Dennis Maloney









A dictionary explodes sending words

fleeing towards the borders,

chased by those without name

toward a great unknown destination.


Words are refugees smuggled in hidden

train compartments, walking obscure paths

through farm fields, forests, washing

up dead on shores, lost at sea, crawling

under fences and over walls built to keep them out.


Words are on a clandestine voyage seeking asylum

in an unknown language, their passports thick from

collecting official stamps over centuries. One

can’t overestimate the amount of accumulated baggage.






for Fouad El-Auwad



The Syrian poet entered Germany at sixteen

and now reads his poems in both

the sonorous Arabic and the harder

German cadence. Both beyond my understanding.


After the poems come audience questions

not about the syntax of the poems

and their wild unpredictable lines

but the fractured country he left decades ago.

A country shattered into shards like

a precious porcelain Chinese vase

hitting the floor, hard. They ask

how can the mangled lives and broken

cities be put back together again?


What is the poet’s answer? That

a storm is gathering over the world,

that there are no victories,

that we must learn not to be afraid,

that we all must learn to speak a new language.






On dark nights when I have no words of my

own, translations calm me, let me

jump deep in letter by letter

soaking up the dampness of the words.


I hear a whispered sigh like the sea

in the dark, as both poem and self

exist in a constant state of becoming.


What draws us as a translator to seek

an equivalent music from one

tongue to another? Affinities, a vibrancy,

listening to meanings that reside, flowering,

beyond the thickness of dictionaries.


Nibbling at the edges of the poem, we give

contours to shadows. How do we translate

the silence that lives between the lines?


I am a nomad searching for a language

in which I am a word unbound,

wandering between the world

we inhabit and the one we create.



from Border Crossings










Dennis Maloney is  a poet and translator.  A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory: Poems & Translations and Just Enough. His book Listening to Tao Yuan Ming was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2015. A bilingual German/English, Empty Cup was recently published in Germany.

His works of translation include: The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist:Poems of Ryokan,and the The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez. He is also the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY. and divides his time between Buffalo, NY and Big Sur, CA.


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