Dennis Maloney/United States of America, 1951
Dennis Maloney (1951, USA) is a poet and translator. A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory: Poems & Translations and Just Enough, and Listening to Tao Yuan Ming. A bilingual German/English volume,Empty Cup was published in Germany in 2017. Recent collections include The Things I Notice Now and The Faces of Guan Yin. His works of translation include: The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan, and The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez. He is also the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY.
We gather in the Black Forest to explore
the boundaries, borders of language.
A border that is always
wandering, sometimes east, west. We never
know exactly where, always vanishing, breaking,
maybe inside ourselves.
Listening intently, I try to follow the patterns,
cadence of speech alive in the air and strange to the ear.
In conversation and poetry, we struggle to find the right words,
through the jolts and swerves of syntax, complexities of exchange,
the extravagance of lost syllables.
Sometimes language borders are permeable,
where breath itself is a conscious action
that travels across languages and joins us together.
In the capitals and squares of Europe
people gather to support the Falun Gong, refugees
fleeing Syria, and victims of the genocide in Armenia.
Under the Brandenburg Gate they celebrate the
World Cup win. I hear the rare chant of Hare Krishna,
an almost extinct species in America.
In the dark shadows the nights of broken glass
reemerge, as the persecuted are confused
with the persecutors; and marches and rallies
against all that is foreign stream into the night.
A dictionary explodes sending words
fleeing towards the borders,
chased by those without name
toward a great unknown without destination.
Words are refugees smuggled in hidden
train compartments, walking obscure paths
through farm fields, forests, washing
up dead on shores, lost at sea, crawling
under fences and over walls built to keep them out.
Words are on a clandestine voyage seeking asylum
in an unknown language, their passports thick from
collecting official stamps over centuries. One
can’t over estimate the amount of accumulated baggage.