Stepping Aside: Bill Mohr

April 26, 2017

 

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

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

ZiN Daily is published by ZVONA i NARI, Cultural Production Cooperative

Vrčevan 32, 52204 Ližnjan, Istria, Croatia

OIB 73342230946

ISSN 2459-9379

Editors: Natalija Grgorinić, Ljubomir Grgorinić Rađen & Ognjen Rađen

 

Copyright © 2017-2018, ZVONA i NARI, Cultural Production Cooperative

The rights to all content presented at www.zvonainari.hr belong to its respective authors.

Any further reproduction or dissemination of this content is prohibited without a written consent from its authors. 
All Rights Reserved.

The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.

ZVONA i NARI

are supported by:

ZVONA i NARI - Library & Literary Retreat - Vrčevan 32, 52204 Ližnjan, Croatia - + 385 99 232 7926 - zvonainari@gmail.com - (c) 2011.-2018.