THE POETS' CONGRESS
Hypotheses were assumed,
proofs were furnished,
many old treatises consulted
and after a long dispute,
they arrived at the following
unanimously accepted definition:
A captive breath in a crystal phial,
A comet with hyperborean trajectory,
The herbarium concealed on Mars,
The secret language of autistic children,
A fine crushed Tanagra figurine,
The colophony ghost from old violins,
A white mole enamored into the light,
The cloud that inspired da Vinci,
A teardrop in which blue ships are sinking,
A monologue in a termitarium,
An ivory sphere with runic inscriptions,
An allegory scratched on the eye's angle,
A smile to lead us in a column,
The sadness that we must carry alone,
A collection of time consuming texts,
A prophet, sharing the forgetfulness herb,
A codifying machine with smudged keys,
Breathing through a writing pen,
The orchid, that the maskman dissects,
The fakir from the cow manure castle,
An ever asking, bodyless veil,
A shaky letter under the bengali fire,
A cactus that blooms once in a century,
The dream that we always forget,
A sleepy mountain lake nymph.
The delegated took a deep breath, relieved,
signed off and moved contented
and very slowly in the direction of
railway and bus stations, airports,
taxi stands, ferryports and balloons...
I, the taster of late autumns,
hardly remembering the tobacco flower
spying the shivering hoary lake –
can sometimes hear my heartbeat.
At daybreak – only the lamp
of the old man polishing lenses
and the poet's narrow window
are still tempting the fireflies;
while the rose leans forward,
between verbs, against our engraved
arms; when silence is a swan
that has turned away from dying
and the moon is drying up her wings
like a newborn butterfly. . .
A PSEUDO TREATISE ON NIGHT
I too once had the same obsessin
of writing out a treatise on night,
but her stillness made me shiver.
I would have preferred to listen to her high
laughter, as she sat, under yellow shining lamps,
or carelessly, disrobed of her whispers,
in her old armchair, slowly combing
her long, milk-smelling hair.
Parfumed letters, toffees, odds and ends
were locked-up treasures in her cupboard.
She glanced at me through black veils,
as I painfully begged her once for a word.
Then I left. She remained, as I recall,
beneath the lampshade circle...
I'll never forget, though, the pinned-through butterfly,
those whispers, her hair, and the treatise...
As unreal as silent,
touching your body in the dark
when you cannot sleep,
staring at the invisible ceiling above,
just lying there and waiting – for what?
Maybe you are afraid to dream
again that old dream of yours,
when, a fair-haired child, one summer,
at the seaside, you discovered
that little dolphin in the sand
with a gaping dark wound
in its blue-grey body.
Yet, neither the dreams you'll forget
in the morning,
nor other nightmares
are as bad as that
ON THE RADIO
At midnight, breathless, between two songs,
hearing the pink noises with the premonition
of her voice, a split second before the others.
My ears full of love, the tape recorder
a warm raptor with slow digestion
and never satisfied – the songs never ending,
like her life, a melody consumed just for my own sake.
Yet she doesn't know I'm exiled here in the dark, near
her records, her picture on the loudspeaker,
next to her favourite colour. Take five,
this could be our last date. Maybe
one day I will run off, along a record's
narrow groove, between two evergreens,
(evasion is a real thing – i.e., the dark side of the moon,
through the looking glass, and sing-sing, Alcatraz ...)
At midnight, breathless, between two songs...
Her best one cannot be captured on a canvas,
her finest will never hang in museums –
for Autumn is by far the greatest painter:
the winds over desert or snow,
and flames are her most skilful brushes.
Such an ephemeral picture like a shimmer –
how to capture it, how to keep that haze
or on a dark mirror, or in the purple clouds
over the forest, or on the inside of your eyelids –
views of yellow rocks washed by the sand.
A thin black widow in her eighties,
my moon-eyed grandmother told us
(the circle of kindred spirits and grandchildren
almost jealous of her blindness) about
the most wonderful coloured dreams,
her long, countless, unbelievable visions,
as she grew smaller and smaller,
ordering the pictures of her youth
beneath her forehead, again and again,
smiling girlishly on her white deathbed.
The most wonderful is like memory:
there is no frame to contain that
landscape lasting but one wink or less
LIGHT AND DARK
Don't mourn the vanished sun at night
but love the moon like your first love,
the hoary beam of silver bright
and every trembling star above
let dreams and secrets yet to swell
with every breath and silent sigh
and peace to flood in every cell
like in a hallowed flight on high
don't wail for darkness in the morn,
for light is our dearest guise –
praise the new day if you are lorn
and greet the rainbow in your eyes.
Last night I dreamed a wonderful poem,
with every word and every letter,
but had no pen under my pillow
and by dawn it was all lost.
If I think it over, my nights were rich
in poems, fairy tales and far places,
I always had complicated visions,
especially deep in the fierce winter
which is the most versatile season.
Yet, the clock chimes midnight
and I still wait for a sign from outside,
a livid falling star or a gust of wind,
or maybe an inaudible icy finger
to paint my northern window
blooming the flower of my breath.
When I was young I often dreamed
about flying without wings – I was so easy
like a buzzing maple seed pod
lost from the branch in the thin air.
Now I forget nearly all in the morning,
and sadness stands proof for that.
I am fed up with dead reveries
and so I'm not expecting others for a time.
Those flying dreams are now so far –
I can not dream them anymore...
Let us write a love poem on the latest snow,
before the wind carries our words,
our breath to the northernmost lands.
Let us remove just a bit the cover of the field
so as to spy under the roots of the old oak tree
the rabbit's dream, as he is reliving
his fastest homerun, which left the fox
without her meal again – In his sleep, the rabbit's paws
move quickly underground, in a world that
smells fresh of the month of May
and of green fields strewn by a billion daisies.
Far away, a barking dog – another dream maybe,
and a tune about some Marion or Mary Ann.
Suddenly a rifle goes off over the forest,
over its gentle breezes and crows – Soon
the gray fog will cover our path.
We must return, Love, but mind your step,
keep off the poem's last line –
The inborn haughty to believe
that flowers are so nice for us
and birds are singing just to please
the bored mankind. Death himself
might be persuaded to forget
and file past life – even at last
when the old tree inclines its crown
surrender for the final lightning.
The rainbow, ancient books explain,
for angels is a kind of scarf,
the clouds are signs that we ignore.
But words, the words are just for us,
the secret garden of delight,
a treasure, light to share with all
who are enchanted by the rhyme
and the vibration of the verbs.
Beneath the forehead, on the lips
the Poet's temple grows and grows.
Look – the inkwell reflects my hand
and my hand becomes the word –
as dark as the night and without its own aim, too –
like the hair of my love
like this cup of bitterness
and then I can see through the pages
as through a magnifying glass,
all objects are clear to me,
the globe is transparent too
like a jellyfish – I see a sad landscape
with trembling lines and odd-shaped stones,
with dead trees on the lee-side,
as in a dream
all important dreams are about expeditions,
crimes, or love – the others do not matter,
you can forget all about them
the very moment your eyes open –
re-read only classic dreams, stream-like dreams,
verging on nightmares, long reveries,
those chimerical anthologies
along the endless gangways
of the libraries behind your forehead.
Dan Danila 8/4/2023