from gloomerang

Dagmara Kraus

kite in confession

Quel poulpe reculant dans le ciel . . .
a provoqué ce tragique encrage
de la situation ?
                    —Francis Ponge

zenith in the chitin trench, chitin crust,
skyblue—a stress-pus,
with which you're christened
                         world's greatest gasworks,
striking straight two days or more—

blue was the outlook of earth
inched closer to the skytent; by steeplechase, spytower

                         azimuth-long in in-
firmaries, over and over and overwhelming unblue
without song. merely a muffled tin-tone,
halfsilent this harshdull sound (rather
brassy)—country of clouds
          bullied as my troughheart
          harassed as my troughheart
buried alive.
                         shelled-in look
stripped to scabgrowth,
to skyscab, the colorfast
unheavenly glaring at you.
welling you one. a round of H5N1-ers, V-ing
          in the chitin-pomp
of blank-abstention, engraved in flight,
          trios pierced in chitin: these birds
as guilloche fans. i count twelve
          of a late-march-morning, cross hatching
the chitin. and below, the graft-chimera.
                    suddenly a throng lifts
          from the wetlands, like the time before.

by the cowslip of jerusalem, by lungwort
and fiddleneck, by cyanotic hound's tongue! a chitin
                    teases your blue; deafens you


. . . starred-over fright . . .
                    —Johannes Bobrowski

heart busts up.
clouds disband
blaze of hazeblue
fevering tides of light.
the blastcastle

past glossier

past glossier smoothness : cloudriptide
a drumstrike on loosened hide; ionontone,
cross-eyed; the pastcalendar cattlebrands
swiftly dimmed. if the stars steal away
from the indigolite, sub rosa, at night
into my house, i'll let the sky, morose and
restless with its milkmarsh, ride free no more.
and if the stars descended, dropped in from their
indigolite, i'd check them all, one by one,
for the wobbling eyestone. (you promised me, father,
before you died, in a hurried note, that one night
when moon and 'mare tumble,
you'll laugh and hit the light.) past
the flickering site : STARSSHUTOFF,
a dovebeat now that drives the vault lays waste
to the sunswarm, nut lies barren and i
search and search past earth. and if the stars
are snuffed in their indigolite, the greatnight
shines nevertheless : an echoing laugh,
lightarc chiming from the past, orphaned


veered night
stitched-up in black
catskin, caravanned
in camelseam, cimmerian, a magnet :
there is no guard against you. your
high-pride solitariness, your grandiose
eggshell daintiness (utterly pressing
cloudblanched); no herb helps
even the old wives' goats-
beard fails. veered night
lift yourself

translated from the German by Joshua Daniel Edwin

Read the original in German

Read translator’s note

Dagmara Kraus was born in 1981 in Wroclaw, Poland. She has studied Comparative Literature and Art History, and currently studies creative writing at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut. Her poetry has appeared in publications such as Jahrbuch der Lyrik, freie radikale lyrik, Edit, and Neue Rundschau. She recently published her debut poetry collection, kummerang (kookbooks, Berlin).

Joshua Daniel Edwin studied poetry and literary translation at Columbia University. His poetry haunts the internet courtesy of The Adirondack Review, Avatar Review, and Feathertale. His translations of Dagmara Kraus were awarded a PEN Translation Fund grant in 2012. He is a member of the editorial board for the magazine Circumference: Poetry in Translation.

These four poems are all, in some sense, about the sky. Of course, they are about much more than that, but they all start with the sky. Each attempts an investigation of our heavenly umbrella using a different set of methods: in one, we find an impressionistic juxtaposition of feelings and images; in another an association of sound-play; a third delves into childhood memories. Three of the poems also use excess as method. They build up sounds and images into a velocity as overwhelming as a vast empty sky. The fourth, a (variation) on the theme, refutes the others by reducing the speaker to a few short, tight lines. This contrast highlights some of the challenges in translating Kraus, whose bursts of rhyme and alliteration, combined with an expansive and unusual vocabulary, create effects that threaten to overwhelm an English translation. I've tried to render both her wonderful excess and her precise (and mysterious) terseness with the same evocative power they possess in the original.