Daybreak: Prayers for Prisoners

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By Gabriel Rosenstock   

Photography by Ron Rosenstock                   

Poet Gabriel Rosenstock (Ireland) responds to the black-and-white landscape photography of Ron Rosenstock (USA) with a poetic technique from 7th century Japan – the 31-syllable tanka – in these prayers for prisoners worldwide.

Ron’s photographs are in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum, The Fogg Art Museum, Worcester Art Museum, The International Center of Photography and numerous private collections. He’s been honoured with over 100 exhibits in the United States and Europe. Ron has published six books of his photographs. He is a frequent lecturer to social, community and professional groups as well as an international photo tour leader in Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Morocco, Italy, Japan, Scotland, New Zealand.

Gabriel is a poet, haikuist, tankaist, novelist, playwright, translator and essayist. His latest book of ekphrastic tanka is Every Night I Send You Flowers, published by Cross-Cultural Communications, New York, and available as a free book from EDOCR. He shares an acclaimed PhotoHaiku website with Ron.

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d’éalaigh príosúnach
caol díreach tríd an mballa
bhí ballaí roimhe
is domhan ballaí é, ar sé
balla . . .  balla i ndiaidh balla

a prisoner walked
walked straight through a prison wall
there were walls ahead
it’s a world of walls, he said
one wall after another

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laethanta ag imeacht
nach fada í an oíche
gealann lá eile
cogar íseal ón ngiolcach
fógraíonn saoirse anama

                   the days multiply
and nights drag on forever
another day dawns
listen, the reeds on the lake:
whispers of inner freedom

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athrú séasúir
tá ráflaí ann faoi ghálaí
is titeann an teocht
go raibh gach príosúnach saor
ó dhubhoíche an anama

a change of season
there are rumours of high winds
temperature drops
may all prisoners be free
of the dark night of the soul

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níl gnáthamh acu
ní déarfar leo go deo deo
‘tá do sheal tugtha’
ag imeacht leo leis an ngaoth
filleann corr-néal ar Chuan Mó

they have no routine
none can say, ‘you’ve done your time!
you are free to go’
they roam where the wind takes them
and some come home to Clew Bay

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faoi ghlas atá siad
i bpríosún na haigne
an dream nach bhfuil saor
deineadh cloch dá gcroí faraor
is cuí dúinn guí ar a son

imprisoned, enchained
in the confines of the mind
these are the unfree
those whose hearts have turned to stone
alone – needful of our prayers

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na haighthe céanna
an bia céanna gach lá
glórtha bolaithe
an mbeidh sé mar sin go deo
a Thiarna, athraigh an domhan

look, the same faces
and the same food every day
same sounds same odours
and will it be ever so
Lord, turn your world upside down

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an bhfuil siadsan saor
i Nead an Tíogair in airde
cead a gcos acu
nó an bhféachaid go héadmhar
ar néalta is ar shrutháin

have they found freedom
up there in the Tiger’s Nest
do they come and go
or are they envious of clouds
the cold, flowing mountain streams

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a ainm, abair
an leaid óg a bhí ann tráth
ainm a thuistí
cad is féidir a rá faoi
an príosúnach dearmadta

what his name might be
what he was like as a child
his mother’s name, his father’s
say, what do we know of him
the forgotten prisoner

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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, born in New York City and currently based in India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.

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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Travel Writing: A mode of constructing knowledge”, edited by Raeesa Usmani, Surat, India.

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