Victor Kulle (trans. James Manteith)


Published in: 06. Metaphor

* * *
I will never become the last tear that you weep
or a cylinder smoked into litter —
because craziness leaves me unable to cope,
because blindness has stricken the paper.
On the way from inanity into a farce
which barbarous hearing has worsened,
leaving staggering fathoms, words float from the dark,
proudly strutting with belly seams bursting.
And at first there is something that feels like an itch —
after that (for just ten silver florins)
comes gold reparation of ancient reproach
and gold independence from new ones.
But you, as a witness who saw from the side
clean penmanship’s shaping by agony,
lack eyes to know paper so terribly white,
lack cheeks to give touch reciprocity.
* * *
Fifteen years, unwinding in reverse,
won’t satisfy this longing for an answer:
why do you need all this? The asking bitter.
True, I myself can take no other course
than I have. But rain has come once more,
the cigarette keeps weakening its fire —
like in those poems that I later felt
ashamed of, but can’t make myself destroy.
You saw something in them, and that may be
the only grounds there are for the result —
this foundering again in the sixth circle,
still hoping to amass a final meaning.
I remember wooden beads strung in a necklace,
and the subway exit in July,
when I kept vigil for you ceaselessly,
already looking forward to the taste —
yet better not to mention that. Alas,
we scared each other then, I fear, away.
Direct speech is ridiculous — for one,
because of inescapable,
slow-forming habits of new roles.
With words, your circle of defense Is drawn,
you try to break through — in the next life on —
to leave yourself exposed to real pain’s jolt.
The new address you gave me, near the bridge,
no longer seems to promise repetition.
It’s easier for me to write a poem
than feel my lips on your lips’ edge
again. So there must have been some sense
in passing all the way to reverence from passion.

Speak Your Mind