Curfew (from P.Modiano)

four hours to wait for the Paris train

a brunette

in a yellow taxi


in the footsteps

born in Vienna

a sleepless night

in that semi-somnombulist state occasionally interrupted by a shaft of sunlight

under someone’s protection

two men and three women

tempted to say yes

elected to the explorers club

detached from everything

all those journeys

the Cane chair

so romantic

as if it had been yesterday

a pale green swimming costume

tanned backs

a cigarette glued to his lips

a shameful secret

on honeymoon

still on honeymoon

his mother had forgotten all about him and had gone back to Cannes

wondering in different places at the same time

that evening curfew was going to start at 6

it was half past 5

drowned in the curfew

the streetlamp gave out a blue light

an adventure that leads nowhere

South Pole (from E. Kagge)

a source of deeper riches

in the blue space between the stories

in tiny movements between the stone and moss


with myself

the goldfish

breathing without air

wander in circles

over the same ocean

every time the sun rises

quiet gravity

nothing is lost

speaking on that which remains unspeakable

for one more Spring

stones of particular beauty

new every time

where fear is ever present yet will never tire of pleasure

let the silence divide

your own South Pole

Under a clock (from V.Woolf)

their blank melody outside

in grey flannels

I saw her kiss you

I looked between the leaves and saw her

we must form into pairs

run up these stairs

counting each step

I have torn off the whole of May and June and 20 days of July

the week: one long day without divisions

I have 50 years, 60 years to spend

among guns and dogs

under a clock

the smell of turnip fields

my father, with his back turned

in one line of unwritten poetry

to be loved by Susan would be to be impaled by a birds’ sharp beak

something once splendid

winter days, summer days

we have scarcely broken into our horde

how entire Susan’s glance is

hold it forever

into the wave I throw my violence

come closer

 time tapers to a point

the tree, then the telephone pole

here it is November

I read one poem, one poem is enough

let us suppose

one poem on a page

a square upon an oblong

black as iron


before the first emotion is worn smooth

let us put down our lamps

on the edge of a hard bench

lying deep in a chair with one person

a button undone

it seems as if no leaf would ever fall

Susan with her hand in mine

says, ‘my ruined life, my wasted life.’

I clasp the return ticket to Waterloo

Susan cried and I followed

her wet pocket handkerchief and the sight of her little back heaving up and down like a pump handle

screwed my nerve up

I sat beside her

fiery and furtive

behind curtains

honest and animal

sea holly

white spray

always wet

how seldom visited

what we are not

filled with Susan’s tears

another 20th of March

With a single heart (from N.Gogol)

100 souls

not elderly, not overly young

swarming with black beetles


we conform ourselves to cabbage soup, do so with a single heart.

Face the blue of the forest

eyelids as heavy as those smeared with treacle

fallen into an aristocratic wilderness

‘perhaps you’d like to have you heals tickled

dip them in melted butter?’

quivering lips emitted no sound

his face was of the warm, ardent, tint of copper

without moving an eyelid or an eyebrow

the greatest fool that the world ever saw.

‘have some mutton … when I eat mutton, give me the whole sheep.’

dessert in the shape of pears, plums and apples

grunt and belch

a signing of the cross over the mouth.

80 kopeks a soul

sympathy does not put anything into one’s pocket

his nose caked with snot of the consistency of thick coffee

could neither read nor write

pulled tight the waistcoat over his apple stomach, sprinkled himself with eau de cologne, took his fur cap

to meet a funeral is lucky

spitting into a sandbox

no tears marked the parting


Spiders the size of ping pong balls (from K.K.Field)

there was water of course, also vapor and cloud formations

I began to detect a second smell hidden within the first one

all at once it made me want to weep

the tears were like grout

spiders the size of ping pong balls

a thousand miles from nowhere

apart from the odd seagull there was nothing to be found

a long blue line

became the horizon

the sea sound was like someone breathing in the room with me

as in a mirage

the chain on the gate rattled

coldness tires me

the tall flower nodding on its stalk was strong but somehow benevolent

right and left, left and right

like a set of sisters

sitting in front of a fence

there is no doubt that every day things are getting worse

the rain restarted

only this time it was really pelting down as if the clouds had learned to let go and now they couldn’t stop

the hours seemed huge and far apart

impervious to the passing of timeThere’s no one here

all night

a worthwhile way of spending time in life

like a grasshopper.

Ursula’s grudge (from D.H.Lawrence)

one was a tiny little rock

she despised and detested people, loved only children and animals

children she loved passionately but coldly

had a profound grudge against the human being

contemptuous ridicule

night had fallen, it was dark

but she forgot to be afraid

among the trees

a magic peace

a pure loneliness

it was only the moon, risen through the thin trees

rabbits across the ground

a distant coughing of sheep

at the center, a vivid incandescent quivering white moon

a battlefield of broken lights and shadows

white fragments pulsed and could not find where to go

Ursula saw the persistent, obtrusive birds as short, stout politicians

making themselves heard at any cost

‘the universe is non-human, thank God.’


Pocket handkerchiefs (V.Woolf)

here we are like herrings

going out into the world

solitary, unanswered, breaking against rocks

one may learn to paint at fifty

heads on pocket handkerchiefs

one wants to write poetry, and to love

here, against a wall, a woman stares at nothing

home they went

fatigue … the safest sleeping draft

with deserted beautiful lips

Jacob stopped reading, ‘Damn swine!’ he said

the wind was off the sea but all the bedroom windows were dark

when one’s rinsed one’s mouth with every literature in the world

civilizations stood around them like flowers

I must go and try again

a fly had fallen from the ceiling and lain on its back, too weak to turn over

even the unhappy laugh

not to sit at a table with bread and butter

go alone with a book in your pocket

he saw fireflies at night and brought back glow worms in pill boxes

curse these flies

hale, freckled, morbid

And then the dazzling white water, rough and throttled, shot up into the air

through it came the sound of military music far away

all the water was puckered with drops

Sometimes he lies in bed all day long, just lies there

how quiet it is

the moonlight destroyed nothing

On Virgil’s trail (from D.Alighieri)

Halfway along the road of life’s journey

I lost my way

I could see the hill

was cloaked with rays of sunshine

where no living person had passed before

a leopard

a lion

a she-wolf

a man/not a man/once a man/a poet


follow me

you will see and you will see and you will see

why should I go?

eternal suspense, so overcome with fear

turn back

bring consolation

It’s time for us to go

it calls for all the courage you have in you

soon it will be night, now is the time to leave this place

we have seen it all

we’ve passed the point

enter the hidden road through a small opening ahead