Etel Adnan | MAYAKOVSKY

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1

Mayakovsky, where are you?

I can go to the train station
and pick you up.

we can speak of the weather
on the way back,

and if you’re coming by bus
I can wait for you at the
terminal

and in case that you found enough
money to have taken the plane

I will get up early and wait
for you.

Don’t tell me dear Vladimir
that you lost my address,

and that you won’t come,
not tomorrow, not ever,

I still wait for you
because we’re feeling miserable

here, and elsewhere, in Europe
or in California.

We all know that your
revolution was bloody

but now the world is letting blood
with no change, no hope,
in sight.

You are underfoot, Mayakovsky,
I mean if your bones held together,

in spite of the years,

let me inform you that
poets are leaving their rooms,
by the hundreds,

in search of you, in every
train, plane and streetcar

and, at night, in the harbors.

 

 

2

In a fugitive and dull light
I’m listening to a ball game

staring at a point in space
between the radio and Mayakovsky

my team has not been leading
since the revolution faltered

under our expectations’ dire
weight

so we pretend to play chess
with Russians

or go skiing in the Arctic
like Norwegians on a holiday
outing

but it’s the problems
that are coming to us,

finding us reading your books,
Mayakovsky, their pages yellowed
with dust,
we’re one hundred years younger,
waiting with you for the signal
that will change the world.

 

 

3

I keep asking where the poet
is hiding and get smiles and
looks of bewilderment for an answer

I go through the alleys of the
city, hoping to see him standing
by a window

I knock at Lili Brik’s door,
her neighbors shouted that she
had gone to Paris

I read the papers and the obituaries,
but can’t find his name.

It is not dark tonight,
in Moscow, because of the snow.

Back in hotel, there’s
this phone call: Mayakovsky has
committed suicide …

I didn’t know.

 

 

4

In the Berezina of my childhood
soldiers were freezing to death
and Napoleon was losing the war

I was crying for the horses because,
lying on their backs, they loomed
bigger than my parents.

These days, I hang around some
North Beach cafés, yearning for signs
of adventure.

Something, though, is pressing on
my breathing. Customers are happy
at this special moment, celebrating
the season.

I’m confused.

 

 

5

This moment’s future is going to be too
wretched to matter. The news creates
alienation and fear.

Illumination is to be found in oak
trees, not in my heart. I’m searching
for a poet with whom to share a night
of conversation.

I remember that trains in Turkey were
producing carbon dioxide when the
empire was crumbling

and that women were drinking tea by
the edges of their desires.

 

 

6

I have friends who write mystic poems
on ecstatic days, their bare feet
playing with the ocean. Their cars
shine at their door, wagging their
tails with impatience.

Theirs are nice poems unveiling the
world the way young men uncover their
first love.

I have other friends – it’s true that
they live far from the Bay – who encode
their poems on the skin of their brain.
They live in places so crowded that
they take turns and sleep two hours at
a time.

As the siege prevents them from finding
paper and ink, they dream of cutting
their veins, one morning, to send a
letter to their mother.

 

 

7

Mayakovsky, the twin brothers
Blood and Death led you into their
dark chambers, immured and empty

but your secret visions are traveling
from country to country, lodging
in different minds, and different
buildings.

 

 

8

Collecting food for the soul in
grammar books keeps us from moving
further; we lose speech, song and
cohesion.

Should we stay where we are, with
ideas about immortality boiling like
the sun itself, yesterday, visibly
a furnace ready to reduce everything
to radiating beams.

 

 

9

Did someone run you ashore on that
oceanic night or did pantalooned
clouds drop you on the pavement
while the Army was celebrating
May Day?

I want a parade for the fallen poet,
a minute of silence, some flowers …
There, silently crying between her
son’s inanimate body and yours, I
see Akhmatova.

 

 

10

There was, long before you and I
were born, a woman, with a blue
apron, pouring milk in a
painter’s cup.

Then you appeared,
tall, wild and unconcerned,
on the lit stage of her
kitchen.

The years were turbulent,
students were reading you in
their beds in their seasons of
high fever

and Vermeer was working on your
portrait.

 

 

11

Mayakovsky, wherefrom the wind that
will carry my thoughts to you?

They’re gone: Imam Ali, the Che,
Ghassan Kanafani and you …

the hard ones remain.

This spring, the planets aligned
themselves like prisoners waiting
to be mowed down … in the splendor of
an immense sky

words stuck in my throat are
shiny pebbles,
the bullet that
killed you.

We are angry, and you know
what it means.

 

 

12

Dear M.

With the shirts worn
inside out,
their dieting and
crying

– they’re too rich, of course,

they go on, plundering jungles,
taming rivers and
discoursing on pleasure boats.

Some of us think that you are
not worse off
in your non-world
than the emaciated people who
crowd the barrios of the
Americas.

 

 

13

Dearest,

colors swirl within
one’s brain

when one looks
into the void

left by the departure
of time

energy particles
pour into the eyes

and one ceases to
consider if it’s

better to live
or to die.

 

 

 

ETEL ADNAN | MAYAKOVSKY
ENOUGH, ED. RICK LONDON, LESLIE SCALAPINO
OAKLAND CA. 2003, O BOOKS
&
ETEL ADNAN | MAÏAKOVSKY
DIE SONNE ZERGEHT AUF DER ZUNGE
EDITION NAUTILUS 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. […] Source: Etel Adnan | MAYAKOVSKY – BLACKOUT ((poetry & politics)) […]

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