Monday, October 03, 2005


Just to say that bellow (on 12th july) I posted some suggestions on "Strange Vista". Are they ok? I marked them with bold.
And more - if I want to make some changes and suggestions what to do?
To post the poems again?
To edit your posts?
To send them by e-mail?

Greetings from Belgium, where I am.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Further poems

These are the poems which were primarily done by Mark and Andy and then revised by us all. Apologies for tardiness in posting them up and for any remaining errors. I have, I think, incoporated people's comments. Hope all are well!


Russian Monument

she has hidden proust’s madelaines away
and the cherries, Chekhov’s cherries,
and the dark chocolate biscuits
in dr. lahnevich’s Sunday morning bed

her tailored blue suit too
with that silk-buttoned chemise
all those kisses foiled in snow
ebbing back and forth and back

somewhere central Sofia for sale
for sale behind the ministry of agriculture
take the northern staircase prussian vaulting
third floor apartment private entrance on left

three eastwards facing chambers
a few broken ribs
innate valvular disease
and tuberoses in both lungs

A monument, unforged, I for myself erected

but otherwise she’s been hiding

otherwise it is for sale for sale

but also they keep ebbing back and forth and back

Fairy Lights

This is a poem to stand at the end of a book, like a Christmas tree in the last days of December 1882, when electric Christmas lights were invented.

my sweetheart
is decorating me in the middle of the room
cotton glass and electricity
and electricity
then we sing
the body electric

I sing the body electric:

I am made of tiny pieces of glass
I purr prickle and buzz
and all the wiring leads
to my giant glass heart
one hundred candles bright

my sweetheart turns me on
and off and
on and

I purr, prickle and buzz
I p –urrp -ri-ck-le-and –bu- zz
and love runs its circuits
in tiny mouthfuls

we play till midnight
all that remains is the filament
wet naked golden-hot
it twines around my sweetheart
still turning me on and off
and on and

until the elements short-circuit
then there is light

White goods for Lovers

It all starts with a few wet drops
at the back, paper bags going soft
and a supersonic cracking
in the icebox.

The broccoli gives off a faint smell
and the well chilled corpse
of the melon
lets out a suspicious sigh.

Next the jellied beef tongue
licks against the bean sprouts
who run wild
in the remains of yesterday’s salad.

The freezer compartment on the left
is heating up heating up heating
pumping up to the necessary
heart rate.

The fridge takes a final deep breath,
Strains every volt and muscle,
then breaks its waters
on the unswept kitchen floor.

Food rots, love blossoms,
Life, they say, came out of the water.
Our dinner for two is cancelled.
and we won’t sleep for a long time –

we are starving.


like a cat carrying her young by the scruff
the light drags me round the room
until the veins of the walls are blue
and the carpet spits out its woolen heart

there are no landlords here,
only desires:

to slip out of myself
my sex
my last skin literature

the cat is a burning blackberry bush in the middle of the room
where all desires are met,
without end,
leaving nothing behind

later the cat is sleeps under the bed
later we dance again
I pour milk into the bowl
even the milk is glowing

my friend is a maharani from a distant land

Poste Restante

Postcard: a photograph of
eight women
pulling up onions in a field.

I’ve been with them there for a month now -
the best thing
I could wish for.

The field is a scorched baking tray
and the clouds above are soft suds
which cannot shift the burnt bits.

That’s what we are doing, the women and I –
scraping at the burnt potato flour,
but it won’t come off, it won’t come off.

By noon we’ve taken out
a dozen buckets of onions –
we peel them and eat them whole
until the soap gets in our eyes
grateful tears.

We sleep in cold corridors, below stairs.

On the bed beside me lies a young Chinese woman,
her breasts like soya beans.
In a box under the bed she breeds crickets.
When the temperature falls below zero,
she takes them out and holds them under her shirt –

so their voices don’t freeze.

On Invention

It is woman who invented the troubadour
I’ll say it again:
She invented the inventor
Gaustin of Arles, 12th c.

It is time for me to invent myself,
for who else would ever invent me.
The gypsy women meant to praise me are gone -
such thoughts as that make me hurry.

All you need to do is to invent a woman,
the rest – the man – she’ll take care of.

So off she goes, out of her passion she invents
my male body,
invents my two hands,
groping and heavy,
invents my lungs,
each and every alveolus,
my quickening breath,
invents my giant part
(that’s how she designs it – giant).

Such vision! Such imagination!

So here I am alive, newly created, complete,
attractive in my own way,
a good age, seductive,
before I invent the dying fall.
For endings should be sad.
And beautiful.

So I invent my own ending:
Should I die between the fingers
of a straight A schoolgirl,
as she copies me down in a careless scrawl,
or do it on my own?
Should I even die at all,

for who would reinvent me then.
Hey Jude, 7’09”

It’s the longest track ever and if you can’t score with a woman in that time, you are the biggest loser in the Universe.” (Gaustin, Grade VIc)

It’s the longest track ever,
just that: 7’09”.
7 minutes and 9 seconds,
your hands electric
with the mohair of her jumper.
7 minutes and 9 seconds,
to tell her your most glamourous story.
7 minutes and 9 seconds,
you are dizzy,
it’s hard to believe
but you are spinning around,
it’s hard to believe but she is spinning
around you,
yes, she is spinning around.
7 minutes and 9 seconds.

Never again,
never at all,
(though you don’t know it yet)
will you be in love
with a woman
for this long.


She folds the newspaper and says:
you heard the news from Iowa?
It hailed – hailstones
the size of golf balls.
Yes, I say,
they play golf all the time there,
they’ve lost so many balls
and the balls are now coming back.
He is returning all their balls,
the Great Jester.
She is not amused:
she turns to me in terror.

He never misses.

A Bee

keeps hitting the glass
the stained glass with the finely
painted lilies
it’s been an hour
not a speck of pollen
it will kill itself
this bee of art

A Bee

keeps hitting the window
finely painted lilies
of stained glass
it’s been an hour
not a speck of pollen
it will kill itself
this artful bee

(a photograph by Russel Sorgi, 1942)

This is a photo from 42, New York, the number of the street
escapes me, in the foreground
there’s a hotel cafe, three round tables
outside on the sidewalk, and at the fourth
the only two customers, cups in front of them,
idly smoking.
It’s deadly quite
and if at this moment the two look up,
they will see,
(for us this is the centre of the photo)
between the ninth and the eighth floor,
like a fly, like a smudge on the print,
a woman

The photographer, so the story goes,
was an intern on the Buffalo Courier Express.
He just happened to be there taking a photograph
of a lazy September, an empty New York street,
meaning to call it “Two in the afternoon” or “Boredom”.
But things change,
the title has to go,
the woman is in shot - a starring role
which means nothing to her.
But in the photo she is still alive
between the ninth and the eighth floor -
a cry in the throat, fear in the body,
her dress is intact - and that
shocks us all the more.

The coffee puddles on the sidewalk
still in the cups.
Photograph II

Remembering our youth, dear Gaustin, and your enthusiasm for anarchism, and that broken little suitcase with the works of Bakunin, Kropotkin, Stirner, all Anarchy Editions, I dare to offer you, the story of one more photograph of that October day in Sarajevo – a simple photo of no value to anyone else. It took me a whole day to find the bridge where in the summer of 1914 Gavrilo Princip, a nationalist and anarchist (a favourite combination in the Balkans), shot at point-blank range, the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the person of crown prince Franz Ferdinand, or to be more precise in his throat.
Unwise of me to ask passers-by for directions to the bridge – they all looked daggers and were quick to hurry on as if they did not understand. Eventually a man took pity on me and told me to look for the bridge with a broken plaque remembering that ‘Serbian fucker’.
So here I am. I cross warily to the pavement on the other side of the street and nonchalantly light a cigarette, a Smyana under my coat -- it’s simple but reliable, I’ve tested it many times. I am ready to shoot. I shiver, as if the car carrying Franz Ferdinand could whirr over the bridge any minute. Traffic goes by and a cold wind begins to blow. Right in the middle of this historic place, beside the broken plaque, an old man has laid out umbrellas for sale. Some of them are open. They add volume and movement to the photograph: the wind is rolling them away and the old man is trying to stop them by standing on their handles. I know this is it, my moment has come. I take out the Smyana and I shoot. In the picture the old man has no head– either my hands shook or this place is cursed – but the concrete rail with the broken plaque is there, in focus. Just as my deadly mission was completed the Great Cloud Powers – as you would call them – interfered. Lightning wired the news around and thunder clouds voiced loud protests, forcing me to retreat. Soaking wet, the old man was the last to withdraw. I stood under some nearby eaves, sodden with historic guilt. I thought back to my idiotic history books which said that ‘the bullet in Sarajevo was the spark that the dark clouds gathering over Europe were waiting for’. Well, my dear Gaustin, the clouds over Sarajevo that day were really dark. You can see how dark they were even though the photo is over exposed. This is how big trouble comes about. Someone carelessly tosses up a few metaphors and they suddenly come true.

Yours G.

Global Autumn

I know we have no eyes and ears, nor language for the intrigue and plotting of the Great Natural Powers. We can only marvel at their harmonic anarchy.
(Gaustin, Early Letters)

This year I can say precisely
when and where the summer ended.
It was the 24th October,
Wednesday, 6.40 p.m., Sarajevo time.
Some Gavrilo Princip
shattered the sun point-blank.
It was all planned out, although
they say that this happens
every year on principle:
cold Western fronts,
cyclones in alliance,
fragile truces, rain, depressions.
(Next: the war reports of weather forecasters.)

This is how Global Autumns

Photograph IV

The key to this photo, my dear Gaustin, lies in its geography. Imagine the far northwestern corner of Greece, 5 hours from Thessalonica, three from Kozani, an hour from Florina. This is the area of the two Prespan lakes – where Greece, Albania and Macedonia meet. We arrive late at night and they put us up in a former school in the deserted village. Stern whitewashed walls and high ceilings. In the morning we go for a walk. It’s August, the sun is out and we are glad to see that the place is alive. There are only old people around but it’s alive. They stare at us as if they know us, the way only Balkan people do, and
they come up to us and welcome us with words you won’t hear anywhere else. ‘Kalimera, ko praite?’ That’s just what they said, Gaustin, believe me. They saw us. When we stared back they asked: ‘You speak our tongue?’ That’s right, ‘our tongue.’ My heart melted, I felt a kind of linguistic Columbus -- ‘our tongue’ meant this peculiar mishmash of Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian, Turkish and Macedonian… I wondered, Gaustin, if this was the language from before Babel or some new hybrid coming out of the Balkan Hullabaloo. Needless to say, you can’t see this on the picture.
The place was called Antarctico, which means “rebellious” in Greek, and these dear old rebels complained to us that the Albanians come across the nearby hills, desecrate their church and steal hens from their backyards.
I know you are dying to hear about the woman in the picture. Good looking, isn’t she? And obviously not from round here. Gabriela, 35, worked on Broadway. A dancer. And Austrian. She came to visit 3 years ago, liked it and stayed, leaving her life behind. She was on her own, if you don’t count that evil-looking dog in the lower left-hand corner. She’d lived in the most amazing places in the world, Gaustin, but the four nights we spent drinking ritsina on the wooden table under the Greek-Albanian-Macedonian moon, she behaved as if this most distant of distant Balkan places were the centre of the universe. Madison Square Garden, Broadway and the Vienna Statsopera all rubbed against her feet like abandoned kittens under the table, begging for her company. Have you ever had moments when the centre of the world feels like something very light and agile, like dog that’s following a woman? I don’t even want to think about what happens to the places she has left behind. Are you sure Austria is still there? And her dog, Gaustin, never once growled at me!

Yours G.

Gabriela’s Dog

His father is a Serbian shepherd
his mother an Albanian greyhound
His father’s line is Bulgarian Karakachani
His mother’s pedigree Thessalonica
He is a Balkan mongrel, Gabriela jokes
(she is Austrian, her mother Hungarian)
He is not afraid of gun shots
he is a good hunter
he licks everyone’s hands
he won’t be cross, if you shout at him

sometimes just sometimes
(very rarely though)
he will jump up and bite and bite…


Armenia’s Childhood

My skinny black grandmother crawled out
from behind the cupboard with a smile and on the red-brick wall
hung a map of the sea

“Light your grandad’s pipe and wrap the chains
around your legs. I will knit you a pair of socks
out of sails and make you a pair of glasses
out of old telescopes.”

My eyes are complex, my eyes are long.
I’ve poked at that brick wall since I was a child –
I stick my pencils in there, and hide my bits of paper.
I closed the cupboard so it didn’t pull down the room and
crossing the wooden floor saw my grandmother off.
I am turning around.
The sea is flowing out of the map. Down my brick wall
- dripping.
The Black Sea down my wall.
Dark is the sea –
Down the wall – becks and outcrops…
through rough stucco.
The sea will overwhelm my childhood…
and so it did – my pencils rotted,
scraps of paper now floating rafts –
each with a history nailed together with consonants.
This is how grandmothers bring up their children in Armenia –
they give them maps
and salt from deep waters.
The salt is so the eyes can see.

“Come, Yohannes…”

I know I can wade through the water -
I am on my grandmother’s back.
Her eyes are complex, her eyes are long,
her hands old telescopes.
By and by we leave the room.
On the door a sign made of wax:
“Houses are old grandmothers”.


… In the morning there were loads of pineapples, there were walnuts in the juicy apples,
the mulled wine was full of cinnamon
and long tobacco leaves floated in the hazelnut-and-star-anise tea.
At noon the amber honey from the oranges
oozed into softening figs
and we smoked sandal wood
with drops of thick pine-tree milk.
At dusk we placed pink grapefruits
in hot jugfuls of caramel
and lay down for the night
amongst green lemons
drinking long mouthfuls of strawberry cream
with Constantinople almonds
and syrupy tishpishtil.
Amid the scent of linseed
and fat olives
big nocturnal raisins
in our mouths
like Armenian white jam
until the ginger tree awoke


The ropes I used to tie my son
are still tight and wet.
The wardrobe hides the attic door,
The hanging dresses swing.

We drill cologne along the corners,
we’re back in Sofia at last,
two careful soldiers, maybe,
tying the threads of our past.

We are leaning over the cast-iron sink
in furnished quarters neither of us own.
We stand in front of the mirror and think:
In the end we put on our make-up alone.

We’ve grown old and look like brothers –
the way it’s always been.
We are used to this. My son and I are silent:
theatrical, exhausted, smiling.

Men always want.
to be the hero – to swing from the gallows
with a terrible force towards Earth. That’s why
they play cards, drink spirits and tell dirty jokes.
And each has a war in his back pocket.
Infidelity in his jeans.
And a childhood full of pirates.

But there aren’t enough films to go round,
or women-directors to make them.

And so –building sites and tables
turn into silent movies.
Because whatever you say – it’s like
you never said it.
All your life, not even one memorable one-liner.

That’s why tired-looking men sit in stations,
waiting to be called up.
men under the table belting out songs,
waiting to be booked for mutiny.
Men who stay there
and wait with a terrible force…

In truth there aren’t enough heroes to go round,
or film-makers who believe in themselves.

…and not even one memorable one-liner,
except the last:“That’s life…”

Strange Vista

…how ‘Confused’ our physical Geography seems
when you look south from Moldova:
our country has no shape (we are slightly to the West), ‘sweaty’ –
a Caucasion province with gigantic memories.
‘Unnoticed in the lefthand corner of sea’ – X.
(scaled high up beyond the Danube and squeezed from Above.)
How different the Grammar sounds in
the suburbs of Kishinev and Kagul
(even more so in their ‘supurbs’ or on the lower banks
of the Dnester) and how strangely we conjugate our verbs,
worrying about History and geography (ours),
eyes staring to the right, Yarzhidva.
(high up, so we can look beyond the Alps)
and then anthropomorphic,
we rediscover our miracled landschaft –
like pilgrims
around the closed looking-glass of the Black Sea.
backwards. forwards.

I head south from Moldova,
but my reflections march towards Kiev –
only here do Dneper and Danube meet.

The Caucuses
(methodological operation)

My home against my castle.
I’ve quit.
Theatre is the oldest cunning (art). Here amongst the Ossetians
the images of history become theatre. (remoteness).
The accents of objects shift. The mechanical factories
are started up by Gramophones. And every factory is a song.

1. Azerbaijan – first song
“One cart after the other, a ship in each cart – bulging
wooden ships… Drowned people grazing. They graze and sing…”
Oh, my native land – dead buffalo and pregnant women
beneath your centrifugal fields. And at the very bottom lies
Black, copper Iran. How can I save your limbs from flight
or idolatry?
And the greatest Fear here – Earth has a Direction.

2. Armenia – second song
“…he is holding the Church in his palm, and inside it – human bustle.
In the same palm – Ararat. Forest and society used to be one.
leave us alone. leave us lonely.”
… But there are no gallows here! That means there is no Order, no hope…
History is a simple word,
preserved in a nervous stomach and the mouth.
I stand out, lost, while at home the watercolours
show the mutability of the field: it is
dangerous there, but I am a Creatress: I take my place and await
the new Modernism: God exists – and God is other people…

3. Georgia – third song
“To stay in my native land and lose my Georgian eyes,
and to forget, to leave behind electric posts as high as skies
and copper wiring in the ground only here, only here.
Let me be cursed then. I am a stuck-in-the-dirt.”
The Black Sea is the most Mediterranean – it is an outsourced Archive.
The only way for deep byzantiums
to reach the North. Our deep sleep is a useless hole.
The night here is a physical condition:
here matter slowly turns its womb inside out
and in the dark the Sounds sink into the body –
each Object with its own voice in the night.

…I’ve quit, but I am coming back.
To my Caucuses. And fear of the echo.


Party at the Home for the Disabled

Among the incomplete figures
the singer crooned
a vast song. I warned him
that the river was right behind him, but he
led me to the edge and pushed.
Clutching him I pulled us down.
As we fell towards the rocks,
I asked him why he’d done it. There was still
time for me to hear his reply:
“Just to show you
it’s not a joke.”

Love Story

They played games with each other –
he with her head,
she with his legs.
Then he gave back her head,
a little worn out,
and she… – I’m not sure
what she did with his legs,
This is as much as I know.

Post Card to our brothers, the little Green Men

Celestial greetings!
Accept our
celestial greetings!
We are all fine,
down here, we keep
taking our pills.

Passing On

This man
was innocent,
he had nothing to do
with life, although
that’s where he was coming from.
Give back your teeth –
a magic hand said
and smacked him in the mouth.
The man looked round
one last time, gave thank
for the sunshine, and
as he left cried out:
“It washn’t wortsh the hasshle.”


The two of them were walking up the path,
quietly discussing the common law marriage
of fate, the 10 o’clock news
and their own defensive strategies…

In the distance the sun dripped through the branches,
refusing to communicate. The leaves,
tucked up in frost,
counted down the days.

Who loved what?
How did we get here?

He, once so practical, is now drowning in music,
she, the artist, is now just a stitch
along the silk road.

In a clearing two magi ate out of a can,
making the most of the thin light, waiting for the third,
who had disappeared into the bushes.

Changeable times. The prophets
have lost their jobs.
My friend,

bent like a willow tree branch,
who took away your name?
Why is that unpaid electricity bill
dangling from your mouth?
I see you hanging out of your window,
freshly painted by the sunrise,
untouched by the sunset,
always stuck in the same day.
It’s a shame.
My friend,
strung on a wire through your heart,
who is holding the wire?
Other friends of mine are,
but this is the least of my worries.

Seaside Holiday

The sizzling of sun screen.
The heat has closed over us
like a mouth made of lead –

shouting won’t break it,
beach games
won’t lift it.

We lie in various positions
trying to prove
that we still

make some choices.
In the distance a tiny boat
is hurrying towards the white edge of the sea –

no ropes, no doubts,
no life guards,
no suffocation…

“No trumps...”
It’s Almost Cozy

It’s almost cozy,
the lack of sun
on this slow morning

I hold on with both hands
to my coffee cup while you
– the mercury in my amateur

alchemistry - somehow manage
to put cheese and bread
in your mouth, quietly

gaze fixed on the newspaper.
From inside their bowl
the turtles’ transparent eyes

see how we both
vanish into stillness
and how from time to time

a hand appears,
reaching for the sugar bowl,
or a mouth, curving downwards

into a smile.

Cold War Memories

We were told
there were two worlds at war
when there was really only one.

We were
the other.


They were all listening,
drawn up in columns
like a Chinese terracotta armies.
They stared, their bald heads
round as pterodactyls’ eggs,
waiting for a gesture that
would finally
and conclusively
discredit the candidate.
“Er… what I was about to say…”
They listened.
“… is that freedom is not something we are not born with,
the way we are born with two hands and two legs,
if we are lucky, that is…”
Some of the heads bent towards each other, puzzled
or so the speaker suspected.
“… E-er, I mean that
freedom is not inherent in us,
we do not have a right to it, it is not a given…
(Isn’t this ridiculously trite?)
They sat back indignantly
and sharpened their eyebrows.
“And then parents,
teachers, colleagues, society,
they all somehow… want you
but they do not like you.
And I want to be liked.”
“ Aah” – the room almost stirred.
(So I wasn’t imagining!)
“… and then I,
who have always wanted
to come here all my life
and to be one of you, I understand…”
Some of the boulder heads looked at each other.
A shifting rock groaned.
“that I have always
belonged to you
and that freedom comes
when you reject the prizes,
grab the ropes
and start cutting! cutting! cutting!...
A clay head
rolled down.

Three Ships

There were three ships.
One carried silk.
The second was sailing into nothingness.
The third was coming back
from a world of enduring myths.

We waved at each other.

Three times I jumped ship
And I’m still on the same one.

The Writer

I am sure
he didn’t see himself
as a kid.
He hesitated before crossing
and then at the last moment
jumped on the bus.
I don’t know how
he managed the steps.

“What’s your name, kid?
What’s your name?” – asked
the fussy old biddies, sensing
that something was wrong.

He didn’t reply.

His face was scrawled with
complicated shapes –
a line connected a lozenge with a dot
in the middle of one cheek to the opposite eyebrow,
striking through everything on its way.

“His mother will be worried sick!
Yes, she will! She will be
so worried,” the old women fretted.

It was quite possible
he could not talk yet,

but he had spent the morning writing letters
on his face, and those who
cared to, could

“I have no one to be worried sick
over me.”

The doors opened to let people on
and that’s where I lost him.
Art on Slaveikov Sq.

The wind riffles through
the thin pages of poetry
crowded in the corner of the bookstall.
Some of them are losing their hair – you can see it
through the covers: hair from the right is combed to the left,
hair from the left is combed to the right.
They have raised their roundheads
to demand attention one last time, from behind
the lectern in the empty auditorium. A sigh
can be heard in the microphone,
an awkward laugh,
and a line that gets repeated by everyone
goes from mouth to mouth and straight through
the back of the head, comes out at the throat,
stitching the poets together:

“Life proved so short a day
and once promised so much meaning.”

The young books, disheveled, pile on top of the old ones,
shouting louder, they know just what to say, but they
are as underfed as a bunch of football fans from a sink estate
after losing to the champions.


The cries hit the satellite dishes
and bounce back – the next news bulletin is on.
Life is as important as it ever was. The question is
who breaks the news.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Larger Lullaby

Red Lullaby
(for Andy Croft)

Hush little baby, don’t feel worse,
Momma’s going to buy you a talking horse,
a talking horse that wants to fly
and never tells a single lie.
The horse’s mane is blow-torch white
to keep your crib aflame by night,
the horse’s saddle strawberry red
to match the eyelids on your head,
the horse’s hooves are made of steel
to keep your bedroom cold and real.
And if this truthful horse won’t fly,
we’ll bake its guts in humble pie;
and if this talking beast won’t speak,
we’ll dine on steak for half a week.

Bill's stuff

Approaches to Sofia

So much plaster has fallen from her walls
she feels like lokum or an unpeeled lychee
with its stalk still attached but not to a bush.
Down the side of an apartment block
in yellow visiting letters it says SOFCOM.

Sitting on a stump with her black-clad back
to Vassil Levski Stadium, the art student sketches
a giant upheld submachine gun rising from
beyond the booths and bare trees. The city smells
of rain, both as it is anticipated, and as it falls.

The light switches in the agency hostel are round
like discoloured eyeballs in black sockets.
Old gloss drips across the eyes of disenchanted
journalists. Click them and they sound like big fat drops
on big fat roses, only the drops sound cold.

The Largo’s yellow bricks taste of a dust
that you suspect of being worn-out turmeric.
The space where Zhivkov’s tomb used to be
looks like the bristly disconnected jaw
of Desperate Dan, like a colossal chin.

Lokum—a gelatinous confection, variously flavoured and coloured, and coated with powdered sugar.


A Small Tune

The man honking enthusiastically on the creamy grey sac of skin in Eldon Square, the day before I left for Sofia – the man in the woolly hat who seemed to have a tune he was searching for without ever really being able to find it; the man everyone seemed to avoid, especially small dogs the same colour as the bag of skin – nonetheless seemed to have a small fortune lying in the coat spread out on the pavement before him.

It must be a small tune, to have so few notes in it – half a melody whistled by someone a century back as they performed a small domestic task. Not that hamstring-straining walk back up the mountain in the moonlight, back through the patchy snow, up through his breath to the farmhouse. He was silent for that, listening to the dog making difficult work of the drifts with its short legs. Not that tune full of the things he hadn’t told her in the gloom of her parents’ gate – he never wrote that down. But a small tune for the task of fetching a wooden cup, cracking the dull mirror of ice and dipping in the barrel, a few notes interrupted by the search to separate his face from the moon as the water settled.

I’m walking across a park in Sofia. It’s lunchtime and there are dogs asleep on the grass in the March sunlight. Even the sign hanging half off a bare-branched tree looks sleepy. I’m listening to another bagpipe player who’s sitting on a bench behind me and I’m looking at this huge sculpture like a gantry with tiles dropping off it, commemorating in wings and girders and cloud-gazing figures some event I can’t read. It’s surrounded by the most livid graffiti I can’t read either, and as I walk round it, the tune on the bagpipe is drowned out by music from the cafe in the corner of the park. This music too is being piped in from somewhere else.


Ghost Guests

At the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency we must not disturb
the ghosts of former journalists
who once reported on events
they had not attended, on news
that had not happened, and quoted all the dignitaries
who had not actually spoken.

These ghost guests, who do not sleep above us,
must never be woken by the improvisations
of artists from our two cities
apparently taking place right now,
not even by our clicking Esperanto na billiardski
while they do not watch Juventus.

The staff’s large dogs, which either protect us
from wolves, mafia, owl-shaped assassins, or
prevent us from leaving, lie around all day
while we, guests of a genus
unable to shower or buy Zagorka beer, falteringly
advance the dialogue of nations.


Rotunda of Sveti Georgi

Step down through all the fierce compacting years
into Serdica, the earliest city. It’s like
getting on your knees. Get on your knees
in that sobriety of grandmas and look up –

until the thin bricks swill like noodles round
the red inverted bowl of the Pantocrator,
and the fresco layers separate like cream,
each one partly revealed, partly destroyed.

Bulgarian angels stoop round its rim
and peer out from under Byzantine saints
like the men who squat to buy brandy
through low windows along the side streets.

This is how the holy have always got drunk –
heads mingled, immersed to their waists in feathers.


Victory Lights

My father threw the cigarette packet down the steep green slope of the cliff, and I watched it flutter down to where the red rock drop began.

‘Fetch,’ he commanded, but casually, as though he didn’t really mind whether he saw the packet again or not.I stared after it as it tumbled slowly from rock to rock, the breeze delaying its descent. I had good eyesight in those days and could easily read what it said:

‘Victory Lights. Cigarettes can make you feel a bit unwell or dead.’ I hadn’t noticed that the packets carried warnings before.

I tumbled down the slope, my father muttering, ‘Fetch, fetch,’ like a general ordering his dogs after a bear, but the bear is lost in the trees, its pelt an orangey red that matches the tree-bark, and you can only occasionally catch the white glint of the sunlight reflected in its eyes.

Perhaps it’s a former dancing bear, I thought, as my legs continued pumping. Perhaps it’s remembering the steps of a former dance.

I was almost horizontal now, facing the sea as it broke into white seagulls before me, but none of them had ‘Victory Lights’ written on their wings or backs. I remained so focussed I didn’t realise my shoulders had sprouted wings made out of the thinnest cigarette papers gummed together across a frame of used matchsticks made for me by a dead uncle, so I swooped down on the packet and caught it in one fierce hand before it could touch the waves, and brought it back to my father.

He looked at it a little warily and said, ‘No, I’m giving up.’


Red Lullaby
(for Andy Croft)

Hush little baby, don’t feel worse,
Momma’s going to buy you a talking horse,
a talking horse that wants to fly
and never tells a single lie.
The horse’s mane is blow-torch white
to keep your crib aflame by night,
the horse’s saddle strawberry red
to match the eyelids on your head,
the horse’s hooves are made of steel
to keep your bedroom cold and real.
And if this truthful horse won’t fly,
we’ll bake its guts in humble pie;
and if this talking beast won’t speak,
we’ll dine on steak for half a week.


Gara Thompson

Somebody must have beat Prokopnik up
as badly as Frank Thompson and his troop
of doomed guerillas, left it face down in
the coal dust filling in its mirthless grin
of disused huts and shovellers, though the church
looked new, red-tiled beneath that tall bright ridge
of mountains showing snow through thinning birch.
We bounced across a long thin hopeful bridge
and saw the river and the railway track
entwining as they left, and then the plaque
for Gara Thompson: Communism’s small
tribute upon an empty station’s wall.
What did he leave? A crossless monument
that hoped to know the future’s whole intent.

Then drove around those high containing hills:
limestone that seemed to wall in brief towns called
Sverino still, or ‘beastly’ in his slang,
because the Turks were ambushed there, and hanged
the rebels where they caught them; shrines where monks
found mimic etymologies for all
this rock, since Cherepishki can mean ‘skull’
and ‘little prick’ – as was the fascist drunk
at Litakovo who was told to shoot
Frank with his weekly batches of haidutsi
because he was and could be seen to be a
pratenikia of solidarity.
He left a copy of Catullus, since
we cannot worship where we do not wince.

And so we drove into Lyuti Dol,
the ‘hot ferocious valley’ circled by all
those mountains, followed lumps of snow still lining
the road as through dropped from their truck, and then in
each village saw what seemed to be great torches
of unlit straw in metal baskets topping
telegraph poles: nests for still-absent storks
to bring good fortune back. Till then a slip
of red and white thread’s worn through March, for luck
that he ran out of here, a wristbone crossed
with blood, a martinitsa – string you pluck
to hear how Spring’s vibrating with the lost.
What did he leave? That faith of youth
which struggles for yet never doubts the truth.

And in another bashed-up town, the lane
that bears his name led past a breekless bairn
and up towards the unkempt bottled steps
and rambled gravel where the past is kept, a
bratska mogila by some hilltop firs,
the ‘brothers’ grave’ for partisans who now
are held remote and nameless as dead stars,
regime fall tarnishing his martyr’s crown.
And yet the silence reached that valley’s shroud
of snowcaps, till we hit the Sofia road
and passed those girls who bare their bums and bras,
since what he couldn’t see has come to pass.
He left a thumb-smear coin, since heads or tails
we always know Byzantium must fall.

Haidutsi—brigands, rebels; pratenikia—messenger, emissary; martinitsa—red and white thread worn on the wrist throughout March.


Svetka Petka Samardzhiiska

It’s night-time now in the elder frescos
and the saints have faithfully held their poses
while darkness clusters like granular slush.

They’ve been torn up, scrumpled, and mostly
lost their places in the comic book
that’s plastered in tatters to this strip-brick vault
by the blast of hours passing by default,
until we see their heads tilted in that gloom,
gospels like flails, their features shining
like insects
­and suddenly the entire
squat chapel is the inside of the Bible beetle:
I sit in its camphor belly and stare
at what must be the negatives of its real
markings, since its back could never be
open to those snow-plugged clouds above
Sofia, half-buried in the underpass
among the glassy shops of boklutsi.

Its wingcases are opening in Heaven
with all these panels fully restored:
the saints blink once in that morning
and the bug unfurls its wings,
scaled with all their naked haloes.

Boklutsi—cheap souvenirs, tat.


Music in a Hotel Room

Closing the curtains sounds like tearing the day up.
You look for a language on the TV
you nearly understand,
but give up on game shows.

Room service always makes the bread look sad.
The partly-rehydrated porcini mushroom
dents your only gold filling
and you can’t drink beer in bed.

You listen to Gesualdo on your laptop and for him
it’s still the darkness of Good Friday.
Later, while the snow falls
on the muddy courtyard’s tracks,

you dream about the knife of light
laid on the chill of a church nave,
the dog tongue piazza outside,
and wonder how the knife feels about you,

how the knife feels about your vocal chords?
You open the curtains, and split
the darkness into dawn.
Snow clings to the rooftiles’ tips.


Mirror Writing

I must remember never to talk to myself in the mirror. When I do this something always goes wrong. Pep talks are particularly disastrous. I think this is because I’m not addressing me, I’m addressing my reflection. He gets tremendously confident, and goes about in the mirror world solving social problems.

Because we are joined by the thin wire of our eyesight, all this activity has a negative effect on my world and things go excruciatingly wrong. Like that remark about my nostril hairs.

There’s also the fact that he doesn’t like me. Whenever I catch sight of him in a shop window or the chrome panel of a lift he scowls at me and tries to throw me. By talking to him I’ve revealed too much of my inner world and he hates all those squishy hopes.

Because he knows my plans, he’s always there ahead of me, souring the ground, like that time I turned up at my favourite bar and Dorothy told me I was barred.

‘Why, what did I do?’

‘You know fine what you were up to last night.’

‘But I was in Edinburgh last night.’

I have the same problem with TV programmes. If I watch a football match, the team I support always loses. This is because they hear me shouting and are put off or offended. In the mirror world praise is always condemnation, and softness is always an offensive vulgarity.

I’ve just realised this is what’s wrong with my pep talks. If I’d just abuse my reflection all would go well.

I knew all this when I was a child. My grandmother’s bathroom was lined with black tiles so I could see myself going to the toilet. This meant all the reflections of all the girls at my school could see me going to the toilet too. I would sit down and never say a word.

I was much wiser then, calmer and more sensible.


Sofia City Blues

Eh am like thi toon whaur Eh wiz born,
meh hert is always somewhere whaur it disnae belong;
the demons of thi ages rip ma heid tae rags
and Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags,
Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags.

do you confuse great pop music
with being in love
well, don’t apologise

Eh’m thi less travelled, unravelled man
jist a-waitin fur a slogan in thi New Bedlam
Eh’m thi man ootwith thi language, wi thi slanguage fuhl o baggage
and Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags,
Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags.

do you peel your mind and find
city within city within city?
don’t make a career out of it

They tell me stoap translatin and enjoy thi kitsch
beginning wi thi wife o Doktor Lachnavitch
but anither ladybird jist appeared oan ma pad
she sez Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags,
Eh cairry meh sowel in these three bags.

the bed is sandy
the bed is Sunday
the bed is bad lasagne

tissue remains


Tissue Remains

Too many hands were pressing on
my breastbone and my brow in
the great marble sandwich of the state museum.
We slid like sliced meat about the Thracian room
filled with so much gold as though
Midas had beaten up a rose garden
into this dinner service full of slurring rhyta.
The bas-relief horsemen insisted
on cornering their boars with always
one hand flung out behind them
not clutching a spear but letting the reins stream
through their casually tugging long fingers
which would only take a millennium
to rearrange themselves into
the next door icons’ serpentine blessing machines
of still more hands. But for now
all the faces were Alexander clones
so that was never where my eyes could rest
till the skull-bulb helmets drew us,
their tight-lipped spaces that hold
exact absences, to the case in which
earth-coloured armour propped on perspex shoulders
and shinbones. And the greaves,
that word that’s almost a wound,
had their own card that told us
what survives the centuries’ ceaseless fingers
is less than the step I couldn’t take away:
‘Bronze, traces of leather straps, tissue remains.’

Rhyta (plural of rhyton) – drinking cups with a hole in the point to drink from.


Application for the Post of a Passing Bird

Is reading better than just living?

Is writing better than just reading?

Is translating better than just writing?

Is teaching foreign literature better than just translating it?

Is it better to teach the foreign literature of a previous era than contemporary foreign literature?

Is it better not to teach the foreign literature of a previous era, just to sit alone in your unclear flat, contemplating the writers of that time in the turmoil of their distant city?

Is it better to imagine yourself still in your own city, but at that previous time, far away from the writers of that foreign literature, each facing the murderous dilemma of their lives, and just think about how impossible it would be to translate them?

Is it better to stay in the goose-eyed village where you were born, but at that distant time and not to know the language of those foreign writers, filled with the outrageous energy of despair, working away at the great works you will never read?

Is it better to stay in your unclean room in your father’s house, and imagine a language which will enable you to talk to the girl who sells your mother adulterated bread in the shop you are afraid to go in?

Is it better to write a blotchy book in this language and send it to the executed writers in their far away graves for them to translate?

Or is it better just to translate it yourself into all the languages of the dead?

(As you ponder this last question, a nondescript bird appears briefly at thewindow.

Is it better to be this bird?)


The Bear

We’re not long out of the blue bare dome
of the Banya Bashi mosque, empty except
for some bloke from Luton, when
we meet the bear. Everything had seemed
so familiar till the look on its face.

The Roma on the other end of the chain
plays that little fiddle that stares you down
like the Cretan lyre, and the great bear lifts
one paw as though to rest it on the skull
of one of these someones constantly

passing, each far more naked in
their negligent gaze as one foot shifts
to the beat, and I find I’m staring at
the jaunty red scarf instead of the strap
around its jaws. This bear has

another pattern to obey,
the way the painters in Boyana did,
abandoning the Byzantine style
to fill the barrel of the chapel’s chest
with a crusting flood of cruelties.

Now this flank is skewered by a painted spear
but that eye’s removed by an actual chisel;
the feast of radishes, garlic and defacements
is arranged according to local harmonics
that must mean the lovely flaking Desislava,

the doomed Sebastocrator Kaloyan,
stare at me from the bear’s matt eyeholes:
the whole Second Kingdom is jostled in there
between the Tatars and the Turks.
Clearly the bear is jerking at the end

of the same Ottoman rope as Vassil Levski,
its paw raised in that saluting fist
Frank Thompson raised before Stoyanov’s
firing squad – and then, before I get on
to the communists and their umbrellas,

the fit is past, the bear is back on all fours,
all the fizz of history drains from my brain,
and I can see from its attitude that it
hasn’t taken a step: the entire horo took place
within the singular emptiness that is

my angry skull. So the bear exits, pursued
by me and the Roma and the bearded boy
from Luton and we four sit awhile
in the old mosque reciting prayers
in a further language none of us knows at all.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Strange Vista

…how ‘Confused’ our physical Geography seems
when you look south from Moldova:
our country has no shape (we are slightly to the West), ‘sweaty’ –
a Caucasian province with gigantic memories.
‘Unnoticed in the lefthand corner of sea’ – X.
(scaled high up beyond the Danube and squeezed from Above.)
How different the Grammar sounds in
the suburbs of Kishinev and Kagul
(even more so in the sup:urbs or on the lower banks
of the Dnester) and how strangely we conjugate our verbs,
worrying about (our) History and geology,
eyes staring to the right, Yarzhidva.
(high up, so we can look beyond the Alps)
and then anthropomorphic,
we rediscover our miracled Landschaft –
like pilgrims
around the looking-glass of the Black Sea.
backwards. forwards.

I head south from Moldova,
but my reflections march towards Kiev –
only here do the Dneper and the Danube meet.

Dear friends, this is the poem "Strange Vista". I marked my suggestions with bold.

Off to Crete

Dear Folks,

I'm off to Crete on holiday this morning, hopefully to finish the next book. I'm conscious that this project is very near completion, but can't quite be sent off yet. What's need is some decisions on the changes suggested by Kristin and Vassil to the translations Andy and Mark were working on. When we have these everything can be sent to Claire and to Tony at Arc Publications. So -- one last focus?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sorry about the indents

(I just spent half an hour putting them in, but they didn't publish.)

Here's the first set with your corrections


The Hunter’s Wife

The wife of the man who hunted women
couldn’t bear it and hit the road.
The hunter lost it
let his beard grow.
and the game drifted away, bored.

* * *

must be happy
if He has no

* * *


Every night
to dream of the woman
who lies next to you.

* * *

Eleven Attempts at a Definition


started somewhere
(it doesn’t remember where)
it has to get there
(it’s forgotten where)
and now it just moves


is not the It you’re thinking of
is the absence in the room that makes you
turn around suddenly


is so little with a little i
with soft ears and warm paws
no-one has seen it yet
and this is what proves
it exists


is the flow that makes
the leaf fall from the tree
into a bucket of water

and blurs the sky


is also the stillness
that expands
and the sky clears

between two leaves


there is some connection between
the black beetle and the rose
and this is


is in the dot of the i
or between the i and the t
or it’s the devil knows where

but the Devil doesn’t know


you might think it’s god
but God
has a capital letter


you might say it’s death
but just listen to it
I tasted it once
it was tough and sour
I was puking all night


is elusive and fragile
name it and it dies
catch it and it’s gone
melting into emptiness


(and the most successful attempt)

* * *

Tea with Milk

For T.S. Eliot
il miglior te

How’s it going, she asks. A gentle
English morning, I say. Reading
Eliot, listening to the Beatles. Oh,
she says, how do you mix the two?
Like milk with tea, I say.
Like tea with milk,
she corrects me, after all Eliot
really insisted
on being intense and English.
He would kill for porcelain,
for the evening papers,
for the tinkle of teaspoons. He
was the tea, he was the tea… Those
beetles just lapped up the cream.

* * *

The Love Rabbit

I’ll be back soon, she said,
and left the door open.
It was a special night for us,
a rabbit was simmering on the hob;
she’d chopped onions, sliced carrots
and crushed garlic.
She wasn’t wearing a coat,
she hadn’t put her lipstick on, and
I didn’t ask where she was going.
She’s like that.
She’s never had much sense
of time, late for everything, and that’s all
she said that night,
I’ll be back soon –
she didn’t even close the door.

Six years later
I meet her in the street,
and she seems a little alarmed,
like a woman who’s remembered
she’s left the iron on
or something…

Did you turn off the cooker? she asks.
Not yet, I say,

rabbits are tough.

* * *


Victoria Inn

a third-class hotel on belgrave road
from a gramophone’s horn queen victoria rises
in her first communion dress

blurred by the mirror on the wall
the receptionist lowers her eyes
cashmere-blue under a cool blue light
then she gives a skipping rope to victoria
and reaches for the key to our room

night after night for the last year
£38 for the same thing
a view of the backyard
expensive moans from the rooms above
muesli and plum jam for breakfast
a change of sheets in the morning
but the same blood on the sheets the same nails

if one day we happen to come back at noon
we will find victoria
looking old in her negligee
draped on the sofa listening
to the gramophone music that rises
this time in tubercular phrases wheezing from
the same horn

if this happens you close my eyes
take me carefully down the stairs to our room
lay me on the cold double bed
and kiss my hands
these purple wrists that someone once bound
perhaps with a skipping rope

* * *

The Small Rembrandt

In the mirror
an old
long neglected
charcoal-burning stove
and a sink to the right.

On the grimy black hotplate
three potatoes
two big and one smaller.

It was many years
before the tap ran
with hot water.

My mother’s hands turn
crimson crimson
and clean

among the chill of greasy dishes.

* * *


a transparent man snapped inside her
a sliver of glass broke off
caught within
and wounded her

it was unexpected
love with a faded label and a grubby mouth
it wasn’t fizzy enough
it wasn’t chilled enough
the knickers and bra didn’t rhyme
like those of the legendary typist
in the fire sermon

the translation of
adorno’s aesthetic theory
hadn’t been published yet
so they didn’t know their pain could also be
and non-identical

they also didn’t know
how to push through to where
shared wounds would open
no-one could close

perhaps that’s why out of ignorance
he takes the sliver out with his lips
she falls silent for a time
until the discrepancy heals over

now he is her distant butterfly
and she is his wild yarrow
separated by glass
made from small splinters

he won’t be snapping inside her anymore
she won’t be wounded
although they both bleed
every time visitors come
and read the sign

this is a safe installation
it is not love
and it’s not even art
it is not even art
it is not even art

* * *

Vinea Mea Electa

he was too young
for my thirtysomething years

behind the high walls
I searched for him in the yard
but all I saw was his skin settling
and drying
untouched by the sun

spiders bees and mayflies
ritually spilled their secretions on it
the fig-tree shed deep indecent
and the low-lying creepers choked
the immaculate blossoms
of his stained-glass belly

I told his mother I wanted him

but she said
he was too young
for the wine I was fermenting
among the damp dusty shameful

* * *


The Poet with the Hole in his Middle

Death made him sick. She pushed him
to live too clearly, too
intensely. Sometimes he felt
she was watching him and so
he would preen, speak
enigmatic gibberish in interviews,
secretly puff out his chest and undo the top button of his shirt.
Then he would paint islands to let go.

At the same time she was negligent, forgot
she’d left notes in his desk drawer,
completed his drafts.
In the background to his daydreams
he would often catch her profile – only for a second
of course, and you can never be sure
what you’ve seen – through the palm trees
in the warm shallows of a lagoon,
a thin figure
(like most people, he planted palm trees
in his dreams).

Perhaps she was waving at him.
Maybe she was smiling.
Possibly to herself.
(She just wants to upset me.)

In a fury he would hurl sharp words at her –
some would blot his papers, others
would shatter in his mirror.

His big secret, the empty hole in his chest,
dilated. Alone, shirt unbuttoned,
he would examine it, tentatively tracing the edges,
squint at the unlikely horizon inside,
baffled by how to plug it.
Every lateral solution was sucked away, shrinking
into darkness.

This evening the hole
was in place. Death
poked her head through it.
‘Hi. Want to go for a coffee?’

(So she’s back again.)

‘Yes, let’s.
I take mine black.’

* * *

2002: An Odyssey

There wasn’t a single bloody shop here
and now they’re popping up all over.
The main street for make-up and skincare
is still wrinkled, but it’s got new teeth.
Two streams of people spill out
of trams converging on the Hali Market
and sweep a woman up between them.
For a moment in the scrum one of her eyebrows
points at the bagel kiosk,
the other at Sirius, if it could be seen
through the clouds.
2001 has passed
with no Odyssey,
no small step for man,
no giant leap for mankind.
The dreams of the 60s have long ago
been diluted and bottled
as extra-strength dandruff shampoo
and now we are sad,
and we are happy, because
we want our shampoo.
The shop assistant is stressed out.
‘A top with fish-net sleeves? Yes
we have knitted ones.’

‘Knitted? Don’t
you people watch MTV?’
I burrow among the clothes rails.
I don’t even like MTV
but I can’t resist the last word.

* * *


The Pregnant Officer
(a military mural)

‘Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you angry.’
Aldous Huxley

I no longer have limbs and battles
only a weight in my belly and a thickening in my breast
my legacy is painted walls in the field:
let’s stop before the first.


The army ponderously, unavoidably withdraws –
abandoned in the field wounded soldiers give birth:
that’s how it is
at the end of battles.

That’s why the soldiers armed themselves beforehand
with a mixture of implements and tools:
for music, for sound, for register, for checking off.
To conduct weddings in the field.
They shouldered whole inventories and households.
And went to the front a year ago.
The soldiers, riding their fattened cows,
pricked with spears
the nervy soil and the thick manure.
Already heavy, but in the heat of battle.

40 weeks in the field they laboured, with casualties.
In the midst of battle they erected buildings – to impact the soil,
to leach the difficult clay,
to dry the field like foam.
There are so many resources – and land tucked away,
more than enough.

I no longer have limbs and battles
nothing in the belly, nothing in the breast
I own murals I don’t want.


Abandoned in the field wounded soldiers give birth:
children appear and look for their fathers.
They look – but the field is enormous.
They look – and everyone is a father.

Then here come, very slowly,
the extended families
and the distant relatives –
to lounge around,
to play cards.
Deal out cards and fortunes.

* * *

(a summary of Th:is)

1. The Going to War

Going as a warmonger in eyeglasses
I pick out sacrificial altars within my cattle’s field of vision
and I steer my horse away from the enemy,
with an elaborately chased rifle with many handles
I shield and field behind my hand not my native land but myself.
My enemy is Culture.
I am cunning, heavybutdeft (no mass no movement)
I was raised with ancient skills, a charm against understanding,
against awareness.
I grab, I lob, I sing – I shake my blubber – waving wildly
broadcasting far and wide…

All’s fair in love and war –
I am that which I am not.

2. The Frames before the War

About me as a soldier: most of all I love Frames
and iron;
Keyholes depress me.
When I touch the window handle
I feel my hand as a thing, its wrinkles, even its curves.
For me, touching is deeper than seeing.
And groping for Nails, driving them home, I feel more assembled, Strong.
Look – the edges turn me on, but it’s not a sexual thing,
it’s in the rummaging and gathering:
the edges are time
the shading is place.

But when I caress substance
and seek to extend it, War arrives.
And alters sight and the Bones
with which we see.
The Frames, the frames! All because I am an iconoclast.

3. Conditions for War

From everything up to here and beyond I build my battle:
I splash out my hearing to claim Space (within surfaces
I have no skill for war).
I organise meteorological condi(c)tions instead of
(clipped vowels
should be heard in the middle of the field;
the longer ones further on;
the consonants near me – because every Word is area(l)blast).
I grope so the war becomes the Body of God.
And in Him
the war is simply symbiosis and substitution.
We become one.
We become 1.

4. The Battle in the War

And constant tension:
I shall be tense! Like a tree with limbs… And then
the taut muscles will harden into bone
like fired clay in the stomach of cattle
the eyeballs are bulging with the tension
and protruding they shall see all.
And grinding my teeth, their roots impale my gums…
And my temples implode;
and compress the substance inside.
And my distended skin – with swollen veins and distinct sinews.
And lashless and browless from the tension…

And after protracted strain my muscles will be toxic.
And fingernails are still organic – this really hurts.
Growth really hurts.
At that moment, at that precise moment I love you, my girl, my habit and border.
My culture

5. Reviewing the War

There it is.
When I looked back I saw the Black Sea was solid –
Corpses: so many millions, decomposing giant
bodies, I couldn’t fit them in
the scope of my at:tension –
I strained – and my eyes widened, dilated, protruded;
my pupils stretched painfully and with a swollen eye
I per(re)ceived the bodies –
Everything is organic, this is my East.
And eyes wide, eyes glazed, I laughed out loud.
And for the first time History and Geography shared a common Denominator.
Here it is:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Reply to vbv

If you can post your file, that'd be helpful -- I just strip out the formatting when I try. I've enabled you as an editor, so if you can find a way of inverting the order of posts, please do so (I've looked, and can't). Looks like it puts each new day at the top, then within the day orders consecutively.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


"...with Constantinople almondsand syrupy tishpishtil..."
I checked and I found that correct spelling for the word "tishpishtil" is "tishpishti". I am using it in the poem "Neareast". My grandma always says "tispishtil", but if we are translating the poem we should use tishpishti.

Bill, do you want me to help you with my file?


Monday, June 20, 2005

1st missive from the vampire rabbit

Dear Folks,

Here's the site, and here are your comments:



I agree with the comments of the others. I'm sorry I haven't replied in time. Part of the reason for not replying was that I'm actually very glad with the translations, so I don't have serious comments. The only thing I would like to change is to remove the dedications in two of my poems (Russian Monument and Fairy Lights). Still, I have some problems with the rhythm of Georgi's "Hey,Jude", but I'm not sure we can do much in this direction. I checked Adorno's sites in the Internet and I've found that most probably words in brackets should be "untotal" and "nonidentical". I will check again all the stuff till next Friday, and I will write if I feel the urge of changing / questioning something else.

I hope this finds you well over there! Do you have any plans of when exactly four of you would like to come next year for the translation of your poems, so we can start orrganising things as early as possible?

Very best wishes,




Four small points.

First, Nadya's 'Russian Monument' would read better as 'the ministry of agriculture'.

Second, in Kristin's 'Arts on Slaveikov Square' 'dishevelled' should be 'disheveled'.

Third, what's with the square brackets in Nadya's 'Glass' ?

Fourth, I suggest we put the source of Georgi's faux-epigraphs (Gaustin) in
brackets, so that this information is separated from both epigraph and



I was wondering - if it's not too late to ask - whether one would know that the "magi" and the "prophets" in the poem "Times", Andymark p. 20, are the same people. In Bulgarian it is the almost same thing. If this is not obvious in English, may I suggest instead of "prophets", the
"seers", or "wise men"? And there is an interval on p. 20, between "I take mine black" and "2002: An Odyssey". I am saying it just in case the computer guy is as wise as ours and suddenly decides that both lines are the same.


Vassil (first paragraph refers to the file, which I'll attach as soon as I've worked out how):

I've made some corrections - my suggestions are marked with [red, bold, underline] all together. And my comments are in the balloons... I changed line-brakes and indents in The Caucuses as they are in Bulgarian original. I am not quite sure that "The Caucuses"
sounds in English as it is in Bulgarian. I think it's the most difficult one and I am really
not sure what feeling it produces. But maybe we can leave it like that. You should say that.

I have one question:

Is it possible to add poem "A.". I brought it to Newcastle but we didn`t have enough time to check it. It is short and up to now I have 9 pages. Besides that I think (if we are going to use "A."): it would be clearer that the other poem "V." corresponds with "A." (I have several poems
with alphabet titles). "A." can be at the beginning. And "V." at the end... For example... The real problem is that Boris didn`t translate this poem (though he saw it), and we didn`t work on
it. But if it is ok, I will be glad.