Galsan Tschinag

 

Beyond the Silence

 


Translated by Richard Hacken

From Galsan Tschinag, Jenseits des Schweigens
(Frauenfeld, Switzerland: Waldgut Verlag, 2006)

Anthology incomplete: Translation still in progress...


 

Game of Fate

 

The pouch of fate

No doubt resembles

A third stomach compartment

Whose slimy-rotting cud

You were just trying to pick clean

It kept us hidden from each other

In its clever creases

For so long and only

In an hour of laxness

Set us free together

Seeing you

Faithfully squat

In the darkening hut and busily

Pluck at the steaming goo

As at the slippery seam of salvation

I try to weigh

What our common campfire

Mattered and whether

It might stand up to the invading

Storm of winter

 


 

Milky Way

 

Milky Way in view and

Mother in mind

I send out wishes

In every direction

Bright, soft and warm

 

Continuation

Of an interrupted deed

 

Morning after morning

The pudgy, weasel-quick woman

Ceremoniously arrayed and erect

Stepped up to the incense column

With the milk bucket in her left hand

And the juniper-root spoon with thirteen slits

In her right

Sprinkling the udder-warm milk

To sun, mountain, steppe and river

Showers accompanied

By rhyming couplets that often

Grew long and passionate

 

At evening we saw on high the traces of what

Had happened here on earth that morning:

The Milky Way

Still flowing along

Just a touch grander

 


 

Annunciation

 

I will be coming

But for now I send

These words before me

The settled dust

Of my spirit

So that

Warm as souls

It can meet the flighty ovum

From your innermost nest

And fertilize it

For the time has come

For you and me

To have our child

And may it be

As the children of others

Round and warm as a heart

Soft and solid as kidneys!

 


 

Words of Gratitude from a Threatened Man

 

Now rising

Now subsiding

Your fire-breathing

Hydrophobic pulse

Beats along with me

As I live beyond

Mountains and steppes

And whether it throbs, whether it whispers

I always accept it

With precision and gratitude

With all my

Senses

Sharpened by desire

Tempered by abstinence

The blood from your heart

Runs through my veins

In the attempt

To keep a body long surrounded

By marauders of every kind

From giving way

To destruction

 


 

Lines from the Sky

 

We unwind degrees of latitude

At both ends

And hurry towards each other

Me on wings

You on wheels

 

And the place we meet

Will hang somewhere

Between heaven and earth

Just where the travel-weary dreams

Land for now

 

Will we, two dreams

Of whatever substances ourselves

Drop off and away?

Or united as one

Rise up anew to the stars?

 

11/16/2003, in the sky from Ulan Bator to Berlin

 


 

To the Nomad Boy Who Had to Learn How to Use Eating Utensils

 

From the quarry of time I knock off nuggets

Strip them down to years and months,

Peel away the days and hours

And the youth who stamped them into the pit, the stone

On his way to hill, the red-cheeked

Nomad boy, comes to light, wakes

And stands, trembling and sweating

Invisible to outsiders, next to me.

 

I the hill

Now closer to mountain than stone for years

Jut out protectively over him

I father, grandfather

Of my own being, dwell in the

Front room and at the festive tables

Of the continents I have conquered

And know how

To break open so many hard shells

To extract the fruit

And to intoxicate myself

On its sweet-bitter flesh

 

Yes, my boy

You were a sinless sinner

Who had to endure the pains of hell

In a world that knew not what it did

 

Now comes my late revenge

For you against the scars

By implementing everything to pieces

Knifing and forking eggs, cake and pudding

And brashly announcing my readiness

Before the rolling camera to crack

Nuts with those extended metal fingers

But then with my hands and mouth

I work as if in my own yurt

Grabbing here, ripping and biting there

And then licking and smacking my lips

 

Donít be shocked, my child

Since you were not permitted this and would

Have quickly been sneered at

Wild man me is now permitted
Even to force out words

That serve my dignity

Ah yes, such was the world created

Into which you ventured out

And to which you relinquished

Your youth as tuition in the

Heady hope of one day being granted

The crown of King.

 

Berlin-Bad Lippspringe 11/19-22/2003

 


 

Morning Sun on December 5th

 

Per Maria di Merano

 

Lovely, when in December

Over snowy woods and fields

The sun blossoms to life like summer

There and here splintering off in sparks

Now and then breaking out in flames

And pouring out intensified, purified light

Along the paths and passageways

That you and I

Wandered up and down

In blazing consciousness of so much life

And such solid human harmony

 

Twice as lovely to know

The sun-fire will

Track down and tie together

The dizzying dash of two pairs of footprints

To set their wavering paths ablaze

So that the wetness trapped in ice

Might finally rise up

Returning

To breath-warm, tear-bright water

Seeping

Into soil joyful to conceive

 

Loveliest of all

If on a May morning

A deer child or a human fawn

Agitated in the brimming chalice

Of a young and modest heart

Were to stand still

Right in front of a footprint nestís occupant

The sky-blue forget-me-not

And were to recognize its illuminated gaze

It is one of the endowments

We granted and left behind

For all animated life forms

And now the recipient

Comes face to face with one of them

 

12/5/2003, Michelangelo Express, Bolzano-Munich

 


 

Novemberliness

 

Fog pressing down

†††† Rain drizzling

††††††††† So novemberly

There and here bent

†††† Treelike beings

††††††††††††††††††††††† Weep

Oily-carboniferous tears

††† From eyes unseeing

††††††††† Under heavy lashes

I, novembering along

†††† Through inner countrysides, know

††††††††† The sources of unseeing and unfeeling

The souls that slipped away

†††† When their bodies

††††††††† Damned to achievement

†††††††††††††† Were beaten black and blue

Now form after form

†††† Comes into view and swells up madly

††††††††† Strangling viscous and superfluous

†††††††††††††† Mucus shapes out of its own innards

I who had

†††† My outer layer polished

††††††††† To hasten through the day

Might here and there

†††† Take hold of one of the oppressed

††††††††† And whisper to him

You still have it better, my friend

†††† Than many others on the treadmill

††††††††† In this labyrinth of delusion

You may show yourself

†††† As you are

††††††††† You are permitted to weep and do

†††††††††††††† Not have to play a role.

 

November 2002, 11/19-20/2003, Hildesheim Ė Berlin - Hildesheim

††††


 

Reporting on the Situation

 

The breast hills

Over which the wind

Of many winters stumbled

Drift my way, staring at me

In the firelight

Of the sinking sun

With the weight

Of developing mountains

 

Rising up to my full height

I present myself and sense

Peace in me, surrounded

By bright coolness

Of the glacierís peak at my back

And I recognize the situation

 

I a mountain

Stand tenaciously

In the cross storm

Of jealousy and greed

And of their misbegotten child

Blind hate

 

A terrestrial formation myself

I watch

With celestial circumspection

While stones fly at me

And I do not forget

To suffer proper pains

When they beat

Against me

 

Zagaan sar in the Year of the Red Mouse, 2/19-25/1996;

1/7/2004 Ulan Bator

 


 

Song of the Hedgehog

 

Laming

The winter cold

Taming

The daily burden

Claws gape open

Threatening to snap shut

Your prince

With his family seat

At the altar of bliss

Is forced

To flee

From the skin of a child

Into that of a work ox

And to curl up into a ball

Like a hedgehog that will stay

Until you appear

To release him

Spring

 


 

Cemetery of the Altai

 

The last larch

At the foot of the eagleís nest

Has fallen

Now this side valley of the Altai

Lies stark naked in the path

Of sand- and snowstorms

Perfectly resembling

A cemetery

Tree stumps

Jut out silently

Like shadows, gravestones

 


 

Burden

 

Tear has its taste

Mourning its look

Parting its language

Knowing

That the wound-etched

Blinded and

Mute are beside me

I donít know

What to do

Oppressed with weight

The invisible sack

With foreign burdens

The shoulders

 


 

A Line of Farewell

 

What use are words anymore?

The threads have long since

Pulled loose

It is not given

To you or me

To re-knit

The pattern from our

Aches and joys

Here apart, there together

Let the carpet, once woven

Stay as it is

Allow the bed linens of love

The honor

Of becoming a burial cloth

Of separation

 


 

That Early Autumn Day

 

That fluttering ribbon

Of an early autumn day

Striped pink at the one end

Spattered red at the other

Blue yellow white in the middle

And from hour to hour

In a richer light

Of sun storm behind

The bursting clouds

Constantly a new

Riveting bounty

 

You and I sat

Wedged into each other, silent

And so we left time

For our senses to be

Alert all the way to their edges

And to blaze wide awake

In the face of a portrait

Painting itself

And framing itself

Within the flaming horizons

 


 

Pilgrims

 

Two pilgrims, each

On a quest toward himself

The sensed unknown

Meet again and again

Halfway

 

Each serves as a skylight

To the goal for the other

The view leads

To meditation or embarrassment

Creating a dilemma:

A communal stretch

Or each continues his pilgrimage alone

 


 

Human Mountain

 

Short old woman

Tall wise man

Earth- and weather-beaten you walk

Dwarfish yet mountainous

With composure into the raging snowstorm

Of the winter steppe

Your face is a landscape

Carved with dark furrows

And charted by adventures

That still glow

Your fingers are roots

Washed and peeled

And in your look

Lives wisdom, gentle and clear

At the spot where you arrived

The winds of fate have

Quieted

 


 

Habit

 

Habit advances quietly

Softly seizes and firmly pulls the opening shut

Too late you notice

It has taken command

Useless to try rebelling

Against it, for

Youíve long since been walled

Into a niche with no exit

Or else you stand walled

Out in front of your birth house

With no entrance now

 


 

Lullaby to Those Developing

 

Grow, sprout, grow

To a tall larch

But know

The storm always strikes

The tallest tree in the woods

 

Grow, stone, grow

To a hill, to a mountain

But know

Up there on the peak

Dwell cold and loneliness

 

Grow, child, grow

To a strong man

But know

Such strength is constantly

Attended by jealousy and hate

 


 

Beyond the Silence

 

Beyond the silence

That we monitor

A voice will speak

Beyond the darkness

That encircles us

A light will shimmer

Beyond the rot

That decomposes us

A body will generate

Beyond the emptiness

That fills us

A soul will hover

Beyond the numbness

That subdues us

A spirit will gleam

 

Someone named this existence

Defying every ending

And beyond all nothings

God

Another did not dare

To encumber

The majestic unknown

With a self-proclaimed

Inexact designation

 


 

Barbs

 

Be kind to yourself

Protect yourself at least

From your own barbs

Arenít there enough

People out there already

Who crave the chance

To hurt you?

 


 

Words

 

We talk too much

Keep silent too little

Plummeting hailstorm words

Bounce apart

In a search for grooves

And find a bed

Now and again

Through which

A stream will force its way

Rushing and frothing

But which needs

A silent lake

Into which it can flow

 


 

Mountains and Stars

 

Night makes a nest

In the cozy imprint

Of the dissipated day

Mountains and stars

Equally close and equally peaceful

Shine and breathe on you

With their blazing

Ineradicable memory

And you, pulsing particle

Of the burbling whole

Ride the arrow of time

From tomorrow to yesterday

You rest in the present day to personify

Animate and spiritualize it

Growing at the same time

Speck of dust by speck of dust yourself

To a mountain, to a star

 

 


 

Morning Greeting in All Directions

 

Greetings, man

Who lives next door or beyond the mountains

And steppes and rivers and lakes

No matter where you are, who you are

 

Whatever hair or skin color you have

Whether you know me or not

Greetings

 

A new morning is gathering

Possibly, things where you are

Are not so far along, and youíre resting

Surrounded by darkness, but

The light messenger of lifeís day

Left to visit you long ago and

So he will still come to the place you are

A further gift

 

But we, too, are gifts to the arriving messenger

Or to whoever fathered him, shaped him

And sent him on his way:

Each a burning torch

A costume of life, patience, gratitude

Along the way

Which, without us, without everyone and everything

Would be so senseless and hopeless

 

The breaking day can be anything

A bitch pregnant to bursting

For instance.Then she will

Deliver pups before our eyes

Maybe a litter of twelve. Itís up

To you and me whether we know

How to receive each of them

And above all how to raise them: as dogs?

As mutts?As monsters?

 

Mine will become sheep-dogs

With the tent of heaven as their roof

Barking communal complaints and sniffing the wind

Winds themselves, storm winds

In the way of all wolves

Mostly peaceable, but not tame

 

You will raise your own

As your senses dictate: as lap- or

Yard dogs.Or as attack dogs. The kind

With lips pulled back, teeth bared

And icy-murderous looks, I cringe!

They arenít kept to protect against wolves

I know. But still I beg you

Not to sic any of them on me

Or on any other child of man

 

I beg you in the name of the mother of all mothers

Who was perhaps a bitch as well

And her pups, your ancestors and mine

Delivered here and there. Or a blade of grass

Whose seeds the wind scattered across the earth

I am always afraid of the attack dog

No matter where he is. But Iím never afraid

Of you, man, wherever you live, whoever you are

And whatever hair and skin color you have

 

 

 

 


 

Drink (36)

 

The cup from which

You drink me

Is the same in which

You served yourself to me

We pour ourselves

Into each other mouthwise

Two streams determined

To produce a river

Capable of flowing distant and

Capable, before slipping back

Exhausted into the womb

Of bearing the water of life

The sacred three drops:

The first as dew

In the calyx

Of a waking rose

The next as a tear

On the lid

Of an eye dimming with death

And the last as a bonus

To the oceans of earth

 


 

 


visits since December 2004


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