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Will Stenberg: The Story That No One Tells


Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/FFffcjGBsx0) 4.9.2021.


Does our past define our future? Are our actions conditioned by the legacy of our ancestors that runs through our veins? In these two poems, Will Stenberg tackles and ultimately reconciles with his ancestors and their legacy, as he wonders how much of their curse and grace flows through his veins. Stenberg pays hommage to all those lives lived in anonymity and to their countless stories that were never told. These poems are the poems of a man who realized that the road to the future is paved with the untold stories of those who reside in the past.


Editor-in-Chief, Ana Savković



Grandpa


Grandma was a liar but it wasn’t her fault;

hard lives lead words astray.

She told my mother he was killed

by police in Illinois, but told my uncle he

was killed doing a b&e in Washington State.


No pictures of him for his children,

only bleak fables of a father whom, at best,

she said once danced in cabarets.


When we finally found his trail we found

a runaway boy — hatless, the newspaper noted —

who became a crook,

but the trail went cold with cancer

in a rented room in Indianapolis,

no cops nor misadventure,

just gray poverty and ordinary death


and all that is left is his silent Cyrillic grave

and whatever dwells in the blood

that pumps like gunfire through

these wrists: his hustle, his grift, his grace.



Great-Grandma


Great-grandma had mean blood and hard bones

she brought from the old country.

The ancient wrongs were snakes that drank

dry the well of her heart

so no tears from great-grandma

from the old country

and no heirs willing

to produce them for her, she


who would squat and ache

as cancer bloomed in her stomach and she smoked

brown cigarettes and drank black coffee then

creamy milk when the pain became unbearable.


On her haunches in the corner of the kitchen,

dark skin, white wall,

rejecting all doctors

and their western trickery, she shriveled

into a skeleton woman and went one hopes

to a kinder place.


Old ghost you died

cursing America

and your own family

and always of course

the Turks.


But this too is the immigrant story, the one

that no one tells.


About the Author: Will Stenberg is a poet, screenwriter and musician who grew up in a small logging town in the wilds of Northern California and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His work has been featured in Otis Nebula, Sybil Journal, Parhelion Literary Magazine, and elsewhere, and his poetry collection “No Comebacks” was published in 2019 by Yellow Lark Press in Austin, Texas.



Translation from English to Croatian by Ana Savković:



Djed


Baka je bila lažljivica, ali to nije bila njezina krivica;

teški životi navode riječi u pogrešnom smjeru.

Rekla je mojoj majci da je ubijen

od strane policije u Illinoisu, ali je rekla mom ujaku

da je ubijen dok je provaljivao u državi Washington.


Nema njegovih slika za njegovu djecu,

samo sumorne priče o ocu koji je, u najboljem slučaju

rekla je, jednom plesao u kabareima.


Kad smo konačno pronašli njegov trag, našli smo

odbjeglog dječaka - bez šešira, zabilježile su novine -

koji je postao prevarant,

ali trag se ohladio zbog raka

u iznajmljenoj sobi u Indianapolisu,

nema policajaca niti nesreća,

samo sivo siromaštvo i obična smrt


i sve što je ostalo je njegov tihi ćirilični grob

i što god prebiva u krvi

koja pumpa poput pucnjave kroz

ova zapešća: njegove muljaže, borbenost, njegova milost.



Prabaka


Prabaka je imala zlu krv i tvrde kosti

koje je donijela iz stare zemlje.

Drevne nepravde bile su zmije koje su ispile

i isušile bunar njezina srca

stoga nema suza od prabake

iz stare zemlje

i nema voljnih nasljednika

da ih proizvedu za nju, ona


koja bi čučala i patila

dok joj je u želucu cvjetao rak a ona pušila

smeđe cigarete i pila crnu kavu potom

kremasto mlijeko kad bi bol postala nepodnošljiva.


Pogrbljena u kutu kuhinje,

tamna koža, bijeli zid,

odbijajući sve liječnike

i njihove zapadnjačke trikove, smežurala se

u ženu kostura i otišla je, možemo se samo nadati,

na blaže mjesto.


Stari duhu umro si

proklinjući Ameriku

i svoju obitelj

i uvijek naravno

Turke.


Ali i ovo je priča o imigrantima, ona

koju nitko ne priča.


O autoru: Will Stenberg je pjesnik, scenarist i glazbenik koji je odrastao u malom gradu u divljini sjeverne Kalifornije, a trenutno živi u Portlandu, Oregon. Njegovi su uradci objavljeni u časopisima Otis Nebula, Sybil Journal, Parhelion Literary Magazine i drugdje, a njegova je zbirka poezije "No Comebacks" objavljena 2019. u izdanju Yellow Lark Press u Austinu u Teksasu.

#WillStenberg #newpoetry #translations

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Editor-in-Chief: Ana Savković

 

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