Poems by Miroslav Holub (translated, & not necessarily very well)

Anencephaly

Newborn without a brain
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
And what kind of Jonah?
This one reclines in a crib on the ward,
has the face of a pink toad
and instead of a skull
a bag,
a limp red bag
pulsating on the pillow.
His mouth-opening forms at times
a short proboscis
like a tapir searching in bamboo
for Saint Anthony.
And Erato the muse howls with sorrow in the elevator.
But he is brotherly, he is close
to Nature,
to cauliflower,
to porcupines,
he is genuine, more genuine
than Broca’s brain and Kant’s reason,
he is innocent, more innocent
than Noah’s offspring in the land of Shinar,
than original sin,
than Lucifer’s mafia,
than the thief on the right-hand cross,
Bergson’s seventh reincarnation,
or a surrealist’s daydream.
And what kind of surrealist?
He drinks and excretes,
as decreed by the laws of Mother Earth,
only a couple
of tainted genes too many
only a couple
of vile enzymes behind the poem.
A tiny avant-garde miracle. And who would first cast a stone?
Perhaps he has opened the seventh seal
And there is silence in heaven
About the space of half an hour, and the seventh angel
Poured out his vial into the air,
And there came a great voice
Out of the temple of heaven, saying,
It is done.

***************************************

In the microscope

Here too are dreaming landscapes,
Lunar, derelict.
Here too are the masses
tillers of the soil.
And cells, fighters
who lay down their lives
for a song.
Here too are cemeteries,
fame and snow.
And I hear murmuring,
the revolt of immense estates.

***************************************

ENCYCLOPÆDIA : SUM OF ALL KNOWLEDGE new version by Anthony Weir

A huge brown and white bull
dangling from chains
by a hind leg torn from its socket
its prolapsed belly
contracted in spasm

is dragged with its twitching mouth along the ground
and slowly butchered
over a leaky drain.

The huge, protruding eye
is turning inward

where someone’s fingernail
fishes around for ever
to find out the nature

of Beta-glucuronidase*.

***************************************

The Rampage

 

The last time
there was a genuine rampage,
herds stampeding
with the zest of hurricanes,
with the pulsations of a storm,
and the force of destiny,

when the road went up
against the villous ceiling,
when the stronger ones
pushed forward to the cruel
thunder of whips while the zombies
fell back into permanent darkness,

the last time
the cavalry charged
across the whole width of the enemy line
into the gap between life and death,
and not even one single droplet of misery
dripped,

the last time
something really won
and the rest turned into compost

that was when the sperm
made the journey
up the oviduct.

This was ‘to be or not to be’.

Since that time we’ve been tottering round
with the embarrassment of softening skeletons,
with the wistful caution
of mountain gorillas in the rain;
we keep hoping for the time-lapse soul,
secreting
marital problems and
a stationary home metaphysics

against which
the adenosine triphosphate of every fucked-up cell
is like the explosion of a star
in a chicken coop.