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Digital Poetics #13 On Every Page May I Present A Lion or An Elephant: Mayakovsky tr. Rosy Carrick




Through this doorway-page you’ll find

animals

of every kind.



First, may I present the lion,

but check it out:

this creature

isn’t called “the King” of beasts,

he’s now “the Party Leader”.



The kangaroo

looks rather freaky –

arms

are half

the length they should be!

Nevertheless,

it must be said,

her legs

are twice the length

instead.



Giraffe.

Mummy gets her babe-giraffe

to snuggle up

to make a scarf.

But woe is dad:

he’ll never get

a collar fit

to match his neck.



There’s the Zebra –

what a catfish!

Acting like

a stripy mattress.



And large as life,

our next page brings…

Elephant –

Elephantress –

and Elephantlings.

Two or three storeys tall,

they sway,

with ears like plates for jumbo portions,

and from their faces

dangle tails –

or “trunks”,

as we might call them.



From their jaws –

I can’t believe it! –

do you see what I see?

Two long tusks

are writhing out

and each is formed of ivory.

How much they must eat

and drink!

How clothes must split to fit their bodies.

Even their small kiddliwinks

stand quite as tall

as all our daddies.

Everyone –

please shift aside,

watch your toes and peel your eyes,

for beasts

as big as this

would struggle

to fit one page –

they’ll need a double.



This animal is called

a llama.

Llama daughter

and llama mama.



Pipsqueak pelican

and pelican big fella-can.



This is a camel,

he’s used as a vehicle,

loaded with cargo

and ridden by people.

Out to the heart

of the desert he rides,

eating

what prickly shrubs he can find.

He slogs

all year

with no release,

truly –

he’s

a working beast.



Crocodile.

The horror!

The fiend!

We’d better not

disturb him.

In the lake

he can’t be seen –

he’s under water,

lurking…



The monkey’s

such a loon!

Why sit there frozen, like a statue?!

Looks exactly like a human

(with a tail for extra value).

From hotter climes,

she finds

our Russian winters incompatible.

We’ve seen them all now,

let’s go home.

See you next time animals!


(1925-26)


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Rosy Carrick is a poet, playwright, performer and translator. She has co-hosted the poetry stages at Latitude and Glastonbury festivals for the last decade and is also co-curator of the Port Eliot festival poetry stage.


Rosy has a PhD on the poetry of Vladimir Mayakovsky, and has released two books of his work in translation (Volodya, Enitharmon 2015, and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Smokestack 2017).

In 2018 Rosy's debut play Passionate Machine (‘Intelligent, articulate, funny’ – Scotsman) won the awards for Best New Play and Best Design at Brighton Fringe, and The Infallibles Award for Theatrical Excellence at Edinburgh Fringe, before touring internationally throughout 2019. Her first full collection Chokey was published in 2018 by Burning Eye Books.


Rosy has shared her work on BBC Radio 3's The Verb, and is regularly interviewed on regional BBC radio. She is currently working on a new collection of translations of Mayakovsky's poems for children, as well as writing Musclebound, a play about female desire and tortured musclemen in mainstream movies of the 1980s.


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This publication is in Copyright. Rosy Carrick, 2020.


The moral right of the author has been asserted. However, the Hythe is an open-access journal and we welcome the use of all materials on it for educational and creative workshop purposes.

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