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Translation below of Istanbul-based Dutch poet Martijn Benders’ ‘Zero’, from his book Karavanserai. The poem is part of a series (in that same book) that also includes numbers 1-12.

(Teeth-grindingly do not know how to get rid of this automatically formatted double-spacing)

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NUL

Nul heeft twee lieflijke, klein wenkbrauwen,

een sterrenstelsel waardig.

Nul is wat niet zichtbaar of denkbaar is.

Nul is het spoorloze rijk van de liefde.

Nul is de hoeder van verdwenen sokken en spelden.

Nul is die jongen op school die je je niet herinnert,

naast je zittend, slapend. Nul is het sleutelgat

waarachter waarheden zich omkleden. Nul is

het schrikbeeld van wetenschappers,

zakenlui en kranten. Nul kent geen beursgang,

hoeft geen vijandige overnames

te vrezen. Nul is het brood der eendjes

die vastriezen. Nul is het pootje haken

van gevolgtrekkingen door conclusies. Nul is een lege not

in de onkraakbare partituur. Nul is zwanen, violen,

violen, zwanen. Nul is heel mooi.

Nul is een miskend orakel voor lui

die niks in de gaten hebben. Mensen als jij.

Mensen die poëzie lezen. Nul is erg goedkoop

°°

ZERO

Zero has two cute, small eyebrows

worthy of a galaxy.

Zero is what is not visible or thinkable.

Zero is the traceless realm of love.

Zero is the keeper of vanished socks and pins.

Zero is that boy at school who you do not remember,

sitting next to you, sleeping. Zero is the keyhole

behind which truths change clothes. Zero is

the nightmare of scientists,

business people and newspapers. Zero knows no stock exchange,

needs fear no hostile takeovers.

Zero is the bread of ducks

that freeze stuck. Zero is the tripping up

of QED. Zero is an empty nut

in the uncrackable tablature. Zero is swans, violins,

violins, swans. Zero is very beautiful.

Zero is an unrecognized oracle for people

clueless. People like you.

People who read poetry. Zero is very cheap.

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