Tag Archives: without spain

arrival vi

20 Nov



yuriy tarnawsky

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 √©migr√© 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.

Yuriy Tarnawsky


arrival iii

23 Oct


yuriy tarnawsky


To dirty finger nails instead of stars, to a mouth instead of the sky, to poems consisting of numbers and mathematical rules, to Fridays which follow Sundays and Tuesdays and which are equal to their value, to my corresponding on Fridays with an address about when I am to die, to an ocean of my blood beyond which they want to send me, to a distance consisting of my wife’s name, to jungles made out of my innards, to my damp fever, to lips in the form of river deltas, and silt, and mountains, to a hostile whispering of my name by almost two hundred million mouths, to a leader with a brain from which there protrude six dead elephant trunks, to the trembling of my lips as if to twinkling of dark stars, to my hiding behind my eyelids, huge like cupboards, in other people’s chests, behind the curves inside fire, behind the warmth of animals full of distance like landscapes, behind red fishes with tails made from feathers and spilled blood. To a heart in the shape of automobile tires, and bridges, and Saturdays.

Numerous, like snowflakes, I fly through landscapes vomited up by a drunk or sick god, snow falls through the surface of my lips as if through space, I grow frightened from the wounds it leaves behind, during this day when heaven and the earth come tumbling down and the whole world pretends it’s celebrating Christmas.




from the volume without spain


arrival ii

17 Oct

yuriy tarnawsky

To my horizontal position, to the bed made from my additional body and soft bones, to my tongue that grows out of my mouth like a monstrous tree, to my heart left behind on the bedside table which makes the noise of a broken electric clock, to my soul huge from an illness and numb like a building, to my mouth which has windows, and doors, and walls, to food which floats through people’s minds, concepts, surnames, and names of places.

To a morning forcibly created by my mind, to half an hour when my blood speaks like a radio, to the fear of my body and soul, to a half circle made from brightly lit walls and people, to a moaning for which they pay me a salary, to the room of fear on the corner of the circle filled with a bigger than normal surname, to a filling lunch which consists of my own tongue and soul, to the warm park of thoughts during the afternoon hours when sadness drives along on the other side of the hill, to an empty pit instead of the sky, to a constant ride downhill from the peak of my heart, to invisible lips and eyes which exist only in time, to the surface of Spain seen for an instant from the cemetery attached to my mouth, to rooms furnished with despair, to my eyes which stare at themselves for hours, multiplied like two large numbers by each other, to growths on the surface of my body which have the shape of wooden tables, chairs, and beds, to the word “to” and to this sheet of paper on which I kneel and, using my arms as oars, on which I try to cross this dry ocean.

from the volume without spain

arrival i

9 Oct

yuriy tarnawsky

from the volume without spain


I vanish in the mouth made out of a huge white ship and a continent with its architecture demolished by food and a holiday; the air shakes from the color of the eyes of a girl who is watching me, as if from a huge motor; her eyes and cheeks for an instant are indistinguishable from her skirt; long corridors start in my cheeks, full of speed, like express trains; furniture all around me sways like water in a swimming pool; a black man appears pronouncing chairs, tables, and long rows of numbers; the greatest crime of all takes the place of the distance between my legs; it is the cause of death of all my fathers, and mothers, and brothers, and sisters; I am being ground up by a machine made from the concrete and wood brought from Spain; in my death, people pass through my mind and come out of my mouth growing and temporary, like numbers; we are moving away from the capital of the local architecture down an avenue of garbage; we cry together with the help of a special machine; we find our house partly hidden behind our minds and humidity; we enter it and find ourselves in our common chest; our tears take on the shape and dimension of empty rooms, so that we don’t know what surrounds us and where we are; out of our spare chest that in the form of a small gray box lies on the floor, comes a scream which had been hidden there about six mouths; it makes Spain come closer, with its time, its concrete triangle, its space in the shape of a fountain, and me, in an air-tight transparent cage with someone else’s tears in my eyes and moaning in my chest.

The bay I left behind takes on the dimensions of an ocean, and my face with it, and I take on the speed of the ship, and become at the same time very high above and far below myself, and tears, huge, like ocean liners, flow down my cheeks, illuminated with stars and the lights of a city mixed with the sky.

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