Tag Archives: Alexis Levitin

Carmen Vascones

Translator’s Note on Carmen Vascones’ Work:

This translation was quite straight-forward. I felt it essential to keep the language clean, direct, unadorned. The repetitions of the original had to be respected, since they contributed powerfully to the general sense of loneliness and emptiness that both precedes and follows the moment of love. The only real liberty I took was with the word “rent.” In the original, the image “lechos marcados” could be translated as “marked beds.” I toyed with the idea of carving the pain deeper with “scarred beds.” However, since in the original “lechos” echoes “hechos “ in the previous line, I felt that I had to strive for a similar internal rhyme. So I settled on “beds rent,” as a slant rhyme to echo “ending.” I felt that the violence implicit in my original choice of “scarred beds” was maintained, if not intensified, by “beds rent.”


Carmen Vascones (author) is a psychologist working with abused children and their mothers. Her most recent collection of poetry, Oasis of Voices, published by the Casa de la Cultura in Ecuador, draws on her work from the last twenty years. Here in the USA she has appeared in eleven magazines, including Bitter Oleander, International Poetry Review, Mandorla, Metamorphoses, Mid-American Review, Moon City Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Osiris, and Per Contra.


Alexis Levitin (translator) has translated thirty-four books to date, the most recent being Salgado Maranhão’s Blood of the Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2012), Eugenio de Andrade’s Art of Patience (Red Dragonfly Press, 2013) and Ana Minga’s Tobacco Dogs (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2013). His work has appeared in well over two hundred magazines, including Kenyon Review, APR, New England Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, and Grand Street. Two of his translations appeared in Blue Lyra Review, Volume I.


How lonely love remains

How lonely love remains after love is gone
how lonely love before it arrives
how lonely we before and after love

Desires ending up in absences
beds rent
kisses killing other kisses

And you?
And me?

What sculpture will our death become?


Que solo queda el amor después del amor                

Que solo queda el amor después del amor
que solo está el amor antes del amor
que solos estamos antes y después de él

Deseos hechos ausencias
lechos marcados
besos matando otros besos

¿Que de ti?
¿Que de mí?

¿Qué escultura será nuestra muerte?

Ana Minga

Ana Minga is a journalist. She was born in 1983 in Loja, southern Ecuador. She won first prize from the Central University of Ecuador for her early collection Pandemonium. Her two books since then are Behind God’s Back and Orphaned Birds. Ana Minga’s poetry has appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, Bitter Oleander, Boulevard, Confrontation, Hampden-Sydney Poetry ReviewLake Effect, Per Contra and RosebudTobacco Dogs will come out in October from Bitter Oleander Press.

Alexis Levitin (translator) has thirty-two books in translation include Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugenio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words (both from New Directions). His most recent book is Salgado Maranhão’s Blood of the Sun (Milkweed Editions, 2012). He has just finished work on Ana Minga’s Tobacco Dogs due to appear in the fall from Bitter Oleander Press and the bilingual publication of Eugenio de Andrade’s The Art of Patience (Red Dragonfly Press, 2013).


I have sought the dead among the living

while my heart beat on without reply.
If only I could know what hovers round them
when they gaze at flowers
when they turn to fire
when silence scratches out their words.

I have sought the dead
while wine soaked my face
while night
fell to the blade of battle…


but not one of my dead has been defeated
that’s why I seek them
for their valor
since somewhere they must be reproducing
turning to truth
turning to fruit
but where
where else can I go…

If my dead are not with the other dead
if my dead are not with the living either
if my dead have not yet gone
if my dead are children…

Where are they?
could solitude have devoured them?
could the fat one have taken their picture?
could they be caught in those prints?


Could it be a living person can never reach the ears of the dead
could it be one has to know the map of the cemetery
in order to come upon one’s perfect resignation…

I seek and do not find
and should I enter the uncertain
if worms will eat me free of doubt…?



y el corazón me ha latido sin respuestas
si pudiera saber qué les ronda
cuándo miran las flores
cuándo se hacen fuego
cuándo el silencio raspa sus palabras.

He buscado a los muertos
mientras el vino me ha empapado la cara
mientras la noche
se ha caído al filo de la batalla…


pero ningún muerto mío se ha ido derrotado
por eso los busco
por valientes

pues en algún lugar deben estar multiplicándose
haciéndose verdad
haciéndose fruto
pero dónde
a dónde más ir…

Si mis muertos no están con los otros muertos
si mis muertos tampoco están con los vivos
si mis muertos aún no se han ido
si mis muertos son niños…

¿Dónde están?
¿la soledad se los tragaría?
¿la muy obesa les habrá tomado fotos?
¿será que allí están estampados?


Será que un vivo nunca puede llegar a los oídos de un muerto
será que hay que conocer el mapa del cementerio
para dar con la resignación exacta…

Busco sin encontrar
¿y cruzar lo incierto?
¿si los gusanos me comen sin dudar…?

Issue 2.1 Spring 2013

Click on the author’s name to read their work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra. Also, consider leaving a comment for everyone to read.

"Yellow Trailer Wonder Valley, CA" Art by Deborah Martin.
“Yellow Trailer Wonder Valley, CA” Art by Deborah Martin.


"Missing Jacques" Art by Candace Fasano.
“Missing Jacques” Art by Candace Fasano.


"The Birds" Art by Christopher Woods.
“The Birds” Art by Christopher Woods.


Allen Braden | Anniversary Card
Carol Hebald | Winter Dawn
Esther Altshul Helfgott | Pantoum For Uncle Izzy
Paul Hostovsky | Poem
Barbara F. Lefcowitz | Golden Eyes
Kelly McQuain | Strawberries, Limoncello, Water Ice, Passing Time
George Moore | Fast As Saint Ignatius
Elisabeth Murawski | That’s Life
Martin Ott | Bandits | Refrain
Linda Pastan | Like A Bird | Legacies
Barry Seiler | Yarhrzeit
Elaine Terranova | Stairway
Arnie Weingart | The Rothko Chapel
Changming Yuan | Y


Elizabeth Edelglass | Family Circle
Abbigail N. Rosewood | The Ones We Keep
Annaliese Wagner | How To Jump Rope


Karen Donley-Hayes | Hens On A Porch
Jennifer Maritza McCauley | Home Ghosts
Joan Moritz | Penguins In Flight
Renée K. Nicholson | Coda: Partnering
Gary Presley | Knife
Enid Shomer | Small

Artist Spotlight:

Aron Wisenfeld


Rosa Alice Branco | The Girls Were Lovely Lithe | The Men’s Hands Would Graze
**Alexis Levitin
Lidia Kosk | The Moon Above The Wild Apple Tree
**Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka
Maria Teresa Ogliastri | To Be Empress | Alfalfa Sprouts
**Yvette Neisser Moreno
**Patricia Bejarano Fisher
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | Third Roman Elegy
**Brett Ortler


** Indicates translators

Rosa Alice Branco

Translator’s Note on Rosa Alice Branco’s Work:

My task is to keep things unencumbered, as lithe and simple as possible.  Poem #10 is simply about the discovery of adolescent sexuality through a quiet observation of others. That eventually the girls may have to pay a price for this natural and unpremeditated activity is only vaguely hinted at by the phrase “never quite made it back.” In poem # 29, again a child is observing teenagers going off in pairs “to make nests here and there.” The suggestion that all this reveals our animal nature is made clear by the juxtaposition of the girl’s breasts “bouncing from her blouse filled with heat” and the immediate counterpoint of “The pig was grunting in the sty. /There was a smell of hay.” Rosa Alice Branco sees all this sexual activity as natural, but also as rather ominous, since in the end it will be the girls who have to pay for the animal pleasure they shared with the boys.


Rose Alice BrancoRosa Alice Branco’s most recent collections are Cattle of the Lord (winner of the Espiral Poetry Prize of 15,000 Euros for 2009), The World Does Not End in the Cold of Your Bones (she tells herself) (2010-2011), and Live Concert (2012). Her books have appeared in Spain, Tunisia, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Brazil, Venezuela, and Francophone Canada. Here in the U.S. her work has appeared in over thirty magazines, including Atlanta Review, Gulf Coast, The Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner and The New England Review.


Alexis Levitin’s (translator) thirty-two books include Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugenio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words (both from New Directions). Recent publications include Tapestry of the Sun: An Anthology of Ecuadorian Poetry, co-translated with Fernando Iturburu (Coimbra Editions, 2009), Brazil: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press, 2010), and Blood of the Sun by Brazil’s Salgado Maranhao (Milkweed Editions, 2012).  Alexis Levitin translates Rosa Alice Branco from Portuguese.


10. The girls were lovely lithe

The girls were lovely lithe.
They went to the spring for water
with their earthenware jars and not even that weight
lessened the elegance of their haughty necks.

Quick as they could, the boys went after them,
and the water, the girls and the boys
never quite made it back

They must all have died of thirst


29. The men’s hands would graze

The men’s hands would graze
their skirts, their cunning breasts,
and everything would make them laugh.

Between gazes
they would  wander off a bit,
going away in pairs
to make nests here and there.
But I still could see the breasts of one of them
bouncing from her blouse filled with heat.
The pig was grunting in the sty.
There was a smell of hay.

It was night
and I an invisible little girl.



Eram esguias as raparigas.
Iam buscar água à fonte
em bilhas de barro e nem o peso
diminua a elegância do pescoço altivo.

Mal podiam, os rapazes iam ter com elas,
mas a água, as raparigas e eles
nunca mais chegavam.

Devem ter morrido de sede



As mãos dos homens roçavam-lhes
a saia, o peito matreiro
e tudo as fazia rir.

Entre olhares
afastavam-se um pouco,
iam indo aos pares
e criavam ninho mais além.
Mas ainda vi o peito de uma
a saltar da blusa cheio de calor.
O porco grunhia no curral.
Cheirava a feno.

Era noite
e eu uma miúda invisível