a poem about reader engagement

by Joe Váradi

A truth that holds for all the apps
a comment’s worth a thousand claps.

All the apps — but none more so
than Medium, where claps can grow

to the thousands … and beyond —
but still — you know what’s hard to find?

A comment that will warm your heart;
A comment that’s a work of art;

That comment, carefully crafted,
one meticulously drafted,

One that says “I read your piece,”
and what’s more, “It brought me peace!”

It goes on: “Yes! Peace of mind —
understanding, thoughts refined,
complex issues — clarified,
new viewpoints — identified,
counterarguments —…

a verse translation of a poem by Domokos Szilágyi

I’m alone, as the golden yellow
sunflower patch’s lonesome sorrow,
as one begot to life down and low,
to voice words lax and loose,
thus by the fistful I’ll dispense them,
my glossy grains — onto rocks barren,
or fertile soil, treasured therein — 
as destiny may choose.

As one begot to life down and low,
I’m alone, as the golden yellow
sunflower patch’s lonesome sorrow — 
as destiny may choose.
My words — my blood I dispersed loosely,
I replied, though no one implored me,
(such was my lot) hapless and clumsy,
one forever accused.

Alone, toward the sun…

a vignette translation

poem by Zsuzsa A. Túri, translated by Joe Váradi

You know
it’s all been
how you
craft those
weave your

the original:



I’ve used Robert Berény’s distinctive paintings for other translations:

an acrostic ‘golden shovel’ poem

P eriscopes raised, sweeping, surveying round
E very angle, straining atrophied nerves the
R etinas of the lucky, the few, take in decay
C aved-in civility, strewn-about cadavers of
Y oung and old, who marched to the beat of that

B rave new world, of hubris colossal
Y et went down with the epic wreck
S quandering reserves thought boundless
S ixty days huddled in the bunkers … and
H eat from the Blaze still lingers, laying bare
E very extinguished hope the

S urvivors dared to keep alive, lone
H omesick with no home left and
E xiled with no place…

about the hidden pleasures of structure

traditional form poetry:
a more cerebral exercise
than modernists who write free verse
will tend to care to recognize

you see what I am doing here?
I’m writing this in verses of
i-am-bic (doh!) tetrameter —
four pairs per line: start low, head up

I hope you catch the drift, dear friend,
this stuff should come at you in waves,
our brain’s a complex instrument,
a plethora of treats it craves

the mind starts out by parsing words
to grasp for hooks semantical,
but leaves some room for just desserts:
discoveries climactical

there’s more to form than meets the eye
on that initial perusal —
half-rhymes and broken meter too
can bring about arousal (see?)

that feeling when the bulb lights up
(to finish with hyperbole …)
you’re not just simply reading lines — 
you’re belting out a symphony!

a verse translation for Pentecost

a poem by Jenő Dsida, translated by Joe Váradi. This is not only a gorgeous, deeply personal poem, it is also meticulously crafted, 13 verses, each adhering to a 8–8–7–7–8–8–7 syllable structure, a-a-b-b-c-c-b rhyme scheme.

I came across it on Easter Sunday, and set out to finish the translation by Pentecost.

By your tomb with trepidation,
fearfully I man my station,
oh - the charge is great, no doubt,
burns and crushes with its might:
for the skeptics and the doubters,
for your sacred law’s deniers,
empty grave, a ghastly sight.

By the mouth of your open grave
sitting amid sighs…

song lyric translation

If I were a rose, to hide I’d have no reason,
I would bare my flowers each and every season,
I’d blossom for the boy, I’d blossom for the girl,
I’d blossom for true love, and for the passing world.

If I were a portal, I would always welcome
Every traveler, no matter where they came from,
I would never ask them, “hey, who sent you here,”
I would be delighted, if everyone were near.

If I were a window, wide open and grand,
You could gaze right through me, all across the land,
I’d reveal the world to understanding eyes
Show you…

satirical limericks

there is this one Medium publication
punctuation their fiendish fixation
they shun parentheticals
and ostracize ellipticals …
fomenting much writer consternation

lately a backlash is a-brew
tongue-in-cheek rants, more than a few
a minor mutiny of sorts
(which I’m here to endorse)
among the brave contributing crew

and what’s with the whole pirate symbolism,
ship metaphors and outlaw-wannabeism?
you’re no rogue captain, in my book,
without a parrot, a hook,
and a leg lost to scurvy or botulism

now, as for your chosen sobri-quette
a name I don’t entirely get —
is it a portmanteau?

a ribaldly romantic verse translation

a poem by Jenő Heltai, translated by Joe Váradi


We have a lack of understanding,
This I regret greatly, madam,
But if you shalln’t be my lover
All else I just cannot fathom.

For example, as your grace implores
with passioned fervor to no end,
That I rush to the aid of your poor,
Tormented heart, be your best friend.

Best friend! I dare say, quite an honor
To attain such a lofty rung,
But I am not so past my prime,
and you, still alarmingly young.

You, so full of life, so redolent,
Flaming, rousing, blinding, pearly,
How could I not…

Joe Váradi

Editor of No Crime in Rhymin' and Language Lab | the Woke Bloke ..."come for the sarcasm, stay for my soft side"

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