Hold me back!
if you are,
The Forgotten Retort between Two Gazes
Translation from Macedonian by Aleksandar Mitovski
And so we role-play clockmaker and time
Both with hammers aimed at mutiny’s head
And a clock is a bigger bastard than both man and everlasting sun
As we forget burnt words and human dust
Ugly tongues and nasty minds
They drag the lent of the soul
The inner voice doesn’t (ever) go out,
Like angels’ dander or hell’s gasoline it just booms
Skip the small lightning bolts
Twist the lowest mountains
The force of forever would, like a mother to her son,
And barely ever
In the rood of our heads
We hide our true home
Not realizing that the slime of our soul
Leaves traces of disquiet in our sleep
We keep the stars in our hands,
Why is it when we throw them
They strike like heavenly boulders?
Stones have learned to resound
Yet our dulled hearing needs to wake up!
Both fire and abyss alike
Just like our pensive, darling souls
Just like a shard in marbles, when our bell breaks
We are of piercing glass, yet
Troubled as the soul remembers
But knows not to reciprocate
We’re birds that have decided to build their own cage,
We sing of the freedom we’ve created
But the space in which we act is
Barely as large as our wingspan is
Be the river that desires to break through the cold
And the ice of the mountain whose home is winter
We all want to see the whole
We all want to be a part of someone’s whole
We want to add to the whole, bid for it,
Increase it, make it rich
Cripple it without realizing
As we don’t grasp we’re nothing but cutouts
A square on a Rubik’s cubepersevering, searching for its match
On the other side of the cube
We’re seemingly moving in a circle
Rolling all over the globe like a stolen bobbin of yarn
From grandma’s old chest.
We leave our people like
Forgotten church bells in our soul
Though we’d like their thoughts to echo
But you’d only hear the blood of your words
And angels pacing on the cobblestone road
Leaving without making a sound,
With a touch ingrained in us like a scar from child’s play
Like a mother’s hand holding a teaspoon of soup
Like a father’s lesson of how to chop kindling
Without losing a finger
We cut and we carve, but the truth can’t be carved,
Because, if we do, it will carve us back
And bury us six feet under
Even though we never brewed enough coffee
Even though we never leaped over enough bonfires
Even though we lied when we said that spirits came but we summoned witches
And the fairies choose our shadows as their mates
No, our shadows, like us, would rather hide in verses
And battle quietly for their hidden lives.
We’d rather be snow: white, clean, untarnished,
But you can’t keep snow in a jar, it won’t sit still,
Neither will love
Trapped, lonely, not shown, framed.
Love floats alone in a frame, like a cross-stitch
Of a woman spinning yarn as her wool is coming to an end.
Let’s make our minds ascent in a global fire
And resurrect the enchanted souls.
A forgotten retort between two gases
Please leave me
It’s not the time in which
The soil on its own and
By its own volition
Did turn over
And roll over
We all move,
Twist, roll over,
As we live we do not remember
While we’re dead
‘we do not eavesdrop
As others gossip about us’
Probably all spine issues are gone.
Leave the world be, darling,
It is not a part of you
Can’t you see in your naiveté, how,
Through your breath of lunacy they pass you by
They skip right over you
They won’t even cough anymore?
Leave the trams, darling,
In them fewer wishes are travelling these days
Next to you,
No more hands reaching out
No more raised voices
—we drown in our own outcry
We hope that hope as our last refuge
Will pay our debts
Will turn off the light
And in the end
Just like us all
Michael Rothenberg has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 37 years but recently moved to Tallahassee. He is a poet, painter, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else. In 2011 he and Terri Carrion co-founded the global poetry movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change.
His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and most recently, TriStar Pictures’ Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone‘s The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy’s Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell.
His poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection libraries of Brown University, Claremont Colleges, University of Kansas, the New York Public Library, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and UC-Santa Cruz.
Mitko Gogov lives in Macedonia, where he writes poetry, short stories, essays and journalism. He writes haiku, senriu, renga which he publishes occasionally in the micro blogosphere twitter, but once published in London by Yoko Ono as well. His work so far has been present and translated in several anthologies, collections and journals for literature and art in India, Pakistan, Philippines, USA, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Check Republic, Germany, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria … He’s current with his first collection “Ice Water” published in 2011. in Serbia, and in 2014 issued in Macedonia, in the edition “Fires” for the publishing house “Antolog”, supported by the Ministry of culture.
As conceptual artist with several exhibitions, installations, performances, scenery, short movies and multimedia projects he participated in a few international group exhibitions and projects in Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, France, Norway and Italy.
He is President of the Association for Cultural Development and Protection of Cultural Heritage “Kontext – Strumica” and organizer of the international movement and festival “100 Thousand poets for change” in Macedonia, Strumica. He is also the CEO & founder of the internet portal strumicaonline.net and one of the editors at the ezine for culture and literature in Macedonia, reper.net.mk. He organizes many other cultural and art events, collaborating with youth, art, film and theater festivals.
As youth trainer he provides different creativity workshops, such as: forum theater, multimedia, design, stick art, street art, graffiti, use of organic and recycled materials in contemporary art, handmade and social aspects as PEER & informal education, EVS, youth participation etc.
This post originally appeared on
Fragmentarily/ Metaphor(e) /Play.
2 thoughts on “Michael Rothenberg and Mitko Gogov”
Wow! I completely identify with the first poem and the second poem took my breath away. This was an interesting pairing of poems (both of whom humble me with their talent). Thank you both for sharing these with us this month!
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Thank you, Corina!
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