Poetry / Richard James Allen

Unstill Life

​​​​​for Karen

Your beauty cannot be translated,
but I would fail not to try.

It generates a weather
no meteorology can describe.

It is most like a flower,
a flower with moods.

An unstill life,
in no need

of arranging,
it arranges itself.

It is not fixed,
so how can I fix it?

It doesn’t need fixing,
it is perfect, unbreakable.

Even when we both die,
it will still be here.

What language can I say this in?
Teach me to translate this.

© Richard James Allen

Previously appeared in Christopher (Kit) Kelen, (ed.), Notes for the Translators: from 142 New Zealand and Australian Poets (Flying Island Books, an imprint of ASM and Cerberus Press, 2012); and in The Wonder Book of Poetry (January 2013), and in Richard James Allen, Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books, an imprint of ASM and Cerberus Press, 2014).

“A reflection upon identity and mystery, desolation and exaltation, the stealth of desire and the tenacity of love…Elliptical and meditative…A deep humanity is palpable in Allen’s verse.” Kate Prendergast

“The phrases that might describe these poems all have a ring of paradox: stylish frailty, eloquent reticence, dance moves arrested, stasis in flux. The question, says Richard James Allen, is how to link the miracle in each moment to the next. In trying to find an answer, he tiptoes and skips and scampers to the brink, peeping to see what words are coming next. The contingency of his language meets love and sex, desolation and death, and the redemptive power of art, as time marks its passing through these wistful performances.” Michael Hulse, Editor, The Warwick Review

Unstill Life appears in the author’s book of poems Fixing the Broken Nightingale, which can be purchased directly through  http://www.fixingthebrokennightingale.com/


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