04. 03. 2006. 09:22

Living Thus (Poems)

"To your greetings the cleaning woman answers / By listing the TV program, as if you asked her. / The electric brain magnetizes madness / Like television screen attracts the grime – / To wipe it clean, a dust cloth won’t suffice."


At night they sleep circling
The air, eternity’s
Tiny satellites, spreading the news

That today your fear again
Won’t be realized; that every day
You are bombarded by tons of

Invisible meteorites;
To think angst helps is futile.
(You observe the flock of swifts

Swallowed in a chimney-stack,
As if smoke circled back on itself.)

Didn’t Mention the Hedgehog
(Nem szóltál a sünről)

Once you managed to wake L.,
You tramped all over town
Passing by Monceau Park to see

The overweight household duck.
In the pond you noticed
A hedgehog – must have drowned.

That this is the final station
Couldn’t hide the lush vegetation.
You stood like a turkey –

To put it idiomatically;
A little further, reflected in water,
The sky, its own shadow,

Embraced the ground.
While L. fed the duck,
You looked for an empty spot

To deposit your silhouette,
Which is by no means ethereal
Or worthy of too much rosiness.

(Hoping that L. wouldn’t notice,
You didn’t mention the hedgehog.)

Mornings Are the Worst
(A reggelek a legrosszabbak)

Mornings are the worst –
You face yourself in window light
And don’t notice the changing season:
The foliage of the chestnut tree, inflecting,
Thinning; and behind it the building
Hidden all summer long by leaves.

Only for the sake of verse
You scrutinize the street:
See what you are blind to;
You can’t wait to reach
The afternoon with its promise
Of peace;     

Some secure burrow
Where till the dawn of morrow
Like the blue fox you can hide:
The metallic taste of a live wire
Lingers in your mouth……    
Then dawn again, another morning.

You rise;
Blue sparks crackle in front of your eyes.

Tunnel Days

Tunnel days
Like constricting airways
Don’t open onto ample meadows –
Into your sleep
May your phantoms not follow:

When, the flame of your lighter
Like planetary lights roams
– Conjurer of souls –
And guides you, distant kinsman,
To a land of shadows.

When, crossing Szugló Street:
Life’s terminal case,
You watch the garbage truck’s
Flashing light
Gyrate in place.

When, from stucco clouds
A grey drizzle
And like a passing malaise,
Foreshadows the end.

When, passing by
Szajna Pub,
Ad hoc, just like that,
You begin to sink
With nothing-ness to grab.


L.’s sound asleep, like Stella,
The ferret that once,
Like a spool of yarn,
Curled up in your coat pocket to sleep.
You only noticed

Your pocket was heavier
As you stepped out to the street…..
Today, too, you rise at dawn –
Can stand it no more lying down.
Unlike this tiny polar bear,

Stella, in its realm
Circumvallated by cat food cans,
The household’s omnipoten-
Tate. How much solitude
In a single sleeping being! Our own

Whirlpool pulls us down
Through the sinkhole, one by one.

Living Thus
(Így élni)

The way diesel oil spills into Rákos Stream
– there is no trap to stop its reach –
you’re overcome by anguish that will not quit.
From an oil spot’s rainbow petals you can tell
The imagined illness that turns your days into hell.

To your greetings the cleaning woman answers
By listing the TV program, as if you asked her.
The electric brain magnetizes madness
Like television screen attracts the grime –
To wipe it clean, a dust cloth won’t suffice.

You recall the portrait a schizophrenic
Of his psychiatrist drew: juxtaposing
Two identical heads. Living thus, knowing
Your brain is fissionable material, must be unbearable –
Living otherwise is no more tolerable.

There Is No Such Carnival Dance
(Nincs az a farsang)

You’d swear the sun out of the sky
If it weren’t trapped in a lie,
To its own splendor closing the eye –

Walking your beat, you guess
This is by no means the end,
Though your obsessive self

Can’t be convinced of that.
Yet, what turns us into the earth
In you for now only lurks,

But to tear off its mask,
There is no such carnival dance.

Granted Grace
(Így gyakorol kegyet)

Like false belief he falters,
With his steps soiling the soil,
His body’s analogue,
Where he cometh from.

Why, he doesn’t know.
Crossing sweltering Szugló Street
He can’t help but to observe things
On which to dwell –
That’s how he’s granted grace  
While reaching the marketplace.

What One Wakes For
(Minek virrad)

“If I only knew what I wake for
Some mornings…..!”
Says the one you sleep

And rise with on her worse days.
There is no need to say
You’re like that every day.

Your tensions aren’t grounded by heaven.
It’s the same: earth’s or heaven’s realm –
You’ve had enough of them

If heavenward is no more
Than a morning snowfall.


Translated by: Géza Simon

Tags: Roland Acsai