Blesok no. 74, September-October, 2010

Say Goodbye to Poetry

Ivan Kolenič

She told me she loved me as a verse-creating object, as something with an enormous shaggy tail, something absurdly spectacular and at the same time hopelessly primitive, old-fashioned, prehistoric; I love you as a most magnificently versifying object, Klárika would murmur through kiss-curved lips before everyone had fallen asleep and let nothingness alight upon the earth, till then unended, I love you as an object of poetry, as a swarm of animate corpuscles, as a race of irredeemable tramps …, while all were not yet sleeping Klárika was in her element, she raved into the blue sky like a crossed-out conscience, she spat out her ice-cream over bastards and roared laughing, she did handstands and cartwheels, she stripped off her T-shirt in the public squares, ripping the hearts out of old men, she was splendid and beautiful, she would dream with open eyes of inaugurating the reign of folly, then immediately fall into gloom and vicious cursing – the chaff to death, the cornucopia for life! She wanted to try out everything that’s been said about poetic madness, she wanted to be like a poet, like his celebrated bowel, long and sparkling, she craved to drink herself dumb and deranged, as only poets do when they’re in form and don’t know the meaning of stop, she craved to make poetry with me, to let drip from her tongue the slaver of verses and questionnaires, the self-interrogation that means unbounded misery; she was resolved to fantasise, to call upon the light, radiance, marvels, the foreign legion of solitariness, she wanted everything, a shock, a kiss, a blown-up condom that goes bzz when you let it go, she wanted everything, everything, she made love with me to exhaustion, to the last drop of sweat and blood – everywhere, anywhere, always and anyhow, in all the positions, above, below, tenderly, brutally as a monster, or fragile as a mollusc, oh come on, come, poet of mine, I adore your clumsiness, your smell, come bite the maybugs off my nipples, I’m all on fire and I want it very very much, give me him here, that upright ostrogoth, with his jerks and his rattles! Watered with lorryloads of champagne, she would show me her breasts browned by the May sun, flinging them up at me to unhinge and inflame me on a railway platform, in government buildings, in a cage at the Zoo, she laughed at vulgar laddish jokes, guffawing throatily, hoarse as an old yarn-spinner, everything in her was noble because she was burning with love, tenderness, and ill-concealed public suicide, everything around her was real, the genuine article, solid, suggestive to the point of dogmatism – being things that cannot be handled delicately, fortune-telling, killing, winking, choking, the abounding pressure of feelings, black to the pitch of lunacy. And suddenly something would fly through her little head and she’d be lost in brooding, she’d sink in a silence beneath her level, like an aesthete in a sunspot; she’d be hushed, submerged in the enchanting centres of her transient existence, in her grave – and I knew that she was thinking of the spiders, the flies, the worm that no one could love, it lashed her like a whip, she was sainted forever and ever, with eyes swollen from dissipation, bardically, poetically, lyrically, a famous poem in prose, a strophe, a spondee, an embracing rhyme … and suddenly up she jumped again, flung out those first-class legs and launched into some gurriers’ ballad, screeching full-throated like a castaway, she sucked the sap of life through every pore of her flawless skin, through every little aperture of her body: secretions of euphoria through her nose, the cheering of scatter-brained angels through her ears, anticipated misfortune through her vagina, when the bus inspector was coming she thrust lighted cigarettes into her pockets, she flung about dog-eared banknotes, she swigged stout from the bottle like a dipso, she bought half-pints of vodka and poured it in transports of feeling behind her collar, she gripped me powerfully by the hand till it took my breath away, and whispered that she loved me, she loved me catastrophically … I love you, poet of mine, it’s beautiful with you, everything with you is about love and frightful suffering!
    She’d hit the nail on the head. Because the poet is an inexplicably mysterious creature, delicately concealed, the poet is a being without time and space, the angels of blasphemy are roving in his veins and craning out as far as his devil’s hooves, hence the poet is an oddity of creation, eccentric, non-stereotypical, an etheral, astrophysical, jaded figure, he hides within himself armies of woe and dreadful pain, which are all the time exploding in his heart like summer storms, and simultaneously he despatches into the world regiments of unlimited bliss, the poet is scorned, spat upon, buried underground, made a saint of, chopped in little bits, he’s an instinctive predator, hated and loved, hating and loving, och! how a poet can love: like a snotty-nosed whiner, like a spectre out of nonsense, the poet will muddy himself from head to toe with faith in agapé, and afterwards from unhappy love he’ll turn on the gas or slit his veins, vulture-vulture, everywhere of a sudden there’s an awful lot of blood, blood, real blood, it’s flowing into the neighbours’ place, what has that madman done again? His daisy-flower has left him and he’s making an ass of himself, his black blood is everywhere, it soaks through the ceiling, drips from the tap, a bloody rain, a rain of blood, the love-struck lunatic – and afterwards the poet with his shredded veins hotfoots it through the entire town, going somewhere away to blazes, to knock on the doors of madhouses, aha, look what I’ve done to myself!
    The poet is a pariah, a man-miasma, a blow-in, he is a conjuror, a perfidious disarranger of a reality which doesn’t matter a fart to him, a sensualist, a shaker-about of beauty and stolen diamonds, a toper, a layabout, a solitary nature, a name-dropper, a bed-hopper, a lick-arse, an obscene plagiarist of everything that moves … The poet is beggary, fulminated a functionary of government, all his life long he doesn’t have the price of a crust of bread, and so he scrapes through life by whatever means, unscrupulously, in any way he can, for a while he’ll be digging trenches down to the mains, the pipelines, labouring with his hands like a man, then suddenly he’ll down tools and jack it all in and start lying about under the naked clouds, just like that, like a beast from the circus, like an old broken-down jade, motionless and echoless the poet can endure whole hours lying gaping at the rainclouds and picturing the stupendous jewels of a devil’s paradise, the poet cultivates in himself the sweetest melancholy of humanism and humanity, the embracing, the licking all over; like a zany he would be happier if he could give himself all away, he would like best to share out all his molecules, not keeping back as much as a scrap of chewed shell or a tuft of hair or a gill … the poet with the whole of his leaping heart stands for love, for love that swallows up all, for eternity on the heights and after death, and at the decease of his most holy spirit everything will fly into the air, boom, bang!

The poet is a complicated gadget, driven by alcohol, he never manages to put himself in order, he doesn’t have a gene in him for behaving according to norms, he flees when he should stay, and when all are showing their heels, when they leg it away, he sticks out in that one particular spot, he remains in order to come through it, to make trial of the kick in the balls, the poet is the enormous energy of the revolution of feelings, he’s an alligator that’ll bite off your head and drag it away to his lair, he’ll gobble you up if he doesn’t like you; watch out for the poet, avoid those dreamy eyes that devour curved space; the poet is a frightful fantasist, his spinal cord is the croaking river of poetry, and the poet too must be spiritually somewhat deranged, because his heart is tensed like a string through the whole universe, through all the universes, through all the worlds of vanity, he can be unpleasantly quarrelsome too when they don’t want to pour him any more drink and they throw him out into the freezing winter midnight, because he has managed to insult everybody atrociously, shooting his mouth off, butting in on everything and fighting with each and all: miserable swine you are, without love and without a soul! And so the poet cajoles and suffers and knows enormous distress, everything can throw the poet off balance, everything, every crumb, false step, whine, unsuccessful erection, parting, funeral, birth, stammer, he walks with light from his head to his toes, to the dirt under his toenails, and the poet would desperately love to bestow that blissful warming light upon all those wretches whom life is bearing onwards to alleluia … No one can become a poet, the poet is born from his mother’s side, not from her loins, lest he be defiled at the very moment of birth. He cannot help it …
    There are many rascally chancers who would like to function as poets, presumptuously elegant, impertinently winking, and indeed there are some who after horrendous drudgery manage to grind out a few plip-plopping rhymelets, a few music-box jingles, sweat-sodden, tedious and shrivelled, but the poet looks with amazement at these crying-to-heaven wastrels, he wipes his boots on them and marvels that someone should voluntarily labour and strive to clamber to the skyscraper heights of damnation of those who were born poets – the real poet, that is to say, for most of his life does nothing, he only makes poetry and he dreams of Spring in the heart, of light bulbs, grass-snakes, divinities, the poet understands and he betrays nothing, he cannot, he must not betray the secret of his insane predecessors, this treachery would break his neck, tatterdemalion and dandy that he is in a single robe, locust, parasite, borrowing heaps of petty banknotes that he never returns. The poet sleeps wherever he can, with fat-bottomed sweethearts as long as they don’t throw him out, with anorexic sluts who immediately see through him, because in his drunken state he is uncontrolled and distempered, with casual buddies till they’re fed up to the back teeth with him, because when his tongue loosens it’s bye-bye to the haloes, all night long he tenderly dissects the world, uncovers its sharp-edged mysteries and obscurities as far as the dawn of the saints, as far as greasy sin, as far as God! At that moment someone grips the poet by the collar and dashes him to the ground, and gives him a boot in the frogs and the reptiles; for who ever heard the like, that some fellow took the liberty to wipe his snout on God’s arse just like that …
    And so the poet keeps moving from place to place, he becomes a vagrant without a halting-place, a pilgrim, a seeker, a discoverer, a celebrity among thieves, when the fancy takes him he’ll sweep words from his sleeve, enough for a handful of delicious verses, disarming in their perfection, words that glow with childish impudence, with impetuous finality: stem of a bellows, current of the vowel Y, the poet is a terror, he respects nothing, not even himself, he was born of impulse, he is the prayed-for angel of the world, the mothers of poets always used to chirrup before the altars: Grant, o lord, that his bowel may be longer than ours; painful and pain-dispelling, a demon, a vampire, a beast at suck, the best advice is: stay away from the poet, or you’ll spend a few centuries raving in fevers! To the poet nothing counts except love, and when the supply of it is failing – on account of a crooked smile – he begins to wheedle and force himself, a little verse, please, radiance, tapping upon the forehead, there you are, no charge, the poet is a deceit, an intoxication, the poet maybe does not even exist, he is only a nostalgic legend of euthanasia, a myth dragged by the hair, a starchy fiction, a tale of a very strange wandering minstrel who danced in puddles, promised peace, sang and laughed. This most beautiful species of animal is marked out for extinction, one can find him only at the cost of stupid repulses – and despite this no one can say that he has rubbed up against a real poet … for the plural of the planet the real poet is only a spectral shadow, who never was, is not and never will be merely a ridiculous dreamer among baneful realities.
    On account of these charming and witty excesses the world began viciously to hate all poets, all those bearers of light, and it resolved to eradicate that mournful nation of pilgrims, shoot them, hang them, castrate them! Not too long ago, only a few years back, in the most magnificent boulevards of the noblest cities, in the outer suburbs and flowering meadows some of those exceptional spirits still wandered, the last of the poets, servants of their laughing lord, they dug for roses and knelt down before flower-stalks, they splashed in the fountains facing the palaces, they swallowed the sky in full draughts and lived life to the dregs, they were spectacular people, extraordinary, precious, a look into their eyes cured every plague and sorrow, there was so much love and wisdom in their pupils, so much tenderness and courtesy, they were not tyrants over conscience, they did not sanction any punishment, because they themselves lived in the spheres of impunity, in the oasis of harmony, they understood the usurping loves of women and the brutal rapacity of men, they comprehended with all their being something enormous, gigantic, intangible, changeless, something that can’t be caught hold of like a bone – they were hopelessly beautiful prophets, the amber of the universe, they went about gathering stains in ragged jeans, all holes and hanging threads, spots and butter-smears on their threadbare T-shirts, their hair fell to their shoulders, but the tresses which they bound against the malicious wind they would tie only with a rope of genuine pearls, they trudged through the valley of tears with bells attached to their boots, calling all true believers to hear odes to beauty and happiness, to the stupendousness of splendour, they attributed a divine character and form to worldly notions, and they innocently smoked their strong tobacco!
    Afterwards people forgot that even a hundred raspy-voiced devils in whom they attempted to see the light would have had an effect on them of pure and unmixed bliss, they put on their black coats and almost managed to eradicate all those poetic bowels, they mocked the ridiculous vagrants, insulted them, spat on them, threatened them with hammers and sickles, bullied the people of poetry with the stinking snout of vengeance; nobody any longer wanted to hear that the one thing that might possibly count in this lousy world is the heart, the red sacred bomb of the heart, simple souls were revolted at having to feed that insatiable breed, they assaulted them, kicked them, stole their pearls and drove them from the cities to the rubbish dumps and the sewers, with the guffaws of madmen they burnt all the famous poetic almanacs and poems, sanctified by the undying splendour of freedom, and under threat of the cruellest punishment they made the peoples swear to shun and avoid the rhymers. To offer a poet even a grain of corn meant condemning oneself to an ignominious death by starvation.

Translated by John Minahane

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