Poems by Márió Z. Nemes
(Translated by Mátyás Dunajcsik)
Song of the Degenerate Underage
We, the footless, are no heirs to the crown.
No matter how deep the officer corps buried
her in the garden in ’47, the leather gloves have been
clapping around grandmother’s testicle beard ever since.
Enough of the poetry of aristocrats!
Although we did try walking erect and farming
livestock, we still would have none of the
white, extended family. Porcelain knickknacks
in the narcotic sunrise? The cufflinks of the heir-presumptive?
Fie! Dear Father, our souls ache but the lizard
empire collapsed at the end of the Cretaceous.
Ilona Batthyány, bitch of the dominion! Why sit there
in a bathtub of naphthalene, peering at the cracks of
foreign viscounts? Come out in front of the farmstead instead!
The flower locomotive starts out there. On our banners,
the map of Euthanasia, and a shrunken Griffin!
This is how we roll through the blossoming fields,
waving at the tractor girls with our mongrel scythes,
while wasting the spring’s creative fluids on every
tree and turf, so that the twilight of agriculture
might coagulate into one big, slimy Easter.
Wolfie Becomes a Man
The autistic girl leaves the kindergarten army
and puts a key-shaped tumour in my paws,
as if the only payment for my desires was
the journey inward. But ever since I’ve been
carrying old men in my stomach, I’ve
long finished with bourgeois interiors.
This is no rebellion on my part, I just can’t
chew anything else. Meanwhile, everyone inside
is gossiping about me, which would be deeply
unsettling had I the space for such things.
I cannot focus, therefore I can only hope to reach
an androgynous hell one day, before all my teeth fall out.
Because like this, I am just desire. Not a saviour
in disguise or a disfigured hero who impatiently unveils
his badge of shame, but rather a masterless pet
from the infectious psychiatric ward.
The Last Days of the Tannery
When the count’s tannery burned down, the workers found mutilated dogs in the factory’s backyard. The dogs had cotton stuffed in their mouths, their legs were missing, their crevices brutally abused. This is how it might have begun. The count lost his mind upon hearing the news, shut himself up in the stables, and, shouting inarticulately, pleaded with Baby Jesus not to send any new playmates. I feel for the count, but this doesn’t account for everything. I saw the first one in the bathhouse. It was a stuffed girl, no more than a piece of surplus leather to be more exact, a small girl dropped from a bigger girl. I was about to take a shower, but nursed the little girl instead; she cried, because she had been lost in the forest. I am the forest, I told her, and no one lives in me. No noise in the house goes unnoticed by the neighbours, but even they won’t lend me an ear when I try to warn them, even though there are more and more of these things. The penguin wrapped in medical gauze with countless vaginas on his body, and the leather pony I call Béla. Every good keeper should know not to feed his animals after midnight, not to be selfish, and always to offer a taste of the goodies when cutting nails. I believe I’m a good keeper, but I doubt I can keep it up much longer. They were born in a way that someone stuffed something in them, and then closed the opening with a few stitches on what he stuffed inside. The original grains may still be in there, but the hand is long gone. No satisfaction in the wadding. Where is that hand? The count could not destroy it. The only way would have been for him to eat it and then sew up his own mouth, but when his wife prevailed upon him to quit the stables, he was still able to talk. I feel for the count, nevertheless the nocturnal noises are still here, and no one knows how to deal with them.
You didn’t know that the toothbrush was conceived on a crystal night. Nevertheless, it was then that the gargantuan jaws gobbled up everything. But you don’t know the jaws: you haven’t even seen your own mother eating. And there is no sound, the crystal is cracked, there is only a fast pulse as the vaginal heart calls. It’s only her that you worship, for her voice takes the summer away. But no sweat, there is no panic in the tunnel. Then the police woman spoils everything. She wants to torch you because you haven’t worked hard enough on the construction site, and because you’re vain, vain about your soul that only pays attention to the vaginal heart. You’ll burn like the arteries! There’s no use hiding in the hay that one of the bigger jaws left on the field, you’re simply not worthy of maternity. Even though the doctor said you’d probably make more than three kilograms on the first go. You’d be beautiful, like the sprouting gloom. The night, the crystal and the toothbrush are all crying! We longed to be your friends, through foul and fair, but now the police woman devours everything. She doesn’t have a vaginal heart, only three children: Basalt, Andesite, and Magma. But heavy industry is of no use to you. Your life is all farewells now as you descend into fiery cages. Your papers, sir, says the police woman, while you listen only to the heart, deep down under the blistering skin.
Márió Z. Nemes (1982, Ajka), poet and critic. He has three books published. With other ten young poets, in 2005 they created a poetry blog and group called Telep (Settlement), which quickly became an emblematic reference point regarding the new wave of contemporary Hungarian writing. In 2013 he received a PhD at the Doctoral School of Philosophy of the Eötvös Loránd University where he currently teaches, his research theme was the relations of philosophical anthropology and aesthetics.