Those Who Don't Belong

Those Who Don't Belong
(c) Tomoko Takahashi Harvey 2006
Seven poems by Liana Langa

Translated from the Latvian by Ieva Lesinska

To A.K.

I suddenly awakened from deep sleep.
My shadow wandered out amongst the briers.
Their muzzles deep into the bowls of fog,
A hundred thousand years were lapping greedily.

Like an immense, wet green-tea leaf
sky floated into my pupils, undaunted
by the scarcity of space. The ships of stars
snuggled up to me, a wreck.

I knew not what the beasts would tell me,
had no idea why the guests are silent.
I was your key, I was young wine
kept by the pious in black barrels safely locked.

When the dark gasped and burst in trance,
lighting up my face with the afterglow of other,
yet other pasts and other lives,
then much of me died right inside me.

I suddenly awakened from deep sleep,
face stinging from your grains of hail.
Someone next to me, in owl, said god,
And your hand was empty, empty was your hand.


Through my fingers rustle leaves frozen to the crisp by the night. A rook
takes one step closer
to the cross painted the color of mud. Thrown against a headstone of
cheap granite, a white pebble
summons your echo. Things happen here much quicker than at the
marketplace, in the ecstasy of love or in politics.
The echo resembles the sound salmon make as they spawn, rubbing back
against green tarnished back, only
more audible. But one male pigeon aims his beak at the other male's

Vallija, the graveyard attendant, smells of vodka and paranormal life
under heaps of leaves.
She takes the money with purple hands that could as well be chalk yellow
Clouds in the sky ball up like synthetic pillow stuffing in a cheap hotel
In the Baltic wind, the chapel padlock jingles like the change in a rich
man's wallet,
now it's time we enjoy the holes in donuts, the kopecks of leaves
swirling about the crosses like mad.

In the nether world, where fulfillment is shown its proper place with a
shovel handle, a fistful of sand and a sob,
time digs to the bone of bone and throws us that which once kissing
we sacrificed to the angels. Under the black candle of thuja they are now
Without any strength to mourn, alert. Too tangible the non-existence that
can bring such closeness.
My mouth is full of salty pebbles as I try to remind you of my name.


You say - summer? Come on! Too much glowing flesh, glassy
grey light on eyelids, stench of rotting melons. Perhaps
to the movies, hey-ho, hey-ho? Clippety-clop, clippety-clop, perhaps to
the Antarctic?
Don't be upset with me. Running heals, but only for a duration while
the blood turns to black and the layers of jellyfish stack up in the

After that, as you well know, the sand makes its way back into us, to go
on slaving.

Who's to say where we should go? The streets, they will take us further
than our seemingly confident strides. The grainy runners of asphalt will
knit into themselves
the emblems of downcast eyes, the strained glow
of pedestrians' muscles, the India ink sprayed by shadows. The city will thrash about,
feverish, citizens pleading that a doctor be called.

In the strands of hair curling around the heels of hairdressers, in baby
recently bought, in gazes that meet and swell up into edemas,
that's where time lives. Who's to tell us where we should go?

In a sweltering afternoon at the market the butcher's
snow white elbow pushes the hourglass inadvertently to the ground.

The thin shards open the juice-filled veins of summer.

Now you see how new rhymes are born -

a half blind uncle holds the world by a thread,
a five-year-old Wolfgang conducts the ballet of pollen,
cranes feed their young,
ore becomes ore.


Come, winter of life! In the corner of the windowsill, a titmouse pecks at
a piece of fat
that is whiter than any snow in the city. The rays' lemon-yellow bagpipes,
getting tangled in tree branches, play funeral marches. Fast moving
stick to the sky like cookie crumbs to an invalid's mouth. The crunchy bugs of love's cinder crawl all over a letter possibly written by
God. An ideal handwriting runs across the A4 paper, strings of words
without memory. They suddenly catch the body heat of the
prisoner reading the letter. Bound up, he attempts to decipher the words
and fails, just listens and listens to the soundless clinking of chains.

Come, winter of life! When the titmouse flutters away from the refuge of
and it's so cold that words freeze into icicles growing larger than
the word mamma on sweet, greedy lips, when the letter gets covered
with endless snow and we lie exploded and naked amidst this landscape
as part of the writing, as letters from which days and nights have been
just like the fat for the titmouse, then winter will come to free the prisoner
yet one more time,
crunching clumsily, will compose food, smoke from the crematorium
applause, motors, tar, tenderness, alcohol, dirty streets, puppy
breath, the colors of Christmas stamps, the first crust on this year's snow.


The queen of the garden patch gets onto the train Aizkraukle-Riga.
She has on rubber boots, grey whiskers around her withered lips.

In a plastic bag the queen has cucumbers, she is exhausted.
But the plastic bag contains home grown cucumbers, a wonderful variety.

Hope I didn't leave the rake lying between rows, she thinks.
Her eyes retreat even deeper in their sockets as she thinks.

The neighbors' dog often comes to her garden to relieve himself
and tramples asters, at times also strawberry plants.

The train car is half empty. Its decrepitude somehow goes with
her rubber boots, with the sweaty toes within.

Suddenly it occurs to the queen that the car and the boots
Are one and the same. Her toes are passengers on a train.

The main thing is that everything's very clean in the car.
She has never understood what the words nerves and pedicure mean.

Slender birch trees run past the windows of the train.
The queen of the garden patch notices a student sitting nearby.

He is holding a book in his lap. The guy is well dressed, he's dozing.
The station Gaisma, Light, with its heaps of coal, runs by.

The queen's eyes pop out of their sockets like baby squirrels.
The animals are blinded by the excess of light.

But the old hag continues to stare at the student
who reminds her of a Stepan she once met.

Stepan, a young soldier, taught her three thousand
variations of kisses or more in the woods after the party.

She remembers the infinity of Stepan's kisses,
the infinity tasted of boot polish and army mess food.

It was summer, days like this one: an aromatic, creamy green all around,
with nights transparent like black nylon stockings.

The queen of the garden patch moves her lips.
Cramps in her toes raise against her benevolent fate.


Farewell, homo mediocris! We dream and sleep in roe pale red.
So slow their movement, so sticky. As if any moment now someone will come and glue together our translucent flesh. We can do it on our own! But the water,
forever wakeful, does not let us.

My memory is bad, yet sometimes it occurs to me that we did meet in a
large city,
the locals would casually snack on royal shrimp there and in its sultry streets the noble sons of Earth would rattle many drums
of shiny polished steel.

The air was full of sweat, the blue sky salt arrived by mail in envelopes
without address. We opened them, we licked the salt, and waiters kept on
stacking letters on our table. You asked if I recognized
the sender. I said yes.

The humming birds were nesting in my hair, but as we touched each
our hands were lead. Caught in time/space, we simply
shook our heads and the feathers sprouting from our grey matter
adorned us like antennas.

You said: transmitters on. Molluscs and flames, people
and inaudible songs -- can we tell clouds about all of that?

But the rattle of the drums was way too loud. Canon fodder all around us
was rotting.
I could not hear you.

We continued to quietly shake our heads. All centuries had soon turned
My memory's still bad, yet it seems a strange person just
flew by. His head was larger than the globe. Twelve knots of echoes
were between his teeth.


Those who don't belong love those who don't belong. Love more
Inconvenient city noises awaken sleeping monsters
In awesome sized beds where through glistening windows
Darkness and light, kindling animal passion, float in
And those who don't belong love those who don't belong. Love more
At night, behind a four-door wardrobe, whines oblivion
Leafing through greasy family calendars with their
Prescriptions for thrift, descriptions of insects, and pictures
With simple advice on how to perhaps not die before one's time
Those who don't belong love those who don't belong. Love more
Oblivion has werewolf's face. With its dark blue tongue
It checks all facts, checks again
With a special focus on the year nineteen sixty
On the cover of the book that smells of Dachau gas
Those who don't belong love those who don't belong. Love more
In late autumn they love with the slimy leaves on the car's
windshield, with muddy floors, with raisin sweat
On palms, they love with the sound that unravels the nerves of silence
They love with a fat piece of coal, which, pressed tightly, draws shaky
Features on the golden skin of the siesta. Hello, werewolf!
The party behind glistening windows does not belong to us
Keep your pain for yourself. Those who don't belong love more

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