Friday 31 October 2008

Thursday 30 October 2008

revenge of a mortal hand

Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

Wislawa Szymborska (from The Joy of Writing)

Note: I chose this quote in response to Kubla's comment on my previous post, in which he argues that writing doesn't get us anywhere and wonders why we keep on writing anyway. I have mixed feelings about this poem, I like the first part but not the ending, I don't know about the revenge of a mortal hand, even if I understand that this can be a motivation for many. I don't think there is a time we can bind with chains of signs. No time can be bound, there is no 'next time', we can never begin again. Still, it is a poet's answer and maybe when the words desert us, we should always turn to those voices which resound in our hearts.
and I don't believe in the joy of writing either, but then I am not a writer. nevertheless, I believe in the joy of photographing. no, maybe I am wrong: when the words desert us, we should turn to images and sounds and most of all, to gestures. the tenderness and yet ambiguity of a mortal hand.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

on the essence of writing

nu trebuie să povesteşti în poezie-am citit
un sfat către un tânăr poet-deci să nu povestesc
cum,foarte devreme, ea se scula dimineaţa,şi aşezându-se pe pat
aştepta să i se liniştească respiraţia,cu faţa în mâini-
să nu spun nimic despre chipul ei atâta de obosit
încât i se încovoiau umerii,în faţa oglinzii,când
se pieptăna încet.să nu-mi mărturisesc spaimele
lângă faţa ei înstrăinată,întoarsă de la mine.
să nu umblu cu versuri,ca şi cu oglinda în mâini
în care se răsfrâng acele dimineţi cu lumina cenuşie
dinainte de zori.poezia nu trebuie să fie reprezentare,
serie de imagini-aşa scrie.poezia
trebuie să fie vorbire interioară.adică
tot eu să vorbesc despre faţa ei înecându-se,căutându-şi
respiraţia?însă atunci ar fi numai felul în care eu vorbesc
despre faţa ei,despre mişcările încetinite prin straturi
de remuşcări tulburi,de gânduri doar ale mele,
ale imaginii ei-ar fi numai un chip,o imagine-
şi ea-adevărata ei fiinţă?

Mircea Ivănescu (Poezia e altceva?)

You must not narrate in poetry - I once read
this piece of advice to a young poet - so I must not narrate
how, very early, she would get up in the morning,
and sit down on the bed,
and wait for her breath to be still, her face in her hands -
I must tell nothing of her face so tired
that her shoulders bent, in front of the mirror,
as she combed herself slowly. I must not confess my fears
to her estranged face, turned away from me.
I must not use verses, as I do the mirror
reflecting those mornings with the grey light
before dawn. Poetry must not be representation,
a series of images - so it is written. Poetry
must be inward talk. Now is it me
who should speak about her face choking, struggling
for breath? Then it would only be the way in which I speak
about her face, about the gestures slowed down through layers
of blurred remorses, of thoughts all mine,
of her image - it would be just a likeness, an image -
and she - her true self then?

(Is Poetry Something Else?, tr. Dan Duţescu)

[dedicated to all the poets who read my blog]

Tuesday 28 October 2008

lost dialogue

'Are you hungry?'


'Are you cold?'


'Are you ill?'


'Are you alive?'

'I don't know anymore'

Suddenly he opens his arms and she leaps into his heart.

Sunday 26 October 2008

warming her pearls

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening
when I´ll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.

She´s beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit´s foot,
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head.... Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way

she always does.... And I lie here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.

Carol Ann Duffy (Warming Her Pearls)

Thursday 23 October 2008

in this slow, sad october of gold

I am lost
the gold dripping off your fingers

the useless gold

making my hair heavy

too heavy for this life

the gold dripping off your feet

the weary gold

making my breasts heavy

too heavy for this death

all that gold
I used to be the gentian

growing out of your footstep

light and soft

I used to be

I turned into gold

that tired gold
all that gold

heavy gold

that you don't need

I am lost

das unmögliche Warten auf die Versicherung in einem Satz, die nicht von dieser Welt ist

... [ich] höre nicht auf, Ivan, der noch eine Viertelstunde schlafen darf, im Halbdunkel anzusehen, zu hoffen, zu betteln und zu meinen, einen Satz gehört zu haben, der nicht nur von der Müdigkeit gekommen ist, einen Satz, der mich versichert in der Welt ... aber da Ivan mich nicht liebt, mich auch nicht braucht, warum sollte er mich eines Tages lieben oder brauchen? Er sieht nur mein glatter werdendes Gesicht und freut sich, wenn er mich zum Lachen bringt, und er wird mir wieder erklären, dass wir gegen alles versichert sind, wie unsere Autos, gegen die Erdbeben und die Hurrikane, gegen die Diebstähle und die Unfälle, gegen die Feuerbrünste und gegen den Hagel, aber ich bin versichert in einem Satz und in sonst nichts. Die Welt kennt keine Versicherung fuer mich.

Ingeborg Bachmann (Malina)

for a, who humbled me by saying that my writing reminds her of Ingeborg's.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

and look at me now

I entered into him as into a rose garden. Young and spoiled, fluttering my black tides, my hair undone, my dance unfolding into the evening maze which was his. Easy the way out, I thought back then, I will teach the garden to surrender, the thorns to be soft on my thighs, the scents to need me, the time to be good and behave. And look at me, look at me now, after so many years, you who sit out there at your small tables and eat your dinners and make love to your wives and put your children to bed, all that quiet breathing in and out of 'life', or what you have decided to call as such. Barely alive, my dance folded back into the evening maze which is still his, I wait for the garden to let me out, I beg the time to 'resume his course', or what you have decided that time usually does.

There is no such thing as a merciful rose, I have learned, I who had thought to be the teacher, the imperial sister, the courtesan with the cruelest smile. He forgets that I am still there, I am sure of it. Only at times, when he talks matter-of-factly about the autumn of his soul and nobody can make out if he is serious or not, as it often happens, I wonder if he doesn't mean me.

Friday 17 October 2008

tobacco stained, bloodied

i want to take this poem
on a long train journey
through old countries
and foreign stations
i want to forget it
so that it can find
its way back to me
dog eared and tattered
i want to hear it
wheezed in other languages
tobacco stained, bloodied
a survivor’s tale

i want to bring this poem to you
open it out in some bar or café
where you can see it sunlit
lined and underlined
road-worn, used
and there we will hear the poem
in each others’ mouths
and there we will begin
to talk, to see, to know

swiss (it was living)

Saturday 11 October 2008

neither living nor dead

Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, 
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,                                   
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

Eliot (The Waste Land)

her flesh opened up, her mutiny futile.
the rose is not.

what are you doing to me, she says.

the floating. the dark thorns of dreams.

The rose that shouldn't be 
longs to become.

Thursday 9 October 2008

And the night flowed back into the rose.

And she flowed back into the soft curve of her death.