Vlanes (Vladislav Nekliaev) was born on September 28, 1969, in Astrakhan. His childhood was spent in Kazakhstan (Chimkent). In 1986 he became a student of the Department of Journalism of the Urals State University (Ekaterinburg), from which he graduated in 1993. He then became a postgraduate student at the Philological Department of the St. Petersburg State University. From 1997 to 2001 he lived in Athens (Greece). At present, he resides in Australia (Brisbane) where he is continuing his education at the University of Queensland, studying ancient languages and musical composition. In addition to his original work, he is a translator of poetry, currently finishing a complete translation into Russian of the sonnet sequence, "The House of Life", by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
* Dionysus * Philopappou Hill * Sounion * Attempts * Dionysus Theatre * Delphi * Spiralling grass, sole changing smell of dew... * To the Bronze Mirror * Wreath of Sonnets * Somewhere higher than this gap of green...
* Half-withered purple of the shifting night... * The past and the memory... * You're open to the utmost... * it could be more than that, it could be dawn... * for every wind?'s emotionless blast... * Jacaranda * Slow Worlds * Alien Landscape I * Don't cry for me... * You'll open your new eyes and you will see...
Somewhere, squeezed in the middle of the facetless space,
The vine is spiralling, shown in the distance, with loosened hair:
The farther the eye is, the quicker, the faster it's moving,
As if all this length is bestowing on it the result
And the encouraging memory of the way, done and forgotten for good.
The distance, as well as the time, has this passion to swell and to lace
Things, to disguise them, to make them not nicer, but - rarer...
Like a girl with all bracelets, all chains and embroidery, hovering
In the mellow breeze of the room, waiting these anchors to drawn her, to melt
In dark, ardent and prosperous silence her body - the flower of the day's mood.
The distance is changing, the most changeable of all substances.
Constantly winning the goals, exhausted by the easiest victories,
Little pulsating veins of this marble are filtering it and releasing,
Pure again, for the time to start all anew. What could be found
Harder than to seek for so long and to strike the same target.
You seem not to know what terrible distance it is
That is making your tresses curl, round and whisper your knees.
You are bending the bud of your head, and this age is approaching, seizing
The traces of perfume and dew left in the air, like a sound
In the wood of a horn, a brazen stem of pursuit. Clouds drag it
Upwards, to the boiling disaster of blue. Pine-trees draw it
To their lamps, sucking out dim gold from the depth. Now you raise
Your wavy hand, a fleshy brush with a cluster of fingers and somewhere above
A little sky-lark repeats these frail motions, exactly the same,
And its tiny dappled wing is much pressed 'tween the wings of the hot wind.
For a purposeless march, the flawless seasons are stretching their raw, lit
and lost, lit and lost: a spot of the sun is thus twinkling through branches.
We don't lose when we lose, we are lost ourselves. Brief, shy jingling
of a rusted small bell on a roof of a century. Your pale, luminous face,
A crying planet that had trespassed its orb. Down these ivory shoulders flows
Evening, a stream of a midday, here slow, there swift.
Your palms are two halves of a fruit, cloven for an autumnal praise.
A belly, like a dream, that's completely remembered, to live and to move
Long after the others get sold and betrayed. The distance, dying without a claim
For a short while, and then resurrecting and holding your mind
Within the limits of this particular forest, and this not returnable gift.
As if you are condemned to shine here, like our childhood, few inches
Below the level of blood, is condemned to remain calling, aching,
As if the time no longer has quality of reassuring, retrieving the space
And our loss will return. The inky mist now softens and sows
With a needle of a long astray ray a glowing pattern of midnight.
If it's true that each circle will close, and each moment will meet face to face
With his own reflection in the lake of his pain, why are we
so eager to start all once more? As if a slow return is our goal.
As if patience no longer is pregnant with ravelling rage.
A shred of a dark cloud is flagging on the top of a pine: the knot is tight.
Other clouds are flowing and spreading their portable maze.
Heavy bead of a moon toils to tear its chain, but this hardly could be:
Like a spiralling fume, moving tiptoe, your remembering soul
Comes and leans over you, touching the flowering bars of your cage.
PHILOPAPPOU HILL *
on your way downwards, hold your breath, look aside:
Purple dying to crimson, long cry of a bird
Somewhere in the impossibility of height:
Fragment of the sky, a fallen fragile flower,
Losing all spectra - one by one - to the marble-gray
horses, hoarse and humble, hungry, howling
legs, crumpled spiral of a broken clock:
seal on the emptiness, approval of bygone being
crashed like mean memories with their native smell of dust
perfect creatures, you have lost your stagnant riders
as someone loses control of reason over his passion
he's free then, though hurt, and breathes cold wet air
solemnly, to the depth of his lungs, saturated with the mist of meadows
Wind kisses you, wiping you down, and yet may
Leave your brittle contour to face this fast fierce night
When she leans, soft and tender, loosing her hair, the white tower
Glimpses: her tongue, touching the land, licking the day's last chord
the tower, trembling in the darkness, weeping like a lonely bride
* A hill in Athens, opposite Acropolis, on top of which there are remains of an ancient monument with half-preserved reliefs depicting, among other things, pensive horse-riders.
That has been, but
Has not become, the landscape
Appears, slides, and loses contours
The naked columns, outside of their being
Do not persist, just breathe with the open fibres
As if the whole of their profusion was not enough
For them to gain persistence, to preserve, as people use
To save what is the rest of them against the penetrating wind of time
You can call it time, this unimaginable spiral screwing, screaming, rusty
Like some metal thing forgotten on a shelf of a garden during the shower
Or: something clicking, oily, full of moving outlines, submits to hands
To drop the clumsy fingers, to leave the body all alone
But nothing happens for what happened - did,
What's going to have happened, stays away
As if one throws an oval dusty stone
To strike the goal, but fails, so we
Don't notice: time is working
Inside us, only pain
So delicate, so fresh, like a white bird's wing, it has been to-morrow
To-day has killed to-morrow, blew off its face, and let to-evening
Mock both of them: don't ask, your answer is already
Prevailing in the asking, and this circle is for us
Intolerable: scent of gardens in your smile
Withdraws its possibilities, for you again
No, didn't sow the plants, didn't water
And will not taste the fruits
The agony of tongue
Behind the teeth
How fresh, how
Delicate it was to-
morrow, you lay like a column
Wrapped in wind and air, saw them fight
For privilege to touch you, and no one could
Be the victor, clouds, fugitive and flying nowhere
To be returned exactly to the point of their departure
As you return your light kiss which has been given to you
And ripened in your fecund mouth, longing, brimming over
The farthest goal still twinkling, tuning, lost beforehand, as it was
First greyish rays predict the purple mass
Of morning that will lay its mighty load
Upon the blazing bushes and the grass,
Upon all things that make one stop and pass:
One more attempt to fill the complex mould
Of landscape with dense mixture, to decode
Its complicated curves and frozen phrases
Which vanish as appear and leave no stain;
To keep illusion that it still possesses
This manuscript to low slow paces,
Impossible to stop and to restrain,
Of coming forth forgetfulness and rain.
Grey marble slices scattered on the moss,
Vibrating wind throws lilies on the ground,
Expecting it to answer back, to toss
Split grains with comprehension of its loss:
But no, to aching past it's tightly bound
That makes it be too slow, too compound.
Plants, wet in rain, now spread their leafless branches
Regaining value of the turning space,
The tongue of cypress shudders when it touches
Vague vertebrae of bent half-drawn arches
And clouds start to loose their flaky lace:
Refusal to become, to breathe and race.
So does the soul that's trying to withhold
At least one thread of her half-woven cover
Of autumn trees with their passing gold,
Of cloven shrines which once have been so cold
And their warmth are seeking to discover
Through mess of leaves and birds that burst and hover.
Time kneels among them, marks these greenish stones,
Especially those that still preserve
Faint fingerprints of days, like tiny loans
Collected from their own self that dawns
On hollow hills, above the azure curve,
With solemn mass to listen, not to serve.
With rusted sides, a heap of grass above,
Its circle is still drawing the heavy sphere.
The convex day's diminished to a dove
Without motion, like a clumsy glove,
When sleeping things are crawling, circling near
To catch it and to take away from here.
These loosened trees still hide their crumpled spring
Which, when they nod to wind's versification,
Jumps up and flaps, as if it wants to cling
To blueness, but breaks its jingling wing
And falls, again submitting to transgression
Of painless day to pain and plain impression.
This dawn is singing like a peacock mad
That spreads its fan above the universal
And coherent counterpoint of sad
Events and things, faint victims of the dead
Emotions having them at their disposal:
Like after long and tiring rehearsal,
All towers are silent and depressed.
Thin smell of future, coming from tomorrow,
Dissolves the knots of space, all mixed and messed.
The day, pale angel, who has not possessed
This landscape, and another failed to borrow,
Falls broken on the grass, all blue with sorrow.
And now it comes: sick whistle of the clock
Still hanging somewhere under the horizon,
The drops of rain still falling, knock by knock:
But night is locked and lying like a block
Upon the column's hand abruptly risen,
Above the daisies fixing yellow eyes on
Smooth needle waves diffusing o'er the land.
How everything is running from this being
Enframed and caught, but, on the other hand,
How is afraid to lose it and to spend,
Annihilated by this sailing ceiling,
High inevitability of feeling.
In grassy streams, like a transparent ship,
Stuck to the core of noon with a waving petal,
It's present, rocking, trying not to slip
And get forever lost in the mighty grip
Of memory with huge and transcendental
Destructiveness to what she cannot handle.
Each passing moment holds his picture, caught
And terminated in subsequent turning
To general in it, but all for naught:
This landscape takes him for an alien thought:
With silence not replaced by deeper droning,
Vibrating on a crisping wing of morning.
Things usually sleep, but every day
Awake for certain time to catch impression
Of rupture 'tween this whirl-like spreading clay
And their selves, these flowers mixed with hay,
And to submit to painful transformation
Within revival and annihilation.
Frail columns don't respond to asking hands:
Dust writes upon them, hasty rain erases,
Reverberating future understands
And doesn't mar them when connects the ends
Of time strung up and cleft, and hides the bases
In rustling hair that flows down her two faces.
Pines merge their breathing, like ripe moments, in
So strange and unpredictable pulsation
Of smells and sounds being long within,
But now bubbling up the straightened spin
Of afternoon, now breaking isolation,
That landscape all appears like a flash on
Reflection of a mirror, and dissolves,
And then again, half-sparkling, half-reserving,
Springs forth and disappears: burning goals
Time loses, and at random reels and rolls
Swelled grains of days in distant valleys growing
And choosing winds the most restrained from blowing.
Like the locks of ashy hair thrown aside,
the bushes wave and crisp. Each tiny web
is a transparent banner of the time
that grasps and breaks. And how can it withhold
its property when it does not have control
over its own glamour in the mist?
The things are pulled together to reject
its domination. Desperate and numb,
but shouting with every curl and tress,
the willow-tree is clinging to the wall
and supplementing its peculiar text
with the phrases from an alien alphabet.
The roaming road is bending like a whip
and crumpling flaky flowers on the side.
The sky, as if it's coaxing someone,
is melting, swelling, blooming. To insist
when no one objects, as if inside
there is a doubt in one's own regard.
The hills are mild and tender ere they're born:
they make the dust aspire by the rough
and clumsy steps of the steep, and tear off
its dumpy expectations. They are not
themselves a substance, but a mere form
of upward motion. They appear to
resist, but gradually, stone by stone,
go slowly down and return once more
to the unyielding cicrle of the stage
of this surviving theatre. Again
they try to resurrect its flashy ochre
of summer bushes, but soon topple, fail.
All way around - the flourish mad and mixed
with boiling honey of the devouring son.
They know 'tis impossible so why
they're so persistent, who will give this land
to anybody, except for those who can't
keep it for longer than this decaying age.
Thus dust, transforming to unnumbered tunes,
keeps its illusions: the rains are sliding through
its firm and non-appointed shuttering screen
watching what there's behind, not hidden but forlorn -
and, being so hungry for complaint,
all substances reveal themselves. It seems
that due to this the scales are being kept,
the needle is still dancing in the hands
which constantly improve their high concern
for the defeat. Like throbbing of remorse
under the carpet of the flashing thoughts,
wet smell of moss is penetrating through
the present conjugation, and the thin
pulsating odour of its rotten roots:
the birds are dropping the knots of mercury
that flop and scatter, bobbing on the edge
of a whistle, to get lost - to spring anew
on the relentless angle of the sphere.
The mist is so dense that every tree
seems lifted in the air. Distant trees
are long and stagnant like grey traces on
the window glass, of rain. Their shape was lost
in an attempt to interfere with
unalienable circumference. And now
they are as fluent as the articulate speech
entangled in the nets of dashing words.
Dim autumn bushes, with their bitter scent,
are dropping fiery petals, one by one:
the rhythm of persuasion. That swollen bird
is like a circumflex upon the cypress-tree,
to change the spelling of this pendent spot
and, maybe, not to recognise it. Thus the things
escape from recognition, even though
this does not bring them any better terms.
The stony ground is dappled with the wet
and gleaming breeze of petals - a trembling lake
of crimson milk, but turned and knotted. All above
is a transparent mixture of the dyes.
There is no evidence that this will fade and pass,
the souls of ruined shrines are standing by
and guarding their wounds, with watching eyes
where mellow memories are tired of themselves.
There is no sign of entering despair
and demolition, all the structure of
this landscape indicates a sudden swerve,
salvation, being apt to freeze at once
and then transform into its own past
where it was fresh and fruitful. As it is,
it has no further courage to persist
and, therefore, has no strength to want.
And in the thready tuning of the birds
there are some modulations that were not
envisaged by the whole harmonic set
of leaves and branches hovering inside
of locked uncertainty. The marble plates are full
of opal powder that cannot overweigh
their silent substance shaping the spheric gates,
the triangulated basements of the emptiness.
They do not know eternity - this dry and clumsy crisp
under the tongue - only the balance of
duration and destruction. The rains are stretching hands
through silver shattered roofs of sleeping temples
to fill in their visions. The smell of molten gold
is everywhere. Pulsating streams are like
the veins of a new-born child, yet changing blue
to ashy white while weaving their nets.
You, too, when disengage your present place,
will be replaced by something from above
or underneath, to vivify your trace
and not to cancel, but to stress your voice.
This perfect balance between life and life
preserves both sides and keeps them unexchangeable.
And this is why the death has no spot
to rush, and tunes his rusty string from outside.
* * *
Spiralling grass, sole changing smell of dew.
As if all things together, old and new,
Expressed by palpitation of the mist,
Are gone or re-transformed, which is the same.
For roaming rain it's easy to insist
Upon obedience when things are so tame.
Half-faltering on their broken edge,
Half-willing to accept this hinted pledge
Of thistle-down - rivalling flakes of air,
Thin trees, as if they're twisted by the guilt
Of being stiffened, moving nowhere,
Are waving their branches, cracked and split.
This partly sensed, transparent scent of milk
Dissolved in lulling air turned to silk
By dense and pendent anguish of fulfilment
And stagnancy. Elsewhere, on the marble roofs
Of shrines, each milky spot is like a seal, meant
To be erased, that still remains and proves.
If things could be as they for sure mean,
They would be less surprising to be seen,
Completely gone beyond anticipations
To follow their wish. This daily jail,
Entailed repeat - make them get out of patience,
Compose and bloom within the framework frail.
Winged firework of forms, thus meant to be
Somewhere else where no one can see,
Roves here. Every palm of autumn leaves
So tenderly enrolls a part of morning,
With winds and rains, and afterwards conceives
So deep inside, where ripens naught but longing.
Fermentive prolongation of the day,
Where knot and rupture, purple sough and clay
Prescribe their inner routs one to another
Internally, and only from inside
Affect their transposition, being rather
Disjunctive like a low lunar tide.
And shivering, with eyelids downcast,
Yet half-protected from the icy blast
By dirty and dishevelled raven hair,
Your soul, as if escaping from pursuit,
Climbs desperately up the falling stair,
Still grasping corners of a cloven lute.
TO THE BRONZE MIRROR
Your brazen mist with slender throbbing veins
of century that has to pass but stains -
with dust and rust - both things and their traces,
and plods along the day that hardly deigns
to answer back, and therefore erases
his lambent self and splits his own bases.
The more you strive to stay, the more this flow
of dying things and sounds makes you go
unto the edge where all is done and said,
where slowly, in the autumn afterglow,
Time wanders with the rains, for ever strayed,
and stretches forth the future's blood-stained blade.
To what degree the names we give to things
to their darkling selves make subtle links,
and if a name now gains, perhaps, it loses
when essence gets defined, and breaks, and blinks,
and rushes through the nets, so glad to do this
that joy alone her pain and terror soothes.
You, little greenish spot with warped faces
that are reflected blooming on the axes
that keep all dreams for living beauty firm,
your native past that things through shadows traces
here stepped aside and didn't touch your home
with moving outlines and air warm.
When ancient names, forgotten now, are
repeated by some chance, this plastic bar
so echoes and trembles on the verges
of undecided fate that from afar
it's like a blare of fire, green and gorgeous
when blazes and in brassy sphere merges.
Accomplishment achieving its perfection,
lost labyrinths with their almost ashen
and fretful gleam, where on a broken wing
the wind is keeping balance, not to smash in
the rows of melting souls still wandering
with hands that slide along the rusted string.
You keep your population locked inside
of a recessive planet that would glide
eternally, without ever knowing
how fatal are its power and pride,
restrained from either borrowing or loaning,
resolved like night and violent like morning.
The fields are ripe, the list has been completed,
the crowd of stars with their torches splintered
is moving slowly through this grainy screen
and lighting up whatever has been hinted
or left unanswered in this gap of green
to be completely lost, untouched, unseen.
From outside - your marshes and your moss
left by the wind which tried to make it gloss
but stained with bloody fingerprints all over
and vanished: only fragrant haze of loss
hangs in the sultry air, getting lower
where brazen birds of splinters hiss and hover.
Their sounds spring but would not interfere
with this progressive silence that's a mere
resemblance of a more profound nought:
thus, however desperate the fear
of alien things can be, we give a thought
to things we used to find but never sought.
You've stopped reflecting not because it is
impossible to shine again and breathe -
these cells are filled with time, the thinnest juncture,
connecting tiny mountains and seas,
is broken, and the arrow hits the archer
while milky sails regain the azure pasture.
The wheel is turning on: thus, however
suppressed it can be at the very level
of falling waters mixed with night and soil,
your secret sky still brims and starts to ravel
but slightly and discreetly, not to spoil
the lines of landscapes by its eager toil.
Strained elements depart without a sign,
but later, when they've drawn their own line
in burning crimson, 'mid the soaring spheres,
they will return exactly to the spine
of their broken planet which adheres
to her strange wish to be revived and see us.
You, blob of honey hardened in the marble
of scattered hopes that once had been too humble
to make themselves impossible to fail.
The streams of life still bounce, murmur, warble,
but you remain within this aimless trail
with broken masts and shreds of a green sail.
And all those faces that have ever been
reflected on your surface, now lean
towards a spot of daylight seen from their
deserted place - to breathe, or just to mean
whatever, in this glimmering and square
forgotten frame, whatever they can dare.
Between the two of us - these ravished ages
decay and rear within the wood that hedges
your calling fragile fingers from the rest
of this harsh world, and by its stillness pledges
to challenge changing things by all the best
it has inside of its abandoned nest.
And, maybe, one could never recognise
his own shade with a diminished size
and image turned upside down, in the alley
of bent and crooked ash-trees, with sunrise
transforming into midnight, growing daily
and shaking like a heap of greenish jelly.
This brassy plate of sky is losing inches
together with the seconds when it switches
from singing height to sudden swing and swerve,
and clouds float through the open breaches
in its half-melted side which has the nerve
to let them browse and its own edges curve.
Vibrating on the silver arch you draw
among the trees with bitter smell of thaw
and porous lilac leaves, among the ruins
of blown hopes still trying rise and claw
the flapping wings of badly wounded blue winds,
you hold and fight as if it matters who wins.
This strange escaping beauty, a compound
of total silence, with the only sound
of empty contours seeking to be solved
and shaky singing structures: see them bound
to our age, to this enormous mould
to scrape off their value's crumbling gold.
Thus feelings try to set themselves anew
when lose their basic temper, taste and hue
deceiving almost everything that enters
or interferes, taking their cue
exactly from the present being spent as
amorphous mass devoid of hidden centres.
The more direct and desperate your glance is,
the more abruptly your split handle dances
beneath the palms of ages roaming by,
the more your rocking pendulum enhances
the swings as if it wants to crack and die,
or just to break the passing year's thigh.
It's like a tower dropping down the bell,
soft, slow fall: and yet one wouldn't tell
the core of sunrise losing fiery slices
from low leaden water in the well,
despair from the highest points of crises
gained by the life that suffers and suffices.
WREATH OF SONNETS
To Jena Spurway
This way of minutes miserably mixed
With their own blinks misunderstood
By birds and trees, this eye-born sisterhood,
Whose lisps and whispers ripen in betwixt,
While nature hastens to complete a list
Of symbols that pull down a dusty hood
O'er wrinkled worlds that lately love to brood
On past, not having present to persist.
And if sometimes they happen to perform
Some droning dance which smells of here and now,
With springing forms and circles staying warm,
They start to tremble on a pointed prow
Of universe and dream of their home
In whirls destroying leaves to leave a bough.
In whirls destroying leaves to leave a bough
The small transparent boat is all on end,
It doesn't matter whether sea or land
To choose - it would be stranded, anyhow.
The things have grouped together to allow
No pass for it and, like a gluing hand,
Their sick perception struggles to amend
Its constitution, to a shading sough.
And, full of odours of a fallen fruit,
Refusing both to curse and to kotow
Through all the modulations of pursuit,
It blocks the creek where many of a scow,
Entangled in the tunnel of a flute,
The tree of time intends to disavow.
The tree of time intends to disavow
All breathing forms, creations of the word,
And when it ends to ravish and to cord
Strange, subtle ones - then it directs its brow
Towards itself and, having stopped to bow,
Strikes with the flat of its reversing sword
The stagnant dells, and pinches the brass chord
On the world's lute that does endure somehow.
And so it stands and multiplies its arms,
And stiffens fingers, and imprints a fist
Upon its trunk, and presses bloodless gums
With lips of clefts, and feels not in the least
How it has harmed and how it still harms
Its own growth through cumulating mist.
Its own growth through cumulating mist
Sees every soul that never waits an answer,
And, as reaction, multiplies the stanze
Of plashing waves that wandered, howled, and creased,
And reared like an omniform blue beast,
But now lull reflection cast by Cancer,
Orion stretching like a dreaming lancer,
Great Bear from the starry woods dismissed.
And curves of sails repeat with some declension
Dense brimming curves of billows and, displeased
At their half-successful imitation,
Go round like eyeballs of the diseased
Or claws of eagles, and discharge the tension
Of thorny things too tired to insist.
Of thorny things too tired to insist,
Some grow enough to spring a velvet flower
And some still go on to fall or hover
If they're inclined to darken or to feast
Among their crumbling castles, ever seized
By fear that they'd spend the only dower
Of total chance, and that the grapes are sour,
And that in landscape something would be missed.
So they reflect, to move or to restrain,
While mist is changing colours, and a sow
Triumphantly reclines on sprouted grain,
Revelling crying crows make a row
And fields refrain from modulating rain
On dragging forth their red decaying plough.
On dragging forth their red decaying plough,
The ploughmen of years drop down dead,
Recurrent shower bends his silver head,
Still mumbling vague and undetermined vow
Concerning future: 'twill be fruitful, how -
He wouldn't say, he was himself misled
By music of reverberating lead
That hits the ship within the only clow.
Thus feelings, having set and fixed their aim,
And paid for it like Faustus Lenau,
Have never strength to chase it or to claim
Back their past where they could die or dow,
The blade of passion stabs them all the same,
Stuck in the mud to be a blooming bow.
Stuck in the mud to be a blooming bow
Of images, illusions of the mind,
Ships always leave their better winds behind
As if they do not need them in the slough.
Frail memory is dying to endow
Dim sketches with retouch of any kind,
Its fervent fingers hurry on to bind
Thin legs of past, the future's sacred cow.
All broken visions gather in the central
Immobile juncture of the thoughts that ceased
To pay with pain their ever growing rental
Under the sun that slides from west to east,
Disputing that the time is transcendental,
Amid the meadows mellowed and appeased.
Amid the meadows mellowed and appeased
The tower-clock of time is slow or silent,
The present is encircled like an island
With humid airs that have already breezed.
On goes the busy wind, a hair-stylist,
Whose rushy hands are quick, but hardly violent,
In azure shrines he found his lonely aisle, and
Old frescoes with recognition glimpsed.
For time collects its power from the things
And pushes on the sun like a huge tire,
And other suns to this one tightly links.
Supreme reversibility of fire
Has total strength and future but, methinks,
The ardent heads of poppies go higher.
The ardent heads of poppies go higher,
Because they have what other creatures miss -
Much concentration of enfolded peace
Intact within accelerating gyre
Of images which all of air hire
And all of land, just to express the bliss
Of chirping their eternal vocalise,
Like shabby puppets jerking on a wire.
Illusions have to hide their real size
To redirect the universe again,
For its perception not to be precise
When they the fields of ages start to scan
Like tumbleweeds that have much tighter ties
Than cypress-trees, in spite of their span.
Than cypress-trees, in spite of their span,
And so on, because they're made of matter
Quite different from undecided patter
Of heavy drops upon some rusted can
Or crimson rays that gaily lift a ban
From singing, jumping, whispering - the latter
By quality, perhaps, is somewhat better,
But all that matters forms a single clan.
Though there exists a mere alien sort
Of things that cannot wander in the mire
And always give immediate retort
When anything intrudes upon the spire
Of their existence, firmer than a fort,
Than ripe, discursive, meditative brier.
Than ripe, discursive, meditative brier
Of days that weren't predicted by the life
Absorbed in counterpoint of rest and strife,
Proclaiming, like a vigorous messiah,
Its crazy maxims o'er the fumy pyre,
Washing with its own tears its bloody knife -
Those, other things for ever dance and thrive
As do Aglaia, Euphrosyne, Thalia.
Their being, unrestrained by lofty order
Of elements that rules a beast, a man,
A planet, is more passionate and colder:
In their marble woods where panting Pan
Merged music into death, the last flute-holder,
Oblivion unfolds its fiery fan.
Oblivion unfolds its fiery fan
Considered by the sequences of theses
To be life minus memory, but this is
Too simple, and they obviously can
Do better, if reject their former plan.
Without this the definition misses
The point, as do at dawn the scarlet scissors
That slash the night's flamboyant caravan.
Unchained perception running on the edge
Of heads and tails, suppresses its desire
To cleave the coin with its smoothed out wedge.
Our term has definitions given prior:
Life minus future - sounds like a pledge,
For time, as has been promised, will retire.
For time, as has been promised, will retire
With withered bushes and unflourished plants,
With all this globe that curses and enchants,
With human mind, an inconsistent dyer.
The next will start: indeed, it will be dryer
Than our time with its belated grants,
That lives on dying memories and chants
Its metaphors to a translucent lyre.
The next one will reduce its own presence,
Say, to a horse that here never ran,
Or to a bird with subtly seething essence,
Or to the ocean, this richly tuned organ:
It can exist when either grows or lessens
With everything that finished or began.
With everything that finished or began
The constellations, totally unbound,
Will bump into each other with a sound
Resembling tumbles of a crashing van.
The reason is a moth on a tartan,
The soul is like a skinny hungry hound
Which puts a quaking hare on the ground
Before a sporting vegetarian.
But everything will certainly return,
So bloom the tulips when the shafts have hissed,
A shoot will spring from a deserted urn
With a carven maiden kissing a harpist,
And growing real, the creatures will re-learn
This way of minutes miserably mixed.
This way of minutes miserably mixed
In whirls destroying leaves to leave a bough,
The tree of time intends to disavow
Its own growth through cumulating mist
Of thorny things too tired to insist
On dragging forth their red decaying plough
Stuck in the mud to be a blooming bow
Amid the meadows mellowed and appeased.
The ardent heads of poppies go higher
Than cypress-trees, in spite of their span,
Than ripe, discursive, meditative brier:
Oblivion unfolds its fiery fan,
For time, as has been promised, will retire
With everything that finished or began.
* * *
Somewhere higher than this gap of green
and faded hues of not responding night,
perhaps, the respiration of the circle
is deeper and beyond both where and why:
and other birds, much harder to be seen,
than these ones, over-chirping their flight.
The glance is roaming, ready to re-knock all
forgotten doors of its transforming sky,
expecting gardens full of smiling angels,
dim personifications of the rain,
but it is doomed to stay forever local:
the universe is slowly passing by.
So ripe is expectation that the wages
of its desire is the only strain
that stops it from progressing. However,
it gains in immortality, because
it cannot merge in the decaying ages
whose only hope is to repeat again.
The time is toiling, trying to dissever
itself from lowly whirling fangs and claws
of earthly things, and to become a pure
recurring substance on a tip of days,
as if it could be possible to have a
self-stipulating, self-applying cause.
Things know its intention, so they lure
its ears with inimitable lays
and make desire bitter, and a target
unstable, and a promise void of mirth:
so they create mutation, most unsure
in their way through the dismaying maze.
And things do manage for a while to drag it
into illusions of the sinking earth,
compressing its imprints and modulations -
and this is why all rains resemble dew,
all birds resemble angels, and the bucket
of every pond is full of leaves which curse
the trees. This is the end of expectations,
because there will be always something new,
and nothing to expect. Each morning enters
on crisping wings into the sphere of
annihilation and its sister patience,
where consequences go on to glue
one thing to others, and it reads the letters
left there by other mornings, which are half
erased by rolling chariots. But farther,
on sloping hills, the harpsichord is heard,
and wings touch one another, and it matters
which hue the sunset has. The birds can laugh
on blooming grass, the horses are in lather,
still galloping along the night's long chord,
right to the stars. The fish can be a bunch of
vibrating stems around a little sun
that smells of bread. But possible is rather
impossible: this is an alien world.
The distance sings: it's hot enough to hatch love
for loss and for remoteness, only none
of their ghosts will pass the rainy alleys,
where meagre masks are hanging on the trees,
with scissored out smiles: there is no touch of
what they should do in what they haven't done.
The screen is firmly fixed, but every nail is
corroded. Planets go with a whiz
and do not hit it. Constellations lean
upon the oars and vanish out of sight,
to let their golden demon rise and hail his
mauve-hearted oceanic vis-à-vis.
* * *
Half-withered purple of the shifting night
becomes invisible: the pendent trace
of its still lasting presence is a slight
retouch of paint - the only thing that could
be kept within, if anything at all.
Day's desolate desire to be caught
inside of its expanded circle is
exactly what is stopping glow and gloom
from merging: although they will never cease
to crave for it through their lonely space.
The difference between them isn't as
sustaining as their likeness, otherwise
they would be gone completely, having left
the modus of mutation as it'd been
before their hasty bridging of the cleft.
The shadows have been gathered on one side,
the objects - on the other, being mixed
at random by the rainy arms of fate,
so fast that they can flourish and subside,
devoid of any form. We can erase
the image as it is, but we can't touch
the image as it might have been, because
the distance is too great, and no bridge
can reach there. Thus impossible survives,
both cold and ardent, both remote and close.
The cypress-trees are twirling round, full
of dust and birds. If only we could see
beyond vague vapours of a dreamy pool
or sparkling splinters of a limber stream,
we'd be content with what we'd never had.
The patterns all end here. Furthermore,
they'll never be repeated more than once:
to reappear for a while and block
they own reproduction. No chance
to come again. Such is the secret toil
of memory when it replaces us
with somebody we wanted to become,
but leaves all senses and sensations there,
to be retrieved by he who does not have
our right to bleed, our reason to despair.
We lose identity, we no longer are
the messengers of our own tribes,
we're subtly substituted. But the worst
of all is that we cannot go as far
as our illusions. We remember what
does not belong to us. The past exists
because it is possessive. If it weren't,
it would be hardly able to endure
its own presence, so full it is
of death. The things that have to learn to want
are doomed to be replaced. Space as it is
would not allow them to constitute
their own pattern. So we have to lease
our memories and get them afterwards
adjusted to our absence. Fragrant palms
of meadows are wide open to receive
the honey of the angels. Here they are,
descending one by one and, half-way through,
deflecting from the heaven's golden bar
and veering back like shreds of a torn banner.
* * *
The past and the memory, they aren't one and the same:
The first is arranging the objects, the second is losing the aim
By being unable to hold them inside of the frame.
They are afraid of motion, 'cause the latter is their end,
But things have this passion to change and to shift, on one hand,
And to keep being fixed, on the other: a handful of sand,
Preserving the form of a palm while it falls and dissolves.
A carpet where patterns and letters are mingled with holes
Through which time can look at the sky and its hovering goals.
This desire to be undisturbed is the present, desire to be
Set in motion is future. Like a sail on the sea,
It craves to glide forward, as if to return means to flee.
Three aspects of time are united in a gesture of pain
For, by definition, both the time and the space are insane,
Which would not be that bad, after all, if they weren't so vain.
They are trying to forward the beauty of lingering stars
To the edge of horizon, the singular landmark that mars
Their crystal desire and draws those reddening scars
On the face of their memory. What is remembered, can stay
Kind of saved only if it is meant to replenish a day
With its loss, and to bloom on the verge of dismay.
But it's only a garden with plenty of withering plants,
No rain passes by, with its fatal recurrence of chants:
There is future that takes, but there is no future that grants.
Images of the land, they are gone - there is nothing behind
This remarkable screen, but the past of a different kind,
Which absorbs and dissevers at random, because it is blind.
There's a different past which will never surrender to us,
Like a horrible axis installed in an hour-glass,
Pointing down to death, while the clouds grow black and amass.
It already contains all the things which are going to spring
From the well of existence, and keeps them right under its wing:
This is why any future has really nothing to bring.
And the natural past is a victim of that one - it is,
Therefore, but a shadow that one cannot finger or seize,
But the denser the time is, the more it responses to these
Weak attempts to suffice, and the more it reverses and claims
To re-shift all the targets, to break and confuse all the aims
That one sets for himself when his fate neither sees him, nor blames.
This is why to remember means almost the same as to lose,
And the castles of sand are so tall. Come to think of it, whose
Irresistible dream could be ever distinct from the ooze
Of its own fulfilment? We go deliberately
To the goals we can't choose, for this keeps us from falling. We see
Things we cannot ally with. But soon they appear to be
Just the same as the chosen ones, if it had sense to deny
The convulsions of self-affirmation and the flourishing sky
With the lips of the sunset that kiss your presumption good-bye.
* * *
You're open to the utmost, to the hill
with daytime, like a banner, hanging still.
Prescribing to the clouds where to fly,
and where to deviate, and where to hover,
while other hills are bending down, lower
than the unyielding bottom of the sky.
The unforgotten moments cannot lie,
and their hands, assembled in a mower,
cut fields of grace, until the day is over
and straight like a black rope with no ply.
The lake and the reflection of the lake
then argue who is real, who is fake.
Through narrow paths of indecisive seasons
you trace the colours of the shifting lights
which open wide and slash like rusted scissors
soft flowers of sunsets on the heights
of towers, illusive and majestic,
transplanted there by a single gesture
of some stray autumn, dropping crimson leaves
into its wound which blooms with blood and heaves.
Between the object and its dull reflection
there lies a scale of narrowing succession
where things diminish and destroy themselves -
so trees are merging in a falling pigeon
when its uprooted eye-sight hardly tells
the soil from death and death from something else.
Each painted door proclaims its dark religion
and thrusts the flesh of smoking eyeless things
which dance along the narrow edge of vision
but nothing stops them, nothing truly brings
conclusion into their grim rotations,
serenity reborn from deviations,
when structured silence swells and lifts the lot
of decomposed and underspoken thought.
The world is squeezed, upon its cracking gore,
between the threshold and the painted door.
A single tree forgotten on the hill,
pressed almost into nothing by severe
embraces of the wind - it's always here,
denying the annihilating will
of landscapes quickly changing one another
and falling in the square well of time
where older forms are being burnt by lime
of stagnancy, at once becoming rather
indifferent to their fate and place:
triumphant pageant hardly leaves a trace
in the rotating air, in the glow
of tenderness with which new morning brings
its round harp with veins instead of strings
vibrating like a graceful sky-blue row
of stems, or like a cage with no birds,
or like a hedge that strains itself and hurts
in front of all-devouring successions
of structures stuffed with value, rushing through
the bursting screen of stiff and thingless blue
incensed like a lance bearer losing patience,
until it rises to demolish them
with its precipitating ruthless stem.
But at the very moment of incision
they move aside and then begin to wait
until they no longer feel its hate
and see that its destructive recognition
has gone away, beyond their frame of vision,
and their limbs begin to palpitate
with hungering desire, but too late:
they have to readjust to repetition
and then to start their vague attack again
with bitterness of something done in vain.
This war of repetition and persistence,
of folding closeness and unfolding distance
is going on with every turn of time:
thus words line up in rows, pair to pair,
and then assault each other with despair
above some stiffened carcass of a rhyme.
But far beyond such blueness, compound
of shadows, and the echoes of a sound,
and stirring of continual turmoil
within rejuvenation and senescence,
some definitions supersede the essence
and never shuffle off this mortal coil.
* * *
it could be more than that, it could be dawn
and sprouts of fiery rainbows subtly sown
inside the womb of a recumbent plain,
first madness of the clouds hanging low
above the earth and milking it to grow
like porous petals when the core is gone,
it could be splash of nebulous disdain
to anything that heartbeat doesn't know
of imitated days
we see the same dull slope
of the unbroken hill upon the plain
like some gigantic top that air fails to spin,
he same thin leafless tree that drinks its fainting hope
with twisted twigs that go greyish blue evoking colours of a rain,
while we are watching through the windows of a weed-grown wayside inn.
rejected by the very image of ourselves, by its complexity, in vain
we break the stems of evening stars and rise to grope
for a key that does not match, for a leaky bin
with our fingers sprouting like grain
and wiltering beyond the scope
of a recurvate maze
that ever stays
ways forward to the objects never equal
ways backward. Like a hot euphoric eagle,
the mind takes off to spot its destined prey,
and crashes to the earth, unshaped and loud,
unskying its unfolded winged shroud,
but, speeding back, it cannot cease to mingle
with time, and ever roams, a blob of clay,
a screaming stamp upon a passing cloud.
* * *
for every wind?'s emotionless blast
brings shreds of feathers with their dance of loss
rotating leaves of faded rainbow-trees
and bitter tide of petals outcast
the eye undates the images it sees:
the clouds overgrown with melted moss
the shadows cleft and soaking in the sun
the palms of longing fastened to the mast:
this changing chain of shapes and whispers is
and jingles like a broken clavecin as tangible as time that blooms with gloss
another dawn until it is undone of golden spirals delicately spun
to wriggle into heaven and to toss beyond the brine of its congealing seas:
before the knotty hands of chance begin both take and choke whatever falls within
but those still merge: for it can only last the circle of a trice that grows fast
and separates the future from the past
less finished than a roughly painted slur
of images once solid, seething through
the wide-spread plumes of sloppy noon, it stays
unstopped within its own barky surge
and sways like multi-handed drunk Pierrot
its muscular contracting boughs blur
the clear eyes of undiscovered blue
and try to blind them with the squeaking rays -
but all in vain, for those just blink and dodge
and watch them crash and start again to grow:
it heaves and pants, all covered with the foam
of velvet clusters, like a wounded beast's
distorted vision, and this velvet is
so dense and avid that the sky above
seems much more distant than it wants to be:
and when it rises, it begins to roam
along the walls of badly shattered mists
soaked in illusions, which it cannot ease,
and hides a purple-winged dormant dove
under the crust of wooden misery
This light is dim, as if it has been born
inside some massive disconnected sphere,
transparent and perspiring very near
to our imaginary homes.
Seclusion of the shadows gliding through
those round walls that are detected only
as a reminder of another country
enveloped with the copper-tinted blue.
It could be said that the unwanted weight
of our experience is smaller
than that of things to come: the past is hollow
when future landscapes don't replenish it.
Things unperceived are messengers of life,
self-generated in the rolling windows
of ruined possibilities, escaping
to their freedom from a burning hive.
The child of recognition, each of them
knocks on the door of chance which opens out
without any squeaking, any sound
and hangs upon its hinges like a fruit
on a rotating tree, and ripens so
profusely that it springs its aching veins
towards the trunk, and drinks its bitter sap,
and chokes the tree, and will not let it go
towards the goals of growth. Such is a winter day
remembered in the heat of summer noons,
when plants are so high that each one blooms
like a resplendent smile upon the mouth
of evanescent air. We can see
from here many objects being born
and trapped by their mutual fruition,
and then reduced to vain sterility,
but none of them can reach us, for the time
protects us in its womb from rain and thunder,
we're burning like some splintered torches under
the mystery of air-fuelled domes.
We have access to very slow worlds,
so mellow their pulp explodes when touched,
a little more, and we shall hardly tell
the hasty mouldings from the hand that moulds.
The trees are standing still, the roots are tight,
the leaves are like unfolded stringy mirrors
projecting little trees towards the sunless
horizon lying flat upon the palm
of leaking sky. The more it rains, the more
this curtain seems to be threadbare and brittle,
only the moon is breathing like a turtle
trapped in a rotten basket on the shore.
ALIEN LANDSCAPE I
Wet hailstones crammed under the spiral trees,
evaporating in the stems of lurid dust,
no buds, no leaves, the juicy boughs are
like fat repulsive plumes, all brimming with
discoloured radiance. Upon the distant coast
you see the awkward silhouettes of birds
collecting shells and flower-like squids.
The mountains are so near to the ocean
they almost fall in it, the gravity of all this water
sucks out their sap and makes their breeze
dry out. Now you can let yourself remember
what you rejected so long ago. All moons
have ripened so fast, you hear them hiss
as their landscapes rub against the night.
You say, soon ripe, soon rotten. Only this
is not maturity, but rather instantaneous
denial of decay, so we sometimes achieve
a kind of equilibrium between our future
as we see it and the impossibility of it.
You may have grown bigger than your time,
your vocal chords are calling up the kites
of stray meteorites released from their strings
and flying straight into the face of centuries,
the black dot of your body on the coast line,
seen from afar, may have more meaning in it
than herds of comets raining down
into the open palms of suffering.
Remember things that you've rejected, for the past
is like a girl carried across the stream,
her hands around your neck, her breath like a whisper,
her wet lips almost saying something moving
at random, mindlessly, small undeveloped breasts
pointing outwards, forming a tense triangle
with your flat chest, and you want the stream to be
as wide as possible. The horses of the trees
are drinking salty water from the puddles
left by the random rain. The layers of the sky
are brown, orange, blue. What has to be embraced
will be embraced. What has to be disdained
will be embraced. Like little smudgy pictures on the glass,
laid one upon another, your memories
are trapped within each other, forming
this feast of liberated colours, like a lump
of mouldy chaff, superior in colour to all the fields
in bloom, to all the rays of dawn and its reflection
inside the crystal walls of germinating moons,
left on the threshold to seduce old birds.
* * *
Desine, Paulle, meum lacrimis urgere sepulcrum:
nempe tuas lacrimas litora surda bibent.
Propertius, IV. 11
Don't cry for me, for only
the senseless stones will drink your tears,
I'll never see you cry, for tears are
no more than splinters of a lurid globe
which only knows its orb and nothing more.
The dead don't know how to cry, they don't
have any hopes to lose, any illusions
to bargain for. They're lost
like limpid feathers of a slow bird,
too slow to make it to the other shore.
Don't cry for me, for I shall never be
there for you. I'll never wipe your tears,
my palm is very cold and you would shudder
if I could touch you as I used to do.
They say that we are mixed with dust
from fallen stars, that we have our names
engraved upon the sun, that we disturb
the consciousness by our sudden springing
from non-existence. Don't believe it.
I walk within a crowd of other women,
all moving backwards. We can see
the shores of chance, the bleeding death
of the unknown planets. We lose our way
so many times that we don't understand
if we are still on our track or gone
forever. Don't pity me, for I shall never take
the warmth of your emotion, keep it to yourself
each time when you remember me.
I am a house with shut windows.
I am a child squeezed by its cradle.
I am a name without sound.
I am my mother's milk that burned my lips.
Don't cry for me, I beg you. I can hear,
not you, for you are far away, but subtle motions
within the stars, that cattle of the space
which roams through us and plucks the blades of light,
the giant stars, so ripe their stems
are bending down.
My soul still resonates within my hollow body
like a dry pea inside a rattle.
I cannot fall asleep, the other women's crying
wakes me up. Some don't believe they're dead
and call their husbands, call their children,
this is unbearable. I do not cry for you,
I never call our child, because I know that you can't
take me from here.
It is so dark, it snows all the time,
if I can speak of time. We try to cling
to each other and to sit together
upon the frozen earth, but we get only colder,
the flakes of snow do not melt
upon our lips.
I say your name with my numb lips,
I keep your face enframed by my cracked pupils,
I call you for my own sake with a frozen tongue.
I touch my sunken chest, my heart is there,
it lies like a dead bird inside the cage,
it holds a poppy's grain in its half-opened beak.
We look into each other's faces as into
a mirror, they're like a surface of an evening pond,
connecting things to their reflexions.
You didn't know the dead are so talkative,
I look into your face when I imagine you,
my letter is a pilgrim passing through the night,
when I begin to think that you may ever hear
my letter, I begin to smile, my mouth opens wide,
my lips are scarlet on the inside, my smile
is burning in the dull despondent crowd
like a fresh tulip thrown in the dirt,
it's seen from far away, the only lucid spot
in the enormous space of ghastly night,
it blazes like the flame of a light-house
showing escape to other souls.
I wrote this letter never to be sent
by ship, by carriage, with a pigeon.
I wrote this letter never to be read
to tell my husband that he shouldn't cry.
* * *
You'll open your new eyes and you will see
the well, the house and the cypress white,
but care not to come too close to it,
just say: "I've done my due, and I am now free,
please let me in, you kind ones, to the light. "
You'll open your old eyes, and you will see
the well, the house and the cypress black,
come up as close to it as you are able to,
and say: "I failed to live, and I am now free,
please let me in, you harsh ones, to the dark. "
And they will open their squeaking gates,
and you will pass through them and disappear
into the waving azure, and the sun,
among the poplars, poppies and the lakes,
of which one neither speaks, nor holds one's peace...
© Vlanes (Вланес), 2003-2021.
© Сетевая Словесность, 2003-2021.