Poetry

The First Woman Above the Moon

 

What keeps her going is fear of failure.

She stays in her head all her life

and in pyjamas two-thirds of it.

The weekly singing classes in the flat next door

she can stand, but not the moaning that comes afterwards.

Once she had a nightmare, the phone rang,

somebody needed something from her.

The damaged brain of Jim’s mother.

The nights spent staring at others’ windows.

On the table unpeeled shrimps.

When an inspector wants to check if she has a TV set

she asks him, do I look like a telly watcher to you?

She used to pinch herself, hard.

Now in the footsteps of A. Lowen she makes crying

her daily routine, like toothbrushing.

She abandoned the woman she was before,

chronically hungry.

In winter she loves to merge with the dark crowd of the city.

A deep listener, no limits.

She smells like fire. You would kill for her curls.

It is not about the length of a crying session but its depth.

 

 

First appeared in Banshee, Ireland, issue # 7 autumn/winter 2018

 

 

 

 

Above All

 

When hanging morning laundry the low sun flattered my back.

Lingerie on the washing line flirted with the breeze.

I stood firmly on Mother Earth who was on my side doing her daily labour.

Clouds swam into the chimney by themselves,

the enigma of skies didnt require any explanation.

Serenity boiled over like milk.

I did not desire to be someone else or somewhere else,

there was no need to rush to or emerge from.

Neither quadratic equations nor carbon compounds threatened me.

Lovers, friends, foes, a career, all my illusions

I bartered for silence.

 


Originally published in Envoi (UK), Issue179, June 2018

 

 

Her Mother Hides in the Wardrobe

 

Julia wears a pink dress and earrings,

has green eyes and a pony tail.

She has herpes, hepatitis, thrush,

staphylococcus, cervical erosion, HIV.

 

She lives with her mum and dad in

a studio flat in an old district of Kiev.

They have three cats: Hanka, Efedra,

Morifius – opium, ephedrine, morphine.

 

She learns English before the summer,

My name is Julia, fifty minutes fifty dollars.

 


Originally published in the anthology „Hallelujah for 50ft Women,” Bloodaxe Books, 2015

 

 

 

This is What is Happening to Me

 

Because it happens nothing is happening

or will happen to me.

What I am offered is what is left,

unneeded. It exists because of

short-sightedness of fat cats.

It is gold of the unhappy

and undernourished.

It is invisible, like earwax

that becomes a feast for a roach

crawling into your ear at night.

Or it is transparent like the cheeks

of your sister dying of AIDS.

It is what we are fed on

and what we have to beg for.

It is too little to wear pink glasses

and too much to join the joy-choir.

It is not only that, it is something

you never get because you are the last

in the queue or are the middle sibling.

It exists, you see it clearly,

watching them guzzle from silver bowls.

 

 

First appeared in Cyphers (Ireland), Issue 85, Spring/Summer 2018

 

 

 

Homage to Stanisław Barańczak and Tomaž Šalamun

 

It is the ninth of January, the fifth Sunday this week.

A heavenly café hovers among the slow clouds.

It is a hothouse with a glass bottom where tourists,

if allowed in, could be watched by rainbow-like fish.

 

Staszek and Tomaž in dressing gowns, soft slippers

do not look down or back. They are playing chess.

The aroma of pipe tobacco wafts through the room.

One can hear the sound of grey matter hissing.

Above their heads

porcelain figurines dance around a blue cabbage.

 

 

Originally published in Stand (UK), Issue 218, Volume 16 Number, 2 May – June 2018