Caput Mortuum

Translated by John Minahane 

Letter to a developer

dear investor,
as you have just learned,
this envelope
contains a letter,
not a cartridge.
since I am not the holder
of an arms certificate,
any such gestures
would have only symbolic force.
I do however favour
action, direct where possible,
precisely like you,
who are making life bitter
for me, my fellow citizens, our city.
I call on you therefore
to halt forthwith
the construction works
on Koliba Hillside Residence
on Panorama Koliba
on Uptown Koliba
on Belaria Koliba
on Areal Koliba.
in the opposite event
expect the worst:
mild shifts in the understanding
of quite specific
concepts and realities:
peace, pain, life, death.
my poetic project
will announce itself one day at dawn
with the song of the first birds,
before the cranes are stirring
or hammers strike, or drills and iron-cutters snarl.
google, please, these names:
Villon, Byron, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Lautréamont,
Whitman, Marinetti, Majakovskij, Tzara, Breton,
now you know what I mean when I speak
of the relativity
of good and evil
love and hatred
life and death
I’d like to see your eyes
widened by knowledge of truth.
it’s just a moment, but an eternal one.
that’s the advantage of poetry:
unlike your precast concrete
it never loses concentration,
it lurks like a bird of prey
till it catches its kill.
you will never be safe
from the poem
that’s written for you.
you won’t survive this poem,
your building won’t survive this poem,
your name will crumble in dust.
this poem will find you
dead or alive,
in the Bahamas or Cyprus,
bankrupt or not.
but have no fear,
the time of judgment and prophecy will be fulfilled
long after
the cranes for the last time turn their scraggy necks,
the cutters sing their requiem,
the hammers drive the last nail into the coffin.
here am I playing with keyboards
while you’re hard at work.
in the beginning was the word: whoreson,
in the end a poem,
thank you for the inspiration,
O investor, O developer, muse.
inscrutable are the ways of God,
I have told you:
good and evil are relative.
and this poem?
it is only an expression of divine awareness,
of universal wisdom,
of the central intelligence in the cosmos;
today it lays the path for my anger,
tomorrow for your humility, when in the morning
you’ll rise, distribute your wealth, enter
a monastery with a prayer upon your lips,
joyfully communing with eternity.
now you know that I wanted to warn you:
you’re the same Buddha as me.
so you see:
you’re an investor,
you’re a muse,
you’re a buddha.
and all this you owe to my poem.
but now you are dead
and it remains for you
to be born again.
I accompany you as a bard of despair,
beware of images
of residences, beautiful women,
expensive alcohol, and instead focus
your attention on this poem.
its doors are open wide to you,
you need only go in
and jump from the highest storey.
I’ll cover you with a white sheet,
a white leaf of paper,
with the poem
that has brought you thus far.
it was a bloody investment,
worthy of redemption.

Night’s echo
                        covers everything
that breathes.
We’re beyond the horizon,
and now the wheels
are turning only in heads.
The pilgrims squeezed the bones
                                                                   that moan in the wind
into a grain of rice.
From the sand dunes
                                               freedom blows.
It has the face of a worm
                                                  that eats up everything
in the name of profit.
The skeletons of states
                                               blow in the wind,
hung on a cross
                                   as a windbreak.
you’re asking the way,
                                               but in your heart
the snake
                        goes sinuously in time
The stairways have been moved.
The pilgrims have been carted
                                                             off to execution.
While they were dreaming,
someone screwed off their heads,
filled them with sand
and sold them to museums.
We browse in memory’s offprints,
we’re the first who’re going nowhere.
Shot by firing-squad at dawn,
we testify to the shadow’s length
in puddles of blood.
Dogs bark.
Beyond the horizon of days
                                                  shining white tents,
phantoms of onetime
Continents on pilgrimage
                                                   through the looking-glass.
Freedom is only a word
                                               that the wind
gnawed into your heart.