National Poetry Month – To Roanoke With Johnny Cash by Bob Hicok

April is National Poetry Month in the US, which is meant to illuminate the importance of poetry in our culture. Below is my selection to add to this month of poem appreciation: “To Roanoke with Johnny Cash” by Bob Hicok. I am particularly taken with the odd rhythm produced by the enjambment and the final line, even though left unpunctuated, is a stark punctuation to the entire poem. Are there any poems that are your favorites? For a few more selections, check out what other poems have been posted here in the past.



To Roanoke with Johnny Cash

Mist became rain became fog was mist
reborn every few miles on a road
made of s and z, of switchback

and falling into mountains of night
would have been easy and who
would have been known until flames

and nobody, even then. I played his life
over and over, not so  much song
as moan of a needle and the bite,

the hole it eats through the arm
and drove faster to the murmur
of this dead and crow-dressed man,

voice of prison and heroin and the bible
as turned by murdering hands.
And the road was the color of him

Shop Indie Bookstores Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

**Top photo from Wikipedia.



Translating Dead German Poets

Translations of Dead German Poets.So what happens when you’ve been super busy, not responding to emails, getting back to people or being a suitable human? Procrastinate, of course. I’ve decided to collect my three previous translations I’ve posted to this blog and create a new project. I have already put up the originally three and some new ones are coming soon.

Some people squish stress balls in their hands, others clean their whole home. I choose to translate poems by dead and forgotten (at least, forgotten in the US) German-language poets to refocus and forget about everyday stresses. So without further ado…


a poem by Heinrich von Veldeke

I really know nothing about Heinrich von Veldeke. Apparently, he popularized courtly love poetry in the troubadour style.

I haven’t translated anything since January and have decided to try my hand at something new. Granted, I’m not an expert on any kind of poetry but I figured I would attempt something short from a book of German verse that I have. Bare with me. I’ve never translated poetry nor have I translated from medieval German (which I have no concept of!).

Tristrant mûste âne sinen danc

Tristrant mûste âne sinen danc
stâde sîn der koninginnen,
want poisûn heme dâ tû dwanc
mêre dan dî cracht der minnen.
Des sal mich dî gûde danc
weten dat ich nîne gedranc
sulic piment ende ich sî minne
bat dan hê, ende mach dat sîn.
Wale gedâne,
valsches âne,
lât mich wesen dîn
ende wis dû min.
Tristan was unwaveringly
loyal to the queen,
by reason of poison
rather than the virtue of love.
My Lady! Be grateful
that I did not drink such a blend
and my love exceeds his.
Fair and honest one,
let me be yours and you be mine.