On the level of beds and membranes, and serums mouths were wandering about together with bells and were looking for mouths and joints so as to wake them up and to show them the green teeth that peeled off the walls and road signs pointing to the innards of the darkest continent, and we were moving with our mouths and eyelids cupboards with hunchbacks hanged in them for coats from which gold and epaulets dripped, and corridors that grew narrow very quickly and led to a white surface where I sat in a live chair covered with cut hair and cut blood, and suitcases joined to dust and kept behind seals and locks, and we were leaving behind under the blankets cobwebs of warmth and of whining and pillows covered with illegible tears, and were dividing beds, and curtains, and passages into large metal numbers.
Throats were departing in loudspeakers toward pink stations of flesh in France and Catalonia, and in the next room which was on the other side of the air two women were pulling out of their cells the cobwebs of saliva and were making themselves pretty for parades in honor of ironed concrete and eyes and live buttons, and shower rooms were trying to remember through wood and through my feet in it and through green space the color of my skin and of pink soap that was trying to get inside me, and the linoleum was pointing out with its terrible immobile finger through a patina of bacilli my heart, and we passed for the last time bouquets of water and glass, and waiters hidden inside mirrors, and mirrors soft as drapes, and were stretching out our arms to coffee and porcelain, closing our eyes so as not to see wheels in our feet and bones.
Knives and the souls of waiters were ringing gently, and decks were growing out of our thighs, and ropes were straightening themselves out upon them, becoming parallel to the shore which could be felt already, and we were passing the dark parabolas of rain and the hyperbolas of the first ports and stains of the local conscience upon the water, and the ship was bellowing after the pastures of trumpets and Iberia, and trumpets were replying to it with the pale marches of Valencia, to the sound of which rows of little boys with the breath of lambs in their mouths were walking to the inside of violets, and to the sound of which their hearts and hair were growing, and the flesh gave out a terrible primeval sound raising itself to the level of the chains of the largest suspension bridge in the universe, and the decks and the cabins and their surfaces turned white, and paint cracked on them because of their color, and the hoist cranes became still and opaque pressed against our teeth, and we noticed yellow raincoats behind them where people and we ourselves began, and we couldn’t find ourselves behind ourselves and behind our feelings and felt only warm names and hands expended to us at the last moment, and saw the skin of two women who were singing about us in Valencia and about our mouths full of wind like trees, and about roses mixed with the moon and women, while our feet were constantly sliding away from everything and toward concrete, and iron, and beds, and mouths, and ourselves, dead already, bent over tables.
from the volume without spain
About Without Spain
The cycle (consisting of two parts, about 64 pages long altogether), was written in Ukrainian between September 1966 and June 1967 in White Plains, NY. It was first published in the Ukrainian émigré magazine Suchasnist (“Contemporaneity”), in Munich, issues 4, 5, 10, and 11 for 1968, and then as a separate book by Suchasnist Publishing in 1969. It was reprinted in my Ukrainian-language book of collected poems 1955-1970 Poems About Nothing and Other Poems on the Same Subject (New York Group Publishing, New York, 1970) and once again in my selected poems in Ukrainian Without Anything (Dnipro Publishing, Kiev, 1991).
The cycle reflects my mood after my return to the US from Spain where I lived during 1964-1965 . It is written in prose. The “Arrival” poems are from the first part of the cycle (all six are included). The “to” in some of them refers to the place of arrival — in Ukrainian one arrives “to” (“pryyizd do”). There is a fair amount of experimentation with the language in the cycle, some poems consisting entirely of prepositional phrases, for instance. They are contrasted with the more conventional narrative prose poems. The somewhat unusual linguistic expressions, such as “Numerous, like snowflakes, I fly…” for instance, occur in the original and I tried to render them with the same degree of unusualness in English. This is part of my trying to modify the use of language to achieve certain effects.