Poems by Theme

Swamp

Swamp
by Kim Roberts

The Lincoln sinks into the Potomac
with a sigh. Constitution Avenue,
weary of constraint, reverts to canal,
complete with stink and Spring floods.

Swamp reclaims the grounds
of the Washington Monument, and river
reclaims the rest, filling with masts
that glided in from the Chesapeake Bay.

All the mere human efforts
of the Army Corps of Engineers
have come to naught. The Kennedy Center’s
massive bunker, like a Soviet tank, slides

under the gurgling mud and the bridges dissolve,
their long lines of cars a dim specter.
Across the wide dirt roads downtown
Walt Whitman strides in his boots,

kicking up clouds of dust that eddy in his wake
—until he, too, wavers and melts
amid white columned buildings,
the classical ruins of grand intent.


沼泽地
作者:吉姆 罗伯特

林肯纪念堂沉入波托马克河
随着一声叹息。宪法大道
难以支撑,变回河道
恶臭的水面,卷起春潮

泽国重新攻占了
华盛顿纪念碑的基座,河流
吞没陆地,海船,从奇莎皮克海湾
驶来,浩浩荡荡,连连绵绵

工程兵部队多年的努力打拼
随水漂荡,肯尼迪中心是
一座巨大的碉堡, 又像是一辆苏俄的坦克

滑入汩汩的泥浆;隐隐约约的桥梁
硕长的车阵, 连接成精瘦的魅影。
瓦尔特惠特曼足蹬马靴,
在市中心泥泞的道路上迈步,

脚下所过之处,身后卷起尘土,
直到他,也,踉踉跄跄,融入
那堆白色的巨型建筑群,
与宏大构思的古典遗迹。
-Translated by Karl K. Zhang, George Mason University


Sumpf

von Kim Roberts

Lincoln versinkt im Potomac
aufseufzend. Constitution Avenue
der Zurückhaltung müde, wird wieder Kanal
samt Gestank und Frühjahrsüberschwemmungen.

Sumpf holt sich wieder
den Washington Monument-Park, und Fluss
holt sich wieder den Rest, füllt sich mit Masten
hereingeglitten aus der Chesapeake Bay.

All das bloß menschliche Bemühn
des Army Corps of Engineers
wurde zunichte. Des Kennedy Centers
Massivbunker, wie ein Sowjetpanzer, rutscht

unter den glucksenden Schlamm und die Brücken zerfließen,
ihre langen Autoschlangen ein blasses Gespenst.
Über die breiten schlimmen Straßen der Innenstadt
schreitet Walt Whitman in Stiefeln,

aufwirbelnd Staubwolken in Wellen hinter sich her
– bis auch er schwankt und zerschmilzt
inmitten weißer Säulenhallen,
der klassischen Ruinen großartiger Pläne.
-Übersetzt von Irmgard Wagner


About the Poet: Kim Roberts (b. 1961)
Kim Roberts is the editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and has published two books of poems and several plays. Her poems have also appeared in literary journals throughout the US, as well as in Canada, Europe, and South America.

About the Poem: Swamp
Gazing on ruins and contemplating the glories of their past has been a familiar poetic strategy (take Shelley’s Ozymandius, for example). Poets less often view a thriving city and go on to imagine how its glory might decline and fall. But here, Kim Roberts does exactly that - evoking surreal images of Washington’s dying moments. Whether or not her images prove accurate predictions is irrelevant. What matters is that thinking about how an era might end reminds us that institutions - just like human minds and bodies -  are neither immortal nor infallible. Temporarily we occupy a spot in space and time; but we were not the first ones here, nor in all likelihood will we be the last.