. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, PEN America, Brooklyn Rail InTranslation, The Manhattan Review, and St. Ann’s Review. He is currently teaching at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Categories: Imitation Tags:

Translation: issue summary

May 10, 2011 6 comments

by Alex Cigale

Our Voyage Around the World in 80 Days is at an end dear friends; I am a little saddened to part, but we all must rest now. If your participation in this conversation through your comments on the site is any indication, our bread cast upon the virtual waters has already come back to us one hundredfold. May it continue to increase: please come back to re-read these pages at your leisure. Poetry in its largest sense, “making,” is the real gift that keeps giving. I wish to give thanks to my co-editors, Nick Admussen, Nathalie Boisard-Beudin and Ayesha Saldanha, for their dedication to the Translation issue of Qarrstiluni, and to our managing co-captains, Dave Bonta and Beth Adams, without whose guidance, participation, production work, the trust they’ve placed in us, and belief in the value of bringing a whole world of work into English, none of this would have been possible.

And we have indeed traveled far through both space and time, bringing to you work from 3rd C. BC Tamil India, Ancient Greece, from China, Tang Dynasty (8th C. AD) through contemporary, from the Anglo-Saxon, Old French, and Old Occitan. Between our virtual covers we have brought together Greenland’s female shamans, two poets of the Russian Silver Age, such acknowledged masters as Baudelaire, Swinburne, Rilke, Cendrars, C. D. de Andrade, Renard, Dohollau, and Sutzkever (from French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yiddish), along with the work of leading contemporary poets of France, Greece, Iran, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania, Sweden, and Turkey. I would also like to give thanks to all the contemporary writers and artists, too numerous to acknowledge individually, who have taken the leap with us across cultural boundaries and geographical borders.

Particular thanks is due to our translators, without whose sadly unrecognized work the world of literature would be as invisible to us, and to those many individual artists whose complex national, ethnic, and linguistic identities require them to cross these borders in their daily lives. In our age of post-colonialism and globalization, such “translators” are not merely Pound’s “antennae of the race” but in a very real sense our explorers, messengers, and representatives; they bring us the necessary news not only from abroad but from our own past. It has been my intention from the start not merely to provide a forum for translation, preaching to the converted, but to encourage all our readers to seek out this news that stays news.

As I write this, progressively more literary magazines are starting to bring attention to the importance of work in translation, and a number of new online communities such as Words Without Borders are making the presence of the rest of the world more real in our reading lives and minds. If our journey has been of value to you, both our managing editors have indicated that, in due time, another trip down this river it is impossible to step into the same way twice is possible. Please let them know of your experience with us these past 80 days, and tell us what and whom you would like to bring along the next time. I thank you, dear reader/community member, and look forward to our next occasion very much.

Categories: Translation Tags:

Today my shower came from the heavens

December 2, 2010 5 comments

by Alex Cigale


Lying very still, my ear to the ground,
I can hear voices, what the river said,
water lapping stones: I love you, love you.

Was it just yesterday that I was rain?
What will become of me tomorrow? Lake?
I move a single stone for how many years?

Fricative sibilants of the vast wind,
particles of mist jostling for position.
There would be no hush were it not for the trees.

Round after round the rain rings out its song.
I stay awake all night grateful for the sounds.
Today my shower came from the heavens.

Interesting people we meet along the way and
intersecting with them sense connectedness,
the world a safe place: I feel I belong:

not having, had, or to have; becoming.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

In the still forest heard from far away

September 20, 2010 3 comments

by Alex Cigale


In the still forest
a noisome bellow
like a bull gator’s
a wild grunting sound
heard from far away
each grunter his own

particular timbre
hammering a stob
a short wooden stake
inches in the ground
with a heavy iron
shaft called the roop

drawing it back and
forth over the top
to send vibrations
into the mound
the tremors driving
crawlers to the surface

in trembling droves
swarming en masse
in prompt answer to some
indistinct instinct
escaping earthquakes
to breathe or to breed —

split down the middle
one worm becomes two
making either a head
or a tail of it
but species survival
is never a sure thing —

you don’t go worming
you don’t get to eat.


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Note: See “Worm-Grunting: Luring Earthworms Out of the Ground” for a video of the practice. This poem is included in Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, an anthology from HeartLodge.org in search of a publisher.

Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

The Bitter, True Taste of the Human Heart

July 16, 2010 3 comments

by Alex Cigale


After Samuel Beckett

I once knew a madman who thought the end
of the world had come. I would visit him
at the asylum, take him by the hand
and drag him to the window.
Corn rising,
and look there, the sails of the herring fleet.
What loveliness!
He’d snatch away his hand
and back into a corner, appalled. All
he saw was ashes, he alone was spared,
forgotten.
His case is not unusual.
There can be no ideas that do not seem
to us to represent objects.
Descartes.
Perfection of mankind, God’s idea.
I am confident that the human mind
can know nothing with greater certainty.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Ten Discourses After Jalal al-Din Rumi

May 12, 2010 4 comments

by Alex Cigale


These words are for people in need of words.
The heaven and earth indeed are like words.
A hundred thousand wild beasts together
is man. God kneaded the clay forty days.
So long as you perceive pain and regret.

*

Water that recognizes water, clay’s
inclination towards clay. A fault in
your brother is a bigger fault in yourself,
disgust with yourself expressed at others.
All our desires are the desire for God.

*

The animal soul is your enemy.
Violence; in that fist are raisins. When
the prophet spilled blood he must have been wrong.
Your love for Lailah is like a drawn sword.
Intelligence and lust, that which is loved.

*

Endure the tyranny of women for
the sake of children. Life is a garment
to ward off the cold. Thus you must enter
this union, the prison of the body.
Look to the body you know within your life.

*

Speech is a piece of flesh. The hand can speak,
the world is the resurrection. Metaphors
are the forms of God come forth from the sea,
the recollections of the other world.
Neither to the beginning nor the end.

*

There is no more shameful occupation
than poetry. The heart is a free world.
I and there is nobody other than I.
Each day your love for work will grow greater.
Understanding of this is not understanding.

*

Many pens, one loftier than another.
The pens of God. Human activity,
the profit and the loss. The body too
is principle. Yet you know not your own self.
Each one of us has a Jesus inside.

*

Attention is respect. Mongrel affairs,
the body of prayer, supplication and
the unconscious memory of God. We
come into the world with a particular
task. The one thing, the task performed by man.

*

Scholar and prince, for such are the social
relations of a man of God. Like the
sun that turns stones into rubies your trade
is giving. We learn in order to give.
May you bring forth the living from the dead.

*

Thought without word, hidden. Why speak? The one
we have appointed only as a trial.
Them as many, man as one, a great trial.
The true friend of faith. Faith, the one true friend.
The human manifestations of God.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: New Classics Tags:

Incantation For My Old Friend, Landers

October 4, 2009 1 comment

by Alex Cigale


Thunder, thunder, lightning, storm,
let the next three days be gone.

Northern cloud front, western sun,
while the southerlies have come.

Wind is rising at my back,
Washington Bridge traffic, trucks.

Willing weather: heal me, heel,
or all else miserable.

It has rained four forty days,
left me stewing in my daze.

Mark my word, the water’s line
will keep rising in your mind.

Beer, port, vodka, whiskey, wine,
just ’bout now would be de-vine.


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Alex Cigale’s poems have recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains and North American reviews, Drunken Boat, Hanging Loose, McSweeney’s, and Zoland Poetry. Other work can be found online at The Adirondack Review, Babel Fruit, Big Bridge, The Externalist [PDF], nthposition, The Potomac Journal, Quarter After Eight, The Salt River Review, and Synaesthetic. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry and in The Manhattan and St. Ann’s reviews. He was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

Ceremony: the Opening of the Mouth

September 17, 2009 3 comments

by Alex Cigale


May my heart be with me in the house of hearts
May it be given back to me among the living
May it toll and mete out a steady measure

Though daily I am seen rolling my past
like a ball of dung in front of my face
with pincer-like paws — the resurrection —

I am born anew in the rising sun
singing the random code of combinations
keys to the kingdom of everlasting life

Arise ye to the boats you wise boatmen
to the recitation of parts — masts sails oars
rudders — mechanisms of struggle for control

Commit to memory the many names
and the many gates of the doorkeepers
internal strictures and structures of soul

Great power resides in appellations
under ancient laws a slave had no name
and thus no function as a legal person

Forbidden to label compelled to invent —
physical body the shadow the full title —
panoply of names that death may not find me

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Alex Cigale’s poems have recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains and North American reviews, Drunken Boat, Hanging Loose, McSweeney’s, and Zoland Poetry. Other work can be found online at The Adirondack Review, Babel Fruit, Big Bridge, The Externalist [PDF],  nthposition, The Potomac Journal, Quarter After Eight, The Salt River Review, and Synaesthetic. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry and in The Manhattan and St. Ann’s reviews. He was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

How Appurtenances Are Made Sacred

August 8, 2009 3 comments


Her long silk robes and knitted caftans doused —
torn to shreds, soaked in gasoline, and set ablaze —
the shattered remains of her guitars tossed
on the burning rags, her entire household,

the caravan’s contents, her cherished possessions —
pots and pans, white lace shawls, brass candlesticks —
were burned and both her beloved horses shot.
Sleep had deceived Ulla; her knife would not sing.

Ulla, the old gypsy queen, has passed on.
She will need her possessions in the afterlife.
No one should be sent off to the spirit world
without their things. All wealth is “sad money.”

Only in death is there pleasure without spend.
We dressed Ulla as for her wedding day.

by Alex Cigale

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Categories: Economy Tags:
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