Louisiana Literature’s latest publication features two short stories and poems by two dozen poets who all, in one way or another, want to be clearly, directly, and immediately understood. Here, for example, are excerpts from Marguerite Bouvard’s “Human Landscape,” translating a tender painting of a moment:
I walk by the bay of Sistiana at sunset
with its intimate harbor,
its somnolent pleasure boats tucked in
for the night, and families slowly
drifting back to their cars
until there’s just the sea undulating
…The quay is empty now except
for two solitary figures - -
a grandfather carrying his tiny grandson
…they gaze in silence at the darkening waters
as if they had slipped out of time.
And here is Kathryn Howd Machan (“Ada Macomber; Redwing, 1888”) translating a moment of women’s history:
Here on Maple Street
high white walls and proper
doors with knockers shaped
like foxes, I entertain
friends, acquaintances, skirts
full and corsets carefully
laced, smiles the curve
of husbands’ success. Who
am I to widen out my
And here is Gregory W. Randall translating a scene from the natural world in “Albion”:
We’ve come to a barren cliff.
The cypresses are dying – spindled
branches, ashen trunks interrupted
by an occasional yellow finch.
And here is Jennifer Campbell translating gesture to emotion in “Sharon Parks Her Pickup on the Lawn”:
My neighbor drives to the mailbox,
her body an unwilling accomplice,…
And I wonder how she feels, alone
at the kitchen table, a single bulb
illuminating the room…
And here is William Synder, Jr. translating a family memory in “Happiness”:
It’s our father’s birthday, his eighty-sixth, and we’ve
flown home, the three sons, brought him
sweats from Target, extra large – easy off
I want to ask him if he hurts. If he understands.
If he’s happy.
And, finally, here is Albert Belisle Davis translating a piece of heaven in “Angela in Times Roman: A Letter from Heaven”:
…I am answering your questions
about what Heaven is like though I know in your
lifetime the words will never come.
…We guessed that angels would speak in poetry. Angels
do not. It is more a poetic, practical prose passed around as clear