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without permission from Knot Magazine and the artists included. 

 

Imanova Günel 

 Translation from Azeri by Arturo Desimone

THE SNAKE BELOW THE PILLOW

 

Autumn, again.

 

The apartment is cold, sleep concurs

 

between slow hot breaths of two chimneys.

 

There are still truths I kept hidden from you,

 

there are still Lies,

 

but a year transgressed without good sleep,

 

I think someone cold and malevolent planted

 

a hissing snake in my pillow.

 

I search my hair for the origin of bourgeois oppressor, my autumn

 

with a snake that does not embrace me like a friend,

 

Mirror hunted down one white collaborator snake, on my head,

 

I might just leave him there to multiply, the white strand.

 

What have I done, in my 30 years?

 

Let the passionless snakes breed, multiply on my head I don’t care

 

What have I done for a red future for my country, for revolution?

 

Dear poet of a people,

 

let us get together and drink.

 

Let us see what remains of the tears that did not organize,

 

unfed by the trouble.

 

this is a time when notoriety

 

was meant to crackle around my black hair,

 

Let the devils multiply, I don’t care

 

Let us get together and drink, dear poet,

 

Let us see what remains of tears.

 

The most innocent angels are dying in me,

 

the most beautiful women grow old.

 

Salam, şair, darıxıram, bu təklik

 

Yenə məni üzüyumşaq tanıdı.

 

Yenə payız, yenə soyuq, yenə mən

 

Yenə yerim sobaların yanıdı

 

Hələ sənə demədiyim bir gerçək

 

Hələ sənə açmadığım yalan var

 

Düz bir ildi yuxu yata bilmirəm

 

Qorxuram ki, yastığımda ilan var

 

Ağ tük tapdım arasından saçımın

 

Qoparmadım, saxlamışam, çoxalsın

 

Otuz ildə cavan qalıb, neynədim?

 

Canı çıxsın, saçlarımın, qocalsın.

 

Gəl, bir gün oturaq qədəh-qədəhə

 

Görək, göz yaşından nə qalır, şair?

 

İçimdə ən məsum mələklər ölür,

 

Ən gözəl qadınlar qocalır, şair!

HOW TO KEEP SILENT ABOUT YOU

 

There were times,

 

There were times...

 

Those were the days!

 

then I let my red shirt fly off in the winds of revolt,

 

I had the sharpest nails of all the schoolgirls,

 

my eyebrows burnt

 

in the fires of the revolution.

 

Those were the times,

 

Those were the times!

 

Dreams of building a red leftist country,

 

To set fire to newspapers under the cold new buildings,

 

to warm the old cities.

 

There was the unfortunate trouble of remembering you and dreaming

 

at the same time of a red future for our nation.

 

But one day,

 

But one day!

 

But one day

 

I caught myself fighting with you.

 

Over banal almost counter-revolutionary requests,

 

to ''hug me just a little more”

 

to smooth my hair just two more times,

 

To look at my eyes just a little bit more

 

I was ashamed I could not but comply.

 

That day

 

That day!

 

That day

 

my tiny leftist fists did not hold themselves up,

 

as if the transplant heart of an unfamiliar woman

 

feared inside of me.

 

That day, it was not the redness of my brigade shirt

 

but the poppy redness of my lips made me happy

 

That day, I listened not to the songs of revolution on the ramparts,

 

But to the songs of lovers.

 

I used to be a red revolutionary rising,

 

I wanted to become a woman,

 

and could not travail both at once.

 

Wait a minute…

 

Wait a minute,

 

my love!

 

Wait out my apology….

 

You hear falsity in my voice

 

Echoes of hollowness in your ears,

 

when I sing the songs of love to you.

 

I have never regarded as love-song-worthy

 

this country that folds up torn pages of Doctor Zhivago,

 

making a paper cone to fill with sunflower seeds

 

to peddle on street-corners,

 

as if a Pasternak is no better than a road-vendor's pistachios.

 

This country, guilty of acts worse than murder,

 

worse than slander, calumnies

 

and something sweet of my own.

 

Nothing and nobody of this nation do I consider mine.

 

You talk as if I never considered the beggar child

 

(to whom I cannot offer some portion of my salary,

 

without shame eating away my face )

 

as my own son.

 

The whore standing in the treeless street

 

with her autumn make-up peeling

 

(to whom I cannot offer some tribute,

 

without shame eating away my knees )

 

Surely, I was afraid to consider her as my mother.

 

The sidewalk-inhabiting man, pita-beaten,

 

shouldering bags of unsellable dried bread

 

(who I cannot offer a little money

 

without shame eating away my earth ) –

 

not my father.

 

To the contrary, my love:

 

The beggar child is mine to call me mommy.

 

That prostitute, I can call my mommy.

 

The poppy-seed-chewing street-dweller of this country, my father.

 

This is how much I have loved our country.

 

Yes, you too have tried to, in your own way, we all try.

 

Wait, wait a minute! We were going to talk about Love.

 

I loved this nation for only one single reason, my dear.

 

It is full of mercy.

 

The people here are just too full of mercy:

 

They would not even put a poster of a pitifully smiling child

 

on the walls designating the abortion rooms in hospitals.

 

Here, women are killed only once, my love,

 

just once. Wait a minute!

 

Death is the reason why I must be asking you now

 

With which lip should I kiss you?

 

With what wheel of time should I measure our days, our love?

 

Most importantly,

 

Why need I love you?

 

Tear your chest from my face, (and take your black chest-hairs with it)

 

I wish to stare into the world, for a change…

 

Wait, wait, my love, before walking out remind me,

 

when was it that I first loved you—

 

III

 

5xl: my enormous man who joined the caravan folk, then ran away!

 

A woman is a master at the House of Man, man is a guest at the House of Women;

 

Do Not come into my House empty-handed.

 

You know I cannot love the men who always smell of cologne.

 

Scatter some gunpowder in your chest hairs before a visit.

 

Cock a gun instead of a flower,

 

Bring me war, instead of a kiss – then see how quickly my clothes fall off !

 

Walk in an ogre, earthquake in your feet, lightning-crowned,

 

The Flood behind your shoulders – I want a bath immediately upon letting you in!

 

Always remember that salt-marshes and plateau lands give me a runny nose

 

as they grow no grass for the winds to eat.

 

Now what to do with this gloom-face of yours...

 

my Love, enter wearing a cretin's warm smile –

 

compelling me to cover myself more.

 

On your way out, don’t take everything.

 

Don’t worry, I will never make demands of the God

 

who hand-crafted my tears in childhood,

 

or of the man who made me cry into my womanhood!

 

Bring me nothing, if that is how you like it.

 

Leave the jacket and accolades behind,

 

Visit me wearing only three blessed ripples,

 

of the continuous frown in your forehead.

 

Sənin haqqında susmaq

 

Bir vaxtlar

 

Bir vaxtlar

 

Bir vaxtlar qırmızı köynəyimi

 

əyləmlərin küləyinə buraxacaq,

 

kipriklərimi inqilabların alovunda ütəcək qədər

 

iti dırnaqlarım vardı...

 

Bir vaxtlar...

 

Bir vaxtlar...

 

Bir vaxtlar səni unutmaq deyil,

 

səni yadıma sala bilmək,

 

sənsizliyə deyil,

 

sənə dözmək kimi dərdim vardı..

 

Bir vaxtlar

 

Bir vaxtlar

 

Bir vaxtlar öz əllərimlə

 

qıpqırmızı bir sol ölkəsi qurmaq,

 

böyük binaları odlayıb,

 

nəhəng tonqallarla şəhərləri isitmək kimi

 

arzularım vardı...

 

Amma bir gün

 

Amma bir gün

 

Amma bir gün səninlə

 

məni bir azca möhkəm qucaqlamağının

 

saçlarıma iki sığal artıq çəkib,

 

gözlərimə bircə an daha uzun baxmağının

 

davasını apararkən yaxaladım özümü!

 

Utandım...

 

Bacarmadım...

 

O gün

 

O gün

 

O gün balaca solçu yumruqlarım sıxılmadı,

 

Sanki yad bir qadının ürəyi sıxıldı sinəmdə

 

O gün köynəyimin qırmızısı deyil

 

Dodaqlarımın qızartısı sevindirdi məni,

 

O gün inqilab türkülərini deyil,

 

Sevgi nəğmələrini dinlədim

 

Mən nə inqilabların adamıydım!

 

Qadın olmaq istədim...

 

Bacarmadın...

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan...

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan, sevgilim!

 

Dayan...

 

Sənə sevgi kəlmələri pıçıldayanda

 

Səsimin saxtalığı cingildəyirsə

 

qulaqlarında

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan...

 

Mən

 

«Doktor Jivaqo»nun vərəqlərinə

 

tum büküb satan bu xalqın

 

heç nəyini özümünkü bilmədim, sevgilim,

 

heç nəyini, heç kimini!

 

Utanmadan sədəqə uzada bilmədiyim

 

dilənçi körpəsini -balam,

 

boyalı fahişəsini - anam,

 

çiyni quru çörək torbalı, çirkli səfilini – atam bilmədim!

 

Əksinə, sevgilim, əksinə

 

balamı - dilənçisi

 

anamı - fahişəsi

 

atamı səfili bildim bu məmləkətin!

 

Belə sevdim...

 

Hər şeyimi,

 

hər kəsimi

 

özgəninki,

 

hamınınıkı bildim,

 

hamınınkı kimi sevdim!

 

Elə səni də...

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan!

 

Söhbət sevgidən gedirsə

 

Mən bu xalqı bircə şeyə görə sevdim, sevgilim,

 

bircə şeyə görə: burada insanlar

 

o qədər mərhəmətlidi ki,

 

abort otaqlarına

 

gülümsəyən körpə şəkilləri yapışdırmazlar.

 

Burada qadınları bicə dəfə öldürərlər, sevgilim

 

bircə dəfə!

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan!

 

Elə buna görə də,

 

Səndən soruşuram:

 

hansı dodaqlarla öpüm səni?

 

hansı zamanla ölçüm?

 

harama sığışdırım?

 

Nəyə görə sevim?

 

Qopar sinəni üzümdən!

 

Dünyaya baxmaq istəyirəm...

 

Bir dəqiqə dayan, sevgilim!

 

Səni nə vaxt sevdiyimi

 

Yadıma salmaq istəyirəm!

Imanova Günel  publishes the pen name of Günel Mövlud in Azerbaijan. As a translator of Russian to Azeri, she she has translated Victor Pelevin’s Amon Ra and extant Russian translations of Marquez and Stendhal. Born in 1981in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on the Armenian border, at the age of 12 she had to leave Karabakh with her parents because of the conflict. She studied theater arts at Baku University and has worked as an journalist for local newspapers on Azerbaijani societal issues. Her first book of poems Darkness and Us was printed in 2004. Most recently the books 5 xl and Response to the Late Afternoon appeared. Günel’s joining a movement to end anti-Armenian propaganda in Azerbaijan elicited the attention of authorities and religious activists. She is currently based between Georgia and Germany, where she lives with her husband and child and is a journalist for the Baku chapter Radio Liberty and MeydanTV.

Arturo Desimone's poems, articles and short fiction pieces have previously appeared in Drunken Boat 22, (link heredrunkenboat.com/db22/romani/arturo-desimone ) in Counterpunch, New Orleans Review, The Missing Slate and in the Winter 2015 edition of Knot Magazine. A recent artistic collaboration with the Netherlands-based Iranian film-maker Atousa Bandeh, brought his poetry into the video art film The Apology Triptych. Arturo was born and raised on the island Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean, and is currently based between Buenos Aires and the Netherlands as he works on a long fiction project. His interest in Azerbaijan began with reading the novel Ali and Nino by Kurban Said, then discussing it with Azerbaijani friends, and then immersing himself in the cultural and political contexts of Azerbaijan.