POETRY: Wolf One-Eye

Wolf One-Eye
(c) Tomoko Takahashi Harvey 2006
Five poems by Juris Kronbergs

Translated by Mara Rozitis

Wolf One-Eye is forthcoming from Arc Publications in November 2006.


It was day, but he saw the moon as well
And a black beetle on a slack rope

that jigged over his field of vision
past cloud drifts of fog

past blistered wisps of nothing

Not a word had been said about an aquarium
in the head. A slow and resolute curtain

of opaque and gritty water rose up

Darkness fell on all roads all meadows and forests and snows
pastures and rivers all reed beds and hillsides and snows

In the aquarium black beetles darted to and fro
Seeds of death that stalked their beginning:

The end


That day the sun set awkwardly
as darkness and fears gathered

Heaven's ladder loosened and swayed
and he didn't know if he was climbing up or down

He was in a dark congealing tunnel
In a room that was no room

Was he breathing or just remembering
what the motions of breathing had been?

In the struggle for him
he participated by non-participation
and so was, to an even greater extent,

a part of the event

And light peeled away like flaking wallpaper from
its designated wall that held bundles of insights

And darkness rose like a thermometer's
mercury in the summer sun

Out of the darkness a glister of light
He was weak and stretched for it

But darkness pressed him back
And light cried abandoned, despondent

And light cried with the voice of a child


He awoke one morning when
a strange stench reached his nostrils

By his bed stood Death
and Death said, 'Let's race!'

He said, 'Begone, you decrepit thief,
as long as I can still move
I'll be a sprag in your wheel,
I'll rip you to shreds, your shadow too
and all your rolls-roycing cronies!'

But Death said, 'Let's race!'

' Done', said he, 'we'll race to the west
and follow the setting sun. We'll stop when
the sun's last ray has pierced the flesh of air!'

And so they raced abreast
Death with his stink and his shadow
Wolf with his coat and his teeth
as sharp as certain words can be

They raced through towns and villages
over farms and by-roads and bridges

It was clear that Death was winded
He not only had to run, but reap as well

When he saw that Wolf had surged ahead
he lunged to grip his scrag
but caught his eye instead

And so it happened, when Death desired his flesh
And so it happened, when Death began to take his own


I will long for. Half-long
That life before. Half-life
To see everything as it really is. Half-see
Each sentence will be split in half
Each leap over every stream will stop half-way

But then a half will just be half of a half
Half of which half I'll only

All will be: half days, half hours, half-baked,
half done, half hearted, halfway understood,
half empty ( not half full ) half drunk

As I enter a newly built house, half will collapse, but
half will remain. Which half, the better half or the worse?

As I prowl the forest, half will disappear,
every other spruce, every other mushroom,
every other passion

As I go to cross the rapids, how will I know
on which half of the bridge to go?
And the rapids beneath will be gone. Half-gone


Show me, lake, your true face
your eye is frozen and you are a fjord

Show me, forest, your true face
your mushrooms are hidden and you are green winter

Show me, meadow, your true face
your skin is pale and you could have been a lake

Show me, path, your true face
your voice is a rustle and you are a hold for fallen leaves

Show me, future, your true face
your cheek is blank ice and you are as old as time

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