Five Poems

Kornélia Deres

Aquatic Creatures

You don’t need more than the perfect, broken angle of the sun.
Let there be dreams and let the sun blaze the white flagstones;
beyond the lounge chair, a three-person-sized tub. Or pool.
In them, finned creatures from a bygone era: dolphins,
I believe. They bind themselves to unacknowledged pains.
From this angle, the sun grazes the top of the head:
proportionate tingling. We are getting ready to detach.

Systemic problems do not end
at the ego’s borders. Repeated trauma, they call it.
The slippery ones make themselves at home in cerebrospinal fluid, ruthless
splashing takes place there. Damn fish.

To capture them is butcher’s work. They do not long for tubs.
It hurts them to look at reflectors, to be lingual.
I take the ocean from them, the blue,
and the ability to hide. We cannot live so many
in one head anyway. Clear-sighted heat comes for them.

Gutted fish, you swim out from under the nape
into quotation marks. And beyond.

Binding Orders

I spaceship to worn-down teeth, I fly
inside a body. Again. A moist cave,
this mouth. For this they do not give any words
that are free. My new assignment is to observe
those who live here, who chew to bloody bits
my sleep. Is this the past,
or is it still the future?

Here, I meet my young mother and a teary satyr.

Please, be so kind as to exit my story.
What are they doing hiding amongst my worn-down teeth?

My young mother is brave, quick to laugh. The star
of a Czechoslovakian film, in your dreams she herds game. One of them
is me. The snow-white and the bear-brown.
I try to enunciate, but the words do not come.
I choke. The satyr just wails in the background,
like a run-down Zsiguli car. I slap him.
Even though I can’t see the monkey in him yet.

My young mother and the satyr wish to stay here, too,
under the tongue. My solution is routine, carefree:
in the evenings, I shed my teeth.
At least someone can finally escape.

Spectator Zero (Shadow)

Relax your tongue.

A caravan parks in front of consciousness:
monkey heads wrapped in burnooses, owl beak
smeared in red, buffalo panting,
badger tunic, totem cackle.
Dirty ritual, in standard time.

Raggedy, dark-faced little sib-
lings follow, demand.
Ego huddled into a military unit:
live broadcast from the subconscious.
Just who will I fall apart for?
For whom will I finally write something nice, mechanical?

Relax your tongue. Breathe.

It’s only the shadow technology making you look
so big, gigantic. You fumble with words,
like someone whose face is too wide.
You’re a paper fan, shutters, venetian blinds.
You govern cerebral roadways: poetic trash
is in vogue.

Someone banished you from here, Shadow.
Even though you saw me before the tongue would have sat
on the throne. Archaic animal, spectator zero,
crumple-headed, pitchforked traveler.

Halogen Half

I splash around with my finned organs
in an aquarium broken by neon light.
I’m programmed as peaceful
as a water corpse. Heat pricks me.

Cerebral pathways are susceptible to the bad.

I came for a heart cleansing, expecting quality work
for my money. A break
in the torso, the ribcage tightens.
“Breathe and let go.”

What is this merfolk rhetoric?

I get excited by the light conditions of the season,
the landscape beyond the halogens, with photon dots.
Not by these lines soaked in heatstroke,
revolutionary nests, underhanded,
unsavory, wrung-out genes.

The Wolf from Fargo

They sharpen bones up north there, under the crown.
Filed-down memories lay low inside: there’s nowhere
else to crumble. Descend, you stubborn

How long have we been playing this breaking test?

Muddy, gray shitheads fracture
my momentum. Filthy, broken alleyways: for a life,
this is bleak. Sharpen your bones up north.
Strength slowly creates a figure, steps away from the fields.
And takes off running.

A wolf from Fargo. His clothes ornate,
his teeth tombstone-white. He will scarf you down for breakfast:
his goal seductive. He flies over tasseled continents,
rigid muscles. You’d think he was a dragon.
The fur on his back rises, a soft, smoky
gray blanket. You’re forbidden to stop him.

On scornful Wednesdays, he bears his teeth
in the dark.

translated from the Hungarian by Timea Balogh