One, two, three, four… One, two… In the mid 1950s a new group of young Ukrainian poets arrived in America. Critics and poetry lovers were immediately drawn to these young talents. Their themes and forms were unusual for Ukrainian literature of the era. Remarkably, these young poets, who were raised on foreign soil, chose to continue the development of Ukrainian literature from abroad.ode to a caféto O. L. Voronevych oh warm place of rest for one’s body, where you can hang up the wet sheets of your skin, dry the sweat of fatigue in the wind of dry but kind waves, stretch out your legs, waiting for the pain to trickle down to the floor like the soft whimpering of a knife, on the other side of the glass in the blue light of the sky some will still go on fighting: on the gratings of sewers the wet headless corpses will still lie, the rest of the rebels will retreat with a mute, tongueless flag but not disappointed, oh place of rest for the dry walnut-like hemispheres of the curly-shaped brain where you can leave the battlefield and turn once more to stop feeling guilty and scratched on the inside where you can almost drowse with your mouth full of the milk from the yellow breasts of subtropical fruit, where you can cry pleasant tears which flow like dew from violet eyes, where you can bring two coins for the god of happiness as an offering, in exchange for / two minutes of indolent peace oh temple of those who have no temples, you take into your warm hands hopes of lovers and of the disappointed ones, you listen to poets’ poems and loud arguments of philosophers and artists with black beards, you press them to your hot, hard belly, sheltering them with your big hand, stroking their backs and the lank hair, oh mother of orphans who keep on crying, like a cheap whore you give yourselves to whoever wants you, you sell your warm, white flesh to the young ones who crave happiness, and you leave them silent and slow when they go away in the icy mouths hangs a black night which tastes like the night of the tropics which forces the tongue to remember a breathing as in the coitus of two tom-toms a prudish music sings with its blue tongue, images no longer float dancer-like through the skull, only vague desires now swell up inside you and your heart once more cries its insipid warm bloody tears cry my poor, timid heart, / I smile happy with my pain, cry my heart in this temple of peace where life can be seen through the blue windows.A Woman at the WindowLike a folded petal the singing paused on the window pane in your hand the carvings of routes bent in the wind cold maps of bitter nights rustle in the waves slowly, ringed icebergs float toward the light and the wounds of wounds to aged faces through juice and salt an autumn sea won’t climb the hills of spring a march of flint shaved dreams at the crossroads there, above the boundary the snow rose like a flower.DistanceDistance: a word-laced breath of distant wind sprinting through drowsy fields untangling green grass with bare foot caresses Distance: a stolen gift of trimmed roses that casts memories, and you, in showers of vegetative warmth Distance: a weary thought that pulsates with harsh, constant rhythm then surfaces a lonesome stump through grates of kaleidoscopic sentiments Distance: a white flickering of wings on slivered palms that diverge in a fluster of trees and a grasp of white marble on a stretch of blue current Distance: white watercolor pain swaying in bronze buds on dark lighthouses yearning to burst, wax-like, and flow as a river of sticky constellations Distance: a lump of longing and a dream of white warmth caught in the net of a golden rainbow. What else…? Aha… Yes… OK… 182… Good, good… OK… Let it be… Too few memories / too few to forget so hard to look into an vacant room / so hard to walk through doors into an vacant room autumns rustled through my fingers through my fingers slipped springs and nights of warm woman’s lips everything went, and I didn’t know where / All has gone. Where? I don’t know. So few memories / too few to forget so hard to look into a vacant room so hard to cross a vacant room. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, after our session this afternoon, we are having a literary evening I am proud to present Mr. Bohdan Rubchak. The wind broached the stretched silk canvas of morning Barefoot rain rumbled like a beggar banging on the window pane Your lips whitened with chalk, the stale blood pulsing in your temples With a dry cough the ambassador deafly stumbled
through the gates of your chest In the basalt halls the monstrous shell
with carnivorous blossom of eyes will again yank the victim’s nerves
out of your hands in the evening wind tossles the window,
a cough rattles Now – you must.
A putrid key
A bone, suddenly winged. In your chest more than the intense trepidation
you create – ephemeral God – over rumble, and wreckage
over the jeers of the enemy
the thrill of a paltry victory. I was 17 I think…
Flight was ripped from all the monsters and blood like phloem
he is alone, he has no mercy Octavios, forehead unfurled, gazes through darkness into this world ?—— emerged from the ground like a heatwave peace was carved from nature while beasts lacked the claws to raise themselves… amidst the dream on horseback the nimbus expanded dogs washed the moon that shadows sawed apart for the fauns the law – you must accept it or be burned.
This is ‘The Birth of an Idol’ [In Russian] The doggy got bigger on the way here… That’s it. Patricia Kylyna will read a poem ‘The Tragedy of Bumblebees’. Like the tragedy of bumblebees, like the search for chafers the sun flies around the sky bush, singing and crying like a flock of birds with its wings looking for honey water, oh sun, sun where are you going? to which lake, honey, silence you fly to?
Have you heard about about those lakes that lie under the ice? under thick ice lie all lakes and all bushes, and your insane wings will forever burn… Be with us, for the day leaned down into dusk murmuring rolls from afar after the day’s work pink clouds have curled up and flowed over the horizon swallows are silent in church choirs, only cold wind blows waves are licking the shore, the first star is bathing in the sea Lord, stay with us for dinner don’t leave us alone in times of sorrow. Ukraine… Russia…UkraineIt’s not in fields nor in mountains that your geography unfolds but in millions of hearts and through invisible expanses of song It wasn’t history that created you, but longing for your beauty You were born as poetry and your meaning resounds in metaphor A country of wails and prayers, a generator of death no wonder your form resembles a masticated heart.An AppealLady of burning stem Lady of double flame show us your gem stones the dreams of your silent springs offer us a stooped prayer a wild scar of your whispering souls and wheels surrender
in the field of ephemeral rustling bind our eyes with rainbows allow a gentle vision to turn to a quiet mother where song and light whirl together from your minutes that ring round up a year for us give us robust harvests fruit from the lowest of fields out of your woods that burnt down out of our insane heat out of the smoke that flows into a chalice lead us to the edge of depth give us that silence of the silo give us a newborn eye a branch of serene blackthorn a thread from your robes that are smoking there, where the beasts are flinching there, where light shivers in the cliff there, where the moon leans over your spindle flashes there where the crowns were tarnished where the earth splintered there, where the body blossoms there fire and water were wed.A Memory of the MoonWhen I touch your face my fingertips are redolent of apple blossoms The moon above us lives the life of a saint Then a virgin horizon is born inside me and you caress it like a breeze in May But someday He will return, that Moon, who’d been our friend and with a thief’s touch will turn our happiness into dry sand and we’ll still take it into our hands and pour it between our greedy palms seeking in vain that near miracle that was with us for so long. We’ll gaze together into the stretches of the rivers into the stretches of our hearts until we get pricked by the cold realization of our effort’s futility until we comprehend that for us all is already dead Then we’ll say good-bye with an awkward, disoriented smile and leave one another ¬- strangers. Beyond all suns lie dreams… and also the moon’s world… eliptical memories hang on silent branches heaving with ripening plums I know Ishtar left you and you, a vacant orchard where white sculptures of loneliness remind you of death’s whiteness Questions sputter from lips: No, it’s not yet time In the farthest star still shimmers a diamond corpse and the festive gestures of days with a lively veil shields the recognition of myriad reflections of your face But remember someday you’ll see it again and again it will be framed in scintillating pools and your gaze will turn into two hefty pillars and your listless gaze will seek in vain your own irises when mirrors of words wilt in my irises when leaves of my palms blacken when the last fruit falls from my forehead and autumn grayly clenches my temples be with me then be with me when my eyeballs become a big empty white moon and nothing more Love me then It’s good? Yes. I wanted to say… I thought of ‘what is poetry?’ I could never find one definition for poetry. Simply because poetry is a vast phenomenon and doesn’t fall under any definition. Then I changed the question: What does poetry mean to me? What does it give me? I knew the answer right away. Poetry makes me happy. For a moment… it makes me eternal, timeless also for a moment. Unfortunately… but… Subtitles translated by Olga Gerasymiv,
edited by Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman.