Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Our Foreign Tongues
Like an old Hungarian woman pushing
a bicycle down a dirt road
the rain drives the window.
Like a ex-lover dialing your phone number
over and over and over, a call
that you wished you could answer,
and let some silence say something,
that you did love her, that you never
meant to take anything away,
or that you only left because you can’t
stay anywhere long enough.
You can’t take your shoes off,
nor your coat. You can’t come inside
out of the weather. You can’t love
a life that is so clearly unlovely.
If there was a silence strong enough
to say that you never use her recipes,
that no warm meal can offer
sufficient warmth and that you remain
in the rain watching wet grandmothers push
their broken bicycles home,
then you’d say it. You’d say it.
Mezobereny February 17
Maybe it was all the yellow things,
or the years of dirt distorting the view,
but for the first time, I felt
I was on the right side of the window
that we do not exist on accident.
The yellow crumble of old churches.
Sparrows in canary costumes.
In Bekescsaba, woman drag axes
down the street, mangy dogs order
coffee and no one is interested.
Something dramatic happened,
It had to do with yellowness.
Why else would such a serious
steam burn my eyes,
like a lost Saturday in summer?
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I just got the internet installed in my apartment. I’m hoping that this is a good thing. For the past week my hot water turns cold every other day, and friendly bearded men come around to try to fix things, to make the American tourist/teacher/milkman feel milkfed. It’s a rough mustached dark teat that I suckle. I want to offer them something. I point to the wine and they shake their heads. For some reason, I think financial tribute is too cheap.
Fanta might be the best soda in the world. I am feeling sick and it’s the only thing that kicks my clock. The men, my dark portly heroes decline the Fanta as well, probably because it is too tasty to actually drink. It’s like in the Thomas Lux poem Refrigerator 1957, when he doesn’t eat the maraschino cherries, “because you do not eat, which rips your heart with joy.”
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Okay. So there are several silences per second here. The silence of a fabricated Romania. The silence of church bells introducing an abandoned field. The silence of the great nothing sleeping around the corner. So here's a poem about it. I wrote it about Budapest, but the same feeling has lingered everywhere I go in Hungary. I am a drunk American and I am beginning to enjoy the spaces between me and everything I have said and will say.
The Fires of
You can’t see the dark,
light absent, a language unlearned.
as a bee, or an old incandescence
from a forgotten attic, seen through
a window during a hurricane.
There is no word for please, no room
for flippant lips or polished teeth
in our squalid cloudy lives. Yesterday
means tomorrow and tomorrow
is some foreigner’s bad idea.
Finally, when the flood arrives
we will thank our God.
The only serious revolutionaries left
are vigilante cats. Stone Heroes repeat
the same line, something about suffering
and terrible beauty. Petofi was killed
by the right word on the wrong battlefield.
Night and silence are always sinister.
Even the church bells hiss a warning,
“There is nothing at stake here.”
Nothing means everything
and everything is the last thousand years
shackled to our ankles.