Blesok no. 82, January-February, 2012
Poetry


Surviving
Translated by Dragana Velkovska
From "Надживување / Surviving", Blesok, 2012.

Bogomil Gjuzel



To Be or Not To Be


‘… the crime of being’
Jacque Lacan
[1]

Why is the seed still hidden?
Why is it uncoiled this spring too?
Is it dead or its time is still forbidden
to sprout and to bloom?

God forbid it should grow in ill times –
unless it has to, triggered by the germ
so that it would not dry or petrify
at least then it can testify

before being put in a bag
for everyone’s seasonal use
and then planted in lined up beds
to be trimmed for decorations fitted…

Do the children dream about flowers
whose names they cannot yet know,
just like maybe even Adam dreamt of them
before he could see or give a name to each one?

Or does that come in our dreams on its own
as it was once in Paradise
before we wake up
and substantiate in the Demise?

Are we substantiating or not –
is the substance somewhere else?
The choice is someone else’s, the gene’s?
It is ours to dovetail with the dreams.




The Tale of the Dragon and the Rogue


In our garden some dragon started dancing again
his vest shining with artificial spangles

blinding us with the countless little mirrors
when they shine straight into our eyes

his rages are the jumping lice invisible
that sting us under the most sensitive armpits and hairs

never can the Honorable groom and free himself from that Devil
nor can he scrape off his scabs with a rub-stone

although from his eye the sniper-lens shines
although from his mouth he belches fire from a grenade

and so he drags along his armoured tail throughout the land
he digs old roads and he dredges new paths

wherever he makes a nest he leaves one egg
if it is rotten it will crack on its own and start stinking

if not – new dragons and snakes will hatch
to ogle us cyclopeanly with that pool of spilt oil

during the day they spread and shed their wings
so  they could search for new victim brides at night…

And our rogue during the day dips in mud and at night dreams
how to spur his horse like a young prince about to get married

and rubs the little feather of hope he had found on the way
that the angel-saviour will fly in his home

through wide-opened gates, amid smothered fire
and so he stares from a window into the yard

not to miss the moment when the golden wings
fly in and shed into countless aspers

only not to become light confetti once again, so transparent
that they will melt in the first morning rays

and before they trickle in the palms of the paupers
he to collect them all with a sole swing.




A Second Advent?


There are no more hands to clap
they’re all strewn, hanging on the branches
(or are they just sleeves shredded)

all that is left from the cheap patriot and believer
or from the name of their executioner
engraved in the skin of his victim

the two raised fingers that once meant victory
are now poking eyes or testing the blade
with which they hone their eagle claws

(the other ‘eagle claws’ smell ambrosially
in the gardens of the homes robbed or burnt by other
odoriferous ‘maiden hands’
[1] that are now being kissed)

the strangled natives spit their mothers’ milk
nursed with blood from their foreign savage wet nurses
or from the victors riding their flaming chariots

the bodies of the living
are living bombs
remotely activated from The-One-That-Is




The Devil Does Not Plough or Delve


but should probably be harnessed nonetheless
in the yoke invisible he uses to lead us

since from Lightbringer he turned into Nobody – as if
he stepped on his tail with his own hoof –

so we could together thrust the coulter in the buried gold
with which they deceive and entice us day after day

and amid the shard of hoary hodgepodge
to shine once again the ray – reminder of our cross

or is that the spark from the accidentally hit rock
that still needs to be dug out with joint effort

and be stuck in one piece as a cornerstone
of an edifice or at least as a support, if not an obstacle

for someone to trip over, startle and become aware –
while one the other side Nameless sticks out his tongue

that has just sold us a handful less than what was measured
on the scale that measures falsely with the hoaxing zero

in order to rob us of our better good
of Nature that they speciously mended for us.

We have all turned our back on you, Lord
hiding in your Face from the Legion of the Nameless

or inside in the empty shadow, in a carrion instead of a soul
under the rags from the scarecrow with a borrowed attire

from the Other that lurks from the outside
or from the Deuce thrust deeper inside

should he come for a stroll – freedom
to be a toll, doom and execution…

Is the end a goal
or is the goal an end?

The undiscovered New Land under eternal ice –
o, how many more bottoms lay there beneath the lies!

Once the dye has been cast – was this a fortuitous stroke? –
that we were both born as oxen in a yoke.




A Curled Up Man
Homo in se curvatus


Curled up all your life
in the kitchen corner, next to the fireplace
(even when you have the whole house to yourself
you hide – like a genie in a bottle)
as in tight outgrown clothes
with every movement strictly controlled
not to hit or break something
or hurt yourself or the ones you love.
Even a little hunchbacked, if the sabre swings
to cut only your imaginary hunch,
and if your nail is accidentally chipped
to survive as the black dirt under it,
to hide endlessly in the traps
of your own remains…
                                      But that’s why in your dreams
you walk for days along swollen rivers down wide boulevards,
you ride – goose pimples all over – along steppes and prairies,
you drive endlessly without ever coming near the end –
especially without the nightmare of premature coming back
to the home crammed with objects, in the lane of your neighbourhood
of the little fatherland, with no one else’s but the father’s guilt
and the mother’s that that you were born there…
Hence the amateur kangaroo jump
(with the bundle in the gut) all the way to Australia,
and not in the bathtub with curled up limbs like in a womb,
but in an Ocean to brandish as an Octopus
and with your tentacles to penetrate into every pore of the Earth
even if you are suffocated by her tough rings

like a worm with thousands of segments
and each one of them – even if trampled on
to be able to start a new life.




Iron


                                                          To Seamus Heaney

Its very name spells warning (when you touch it
the spit from your finger not to peel off with your skin)
and a threat with weight (get out of me way or I strike you)
while the stout missus swings it rekindling
through its gappy teeth the mouthfuls-embers
(that were previously placed in its mouth
with a poker – like when force-feeding poultry –
directly from the gut of the scalding furnace)
as the priest swings the censer with a threat
of a curse much more daunting if you don’t cross yourself…

But a different fetor was spreading from this iron-fay
while the one hand was polishing the clothes
and the other was sprinkling holy water on them:
smoke prickly from the smouldering coals and vapour
from the water frothily coughed out of the pump,
or from the graded soap not washed away from the linens
blown out by the hasty wind on the drying string,
although before that fairies with a flail beat them
on a rock, or rinsed and washed them in troughs
(so that female acrobats could fold them on a trapeze?)

As if a galley with a monster head on its prow
is breaking through dusky brume above bayou
and from the oars, almost invisible from the quick swings
and the scattered foam, the pulleys are sparkling
(poor galley-slaves, with blisters on their palms!)
and instantly they ignite the ends of the dry sedge
which drop and gurgle in the water – Greek fire,
or a procession of dusky torches with tar fumes?

The steam train from the blue train would parade like that
smoothing brotherhood (so it would not turn into fratricide)
through Potemkin fences from slogans, flags and uniforms,
and then they would open the remaining oesophagus
so it could belch smouldered dross and ashes –
its scary mouth is wide open now like
a museum fossil of an antediluvian dragon –
there it is polished with soot on a shelf! –
while once it was a vestal of an eternal fire.




A Winter Tale


The late January day is slowly awakening
as from the pangs of a heavy hangover
but from behind the withdrawn curtains it still
shone all puffy with reddened cheeks:

even under stacks of fog it was all decorated
with icy lace on the branches of the trees.
Once I could separate my hand from the outside knob
I saw – outside it was still sipping dandruff of rime.

‘This is the last parade of the terrorist Winter!’
said the neighbour and went to the market to sell his line.
I sneaked between the brides and grooms under the hoarfrost
in the middle of this workday turned into a holiday

and in the procession of retired ponderous pines
that have left their overcoats and furry frocks
on the benches welded with nails of ice so that
they can jog in their pyjamas like the lunatics of Bardovci.
[1]

The feet crackle and crush the granular snow by the black Vardar,
whitened only by the detritus of plastic that it carries,
or as a middleman that barters it from one sleeve to another
(not only money but goods as well make the world go around)

from one deposit on this shore to another landfill on the other
that keeps rising with great interest and profits downstream –
that’s how the capital the Greeks invested is paid back in fertile mud
with the barrage from return and sailing fleet of packaging.

The homeless that have survived the night’s terror
light fires and bake carcasses under the bridges,
they drink their piss-tea and they slurp their tripe stew.
Baron! Baron!
yells a gentleman wearing a fur cap,

one cannot tell whether he’s calling his dog or a beggar.
How could h remember to put something on his head,
I say to myself, while the cold scalps me bareheaded
for, I thought – the day must be crowned with the sun-yolk.

There it is finally, peeping through clouds and fog, the orb-knob,
so I could return like a frostbitten crusader from a pilgrimage
in which so many pagan marriages were made and blessed:
single bleeding foes turned in luminous orthodox couples.

Not just weddings, but everyone started to drool
in tumultuous sprees, the ornaments of rime
had their wild breath melted into pools of slime, not knowing
amid that racket who is saying: oh, man! or who: amen!




The Early Cocks – Get Slain


From the attic balcony
hidden behind the balustrades, early in the morning
we watch the liberation of Skopje in November 1944.

A young partisan jumps over the boards
of a yard opposite the street
and at the same moment he gets shot.

We could still see in the forenoon
the blood scattered on the squashy snow
like from the cocks that we used to slay with an axe.

* * *

‘Are we still going to talk through the barrels of revolvers?’
asks my father while early one morning they arrest him
and awaken me, my eyes wide open behind the net of my cot.

‘Don’t I have the right to eat something too?’
says my mother surprised by me staring,
and I know that if I keep looking at her she’ll start sharing…

All of a sudden my mother screams and blood gushes out from her shinbone
hit by some guard with the toecap of his boot while we are watching
how my father is being taken to jail from the court on a rope halter.

* * *

In the morning we found the net
from my daughter’s cot all cut in pieces
while she was still asleep virginally innocent

although she later confessed she cut it herself with scissors –
15 years later she left the bars of this country and stayed
with her mother in England, still sleeping restlessly.

* * *

The ones that used to slay the early cocks separately
are now awakened by the croaking of whole flocks of crows
that fly over from one stubble to another rubble

and they are so out of everyone’s reach –
while hungrier bearing leech after leech.




The Wolf at the Door


He doesn’t even have to knock –
already we feel his presence around the house
while he scratches his bristle from the quoins
and blows his icy breath from crannies invisible

straight in our necks or through our clothes to the crotches.
Our breath inside freezes on the windows
but his warm breath outside is melting
the icy blossoms that drip down the windowpanes

or is that him drooling from the avaricious snout
of his scalding covetousness with which he watches us
how slain or skinned alive, still smoking,
we are blurring his sight, poor thing…

Should we let him in so we could come out
from the underground like snails, naked or with our shells,
or should we hit the road with our souls through the chimneys
as some tardy migrating storks:

so that he could accommodate in our homes
with famine in the gut and hatred in his heart
and we should trot along the serrated fences
of his fucking god-forsaken wolf-ring?


_____________________________________

1. ‘Hamlet, for his part (in contrast with Oedipus), is from the start guilty of being. For him being is unbearable. The problem, the crime of being, is imposed on him with his own words, to be or not to be, that engage him irredeemably in being…’ Jacque Lacan, Canaba

_____________________________________

1. Both names refer to the same creeping plant and are translated literally (its real name is ‘honeysuckle’, from the genus Lonicera), only the first kind (‘eagle-claws’) is wilder and does not smell so ‘ambrosially’ as the second one (‘maiden hand’).

_____________________________________

1. A mental hospital next to the eponymous village, where Lepenec flows into Vardar, near my neighbourhood Vlae in Skopje. (Author’s note)



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