Wednesday, December 14, 2005

At night, the other me emerges

How comfortable we can get in life, the rambling Victorian house just bought, the floors you had sanded, the cool professor's job at the nearby college. And then comes the dream of the past (future?) and you know in your soft bed that this is illusion, Kafkaland, and soon, very soon you will be thrust right back into your beginnings, back in there with the kiddies and the old f-ups, starting over, again and again. Dare I come to my lover and tell her of my dream? Did I dream of Bob Dylan? Or was it of somebody else, someone long before Dylan, before LSD and heroin, from whence the best poetry seems to have sprung. The modernist form of poetry is already a hundred and sixty years old. How modern is modernism? Oh those fleurs du mal, those flowers of evil, all those Canadian novels. And T.S. Eliot. And one fantastic Ukrainian poet:

He saw today in his own eye
yesterday's tear

The day after tomorrow in his own eye
He saw again yesterday's tear

and he understood that he will never
be able to wipe it out
and he understood
that this was already the end
he kissed the face of the evening road with his soles
up to the precipice of silence a long time and with great difficulty
he undressed the last phrase nervously
unbuttoning the buttons of words a long time
he was afraid to gaze at his reflection in the note re
and then when he looked he saw no one there
a tree grew in the bell of fright
and placed on his shoulders a whole flock of rooks

That tree
passed very slowly
and when it finally passed
all suddenly saw
a black apple rolled
down a spasmodically frozen line
a black apple is rolling
stopping amidst a field
and a soul of a suicide rides up
on a grey horse of smoke
in order to find the accomplice
to that suicide
and its double stops on the other side of the apple
on a horse of green clay
and the soul turns to him with its accusations

and the double on the other side of the black apple
presents his excuses

then the double tells the soul
its very own accusations

and word by word the soul repeats
the double's very own excuses

and when the double angered
begins to repeat himself
the soul will hide behind a knife

and when the double quadruples himself
the soul will hide behind a candle

And the soul will hide behind a poppy seed
when the double tens himself
and fright exhorts all to wander aimlessly
among the signposts enthusiastically it calls to wander

for already
on that side of the apple
a thousand horses are grazing their green horses

and nowhere to hide
no it's not I not I
perhaps a flower
no it's not I
a green horse
no it's not I not I
and what if it's really a distant flower
that for three hundred years frightened by rumors
of the inquisition
blooms on the wall of the house

perhaps it's the flower that saw in him
the inquisitor and brought him to suicide

it's the flower's eight petals
like eight faces
that appeared to him

it's the fragrance of the flower which flew over
the tingling watery surface of the window
and he saw in the aquarium of his yesterday's tear
a goldfish gasping for air

and around there was no river
no sea lake
or stream was around
only helpless imagination surrounded itself
with uncountable suggestions
for every one of the flower's eight faces
the imagination surrounded itself and staggered
staggered and fell
and never got up and did not come
did not ask--what time
did not ask--why the door opened
did not ask--where they buried the goldfish
the sun or on the moon
and it is very frightening then there's inquisition
when one cannot remember the voice
and cannot forget the face
when for a very long time no one comes

and later still she come
and with a very accomplice body
and very accomplice lips
as as if calling the far wind
she calls herself



and the echo answers
and calls here lonely
as if a lonesome woman
she calls herself

and commits suicide
Where West is a corner of the world
where grass is dream-grass
where today is all the special and the ordinary
days in the world
the shore of loneliness is too white
and the night too passing
and the road flows without the slightest splash

it means to by-pass
to by-pass one's own body
to by-pass one's own children
and then to bypass all the nights of the world
and then the cross
on one's grave
and all this so simply as strangers by-pass
one another in the street
as the hand by-passes
the uncountable number of raindrops

means to become an accomplice
indeed even to give birth to a joking gesture
there's no illusion here
but plain belonging
even if one were only to listen to
how the sand whispers in the palms
even if one were only to look into
the green eyes of chlorophyll
even the white butterfly of lilies
on the water
the rings of blue water
the disappearing green rings
even then
no one

and what if really suddenly nowhere
and what if really suddenly no one
and what if really suddenly never
and only we
emphatically existing
are frightened above all else inthe world
of our own inexistence

we believe that everything some day
we believe that everything some where
and our body and our souls
and give us this day

it's a door opening a door which really is
it's one of us coming and saying that
he saw today things beyond the visibility of things
and that he sees a body beyond the visibility of our
body and that very wittily we play at being alive
(but a wall knows a wall more wittily than we)
and a thousand visible tigers frighten us less than one invisible star even though it is the star that
we lack far in front in order to go to it
even though it is the star we lack far behind
in order to return to it

after a while one of us runs to ascertain if
there is still a wall and then all of us together run
each to his wall and zealously we draw up any one
of the visible stars and we also draw a road to it
past a huge white ant hill through nine violins
to the horizon and then further up the path of lightning

and having finished we hurry to fill up the space between
our walls completely with building grass ourselves
stones water chickens so that no one settle there
invisible or different from us

you curse are a ship
but we are not a harbour
and our parallel smiles
will never twist
into an angry grimace
we are much too good
and all that's left for you
is to fall dead
across our endless
parallel smiles
even if you're a ship
even if you're leaves

comes there he will not find himself there
and he will be surprised and he will call fortrh
why am I not here?
I remember ver;y well
that I am to be precisely here
why is there some house standing here?
why is there some bird flying here?
I remember very well
that I am to be here precisely here

someone will come who is very good
and another who is even better
and another who is really good
and thrice they will carry around the
one who came
his very own dead curse
so that he believe
that he himself
is not there

but he will not believe
then they will lead around him
nine times
the gray horse of smoke
on which for a long time
the rider of his soul has not ridden

but he will not believe
and his body will come

has been forced outside the area of the mouth
and the teeth have been firmly shut so that it
cannot return and the string has been closed into a black
case so the string will not call the curse back home

the curse
taught to simulate
a ship
the apple of paradise
and the titmouse

the curse
taught to simulate everything simultaneously
and each seprately and equipped to search
for the accomlice to the suicide

which is under some tree
which is by some door
which is over some eye

only very long parallel smiles
only a large paper flower
only a small toy rifle

the shores do not run to overtake the escaping water
the eyebrows do not run to overtake the escaping eyes
the road flows through the window up to an icon
and the smoke over the burned out ruins
stands on its knees

the shores do not run to evertake the escaping water
the eyebrows do not run to overtake the escaping eyes
and the road flows through the window up to an icon
and the smoke over the burned out ruins

you curse are a curse
but we are not ears
you curse are a tree
but we are not leaves

and it will search its own traces
and will run perplexed
around the house
and all will want to raze it
not having found any trace of itself
it will want to catch the bird
and pluck its feathers

but the body will bypass the house
the body will bypass the bird
and it will cry helplessly in the shade of a tree
and a flaming cloud will pass by it
and a hand that gives a penny will pass by it
and a hand that takes a penny will pass by it
and the city soviet of workers' deputies will pass by it
and will chase there a whole
swarm of suicides
suspected of something alive
they will sit on the grass
around his body
around the body
around the tree
around the house
around the bird
and for a long time rthey will talk about how only
the suspicion of living does not allow them to leave
this earth but also does not allow them to resurrect
themselves and forces them to be intentinally living
right here
around the body
around the house
around the tree
around the bird

and behind each one will sit ashes
they will listen how the water learns to cry
not yet having learned to be salty
someone will speak consoling words
someone will rock a poppy seed
and will send it rolling over the floor
all will be afraid of its frightening rumbling
all will say
it's a thousand stars coming
all will say
its a thousand women coming
all will say
it's a thousand flowers coming
and behind each one will sit ashes
but someone invisible will suddenly say

all will turn their heads back
everyone will want to see behind him a fire
everyone saw behind him ashes
someone will suggest to halt the debates
but the invisible one will again say
all will slowly turn their heads back
not to frighten the one who's behind
all will suddenly see on the far shore a star
which they never saw before
all will start waiting for the timy boat of the nightingale
that is to take them to that shore
the waves on the sea of black pepper
turn yellow and calm
the knotty bottom will regain sight
and someone invisible will again say

all will slowly turn their heads back
any minute now
they are to see
behind themselves

--Translated by Danylo H. Struk


H.E.Eigler said...

Hey Ivan - that was quite the poem. Thanks for sharing it!

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Thanks so much.
I had concerns the site was getting too arty.
Guess not.
You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Ivan, my learned and ever entertaining webhost, enough with the poetry. Have you noticed that there is a Federal Election going on? Don't wanna be playing poetry on our fiddle whilst the Liberal's Rome is falling, do we?

Don't get me wrong, your poetry lends a bit a class to the site, but now is the time to come to the aid of...and all that. Come on, old warhorse, let's foster some insightful debate, make some pithy, (or pissy) comments, rise to the occasion, and all that. This should be a time to celebrate the beginning of the end for some, and a warm wind of change over the land.

Yeah right, nowadays, sometimes I feel my love affair with Canada is like the time in a marriage when you know that it isn't worth saving. (who hasn't been THERE, and done that?) Is the old girl decayed on the inside after years on one-party, anything goes rule? Of late, I almost agree with les Habitants that it is better that regions go their own way, and call it a day.

Somebody missed the chance of a lifetime not writing an analytical book about the way Canada has been governed, and the real state of the nation. Since the last election and now, I think of this time as the "Phoney War", to use the Brit spelling.

Ivan, you referred to me as a "cynic". Fair cop, guv'. It fits. When I landed on these fair shores, lo these many years ago, I was a young, idealistic Romantic. Maybe it is a rite of passage, getting cynical. Maybe it is a result of seeing things without rose-colored glasses. (Good thing I was a reader of Orwell)

I throw down the gauntlet; a readable volume for Joe and Mary Sixpack is long overdue. The time is right. I had a meeting with myself, and unanimously agree that the Liberal blight must be erased. The Conservatives have to be the solution right now. I have very, very wary of banding with any political group. Once, when Square One had a second floor walkway overlooking an open courtyard, I was faced with an oncoming entourage surrounding Robert Stanfield. He walked up to me and shook my hand. After all, it was election time, the time when pols shake the hands of citizens, not choke them or wish them fuddle-duddle. Another time, Dominion Day in a Bramalea park, a gaggle of black cars arrived, and Brian Mulroney, his chin leading, advanced upon me to press the flesh. My impression: both guys had very soft hands.

So, to end this ramble or rant, I would like to see one of my must-read blogs do some hard-hitting journalism.

Over to you, Ivan.


ps. Ms Eigler's photo proves that not all of your readers are Old Farts like me and thee

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Doubting Thomas:
When I okayed your query about commenting here at some length, I didn't know what to expect. I suspected you may be from North of England, to wit,a Liverpool toughness to life: "Went to Flossie's funeral--we had a good laugh!"--that sort of thing...and your cou rouge pose in an email,
"gonna lay some industrial strength Whupass on you."
So there was a sourness to my mood.
"Don't hang around with anybody who hasn't finished Grade l2," I was muttering to myself. High school dropouts are bitter and manipulative, that sort of thing.
But no.
What I got was some pretty good writin' and I certainly would encourage you to keep it up.
I guess it's the age thing, but we have a lot in common. I too met Mr. Stanfield and found him a total gentleman, the kind of guy you'd like as a neigbour, a real down-easterner who tells the truth without offending and has a genuine interest in you to begin with. He really cared. You wanted to tell him all your secrets. The more I thought about it, Stanfield really was the man.
Then Dief in all his haloed glory
and a really impressive Frenchman named Rene Levesque. Got to meet some of his family. All the Levesques are like that: They care.
Not only about their own cause, but about you. And they smoke, which makes them that much more like fun people.
You are right about the Liberals.
They have to go. At the start, Mr. Chretien was consumer-friendly and a fun guy too, but something happened, as it happens to all of us when we get close to real money--
Start to tamper with one of the seven deadly sins. Myself, I am often given to gluttony,and, face it, lust, but greed seems to be especially rampant with the Martin Liberals.
...I don't get it. Doesn't the man have enough money, enough real power? Always the lust for more.
And all the goddam political correctness, as if being gay was somehow equated with piety and the obtuseness to quote the Charter without the insight to sense that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms stands democracy on its head. Rule by the decision of the minority and not the majority. How did this happen? I was told by one of my profs at Trinity that Plato was the first Communist with his
Republic. The Prof was English, and they can be that way, but democracy is older than even Greek philosophy and therefore carries more profound philosophical weight.
The rest is probably just an attack on women and love itself, though I wince at the bit in the Symposium where Socrates makes himself "pretty for a pretty man."
That is not to say that I am hompophobic, it's just that heterophobia has somehow been ensconced in what passes for our constitution. News for my fellow Canadians: We have no constitution, and that's the trouble with this country.
It is something of an oxymoron to have a literary manque like me to be on the Right --but I maintain that any kind of artist has some culture to him or her; the writer is a carrier of culture and if his culture has gone the way of the dope fiend, the criminal and the dandy, something is seriously wrong. Expecially if all this is enshrined in law.
Earlier, I had you somewhat miscast as an Englishman. I know you are Irish and your use of language shows it.
We've got to get our Irish up and throw the fools and fops out.
Even the Commie Danes have had a second look at their country.
Except for some GNP porn still around, they're not too liberal anymore. And that's a bellwether.