Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Victor Neborak

Translation: Michael M. Naydan


...They assemble the flying head in my likeness
                                                                          in a mine.
A brigade of vampires in overalls with banging carry
                                                                                     a nine-foot nose.
In the nostrils—fireworks, and wires, and paper streamers
                                                           two loud talkers gape downward.
My nose is massive, an ordinary one, a monumental
                                                             nose—not for assorted nobility!
Into the three-story carcass a control center
                                                                         is lowered with a crane,
and the brain is transformed into levers, pedals and a steering wheel.
My forehead—stuffed aluminum—welded by metal specialists,
                                                       will be moved down a bit below—
there they fit my eyelids and connect
                                                         the juice for the TV screen eyes.
A few more words about the mouth—some dozens of devils push
                                                                                       the jaw-bone,
a snail-giant crawled into it, a boastful liar,
                                                                       his ‘cellency’s tongue,
the teeth stand guard, no fillings whatsoever,
                                                                   tongue like a sleeping bull,
two anacondas pressed together hide it,
                                                       to keep from getting into trouble.
Here they fit the ears, glue on the skin,
                                       weld the joints—a roar and unbearable heat.
The engineer-luciper-mime turns on the flame in the nozzles.
I’m in a space suit, I’m saying good-bye—let’s get going—I crawl
                                                                                       into my brain.
Half of hell runs up to watch the start.

...And the aftertaste of death on lips.
Wine in a skull dully reverberates,
the drunken crowds of insensible faces          
and your eyes in mirrors. 
Graces carry charms.
I spit on all this,
it’s not for me to know the rue
and vampires who sap souls.
Their bloody lips are laughter
that knocks over golden piasters.
In the fury of dance                                          
their buttocks and breasts have fused together.         
A star in your eye suits your face.                  
It does not burn me—                                                            
take my lips in remembrance.
I drink this evening to the end.
Without lips I look like an ironic horror                     
that would turn into a fanged vampire
with the tender soul of a dandelion
if not for eyes in mirrors.

The body of the deceased was found in a ditch
in the middle  of a yard hung on
a hook and they buried him beyond the garden.
Fido’s1 hung himself—suicide-dog!
Fido’s soul’ll be hounded from heaven.
They’ll tell him: “You didn’t croak the way you should have!”
Then they’ll lift him up by the tail and…
Fido’s hung himself on his chain at night.
The real nightly R movie2— rats viewers
sighing, wooing,
curling up, and love-making!
Fido’s hung himself! Do you hear?—you!
Are you reading Leaves of Grass?
Marquez? Borges? Hesse? The I Ching? Ah?
Fido’s hung himself! That’s the change!
You’re called a poet,
                        and he’s—a dog.
A poem gnaws at you,
                        a chain—at him.
Someday you’ll be a pro poetaster,
but Fido  choose not meat, but the spirit!
How much can you bark at the moon?                    
How long can you wait for your paycheck?
How much can you scrape our backsides?
Till death!
What a schizophrenic profession—
to tend chickens and goats
and send them off to be butchered?
The Constellation of the Dog
piercez through the earth and heavens!

1 “Dzhulbars” in the original—a typical name for a Ukrainian dog. This particular canine poem has a real event at its basis. Victor Neborak’s  dog Dzhulbars strangled himself on his chain. Thanks to Yuri Andrukhovych for illuminating me about this.
2 “Notsne” is in Polish in the original and refers to the practice in Soviet times of going to a friend’s house in Western Ukraine, someone who had a strong antenna and could receive signals from Polish TV to watch films from the west—usually with heavy dose of eroticism or horror.

He sees himself before himself
he sees himself transparent,
he sees a transparent colored shadow
a moving shadow in the air
it utters words and all at once goes silent it utters words
he takes a step it comes to meet him
face to face eyes
overlap pass through
a mirror of glass thickens
raise my eyelids
my shadow in me
bat wings grow
fangs and fingers grow
shadow grows through the body
the stinger sniffs out blood

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