No Through Road - ukázka


The evening has settled in your room like a fat man after days of dancing solo…

The fat man’s jacket has two lapels, but these are not black enough to let you sow them all with stars, to let you lean your head right back and notice the Child of God, weeping in his soft arms.

You can’t even light them like a candle in Jiří Orten’s honour, chanting down below a night-time Our Father, fifteen times.

You’re at one of many points where you never, never move the Earth. So let me tell you: There’s nothing you can do. Nothing!

And now you’re running through the streets, trying to shake off my words. And I want to ask: “When did you last feel this helpless?“

Four in the morning, and you are back… Slowly I approach the chair where you’re sitting. From the back, a gun in my hand…

… but the cock our Saviour goldly crows a celebration of your sterility. You will live on, unchanged, after God’s excuse-me dance. Sitting alone, mid-row, on a chair. Behind it emptiness, all emptiness…

The water stays in the gutter; it’s murky brown.

Nature moves it all on – all that you came to know as summertime.

You dare not oppose, do not raise your hand in a gesture of defence.

You’re glad the movers missed all that the world came to call You. It is gutless, pitiful …

But you always get like this when the water in the gutter is murky brown.


Learn to listen. Listen to all those who move around your flat when at night you fall asleep and make room for them. Those who wish to please you, who want to finish a shape you’ve tried so long to capture. In your place.


The colours wander but I am still.

There’s red in your hand, God …

Yet another game of poker you cannot face.

I saw you swim away, as if writing me a note.

Your strokes, where your fingers would meet for fleeting moments: the tip of a pen dipping up and down.

Your voice, then quickened breath; wet forehead …

The fish puzzled out your movements.

And the catfish knew that this shore-to-shore writing kept you alive.

To the stupid tench you were just a stain on the rippling skirt of the water.

Once it got dark …the light she had spoken of, the light of Sunday afternoons in the park, was a current of photons no longer …

Fitted in a frame … the light she had spoken of was a current of photons no longer, but a point on the raised hand of a priest, a point which could halt the ceremony of the picture …

The ceremony of the picture … a visit at which I forgot myself for eleven years …

Before she died … she dried up like a desert river, but her age accorded her a ceremonial dignity well known from those pictures, full of rounded stones and scarlet alluvial sands …

Never would she have said … as her schoolmates strode in procession through the church, while she and her striped parasol, from among the radiant trees which darted through the blacks of their own shadows …

I drive through America, sleep in hotels, wake from confused dreams to dark.

You work in Bohemia, raise your son, write me factual e-mails, some vivid and joyous.

But when we dance together … we’re still those sad, lost kids.

Our steps, the subtle movements of our hands, the turning of our heads, our swagger, the way we move our hips –

all this goes to show that we lost our way, went astray, that we’re still …

… off the Road.


The sky above a swimming pool. Bats, warm tiles. The girls lie there staring at the stars.

Wake up cold. Straws suck the alcohol from soles of feet.

Past the silent houses. In the last, at the village edge, cattle at play. Chains and metal pipes.

Sleeping bag in bush. Someone else sleeps there now.

Let's not talk yet: it's raining outside. A spade left in the garden, leaning against the fence.

A dream in the evening, embolism in the night. We move down the hill, quiet as mice; we go lower, lower.

The rain makes little hollows in the soggy soil … Before dawn a squirrel is washed out of its grave.

Sad sometimes, you clean for days on end, the clocks scrape on … scrunching wheels on gravel.

An old pub

Don't know why we chose this place. The wind toys with red curtains. They're looking for a boy, a boy vanished. A creeper grows round the barrel pipes.

A world in panties, extinct

I look at the faces of women passing by.

One is like cotton, in another I sense flax.

Though I watch with care

Just can't guess their pussy or their sort.

for Gábina Slavíčková, who died at 30

Tidying things up, I find myself … in the junk of yesterday.

I wipe dust from the table's fevered brow.

And in fear of the living beings who'll fill the crematorium

I take the bin over here …

The poetry bin, sorted waste.

We need more machines!

„Es wird mehr Maschinen gebraucht!“ calls the young Erich Hartmann, when on the eighth of May he brings down his last fighter plane.

Youth and spring have pulled him upwards one last time; on the ground was the smell of lilac.

A pilot aflame clambers from the cockpit and lands in a garden in Kateřinky.

Soufflé, nettle, rhubarb are for lunch.

Hunters, gatherers

Under feet, sand, slipping, as on a beach. It's wheezing in you, you're the night train, steaming through the country.

You lie on your front, the mushroom cloud of a grip at your nape.

It pulls at your hair …

Little Dipper in a night-time car park.

I am pulling a hair of sand into my dream.

We talked about the same old stuff. You didn't know; I wasn't able to say.

We were the same but the talk made us different.

Severed – by talk – like the Gordian knot.

Freed from thought we each run elsewhere.

Feeling-in-words is a dam we drive against from opposite sides.

At last, it’s falling into place.

The day’s rhythm… somehow new.

Clouds gather in slow-moving herds.

Rings of ages on the fingers of the town.

The Quiet of the Night

Lips tight shut, a shield concealing all the words. The words come closer, step by step. I sense the friction of their grazed heels against the tongue. I smell the hot breath of the wild ones (the steam escaping from her nose), an inch or so more, and …

… I'm gone. Asleep.

Adelle gulps her disappointment down.

Muffled shouts, the clanking of weapons lost. Then silence, the quiet of the night. A pavane for fallen soldiers.

for Tomáš Přidal

Often I am strange.

I can be a kestrel, but I don't eat mice.

Then for hours I'll carry in my jacket pocket … Florida State.

(River, posts, pelican take-off)

I stretch out my arm and my twelve-fingered palm rises famously over the Gongga Shan.

You scatter me in the water, drink deeply … and spit.

„Yuck! A grapefruit poet.“


At the hallway’s end she stopped, turned the knob, went inside.

There a sun lay on the bed, spilling ashes to the floor.

Reached for the broom, it flew out along with her …

It was a house of the drunken star.

A station is no iceberg, to move on away from the land. You're not Rose, and I'm not Peter.

A station is no iceberg heading for Helsingør … though in spring we dissolve in the throng.

Platforms, clots in the veins of the city.

Liquid people. Thicken to the squealing of the wheels.

All moves along Platform Six … absorbing the world like a wave.

Our time has run out

The ripplings of summer caught as ribbons in plaits. In the morning tram the children twitter.

Down the red avenue time steps on the brake. We open our hands and rise like the phoenix.


Under the limbs of crooked trees the sharp grass withers.

From the church there strides a man in a linen shirt; behind him plods an ailing wife.

Hubble, bubble From the pot of madness' throat comes the froth of a new poem.

He bumped into an old wardrobe. After years of raving and vain attempts. A dark, empty flat. Hardly anyone knew what he wanted. Ran over there and anyway stayed alone. Thought up his whole life. Just the once, you remember, just the once he didn't lie. Knew nothing of it. You knew. Doesn't matter. Now. You remind me of nothing. Shut up. He screamed like a madman. But he was not.