Cat in the Dessert

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Horses and despairs

I saw that my friend Valeri has yet another couple of his poems in print in the BG daily Sega. This reminded me that I can actually try and post one of his poems here, in my translation. Let's see how it will work out.



Between the two tropics – to always lose the Equator!
"Archipelágoes...archipelágoes!..." – the same daydreaming,
        the same appeals

(for what?) under the staring moon: o pale and brazen spotter,
a face-smear oozing down the hard up window.

Through cloudy drafts behind cracked windows, thrusted moans –
        descants of a slow night – mirages pile...
And you – with spilled epistles in
impótent heart, in weakened heart
of ugly sprouting town – a port with lighthouse slanting in the fog –
        are stuck like a split ship with craggy caverns
on banks blood-yellowed by the lymph of black and sodden rays...
        In back of chortles in the shaken visions, a violet moon collapses
together with a Griffin-cloud in shadows, rambunctious in scrapped porticos –
o, horns of the undying wind – you tremble, and so the skeleton
        of branches...

        Heart without evil – but alone,
heart numb in scratched and sticky semi-dream of vileness: you do sail,
feet covering the breaches of the fragile reed remnants, interwoven
with rotten bast – here loosened by the wet, there knitted
        by fire-cracking tar... you do sail – with broken oar, without a horn or bell... you do sail for days high waters that swallowed in addition the syringa...
...the blood hides in the wounded thigh, and hand ripped off by the tumultuous rope... you do sail –
in splinter carried like a flag and drifted on dusk-silver currents...
...where is the sun – here every dream is crumbled... where is the sun –
        each day here ends in vengeance...
...where is the sun and where your earth like a dislodged island floats...
...where is the sun – again you're moving, and running terrified, again the fear
far somewhere out of you, inside of you, advances bifurcated,
        the fear – its greasy maw of estuaries.


And in the sunset – hand on throat – just barely,
have splashed your ashen smiles into the window,
and you perceive in the apparent speechlessness of salvos and drumbeats,
in the hoarse neighing and hoof-beats of horses in a circle – still you hear,
above the frozen frightened forests a slit-throat frightened voice is wheezing,
        swung by the blood:

O, evening fields of mine, without a fragrance darkened – turned to chasms –
for caravan and moon, for animal and man;
behind abominable crowds, the city burns;

you hear as in the later moment, above the shrieks and the just sobbed piano,
that crunches grass with polished foot in the neglectful water, look again –
above shrill howls and over pipelines, as if in a backyard and shambles, over crying,
together with old people's prayers, like enchantments, as if a magic of the yellowed laughs –

the shackles are in swing and piled, and not yet cold – and dragged along the roads;
arms are crushed, the chests are toned, the shoulders – calloused...

Their clang around the raw wounds flexes, and your laughter –
like the enlightenment of a corpse – dejected laughter, over blind lakes in lofty forests
is their clang – lint of the craters in the soil, in heart and mind...
In alienating home
with daydreams of a ship, and later
        the ship turned into home

‑ what, what still keeps you here, what – plunge into the bad sea!...


...Again the same delirium, the same appeals!...

Night like a coffin clamps your feet and bites into your straining temples;
vulture – bearded, loud and generous – flies by, your eyes away to ferry;
dolphin – wise, but deaf and sad – transports your skull like a glass vessel on its forehead;
black crab follows – stare of quartz, hard flippers, protecting clusters of a poisoned seed –
        across sharp sand and into withered grass…
The archipelagoes are sinking, muddy, behind the reefs and all the starry valleys –
        into the furrows of departed ships, and vanish…

And you arise together with the dead – transparent on the bottom, in a green and tender-muted feast…
        And you fall on your face; the mast has hit you on the shoulder…
Again arises – giant, clear, alarming – on the horizon a dilapidated town
under the buildings – water, over the buildings – water, in front of them – a sunken lighthouse,
        beside the carcass of a brigantine.

        Heart without evil – but alone,
heart in the midst of detestation, raise the stone, that was in use in stead of anchor!...
In front of you again the sun – a ball unfurled by nails – is rising!...


(C) Valeri Daskalov, 1998
(C) Elko Tchernev, translation, 2004

Sunday, March 4, 2007

You might be Bulgarian if...

1. You had to share a room until you were 21.

2. Everything you eat is savored in garlic and onions.

3. You are standing next to the two largest suitcases at the airport.

4. You arrive one or two hours late to a party - and think its normal.

5. All your children have nick names, which sound nowhere close to their real names.

6. You talk for an hour at the front door when leaving someone's house.

7. Your mom tells you you're too skinny even though you're 30 pounds overweight.

8. Your house is full of medicine from your old country and it's probably all illegal here.

9. You and your friends have ever been kicked out of a restaurant or recreational park for being too loud or rowdy.

10. You don't know how to use a dishwasher b/c you are the dishwasher.

11. You have a vinyl tablecloth on your kitchen table.

12. You use grocery bags to hold garbage.

13. Your dad ever butchered a pig or lamb.

14. You don't use measuring cups when cooking.

15. If you don't live at home, when your parents call, they ask if you've eaten, even if it's midnight.

16. Your parents don't realize phone connections to foreign countries have improved in the last two decades, and still scream at the top of their lungs when making foreign calls.

17. It's "normal" if your wedding has 600 people.

18. Your 15 year old sister can out-drink any American guy.

19. You drive a nicer car than your parents.

20. Your dad carries around enough money to buy a car.

21. You have all brand new appliances in your kitchen but your mom cooks in the basement with the stove from your old house.

22. Your parents have gone on vacation ONCE and it was to your home country.

23. You base your whole life on the fortune in your coffee cup.

24. Your parents still prefer to buy cassettes instead of CDs.

25. You're actually nodding and laughing at most of these things.

26. You're a proud Eastern European and pass this on to your European friends.

27. Your non-English speaking grandmother gives a shocked looked when you say 'pizza'.

28. You wear french connection and other designer clothing when going to work out.

29. You carry liquor back here from your country in plastic sprite bottles under tons of clothing in the suitcase.

30. You have 17 consonants and 2 vowels in your last name.

The list was published ages ago on soc.culture.bulgaria, I copied it from another site recently. Now, it was obviously written with the help of "you might be Ukrainian if...". Can you spot the Ukrainian influences? ;)