Lost In Translation
meditation on a remark by Les Murray
Chinese poems are nothing like The Sun,
The Daily Mirror, Times or Guardian, yet their
translators multiply their words to get their
drift or they’d sound like headlines. GOTCHA! FUN
RUN ENDS IN BLOOD BATH. GIANT GRABS AT CRUMBS.
A bit like History, no?—whose sieve retains
just diagram bones while detail-dapple drains
away to dark. All leaf, all flesh succumbs.
I have a nightmare. I’m being sucked by Time
down History’s anticlockwise plughole, drowned
for being sole witness to the world’s worst crime.
Meanwhile the notes for my unfinished book
are turned to sludge and then piped underground
to join the thick-polluted stream Shitbrook.
Shitbrook was the stream that flowed just south of Exeter’s city wall and into the River Exe. After the cholera outbreak of 1832 it went underground as the Barnfield Brook Sewer.
James Turner lives in retirement Exeter. He spent most of his working life as an unqualified library assistant. He writes poems rather than anything else because they can be so short. For five years he co-hosted Uncut Poets, Exeter’s monthly poetry event at the Phoenix Arts Centre. He likes listening to classical music and birdsong, especially blackbirds. He likes going for walks to get a bit of a nature-fix. His first collection of poems, Forgeries, was published by Original Plus in 2002. Whether there will be a second remains to be seen.