Back to Archives - Charles Martin

 

Five Poems by Belli, Translated by Charles Martin

 

 

Sanctuary

 

        In brief then, do you want to make an end

Of Agnes and still finish in the clear? Well,
Just kill her near a church. You comprehend?

Then run in afterwards and donít be fearful.

 

        After your exploit, youíll be safe in there.

A warrant for your arrest? Forget about it:

Anyone tries to even muss your hair

Is certain to be excommunicated.

 

        So what if they get a writ for your removal?

Some priest, stirred by the glory or the fear

Of God, is bound to give you his approval.

 

        Youíre not an infidel or petty crook,

Youíre a good Christian whoís had it up to here:

Strike, run into church, and youíre off the hook!

 

  

All Things Here Below

 

        God has created all we need for life,

And all has been made beautiful and good:

Good is the winter, better the firewood;

Good is endurance, better is the knife;

 

        Good is our Faith, thatís founded on a rock,

Better it is to doubt some than doubt not;

Good is Chastity and better still, the twat;

Good is the asshole, best of allís the cock.

 

        If thereís a flaw in anything down here,

Itís that He could have, so it seems to me,

Created water red and made wine clear.

 

That way at least, no barefaced lying swine

Could stand behind his bar and brazenly

Sell us a drink half water and half wine.

 

 

The Truth

 

 

        The Truth is like a bad case of the runs,

Daughter, that when it goes on the attack,

Youíve barely got the time to scrunch your buns

And do your little dance to hold it back.

 

        The Truth comes from your mouth, not from your bowels,

And, if you havenít sewn your lips together,

It spews its soup of consonants and vowels,

Were you as silent as a Trappist brother.

 

        Why lie or keep it hidden in the dark,

Whenever the truth is what you deeply feel?
No: when it chooses, truth flies to the mark.

 

        God gave us mouths for other mouths to trust,

Yet men treat theirs like envelopes they seal?
No: the truth always; tell it, as you must.

 

 

Death and What It Entails

 

 

Christian or Liberal: choose A or B,

And whether middle class or just plain folk,

If you should opt for Christianity,

Death is an icy terror and no joke.

 

        Go catch the shows that you just have to see,

Party in taverns, give some girl a poke,

Make dough by starting your own company,

Then---when youíve got your little bundle---croak.

 

        And after that? Well, after that comes grief,

Another life in another universe

That never ends, and gives you no relief! 

 

        The never partís what sends me round the bend!

Afloat, at bottom, for better or for worse,

That bitch Eternity just will not end!

 

 

Beauty

 

Beauty is Godís most perfect gift, a present

Better than money, as reflection teaches,

For money canít make beautiful what isnít,

While those with beauty will acquire riches.

 

        A church, a cow, a girl---itís true, my friend,

The ugly ones donít get a second look;

And God himself, of Wisdom without end,

Sought beauty in the mother that he took.

 

         No door is ever closed that beauty sees,

And everyone makes eyes at it, although

Its faults are notedówith apologies.

 

         Beautiful kittens will be taken in

And sheltered, friend; the ugly ones all go

  Out with the rubbish to the nearest bin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2005-2010 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas