04. 02. 2012. 16:50

Poem of the month - Gábor Schein: The day after Christmas

"You instructed / me early in your injustices, taught me that the flame has hardly blazed up, / and the candle-snuffer strikes, that it will be necessary to live with less air, that / what is deserving does not come first, that hope walks with bent neck."

The Day After Christmas, 2011

Ghostly homeland, if I think of you, from where shall I take
enough love to be able to swallow the repulsion regurgitated from
my stomach, the acidic bitter taste? You never had morals, and
while your grievances cast you out from the world, your politics are murderous. Here
in the heart, like strings of Christmas lights, opiate lies glitter
and if the skies above you darken, by morning the obdurate cretins, the slyly
zealous, the patronizing malignant will be ever more in number.

But, you see, even now I am awake. Behind me is the bookshelf,
stacked full of volumes. What are they worth? I can no longer mistake you for books.
The rooftops opposite, beyond the windows, extend into the distance,
the street cannot be seen. I hated going to school here. You instructed
me early in your injustices, taught me that the flame has hardly blazed up,
and the candle-snuffer strikes, that it will be necessary to live with less air, that
what is deserving does not come first, that hope walks with bent neck.

From the facades, gods with reptilian eyes watch over every step.
Who wishes to go home, returns to mute lands.  And suddenly will be old,
sitting all day long in front of the softened screen, forgetting everything.
What did you raise me for, ghostly homeland? Grey clouds sit upon your cities,
on the edges of maps your starving children scrape the coal away from under the cinders,
and you choose between the battered signs of a past century’s bad finale?
Is the chamber-waiter still your favorite from the playbill?

The reptilian eyes’ promise for tomorrow is war perhaps. If there is no hope,
there is no fear, and what is a neck vertebra compared to the dark of the night?
Terror, it is true, does not ease absence, from which so much tedium
and savagery have come forth, but if you see the refugees then, will you again
choose hanging from lamps, the bridge, for them? Gods formed from plaster
never thought of eternity. This, after all, is terror’s command:
may thought be concrete, like a kicked-out tooth!

This is the time of dreams, when instincts give themselves over
to aesthetics, and I would hardly be surprised if a sorrowful dromedary were to rest
his head on my parquet floor, asking if what they say about the needle’s eye
is true. But the now does not last any longer than six seconds. No matter how often
time wriggles through its own noose, as it narrates history, and so
could eat raw human flesh. That is why the final means of your prisoner,
not wishing  to kill, seeing  how ignominy has gathered
upon your head, is the voluntary self-annihilation of the flesh.

And you enclose him all around with cordons, floodlights; you torture him with bellowing music,
my ghostly homeland? Is it because with a lucid mind you can only be betrayed? The well-groomed
delivery boy, smirking, gets out of the official Audi, because he knows that the one
who has been programmed to denounce and inform, when it is time to act,
stops up his ears, and prefers to sit in the oily onion smell, just so that he doesn’t
have to open the window. Lest it should emerge that outside is Spring. Or Winter,
in which no snow has fallen. Lest he should have to take hold of someone’s hand.

On the facades the traces of the old bullet-shots can still be seen. Here wars only
begin, and although according to the train schedule they complete their route,
they never reach the end. Every man on the platform knows who his enemy is, and what
he would be only too happy to do to him. Who wishes to travel from one city to another
holds out in madness until the final cartridge. Do you know your shame, my ghostly homeland?
Do you know why everything remains in its place of degradation? The evening now
is silent and pure, those whose throbbings are perturbed at noon sleep within.

Translated by: Ottilie Mulzet

Tags: Gábor Schein