Jeff Harrison

Mars and Penthesilea

Mars, puerile, does yawn, nestled at Penthesilea's cautery. Steadfast your gapes, Mars, I pray, since what had been steadfast silent speaks with garrulous hooves. Dews have as swiftly shut the night from the sun. Cloistered from the Morn are Mars and Penthesilea, downcast darlings, and for them I've script of where firelights are brightening who, Phoebus?


A tangle of horn clasps hart to Actaeon; a tangle of curs, Artemis to Actaeon. To hart, Actaeon, curs, and Artemis clasps what remembrance vernal and tenebrous.


SIGNUM: See that figure there, across the water? In profile? Seated. The reader. That's The Translator.

ONYMA: Translator of what language?

SIGNUM: You have to ask? You haven't heard of The Translator?

ONYMA: Not this one. Is there a story?

SIGNUM: This translator, whether by decision or cause, I don't know, neither speaks nor writes any living language.

ONYMA: Dead languages, then?

SIGNUM: Only one. English. It could even be said that The Translator hears only in English, since words are translated immediately, or with near-immediacy, into English as soon as they are spoken. The Translator has said this, and also says this of written words.

ONYMA: Impossible.

SIGNUM: Honestly, I heard it from none other than Talu.

ONYMA: Then perhaps The Translator is untruthful.

SIGNUM: If not truthful, The Translator is guilelessly misstating or willfully misrepresenting. It could be a matter of miscommunication, since someone who knows English is the rarest of rarities.

ONYMA: I know a few words.

SIGNUM: Veracity aside, as a premise The Translator's condition is thought-provoking. For instance, would The Translator hear an untranslatable word as silence?

ONYMA: Hear as silence, or translate as silence?

SIGNUM: Would an untranslatable word be replaced from a store of deliberately falsely-translated words?

ONYMA: The notion of a store of deliberately falsely-designative words could serve as a definition of language.

SIGNUM: Or a history of language. Does The Translator incorporate untranslatable words, or any kind of foreign word, into English? How true is The Translator to the spirit of English?

ONYMA: English! What if I were to cry the word "poesy"?


ONYMA: Poesy! Unyielding impassivity -- surely, hearing an English word is worth something.

SIGNUM: The Translator is out of earshot, I believe. "Poesy"? Isn't the word "poetry"?

ONYMA: I understood it to be "poesy". "Poetry" must be a porphyrogene youth of yet another epoch.

SIGNUM: Within a dead language, what of anachronism, and what of archaism? Does The Translator change our native language, say, into Chaucerian English? Is what The Translator hears — or, a comprehensive, converting Echo, instantly repeats — a melange of English epochs?

ONYMA: Different epochs for different days! Different hours! Months! Years!

SIGNUM: Is it, as with the possibility of incorporating untranslatable and other foreign words into English, a matter of context and consistency?

ONYMA: Does The Translator know all living languages, not an impossible task, and hears English with every word?

SIGNUM: Like I said, food for thought. Let's move on.

Jeff Harrison has poems in all the issues of Otoliths except the second issue. He has publications from Writers Forum, MAG Press, Persistencia Press, White Sky Books, and Furniture Press. He has e-books from Blazevox, xPress(ed), Argotist Ebooks, and Chalk Editions. His poetry has appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions), The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II (Meritage Press), The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press), Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Xerography, Moria, NOON: journal of the short poem, Dusie, MiPOesias, EXPLORINGfictions, EOAGH, and elsewhere. He has an interview blog with Allen Bramhall called Antic View.
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Blogger bobbi said...

There is only one Jeff Harrison. That's for sure. No one writes like you but you. Always wonderful to read your work.

Bobbi Lurie

4:00 AM  

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