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.