we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable

Language: Norwegian 
Poet: Dag T. Straumsvåg
Translator: Robert Hedin

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we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable

Two poems by Dag T. Straumsvåg translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin

Dag T. Straumsvåg was born in 1964 and raised along the sparsely populated coastline of western Norway. A respected translator of contemporary American poetry, he is the author of three books and serves as editor and publisher of Pir forlag, an independent publishing house specializing in poetry. He currently lives in Trondheim.
Robert Hedin’s most recent books include The Light Under the Door (Red Dragonfly Press) and The Dream We Carry: Selected and Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge (co-translated with Robert Bly, Copper Canyon Press). At the Great Door of Morning: Poems and Translations is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in late 2016. He lives in Frontenac, Minnesota.

UFO-Ar På dei Norske Bygdene

I motsetnad til i USA, landar det sjeldan ufo-ar på dei Norske bygdene. Men vi har huslege flygande tallerkenar, særleg ved juletider. Utan varsel stupar dei ut av himmelen og krasjar i det gule håret vårt, lagar mysticke mønster i hjernebølgjene våre. Kva vil dei med oss? Er dei fiendtlege? Vi anar ikkje.  Sjølv  konene våre snur seg bort, mållause. Vi kan høyre ei høg summing, som om ein datamaskin inne i vraket framleis verkar, som om nokon har overlevd og samtalar frenetisk på eit framandt tungemål, nokon som kan ha svar på alle spørsmåla våre. Vi meiner den vitskapelege tilnæmingsmåten er best og sikrar ulykkesstaden, granskar og katalogiserer alle vrakdelar.  Temperaturen fell snøgt under null. Vi kryp sman kring leirbålet, ein forvirra flokk primatar som plukkar lus frå håret til kvarandre i det bleike desemberljoset.

UFO's in the Norwegian Countryside

Unlike in the U.S., UFOs in Norway don’t often land in the countryside.  Instead we have domestic flying saucers, especially at Christmastime. With no warning, they fall out of the clear, blue sky, crashing in our blond hair, making mystical patterns in our brain waves. What do they want? Are they hostile? We don’t have a clue. Even our wives shake their heads, unable to speak. There’s a high-pitched humming sound, as if the computer inside is still working, as if someone had survived and is speaking frantically in a strange tongue, someone who has all the answers to our questions. We believe the scientific approach works best, so we secure the crash site, inspect and catalogue each piece of wreckage. The temperature is quickly falling below zero. We gather around the fireplace, a bewildered bunch of primates picking lice out of each other’s hair in the faint December light. 

Av/På

Vi kjøpte ein cocker spaniel, men han var ikkje realistisk nok, så vi gav han bort. Då gullfisken døydde skifta vi til apparat. Den gamle brødristaren, komfyren med keramikktopp. Aparat er heller ikkje feilfrie, men av/på-knappane fungerer så godt at vi bestemde oss for å utvikle eit likande system for oss sjølve. I staden for av/på-knappar brukar vi klubber. Ein kakk i skallen betyr “det er din tur til å ta oppvasken,” ein rapp over skinnleggen betyr “la meg vere i fred,” eit tungt slag in solar plexus betyr “kan du gjenta det, er du snill?” Livet er mykje enklare no. Ungane steller seg i kø kvar kveld for å ta oppvasken, eg får lese avisa i fred, og når vi pratar går vi rett på sak med upåklageleg diksjon.

On/Off

We bought a cocker spaniel, but it wasn’t realistic enough, so we gave it away. When the goldfish died, we turned to appliances. Our old toaster. The glass-topped stove. Appliances are not flawless either, but the on/off buttons worked so well we decided to develop a similar system of our own.  Instead of buttons, we use baseball bats. One rap on the skull means “It’s your turn to do dishes,” one smack to the shin means “Leave me alone,” a heavy blow to the solar plexus means “Can you repeat that, please?” Life’s a lot simpler now. The kids line up every night to do the dishes, I get to read the paper in peace, and when we’re talking, we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable.