Galsan Tschinag

 

You Will Always Be Untamable

 

- Poems -

 


Translated by Richard Hacken

From Galsan Tschinag, Nimmer werde ich Dich zšhmen kŲnnen
(Frauenfeld, Switzerland: Waldgut Verlag, 1996)


 

 

The Miracle

 

The miracle

Circling in the stars

Is mine to pull down

And hold

I force words from you

That suit my ears

And think myself justified

To build a nest

Where I can make them hatch

Into light little birds

Capable of flying out

To bring back for us

Those days that are gone

 

 


 

 

A Blade Of Grass

 

A blade of grass

On your steppe

I rebel against the storm winds

Searching for something solid

The blade

That must grow next to me

I reach and reach

Into emptiness

Until I realize

I will have to stand

By myself

 



 

 

Let Nobody Come Too Near Me

 

Let nobody come too near me

Inside me is a bubbling and a seething

I am energized with forces

Granted

To the son of the sky

And grandson of the mountains

Stillness born in the primordial hour

Spreading out and attending me

All along my path

Will, when the day is ripe,

Impose itself on earthís crusty hide

Penetrate its pores

And grow to fires

That can never be extinguished.

 

 


 

 

The World

 

When the world

Surrounded by ticking clocks

Pauses for once

And the silence

Pours out

Filling you

To all your extremities

That is the moment

Of truth

You must look in the eye

And confess:

Have you been as honest

With yourself as much

As youíve beaten down others

With your honesty?

 

 



 

Inside The Morning

 

Within the morning

Lives a secret

Get up, my large-eyed woman

I would like

To chase after

The beams of sun

With you

And find out

Why they bend around and

Away from the yurt

When youíre not there

Without that certainty

I donít plan on getting any older

And if I die at all

I intend on doing that

Only after lifting the veil

On all the secrets

Of this earth and

Laying them at your feet

 

 


 

 

Festering

 

Festering

Without you

Time drags

Hour after hour

It stacks up

With nothing but stillbirths

I canít name

A single name

For what is going on around me

But I know I have

To stand and watch it all

 

 


 

 

Meager The Warmth In The Hut

 

Meager the warmth in the hut

The oven has gone out

Perhaps

Two people are lying

With their backs to each other

Such that the heat of their bodies

Slips away from them

Both are weaving at a dream

If only the snow

Absent

Into the second month of winter

Would finally appear

Maybe it would patch up all the breaks in the ground

Who knows

 

 


 

 

Your Love

 

Your love was

A mighty river

That flooded and carried me

Into another, even more beautiful land

For the length of a dream

I was

Another nobler being there

And when I awakened

I found my Altai

Had become bluer yet and

Whiter again

Related

To the landscapes

In your eyes

 

 


 

 

On The Dreary Days

 

On the dreary days

Creeping towards me

And wading into me

Hour after hour

I pull my parts together

Until I squat as small as a sparrow

Unable to fly away

Or even to bear

Whatís happening to me

At your intervention

The sparrow transforms itself

Into an eye

In which is found one tear

Full of stars

 

 


 

 

Blue Stillness

 

Blanketed in the blue

Stillness of the steppe

You stand

In my thoughts

Solar faces

Shine around you and

Flow into one another

They have illuminated you

Along the years

Have led you across

To me and have themselves

Finally flowed into me

I am the youngest

Among your suns

 

 


 

 

A Storm Of Birds

 

A storm of birds

Like stones catapulted

At you and me

From across the far shore of the time-river

With the lusterless look

Of the incoming age

We accompany

The scattering swarm

Beyond the woods

That received us in life

But now will outlast even our children

By centuries

 

 


 

 

I Saw Your House

 

I saw your house

Twenty times as large

As the yurt

Where I wanted

To take you as my bride

So now I know

The efforts

I owed

To fit you

Into my life

Should have been

Twenty times greater

To counter it

My love

Would have been encased

As a coffin in your home

While I myself

Stayed outside

 

 


 

 

Those That Devastated You

 

Those that devastated you

Were aware

That I was to follow

Their preparations have been

Well made

Your body is

A fortress

Nowhere

Can I touch

Without wounding myself

On the ramparts

Of foreign invasions

 

 


 

 

Today Again

 

Today again

Your tongue slipped

Like a snake the name

Hissed out of you

Which I will have to swallow

No doubt a thousand times more

But never will digest

For our sake I wish

You could empty out the years

The cemetery of your previous life

But memory alone

Is the barbed hook

That will never set it free

 

 


 

 

All My Brightness

 

Mixing all my brightness

In a drink

And setting it before you

Maybe that will loose

The braids of time

Stuck to you so long

And now branching out against me

Like a spiderís web?

 

 


 

 

Let My Love Be Water

 

Let my love be water

With it, the precious water

Scooped from the fountain of my heart

I will wash away

All smudges from your name

And drive off any foreign elements

From our surroundings

 

Let my love be fire

With it, the wild fire

Ignited by flames of lunacy

I will scorch away the crust

Of your all-indulgent skin

And get down to your core

 

Let my love be stone

With it, the heavy stone

Broken from our tired bones

I will bury the years

Now flying back

To tear us apart

 

 


 

 

On A Path

 

On a path

Of soft blue

And warm yellow

I wander

All the wrinkles of earthís body

Are flooded with lights

The elements face each other

In a gentle passion of daybreak

The birds sing songs

Iíve incubated myself

Released to hazy distances

I live awaiting the wonder

That will happen

Later today

At the eleventh hour

 

 


 

 

Strange And Foreign

 

Strange and foreign festival

Streaked with rain

Unreal as any word

Whispered in the dream state

The city is

A lame bird

Dodging and dozing

Under a shrub

The houses are

Its drooping wings

Each window

A weeping eye

Since youíre with me

I overlook

The misery

Of the roots you know

I stand Colossus-like

The prince from a fairy tale

In which, facing off all doubters,

You alone believe

 

 


 

 

Heavily I Made It

 

Heavily

I made it across

The night

Under my pillow

Ticked

The punishment

For my delay

In each

Of your skin folds

I knew

The gnome

Who, left behind

By my predecessors

Guarded

You against me

 

 


 

Dream

 

The yurt stands

The fire burns

The mother lives

Rainwater runs across the floor

Slides cord-thin past the chest

With the scuffed corners

Comes to a halt and

Splinters into three threads

Each one eats its way

Forward through sparse yellow steppe grass

With the single-mindedness of fire

From the trembling trident I recognize

The lines of my own palm

Years of life lie assembled

In a herd like yaks

On a twin island stripped bare

In each trickle is the flicker

Of reddish-black water

With a blue fin

In my temples there seems to be a pounding

That curls into a question:

Will the tripartite water

Reach the ocean?

 

 


 

Clouds Froth Up

 

Clouds froth up

Woods flutter in the wind

Primeval forces are

At work

Indigestibly

You lie

Sideways in me

And I know

You will always

Be untamable

 

 


 

 

Leaf Piles That Scattered

 

Leaf piles that scattered

In the wind of birds taking flight

And that flamed for a hundred days

Along the edges of pathways

Must now

Freeze

In order to fit

The groove of time and

Disappear

From the face of earth

The same river of time

Will carry me

Out of your life

And wash me up on a shore

Unreachable

Even in your dreams

 

 

 


 

 

A Leaf Attached To You

 

I am a leaf attached to you, my tree,

A piece of fluff from your fibrous body

The water of life comes running

To me through you

And the path to the treetop carries me

Across your hollows and hills

The time crashing against you

Into pieces of day and night

Always confronts me at the trunk

And keeps me turning

Next to you

I storm through each hour of life

In the effervescence of elements

That come from the hub of earth

And if even a thousand years

Were allotted me

I would find no time

To wither but would remain

Ever green at your side

 



 

 

I Donít Always Want

 

I donít always want

To be the one who goes

To the things of this earth

To explain himself

For once, if you please

The mountain

Can show up at my place

And hold out the stones

That tumble down and mean me

He can say out loud

That insanity is the other

Inappropriate word for

Being trans-ported

And that the poet

Is a human mountain

I want to know

The wind at my side, so it

Will hunt for powers in me

Will learn to grow to a storm

And flatten whatever does not deserve

To take up life-space

All abandoned dreams

May nestle under my wings

I will train them

To face the vultures

 

 


 

 

The Stone

 

The stone

Which is your word and

Strikes

The stone

Which is your word and

Kills

Comes flying

In a low arc

Horrified

I stretch forth

A shield of lies

The word-stone

Bounces off

Missing me

And dropping away with my love

Irretrievably

To the point of no return

 



 

 

The Yellow Of The Sun

 

The yellow of the sun combined

With the grayness of the valleys

Merging into blue

Silver-threaded strands peeled away

From the onrushing morning

Streamed in light and floating lines

Towards the unending distances

Mountain and hill began

To stagger and sway

Into the glacier-bright Altai

The fifteenth of July marched in

Grasses grew, winds blew

And every hairís breadth of me

Was filled with you

 



 

 

Two People

 

Two people

Separate

Going two

Respectively wrong

Directions

In the heart of each

Sits a knife

Dual-edged

 



 

 

In Your Own Salt

 

In your own salt I find you

Most convincing

And so Iíd like

To look into your failing eyes

And feel your trembling shoulders

To intoxicate myself with the fire

Burning in you and meant for me

At some point, I know

Your heart will explode

And in its worn-out scraps

My callousness will find its nest

Then calm will finally enter in

At this breast

The cemetery plot of our love

I know it, know it

 



 

 

Love Is A Fairytale

 

Love is a fairytale

That I can tell you with some skill

You are the lone character in it

For you are the loveliest, the richest, most magnificent

And so from this hour you are the axis

Around which the earth will turn

Love will be your water and bread

To serve as sustenance

And as the steed

That carries you past planets

But now and then also

The storm wind twirling you in circles

And flinging you through the mill

Where salt is ground

Into the wounds

That you in your arrogance

Imposed

On the world and on yourself

And since love is just a fairytale

Everything I say will be true

 

 



 

 

 

When The Night of Love Has Burned Away

 

When the night of love has burned away

Its paths of light float

Above the intersection

Of departing and arriving dreams

Seeking

To illuminate irregularities

In the coarse fibers of daylight

Two humans go

Smiling through the hours

To live awaiting night
They are two fountains

Filling to the brim

And coming together

As streams

Under the evening star

In order to flow once more through the night

As a river united

And to have their waves

Crescendo

To sparks and flames

 



 

 

May My Words Like Hailstones

 

May my words

Beat on you like hailstones

Precipitated by a helpless rage

I will never forgive

The transgression

Jutting from your shore

Impossible to eradicate as a rock

The current has carried off

The raft

Tears that flow from your cheeks

To my chest

Just form a salty puddle there

The creation of our world

Is complete

Neither the garden path

Nor the great happiness

Are ever going to be

 



 

 

The Hilly Shouldered Steppe

 

I dreamed again of the hilly shouldered

Steppe with its surging sea of grass

But once again lost my way

I searched for the yurts

For the swans and you and me

But found only the land

Yawning void with emptiness again

Now covered with frost

The multibillion pebbles

Sparkled like frozen tears

And more than one shattered and crumbled

Under the unaccustomed weight

Of me

I knew the yurts

Had moved on to the mountain valleys

The swans had flown south

And you and I had been

Overtaken by time

And had

Proceeded

Down the well-known track

Of life

 



 

 

My Gift To You Will Be A Yurt

 

My gift to you will be a yurt

Where togetherness lives

Of love it will be spun

Of my bright and quiet love

Within it you shall spend days

To make you pregnant with dreams

And within you shall experience nights

To give them birth

 

My entry place will be a yurt

Where togetherness lives

Of love it will be spun

Of our bright and quiet love

 



 

 

When The Hour Was Late

 

When the hour was late

I stepped

Across bright snow

Shoved

The night aside

Sliced

The meadow in two

Stepped

Up to you

My wakeful harbor

My waiting hearth

 



 

 

Possessed By You

 

Possessed by you

I counter timeís chronology

Stripping off the suffocating annual rings

From my body

As I would clothing at night

Growing backward toward toddler tongues

Pushing toward the earliest edge

With an inner mountain boyís sacred simplicity

That I choked off

In dust on the path to the top

But now you, water of life

From twin fountains

Solar-rounded, heavenly blue

Alive once more

 



 

 

One Hour Youíve Been Gone

 

One hour youíve been gone

And now our bed

Our warm bed is growing cold

Why take the warmth with you?

Why leave me lone as an orphan child?

Why give me over to bald, clammy walls

And a ticking, teasing clock?

How empty and endless the room

That used to be so close fitting

Without the large all-seeing eyes

And the quick all-reaching arms

How stale the air without your scent

That maddening mix of chemistry and onions

How empty and heavy my head

Without the proper shoulder for it

To lean against and send a bright swarm

Of thoughts into the universe

 



 

 

You

 

You

Wind of my heart

You

Light of my eyes

You

Sky for my head

And earth for my feet

Even you will betray me someday

You will, since everyone does

Just as anyone who eats and drinks

Is irritated by hunger and thirst

But later with a full stomach

Glances with benevolence again

At his own plate

And at people waiting around other plates

On this earth betrayal simply happens

Like birth and death

And in between

Racing against the moment

Breathing

So you will

Betray me one day

Just as you eat and drink and breathe

Just as I will betray you

Before that happens, though,

The wonder happening between you and me

Lasting almost into the second winter

Will have to leave us

So that we can once again be

Worldly and human

 



 

 

Filled With You

 

Filled with you

I stepped out into the morning fog

Began slitting open the lurking winter

For hours on end

Starting at the closest corner

Its ferocious skin, its numbing air

Marching on

Up to the eleventh of December

I knew

Your warmth will accompany me

To the end of all planets

And ages

 



 

 

Without Birds

 

Without birds

Without sky

The day dozes

Within itself again

The fog hanging

For the second straight week

Has oppressed autumn

And has begun

To sour

I too live

Empty and sour

Standing dumbly

Before the script

That is you

That is all of a sudden

No longer legible

 



 

 

My Life

 

My life is

Like your bed-sheet

Stained and frayed

 

The smirking traces

Of othersí cravings

Etch my soul

Murderously

 

I need to guard myself

From the after-pains

Of games completed

In which your body

Was the playing field

 



 

 

The First Cluster

 

The first cluster

Of sharp-cornered rays

From the rising sun

Leaps in my direction

Dashes into the stream

And flows away

For a second

I live in dread:

I could be the one

To drown

In you

My young and heavy happiness

 



 

 

The Storm Wind Has Been Shaking

 

The storm wind has been shaking

The mountains

Who knows how many days

Grass and shrub

Cower and clutch tightly

To the sinews of the soil

 

Youíve held your stand in me

Who knows how many years

Giving way to nobody

Defending your position

 

The birds migrate

Return

Again and again

 

The tear you shed

In a wretched hour

Has yet to drop

From your eyelash

 



 

 

The Coastline

 

The coastline

Where you and I

Were lifted from earthís heaviness

And tossed back to ourselves

Now lies

Torn apart

Shrieking gulls

Are no substitute

For the crashing waves

That poured out

Over the depths

At the hour our sane

Sacred world broke in two

 

Happiness demands payment

 



 

 

One Hundred Thousand Red-Breasted Geese

 

One hundred thousand red-breasted geese

Sweep away

Across the steppe

Combing the grass and clouds

In a single direction

Their wind

Splits against mine

As it breaks through

The gathering winter

Along my spine

And marrow pulsating

Rushing to you

My summer

In the cold north

 



 

 

Your Fingers and Mine

 

Your fingers and mine

Reached for each other

A yurt of ten fingers

That housed our love

Lay between us

The years have

Swept away the yurt

Two fists

Now defend

The fortress

Where we

Live our selves

 



 

 

Storms Have Raged

 

Storms have raged

In this one autumn

As never

In all the years before

Devastation

On your side and mine

We both stand

Like skeletons

Laid bare

To the core

No riddles

No more promises

To each other

Worlds

Created differently and

Mutually unrewarding

We stand

On separate hills

 



 

 

Do You Sense

 

Do you sense

The light, gentle vibrations?

They are my wind currents

Sneaking around you

Fiber by fiber

They peel away

The skin

Hiding you from me

Each hair-breadth

That they expose

I quickly cover over

With me

 

Iím growing

Into your new skin

 



 

 

Parting

 

Parting

Under the yellow dawn

Has no place for laughter

Better to weep, girl

Iím glad to kiss the tears

From your eyelashes

And to imagine

That you feel as much pain

As I do this hour

At the far end of a sentence

Punctuated by two question marks

 



 

 

Quietly

 

Quietly

You flew in

And settled

Next to me

Endearing light

So multi-radiant

Like fibers

Running

Along the heart

I saw you

Shining into me

And I felt

All my branches awaken

They stood in rows

And burned

 



 

 

You Were A Log

 

You were a log

My gray-eyed night

On the fire

Threatening to go out

The drink I hand you

Out of gratitude

Will be salty and full of ash

But it will explain me

To you completely

 



 

 

Iím Cold

 

Iím cold

The blood has retreated into my heart sac

Before making its way to my veins

The tears have frozen in my throat

Before rising to my eyes

Am I even living my life anymore

When blood and tears

No longer flow?

The storm tide that bowled me over

In the midst of my years

Started in my furrows

It seems Iíve lived

The life of a prince

Now Iím faced

With that of a dog

 



 

 

In You

 

In you lie

Dead years

I must not

Dig there

Dead time

Is different

Than dead people

I can still leap up

And create malice

 



 

 

Like A Little Girl

 

When you snuggle against me

Like a little girl and tremble

I unfold my landscapes

Above you

To counter the night

Pressing down on you

Too black and too troubled

I rest easier, too

Without wrinkles

And weave the chrysalis of a butterfly

That will flutter across

When the stars extinguish

To settle on your eyelids

 



 

 

In The Clouds

 

My place is

In the clouds

Bubbling up behind the mountain

With the swaying woods

The cranes left it for me

As they splintered off the sky

Of our summer

And sailed towards winter

Their call

Was the voice of farewell

Which weíve long known in us

Lying in my travel bag

Packed in clothing with your scent

Is the salt

I will use as a lick

While I migrate on

To a new nest

 



 

 

Water Priceless

 

Water priceless

Wood priceless

Words priceless

I grew heavily

Out of the stony desert ground

Between mountains

My tongue and teeth developed

To squelch all squandering

Now I peel myself away

In words

Antidote

To the poison

Found in the primeval milk

Whose way I follow

 

My scarce and weighty word

Is now on its way to you

 



 

 

The Pill

 

I have swallowed

The pill of unforgettable

The hours you and I

Spent in the hollow of lunacy

Lie inside me

Like boulder scree from the steppe

Abiding

To stave off all who wish

To take your place

 



 

 

Now I Must Live

 

Now I must live

Without even the

Black hawk

The light storms

Of the sinking day

Have come

To flood the emptiness

That those hawks

Have left behind

In the broiling rings of sun

The thought of summer

Paralyzes

Your image from me

It has moved on again

The distance of one lasso-throw

Under the bird-weary clouds

Behind the furrowed mount

I know the hour

That will come

And release me

 



 

 

The Swallows Have Flown Out

 

The swallows have flown out

In my hope of reaching you

Their imprints are stamped

Into the sky

Like border stakes between you and me

 

At the point where they end

May the sky of our summer

Continue on undivided

 



 

 

Onto Your Warm White Skin

 

The moonlight dribbled

Onto your warm white skin

And sloshed its way across to me

Behind us

Stood an invisible shadow

Guarding each and all

Like a dividing wall

Our innocent night

Lay between light and dark

 



 

 

Your Mountains

 

Your mountains

Were witnesses to my cowardice

I am scratched

Into their memory

Of stone

Now they raise

Their clenched fists

Straight across my path

How can I ever

Still their rage?

 



 

 

The Wave-Patterned Countenance Of The Steppe

 

The wave-patterned countenance of the steppe

Tells me of ages

When I was wind

Romping with the first forces

So many outbursts of the elements

Now lie at my feet

Tempered into stone

Polished round as eyes

And my spent forces

Rest, trans-colored and trans-formed

Waiting for the hour

 

When it arrives

They will disentangle me

And with me bundle up again

The scattering parts

And thus the threshold

That opened for the length of a dream

Will once again fall shut

 

 

 



Richard Hacken, European Studies Bibliographer,
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.
Comments, corrections and suggestions are welcome: hacken @ byu.edu