Skip to main content

Duets: A Translation of Music


Inspired by Maggie Nelson's "Bluets", this collection of poems translates all kinds of music.

Duet 1: "Clair de Lune", Isao Tomita

Sometimes I wonder if the moon finds solace in us. She often finds her way into my clouded gaze, embracing me with her motherly, pale yellow hue. Maybe she misses her children, the stars, as they fade further into the sable quilt of night.

Duet 2: "Gardens in the Rain", Isao Tomita

I’ve always hated the rain. The rain that tastes and smells like spoiled fish, the rain that summons the melancholy of lone souls like me. You know, that rain.

But, he has a brother. This brother dances merrily between flowers old and new, short and tall, plain and stunning. He rides the wind, blessing millions of blooming children as he passes. Please remember him. He’ll visit you soon.

Duet 3: "The Girl With the Flaxen Hair", Isao Tomita

I saw this girl once, sitting outside the coffee shop. She looked rather dull (take that how you wish) and yet she emanated a captivating vibrancy. I was stumped. How could both be true?

Then it hit me.

It was her hair. Her blonde hair. That blonde hair struck my towering cliffs with refreshing waves, like a newly born spring after a drawn out winter. That blonde hair reminded me of the exposed innocence of laughter, of an unbroken and pastel blue colored joy. It was intense, yet fleeting. I don’t think I can ever forget it.

Duet 4: "In a Silent Way", Miles Davis

The blue surrounds me.

As I lie nude on the fresh bed of autumn leaves, surrounded by the vast, immense trees, the blue covers my body from head to toe. It encapsulates all of the “mes” – the past, present and future. This bitter, unashamed melancholy of a color somehow finds its way into my mind, eventually seeping from every orifice. But this isn’t “pain”. It’s a welcome comfort.

Duet 5: "Shhh", Miles Davis

This dance. It makes me grateful to be alive.

Keep leading me up the stairs, keep wrapping my chest as though you’re a cloud. With every step, my body is more limitless. I need it. I need it, badly. Pure, unadulterated, devout ecstasy. But don’t say a word.

I love you God. Amen.

Duet 6: "Acknowledgement", John Coltrane

I feel the winds guiding me.

That low hum of my inner voice – quiet yet persistent – tells me to continue. I accept! After all, God helped me dig myself out of those bottomless, black dunes. Although the desert grows more vast the more I walk it, at least I’ve found an answer. Amen!

Thank you Alice, Naima, and Michelle.