Concerning canaries

Gerrit de Vries was RIXT-poet of the month April 2019.
You can read his original Frisian poems of that month here.
One of them – concerning canaries – is published here in translation.

concerning canaries

back then in the coalmine
a cage was hung in the gallery
behind bars sat a canary

carbon monoxide
lack of oxygen
mine gas was a hazard

the miners knew
when the whistling ceased
they could no longer be at ease

grandma had two canaries
Tom and Joy
until one day her tomcat
she fed Tom bird seed

rejoicing he sat sated
on his bar
when both were old
he just fell off

a godwit thrashes
his pecker to bits
looking for food
that no longer is

on the withered green
monotonous wasteland
a fleeing chick is running
out of breath

just pretend
all is fine
a meadow is no coalmine
a godwit ’s no canary

© Gerrit de Vries
Translation: Trevor Scarse

Oer kanarjes

eartiids yn de koalemyn
hong in koaike yn de galerij
siet efter traaljes in kanarje

koalmonokside
tekoart oan soerstof
myngas wie in gefaar

de mynwurkers wisten
as it fluitsjen ophold
dat der wat net doogde

beppe hie twa kanarjes
Piet en Jubel
oant op in dei de boarre
hja fuorre Piet sjongsied

sêd siet er te jubeljen
op syn stôk
doe’t beide âld wienen
foel er dêr ôf

in skries huft him
de snaffel stikken
siket nei iten
dat der net langer is

op de útdrûge grien
monotoane hûngerpôle
draaft in pyk op ‘e flecht
him út de liken

doch mar krekt
as is alles yn oarder
in greide is gjin koalemyn
in skries is gjin kanarje

© Gerrit de Vries

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