Poems by Balázs Szőlőssy
In Presso Viewpoint
How many years will this cursed November last,
and how long do we have to wait for the evergreen rain to wash all the neon colours away?
The mass falling down the loess looks over the startled stumps,
not reaching it, and there’s no way back upwards the slope.
How many years will we try to make a circle out of quadrangles,
until it finally leans completely over? Hard walls,
don’t attempt to climb them carelessly and without a rope;
from the top, you have to do it from above.
The fog clears out. My rugged nails
grow over and unwrinkle. A couple of scratches
clank into the lazy hillside. We sit.
A few incidental pieces of stone draw,
assess a buffet, already assembled. Human I am, as well,
I eat embracement, I drink killings; I don’t expect encouragement
for my own weakness, I order another wine –
Still, sunset has some grace in Presso Viewpoint:
I imagine a peaceful old man with glasses as owner. We sit
at the start of the real efforts, in Presso Viewpoint
my life is not a fight at last: my life is spent in the open.
The Lions go to Rome
They pack all their obsolete beddings,
bones of preys, ragged
cartridge cases, long tussocks,
smells of landscapes from savannah to jungle,
tastes of shadow, digestion, lurking
and daylight, they put their cubs on their shoulders,
and reach your presence, Sublime Creator,
Piazza San Pietro isn’t even full with them,
although they even come from India, and from all roads,
because all roads lead to you, they don’t even
roar, their mane is motionless,
they’d watch all stirs of your Pope with fainted gaze,
if there was anything to watch: only statues look back at them,
they spread, ordered in disciplined troops,
they stretch out, they listen idly
on the Navona, at the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum,
they stay there for a few more days,
their cubs play around in the fountains,
they keep silence, they don’t touch your humans, while leaving,
somewhat as a revenge, as some kind of farewell, they tear
the greyed shrouds of your Mediterranean dominion.
Homeless people have to die
Migrant people have to die.
The blood, spreading around the body in the beat,
pauses down or densifies.
The little babies have to die,
sooner or later, pneumonia
or a cancerous tumour will find them all:
elderly people have to die.
Military people have to die.
Police people have to die,
in violent or peaceful ways, sooner or later,
or in an accident, either slowly or abruptly
Arab people have to die.
Living things are destroying themselves.
Homeless people have to die.
In Desolate Gaps of Time
How few people are going in and out,
how many valleys, alders and others,
how sad it is, that you bewildered from me:
ragged wasteland and bloomy misery.
From this perspective, life is a hard and weak question,
if we slept it over, no one would believe.
We do not have judges to fly through out rapidly
to proclaim the end of spring in a shiny manner.
Nothing else left: the gap is the memory itself,
should the sky open its windows finally –
splendid mortals meet with their own selves,
and the sweet years penetrate me utterly.
Homeland from Above
When the borders opened up,
even a tiny gap, in the past hundreds of years,
how the rush started then for a brighter future:
the decades full of memories;
why and how possibility and desperation correlates –
how this is the thing which we should find a soothing solution,
this was what I was wondering about in the seat of the airplane.
My homeland from above was plain and transparent,
when there was no cloud covering it.
I always headed South, because it’s warmer there:
I find this absolutely enough reason for it.
And I crossed the river Tigris day to day,
and I saw what it means to live in constant readiness:
finding memories of the haggard earth, fossiles, rusty plows
in the stubble-field on paths trodden by tanks.
And then I passed from Pest to Buda on a Sunday night:
sly and fainted silence, a number of evil thoughts
stuffed into the snapping cold.
I don’t have any more time to believe in the decline of the West,
as I don’t even have time to erase the cognitive dissonances
sticked on to my retina –
they roll over, reducated to teardrops,
freeze as slim strips, stay on my face:
atmosphere is an ice cold filter in January
when I reel through to the city
with thirty kilometres per hour, in order to reach
the newest meeting, in order to cross a newest border,
in order to be happy
that I am here.
(Translated by the author)
Balázs Szőlőssy (1981, Buda) poet, editor and translator, secretary of the Association of Young Writers' in Hungary, where he also edited the debut-book series of the association for six years. His first poetry book was published in 2010, the second is due this year at Subotica-based publishing house Symposion. He published poetry in a number of online and offline Hungarian literary papers and has been a guest of numerous international literature festivals. He also organizes literary and cultural events, and is linked to urbanist and cycling activism as a member of Budapest-based NGO Valyo - City and River Association.