portion of the artwork for Andrea Kneeland's poetry
Berrigan Translations: Four Poems
Andrea Kneeland

Berrigan II Translated

Dear Ted, hello. It is 7:12 p.m.
dear me, he’s dead
He has always been maybe
To me, it’s late morning in San Francisco, no going
Everything is distance and it will never be time
It’s not that drugs aren’t as important, it’s that
the day never turned brighter from them
masculine deadpan and rough
the sun still comes up over my dad’s shipyard
& youths scribble out but
Ted, it didn’t happen.
Dear Ted, hello. It’s 7:12 p.m.
I will never understand what it means to be
Not late, I will never know better

Berrigan XXV Translated

The monsoons this summer (July, really)
I was googling Tennessee Williams and Eunice Johnson
Wait, are you listening to me?
The screen, the way it flickers like a kid
Reflecting our images shy:
Grand Theft Auto, your dad’s whiskey, our debts
Asleep to Pulp Fiction
we rendered fast disbeliefs, leather handed, dry bullets
in the wind and photos of shock and awe
laid down on the yellow strip chicken shitted
I passed you      I passed you       I passed you
I scrolled through old emails                      after you’d gone
Photos of the Grand Canyon      a mule’s flank behind you

Berrigan XXXIV Translated

Time has nowhere to hide:
#throttle, #findmyhand, #exitwounds
I need to change my photoself
Appeared in mirages like antlers, sheet
Twisted and ghost-made solids
Your updates are poems, a translucent screen, God
My friends whir by
And the wires decelerate
But blood is still blood, even on video
Lashing up on piles of smoke
Tsunamis, muddied heads undressed
The dictators’ sound bite:
We are still afraid of all of us
We are, all of us still

Berrigan LXVIII Translated

I am closing my browser. The low gray air
and the whir of the hard drive
The monsoons this summer (July, really)
swamped beneath cigarettes and the shy flicker
of the screen like a kid, our sweated palms
falling asleep to This American Life
and I think I am probably a bad person
I will make no changes in the ahead time
This quiet of the soul, friends, is nothing in the day/night
Wires, codes and a dream about Muslims.
Dark oceans clipped with green in the ahead
Time to cower down beneath the gusts
The stones all bursting into light and
Really nothing else to talk or see as we lie, awake.

Andrea Kneeland’s Comments

Ted Berrigan’s sonnets are time capsules filled with intentionally fragmented elements. Each sonnet represents (as most poems do) an intimate experience in a certain place and time that strikes an empathetic chord for the reader but is also, ultimately, closed off and internal. My intention is to bust open those capsules and refill them with my own content—a translation for present space, time, and experience.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 32 | Spring 2011