One of the reasons people in a vicious addiction - idleness. When he had tilled the land, engaged in trade, how could he lead an idle life?
Abay Kunanbayev

Specproject translation
Michelle Chan Brown's "Shipwreck", "Autocracy", "Save the face"

17 may 2016 790

Michelle Chan Brown's "Shipwreck", "Autocracy", "Save the face"

Origin language: "Shipwreck", "Autocracy", "Save the face".

Origin author: Michelle Chan BROWN

Translate author: Қайрат Дүйсен

Date: 17 may 2016

Original version in English of  Michelle Chan Brown's poetry works:



What we heard about thirst was true.

Everywhere, water. Everywhere, salt.

And we drank it. We learned to love

our crumpling bones. Each sunspot

on our skin deserved a christening.

Distance gifted the world a shimmer.

Time passed, perhaps. We grew wolfish.

Spears of birdcall. Unthinkable birds.

We searched for the isle of women.

We searched for our dead fathers.

We searched for the hardware store.

We were used to solitude. Some of us

had worked the mills, where skylights cracked

and loaned us stars. We learned to relish

the ownership of hours. Our sheets

acceded to the torpor. If you must,

call it sickness — the sea colonized us.

Below muslin, our heartbeats thrilled,

lazy as laps. Breezes licked our faces flat.

If we wept, we wept soundless as sand.

What wave would betray our trust?



It had been a difficult summer.

I had been a life without seductions.


Here, everyone composts the Sundays.

Everyone is entitled to a 35-seconds orgasm.


We leave our gentility for an occasional rental.

There is work to be done, dust


on the busts of the stockbrokers.

All is cutting. All is edged with fuchsia


possibility. We bite into our shifts

like sworn carnivores. There is beauty,


even, in the absence of exits.

In the personal note (we rubbed spit


on the ink), you said: Thanks for the bodies!

Our moon nods, your moon winks.


Save the face

For the educated, a minor challenge –

like birding, breeding, or archery.


No point in seeing

the blown-up body.


Our mouths can move

with the usual things.


Nights, though, we wake up to the smell

lifting the white collars of our gowns.


We vow to get out more,

but we’ve had our fill


of scenery, chopped down the apple tree,

the phone lines, the daffodils.


The little corpses of our souls!

They’re smiling up at our stethoscopes.


We carry nothing but scalpels.

Terror keeps us sharp; it’s no miracle  


of modern science,

my face on hers.


It’s paper bag with holes for eyes, a shadow

Gash for a mouth.


In the business,

we say beyond recognition.