• Bill Mohr

Stepping Aside: Bill Mohr


It is always a treat when authentic poetic passion gets expressed by language in which the sensual and semantic vacillate to create unique emotional tension. Bill Mohr's poetry is work of sophistication, refinement and precision employed in the unraveling of the quotidian and sifting out that well hidden grain of infinite and eternal.

Bill Mohr’s collections of poetry include Hidden Proofs (1982), Bittersweet Kaleidoscope (2006), and a bilingual selection of poems from both of those books, Pruebas Ocultas (Bonobos Editores, Mexico, 2015). His account of West Coast poetry, Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992, was published in 2011 by the University of Iowa Press.

He has edited or co-edited three anthologies of Los Angeles or West Coast poets. From 1974 to 1988, he was the editor and publisher of Momentum Press.

After years of working as a typesetter, Mohr returned to school, and got a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, San Diego in 2004. As a professor in the Department of English at California State University, Long Beach, he teaches both Literature and creative writing. He gives frequent talks at academic conferences such as PAMLA, MLA, and the ALA.

Poezija kalifornijskog pjesnika Billa Mohra odlikuje se izuzetnom senzualnošću u kojoj se semantičke napetosti briljantno razrađuju autentičnom strastvenošću jezika što buja u profinjenosti i preciznosti izraza. Bill Mohr je veći dio svog života radio u tiskari LA Timesa da bi u posljednjih desetak godina doktorirao te se posvetio predavanju književnosti i pisanja na sveučilištu u Long Beachu. Antologizirani je pjesnik koji iza sebe ima tri zbirke, ali i urednik s naročitim interesom za poeziju američke zapadne obale. Ovo je njegovo prvo predstavljanje na hrvatskom jeziku. Prava poetska svečanost za čitatelje i prevoditelje!

THE BETROTHAL OF BREATH

While meditating, more than a few dutiful, idle, beautiful thoughts of my daily silliness distracted me, and I let them depart like strangers cavorting as if old friends at festivals.

Simmering in this brevity, I told myself, “Align in whorls the breaths of thought,” or was it I said, “Entice the thought of breath, yes, the thought of breath,” and then it rang like a betrothal of bells:

the unceasing breath of non-self;

and I understood breath itself as the hovering tip of non-self and that in each breath I partake of both the presence and absence of non-self,

and that self is given to me to encounter the non-self and prepare myself for the Beloved.

to the memory of Lew Welch

ZARUKE DAHA

Dok sam meditirao, omelo me nekoliko

poslušnih, ispraznih, prekrasnih misli moje svagdanje ludosti, pa ih pustih da odu poput stranaca, tu veselu družbu što odlazi sa svetkovine.

Kuhajući se lagano u toj šturosti, rekoh si, „Postavi u spiralu dahove misli“, ili sam si rekao „Potakni misao daha, da, misao daha“, tada je zazvonilo poput zaruka zvona:

neprekinuti dah ne-sebstva;

pa shvatih sam dah kao lebdeći vrh ne-sebstva te da svakim dahom uzimam podjednako prisustva i odsustva ne-sebstva,

i da mi je sebstvo dano kako bih se susreo s ne-sebstvom te se pripremio za Ljubljeno.

u sjećanje na Lewa Welcha

THE BEGGAR

I’m watering the rented lawn. How else should I describe this scraggly grass, the dying Indian plum with its spiraling trunk, the maple’s blustering green leaves, rebuffing drought. I live here at the whimsy of the owner, month to month. With soda cans and bottles squeezed into plastic bags atop the handle bars, he pedals up on the cracked sidewalk, stops, holds out his hands. I shake my head, denial taut as my short hose. Fingers splayed, he thrusts his hands out once again, rubs them together, points to my hose. Ah! He only wants to wash his hands. An ablution of the slick trash he’s sifted.

And he lifts his wet fingers to his wet face.

PROSJAK

Zalijevam unajmljeni travnjak. Kako drukčije opisati ovu sparušenu travu, umiruću indijansku šljivu spiralnog debla, razmetljivo zeleno lišće javora što niječe sušu. Živim ovdje prepušten hiru vlasnika, od mjeseca do mjeseca. S limenkama i bocama natrpanim u plastične vrećice povrh guvernala, pedalira raspuknutim pločnikom, zastaje, pruža ruke. Odmahujem glavom u odbijanju nategnutom poput mog prekratkog šmrka. Raširenih prstiju, pruža mi ponovno ruke, trlja ih jednu o drugu, pokazuje na moje crijevo. A! Samo želi oprati ruke. Pročišćenje od sjajnog smeća koje je prosijao.

I diže mokre prste do svog mokrog lica.

AN ORGY OF SNAKES

Suddenly to wake, aroused and flushed beside a deeply dreaming lover, and know that, even when enmeshed, the ecstasy one can’t recover

will linger in the other’s drowse of memory’s first night of aching lust like a floundering orgy on a cavern floor that faithful love cannot ignore.

ORGIJA ZMIJA

Probuditi se naglo, uzbuđen i ozaren

pored duboko usnule ljubavnice znajući da će, premda uhvaćen, zanos kog se više ne može vratiti

ostati lebdjeti u polusnu sjećanja na prvu noć bolne požude poput orgije što po tlu pećine posrće, a vjerna je ljubav zanijekati ne može.

STEPPING ASIDE

I rubbed the bottom of your feet, mother, when father was on his six month cruise -- the knob under the big toe the fissured heel

If a twelve year boy should fear anything, it is his mother’s feet. the soft sheath of the ankle’s skin descending, its willingness to be touched

I think of D.H. Lawrence’s “Piano.” I had none to sit under, nor a mother who sang

nor a father who brought home records of exotic voices.

A hockey puck

is what I asked for when his ship stopped off in Boston on the way back to Norfolk,

and he bought it for me, though the only ice to skate on

was briefly where the school bus

stopped on February mornings and we ran and skid on our boots,

then practiced how to spell polysyllabic words.

I whispered Latin

to myself, and learned to step aside for everyone more beautiful, for everyone who smiled, who had learned that triumph’s smile was all you needed to rehearse,

and step aside for the hand that reaches back, twists your neck, and drags you to the fat fist of blame and scrawny scowl of rage and tosses you down with a curse

and step aside for the sailor’s return, for the aftermath of drying out on watch, and step aside for the unworthiness you inherit,

the ingenuity of tiny bones in the hand and foot, the work that hardens them, the stepping aside to offer up authority to those who crave it and enslave it;

but what if that which steps aside recoils -- then keeps itself apart

and steps through its separation with love’s rapidity,

might not the front foot disappear more quickly than a word can step from hell and the foot behind the foot

behind lifts

its toes and trace two perfect circles

of happiness and rubs both in the one's own feet, and one's own heels.

MIČEM SE U STRANU

Masirao sam ti stopala, majko, dok je otac opet plovio na šest mjeseci –

tvrdi čvor ispod velikog palca raspucana peta

Ako se dvanaestogodišnji dječak ičega treba bojati, onda su to stopala njegove majke, mekana navlaka

kože na gležnjevima što se spušta, otvorena dodiru

Mislim na “Klavir” D.H. Lawrencea. Nisam ga imao da sjedim pod njim, ni majku koja pjeva ni oca koji doma donosi ploče sa snimkama egzotičnih glasova.

Pak za hokej

je ono što sam tražio kada mu je brod pristao u Bostonu na putu natrag u Norfolk,

i kupio mi ga je, premda je jedini led na kojem se moglo klizati bio

na autobusnoj stanici

gdje bi se nakratko stvorio ujutro svake veljače dok smo mi trčali i klizali se u čizmama, a zatim vježbali pravilno pisanje višesložnih riječi. Šaptao sam si latinski

i naučio maknuti se u stranu svakome tko je bio ljepši, svakom tko se smiješio, tko je

naučio da je trijumfalni osmijeh sve što trebaš za uvježbavanje,

i maknuti se u stranu od ruke koja poseže unatrag, savija ti vrat, i povlači te debeloj šaki krivice i kržljavom mrštenju bijesa bacajući te na tlo uz kletvu

i maknuti se u stranu pomorcu koji se vraća kući, zbog toga što sam uvenuo na straži, maknuti se u stranu nasljednoj bezvrijednosti,

domišljatom načinu na koji funkcioniraju sitne kosti ruke i stopala, radu koji ih otvrdnjuje, maknuti se u stranu kako bih ponudio autoritet onima koji za njim žude i zasužnjuju ga,

no što ako ono što se miče u stranu ustukne -- odvoji se i zakorači kroz tu odvojenost brzinom ljubavi,

neće li prednje stopalo nestati brže no što riječ istupa iz pakla a stopalo iza stopala iza diže

prste i ocrtava dva savršena kruga

sreće i utrljava oba u vlastita stopala i pete.

POEM

To touch a word as if it were as intimate as any human body, the spread of a caress enfolded in the gentle grip of fingertips, one must accept the other’s secret song: the massive, inextricable syllables of loathing, shame, and unmouthed sobs. And so: consent requites. The glow of skin’s hypnosis, the undercurrent rippling back and forth from foot to loop of ear, enswirls -- the comfort starts alone, and haunts until the lover meant to speak to you squeezes shut the eyelids, and consecrates the vowels, brings each to drops of lotion cupped in the palms, and lifted up to flow back down: the foot, and not the hand, is first to touch the river crossed, the river never severed.

PJESMA

Dotaknuti riječ kao da je prisna poput ljudskog tijela, milovanje se rasprostire umotano u nježnom stisku vrhova prstiju, jedno mora prihvatiti tajni pjev drugoga: teški, zapleteni slogovi mržnje, srama i neizgovorenih jecaja. Stoga: usuglašeno uzvraćanje usluga. Sjaj hipnoze kože, podzemna struja što se mreška natrag pa naprijed od stopala do ušne školjke, vrtloži se – udobnost dolazi sama po sebi, i progoni sve dok ljubavnik koji bi s tobom trebao razgovarati ne zatvori očne kapke, i ne posveti samoglasnike, svakoga od njih dovodeći do kapljica losiona skupljenih u dlan, i podignutih kako bi curili natrag: stopalo, a ne ruka, prvo dotiče prijeđenu rijeku, rijeku nikad prekinutu.

Prijevod na hrvatski: Natalija Grgorinić i Ognjen Rađen u suradnji s Danielom Allenom Coxom

#BillMohr #SteppingAside #poetry

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