Song (Dziesma)

In the cold my voice grew horase

and one day my song

was frozen solid.

I drank hot milk and honey

and recited a single prayer:

for the song to return — if only like

the moos of cows or bees buzzing.

Then it happened: in the night, when all

who tended me were gone,

from the waterfront slaughterhouses

cattle broke onto the streets.

Thirsty, they mooed the city full. Galloping,

with their hot breaths and bodies

they melted the snow from windows and trees,

from skyscrapers and squares.

I pushed open the window — a scream

thawed my voice. From it, as from a river,

cows were drinking at noon. Soaking

their warm udders in my song –

their warm udders in my song.

     (trans. by Laris Saliņš)

At a performace (Kādā izrādē)

A temple?

Holy Communion?

The Eve of the Flood?

But over the loudspeaker come stock reports, weather forecasts

(“mostly sunny”…), lectures on horticulture,

and a red-haired woman in a bathrobe,

dangles her legs over the balcony rail,

and plays the cello –

or is it her legs that she plays?

And in the corner two young people play ping-pong.

In the meantime

God has stepped out by the altar

and is building

the Flood –

blue waves, green waves –

     higher,

          higher,

               higher,

                    higher…

The youngsters stop their ping-pong match —

and switch to

tiddlywinks.

On my right a Pakistani or Indian woman with beautiful skin

asks for the time

or a safety pin

I show her the in-

side of my fin,

but the cellist starts on an Irish spin.

God glances over his shoulder,

disgusted,

dismantles the waves

and takes them back to the flood warehouse.

Suddenly someone rises and shouts:

“Stop these antics –

liberate the captive nations!”

What? Was it me who shouted? Sweating

I collapse in my seat. “Oh, I see –

you, too, have a part in this mystery”

marvels the Pakistani woman

with the beautiful skin.

And over the loudspeaker – stock reports, weather forecasts. But then

at last

demonstrations begin. People come

with posters. No, with totem poles down the aisles

come the vanquished Indian tribes,

the ancient Incas along their rope bridges,

and the ancient Jatvingians, ancient Galindians, ancient Old

          Prussians and

dinosaurs, labidosaurs,

alosaurs, trachodons,

diplodoci, triceratops,

Tyrannosaurus rex —

they come in procession

with the Jatvingians, with the Galindians, with the Old Prussians

(It’s kind of fun to be extinct,”

a ghastly diplodocus whispers in my ear)

and they disappear where God disappeared.

And over the loudspeaker – stock reports, weather forecasts,                                       lectures on horticulture.

From the cello, from the balcony rail

cries of fishes, laughter of earthworms, twittering of snakes.

And the Pakistani woman walks around and distributes

forgiveness of sins? mercy? the flesh of God?

                    I sense

through my leg, through my shinbone, someone is ringing me

(as if by telephone) – and then at my ear I hear

a dreaming skull –

                              waters mixed with sounds,

                              fire mixed with rocks,

                              hills with the sun, with the moon, with the stars,

                              plants with the air –

A dreaming skull.

         (trans. by the author)

A Fauvist Landscape with Women (Pie fovistiem Parīzē)

Women,

still wet,

made of clay —

with God’s fingerprints, red and green, all over them.

Or are they God’s tongueprints?

Did He just finish

licking them out of clay

with His tongue?

         (trans. by the author)

To Mooncities in the Ocean and Noah’s Wife (for Jānis Strods)

(Mēnesspilsētām okeānā un Noasa sievai)

Night. We’re by the ocean. And there

on the waves like on rolling vineyard slopes

moooncities are born.

They rush toward us, toward the shore and disappear

into the darkness, the sand, ourselves.

                    Ah, Noah’s wife,

when the flood came, you didn’t desire to be saved

with your hundred year old husband, but rather to stay in those cities

that dazzling disappear — drunk on hundred year old wine

and the Lord’s anger.

                    Did you,

Eve’s knowing daughter, take their rocking with you

into Noah’s Ark — maybe in your lap? — and send it

into the clenased world? With this rocking,

already rose the smoke of Noah’s first sacrifice?

And was it for just this reason it seemed so sweet

and familiar to the Lord – as if from your lap?

                    From your lap,

with the rocking of flood and ebb,

wine was born again — and on it, as if on the flood:

rolling cities, shattering fate, day and night.

                    Ah, Noah’s wife,

as it was in the beginning,

is and will be: with bone frames and flesh walls

we live in mooncities built on waves.

       (trans. by Laris Salins)

The Architecture of Riga (Rīgas arhitektūra)

I.

One Riga

a friendly city, of ancient pavements and walls, crumbling stone

                    steps, towers and steeples,

the other — a city of fear,

fear in the steeples, in the walls, in the crumbling stone steps, in the cobblestone streets,

coursing through eyes and fingertips —

fear.

II.

We’re walking –

coming toward us the Laima clock and the linden trees, swans on the canal and

the Opera house, the Statue of Freedom – as on a postcard.  But then

we cross Lenin Boulevard — and the asphalt crackles and caves in, we collapse,

collapse into the underground.

                    These are shafts,

they’re coal mines — in the center of Riga we’re suddenly

at a vast distance from Riga. We’re walking

through mines in the Siberian Arctic – stooping, huddling, whispering.

                                        Somewhere, at a vast distance are

the linden trees, the Statue of Freedom – as in an old

postcard.

          As in an old,

long faded postcard, somewhere in the distance,

at a vast distance, above our heads —

Rīga?

                    (trans. by Ilze Mueller Kļaviņa)

Abyss  (Bezdibenī)

Deeper and deeper

we vanished into the gorge, vanished

into the abyss

of autumn leaf,

scent and fruit.

You let go my hand

and trotted ahead

downward amidst the fruit,

the gold,

the red.

Then you reclined in leaves,

hands around your knees,

arms around your black skirt.

Were you breathing fruit?

Were you waiting for me?

I caught up, filled up

your lap with fruit —

blushing and golden

you surrendered —

the immaculate conception.

Deeper and deeper

we vanished into the gorge, vanished

into the abyss

of autumn leaf,

scent and fruit.

                                          (trans. by Laris Saliņš)

Vision (Parādība)

My mother carries me in my cradle on her head.

She walks like an Indian woman, without holding her load.

I trust this balance.

This balance between her and me.

Balance between her and the earth.

Balance between us and the earth and the stars.

My mother carries me in my cradle on her head.

My mother carries me in my coffin on her head.

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

Homecoming  (Vasarsvētki)

Earth under his fingernails — from it

meadow grass grew,

and from his toenails good-sized shrubs:

that’s how he came back to the city after a long sleep.

Flirtatious girls

clung to his blossoming elbows,

others decorated the streets with birches, with saplings,

which grew from his armpits.

But he — he lay down

next to himself

and drank from his own grassy palms,

as though at a bar – and then again, as though from an old well,

and partook of the smell of live pike as an appetizer.

“Make him say something,

make him say someting,

make him sing or

say something!” we shouted.

But, turning to our ears, we heard only

blossoms budding on his chest

and then a bee — or eternity? —

humming in the blossoms, or in his hair.

Interesting, but we wanted more —

a local jazz musician, a trombonist

bent down and tore from the sleeper’s thigh

a piece of birch or alder bark,

rolled it into a horn and

blew:

windows trembled in the bodies of skyscrapers,

wombs and breasts in the bodies of women —

as though the horn were not alder bark

but emotion, forgotten emotion.

“Enough!” a flushed, trembling blonde pleaded, “Enough!

An unsingable song protects us all

and gives us the strength to live.”

And falling to her knees, she conceived

and gave birth to a boy.

This fusion with the earth continued

three days and three nights. Like nude women,

brilliant yellow-red birch trees walked through the streets —

he was home.

          (trans. by Ināra Cedriņš)

I woke to a horse’s neighing  (Es pamodos no zirga zviedzieniem)

I woke to a horse’s neighing.

Through my hotel room window, left open that night,

leaned a horse’s head.

So Riga still had dray horses?

Amazed, I propped myself up on an elbow.

What to serve him — black bread? a pickle?

But then it hit me — he just might be

a secret agent in disguise!

                              He neighed again, more intelligibly:

“Calm down,

I’m not from the CIA or KGB. Don’t you know me? — Rick.

We parted thirty-three years ago — when they shipped me

to Volkhov.”

                    Rick! Of course!
Only with a deeper voice, and the looks

of a horse.

“It’s easier this way,” he neighed, muzzle on the sill.

After the war, dispatched to the north for a “rest.”

Upon returning at last, no father, mother, sister, no sweetheart anymore.

So, then — he had become a drayman.

                    A drayman?

I peered at him closely — no, a horse like any other horse!

“Well,” he lightly neighed, “it’s how you look at things.

Besides, there are advantages — for instance, their mics

can’t pick up horseplay . . .”

And he meaningfully glanced at my ceiling.

So, we horsed around.

About old times.

And so on.

And on and on.

At parting we drank a toast

of some good old “horse schnapps.”

                              “Till next time,” he neighed,

and, horseshoes clicking, trotted away

through Old Riga at dawn —

                    a horse like any other.

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

Unearthed (Atraktais)

So this is what my

resurrection looks like —

no eye in the forehead,

no tongue in cheek?

These bones are all ears —

does the earth still resound?

Undertaker,

help me out:

play on these hips and

shins of mine

play the clouds

play the sunshine

a last call-and-response between

high heaven and

this voice that is now

but earth and darkness.

And, before the brightness

turns my bones to dust,

let’s have a reprise

of the eyes and the lips —

ever-rejoicing over the stone

eyes, lips and bone.

          (trans. by Laila Salins)

Report of an arrest  (Kādas apcietināšanas protokols)

When arrested he was wearing — no,

not the uniform of the boy scouts or the national guard –

he wore an off-white summer suit.

Sprawled in a field of rye, he was reading a book of poems.

Under his lapel they found —

not a concelaed pin with Latvia’s coat-of-arms,

but a dried-up daisy stalk.

The cartridge-shaped objects inside the lining

proved to be pebbles,

while from the left pocket of his trousers –

an adult’s pocket, mind you –

they removed a slingshot in working order.

There wasn’t one political pamphlet,

not one subversive document –

just some tobaco crumbs, and, covered in the crumbs,

a piece of black bread for fish bait

and a cork, still smelling of red currant wine,

in his breast pockets, programs

from song festivals, dances, and Memorial Days.

The security guards

rummaged through this material evidence and said,

“Public enemy number 1!”

And as the prisoner was led away along the river bank, profuse with flowers,

one of the guards, nervous and boyish-faced,

shuddered: “This air.

Even this air smells of subversion. It’s like

religion. Like the opium of the people. And all these

haze-filled horizons. And the brightness…”

He squinted at the river surface,

then jerked the barrel of his submachine gun upward

and let off seven bursts of bullets

into the white summer clouds shimmering in the water

          (transl. by Ilze Mueller-Kļaviņa)

Spring in the city  (Pilsētā pavasaris)

On a day that drizzled

mild and warm

I felt — on my chin

I felt — on my cheek

I felt with alarm

not a beard

but the first grass sprouting.

–Of all places! I muttered, and tried to hide

from passers-by.

Now, as I’m about to vanish down the A-line,

someone gently curls his arm through mine:

“What a fool you are!

Where else in the city can young grass sprout

when sprouts must sprout —

on stones?”

I look: on his cheek too

the gentle green of grass

peaks through

and buds of violets…

Spring had come to the city.

          (trans. by Laila Salins)

Sing (Dziedi)

for Laila

Sing – sing so that

stars press up against the windowpanes

and the sun and the moon

and grandmothers from the stars

and grandfathers

Sing – sing so that

bird’s milk begins to flow from women’s breasts

and from men’s

also from men’s

Driving across the bridge, you sing – and the river sits up

in astonishment

as we speed away faster than sound,

your voice streaming behind us like red roses,

red winds

You sing – and our flesh turns transparent

till it vanishes entirely and we behold

in that voice of yours

as in a flowing mirror

our souls so long unseen

and dazed we rub our eyes that are no more

Sing – sing for those

who cannot sing

for those who are dead – their non-singing

is more like our singing than we know

if our singing is true – as true

as their silence

So sing – sing so that children are born –

and children to those children — and their children’s children. Sing,

so we are reborn — so that we see ourselves —

see ourselves

beyond death

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklers Bluķis)

Flying out  (Izlidojot)

We are among the clouds – we are

in the day before the creation of the world.

There is no earth yet.

Only space.

                    But how can that be?

Already you’re here –

Eve,

and at your naked shoulder am

I, Adam.

Someone warns you: “Don’t

believe everything he tells you!”

You smile back: “We live

not on faith, but on

love.”

          (trans. by Andrejs Saliņš)

A Museum Piece (Muzejā)

In the ancient sunstone

I felt the heat of an ancient sun.

And I came to life.

I started to dance.

I was the god of this altar.

                    When I had finished — still out of breath, still godlike —

I put my arm around my beloved,

ready to move on.

                              But at that moment the museum guard

stopped us. “You don’t mean to…” he asked her, pointing at me,

“you don’t mean to take this exhibit with you?”

                                        And nothing could convince him,

neither documents nor her despair.

He called another guard, and then the two of them

got me (I still can’t figure out how)

inside the sunstone.

I’ve been here now – god knows how long.

Occasionally my beloved comes to visit me, and when the

          guards aren’t looking

she touches the stone and whispers,

“My love . . .”

And that’s how we live now.

          (trans. by the author)

The Leap (Lēciens)

And, having spent half a lifetime and yet another half a night with poetry,

at this moment at the party

I brought her a drink with a slice of lemon

and she got up and stuck out her

tongue.

“No,” she said:

“I want to go up on the roof with you!”

Behind us the clinking glasses and voices faded out

as far below us

in green gold and red lights

New York shimmered, mute,

like a reflection in deep waters.

“Shall we swim?” she asked in her womanly way

and then without waiting for my answer

and without even taking off her clothes

(which I would’ve preferred)

she leapt

over

the railings.

As I rushed over I saw

the entire city

pulsing in waves of blue, green, red and gold circles below.

And then (I would’ve never believed myself capable of doing

something so utterly idiotic),

I shed my jacket, loosened my tie (as it dawned on me that

          it was my last tie to earth)

and had already placed one leg up on the railing – to jump (though I

          fully realized that down below there really weren’t

                    deep swirling waters, but, rather, asphalt streets – and still

                              knowing that, in spite of it all,

                                        there was nothing to do – but jump) —

when from behind me

a pair of hands covered my eyes shut.

In disbelief I turned around

but, yes,

it was her!

And when, in a burst of indignation I wanted to curse at her

                    for playing such a heartless trick on me

she pressed up against me, clinging to me and whispered,

with every kiss,

how grateful she was to me for saving her life.

Only then did I notice

we were both

absolutely drenched,

and coated with silt and seaweed.

(trans. by Lalita Salins)

In Sun (Saulē)

The sun bares down so strong,

as if it held me to be a fruit

that needs to ripen in a day.

Well anything can happen…

I recline into the flower stems,

so that their scarletness

ahead of the darkness

may flow into my brains

and at the very center,

congealing in the seeds, remains.

Through eyelids like apple skins

the world reawakens golden,

and flows into me and stays glinting

like juice in a fruit, that’s ripe.

(transl. by Laila Salins)

Returning home  (Mājnieks)

(Latvia, 1976 – for Saša)

Receiving us

he trembled, he shimmered, intoxicated and intoxicating —

          he was

the currants, cherries, strawberries, plums,

tomatoes, parsley, dill —

          from his own beds?

          his own gardens?

That whole day and night

he nourished us with himself,

and toward dawn it was he, fermented by then, that we drank.

But at sunrise, when our legs no longer obeyed us,

he rose, and on his shoulders and elbows of wine he carried us

home.

When we awoke, we found him fallen into a deep sleep,

in the corner of the garden, on the ground,

frightened to see: he was no longer

vines, or berries or wine:

he was moldering earth. He lay

decaying within himself, already dead,

with roots of trees and vines

across him, and his hair matted with the leaves of many autumns.

There were roots through the hollows of his eyes, and these roots

        coiled deeper,

through the hollowed eyes of others — roots entwined with barbwire

piercing his eyes in the sleep of death.

                              No, what am I saying! At that moment he woke,

and sensing us leaning over him — silhouetted against the towers

          of Riga and of New York — he rose,

and in rising somehow gathered himself together, and

from compost became flesh,

became flesh and fruit and

berries and wine. And again

all of him trembled,

all of him shimmered,

intoxicated and intoxicating —

for one more day, one more, as short as life,

summer’s day back home.

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

Meditation over wine (Meditācija ar vīnu)

Wine, as we drink it, dies. Do we notice?

Lifted, its aroma spreads, glows for a moment on our tongue,

momentarily revived, glows in our eyes,

in our laughter – and is no more.

A simple death. We, the living,

rest in the knowledge: it will come, a mouth will drink us

like wine, without inquiring from

which gardens we came.

Reverse the wine’s fermentation,

return the juice of the grape

to berries on the vine,

pour them back into the branches,

allow the berries to revert back into

flowers — and as you gaze at

the floating clouds of blossoming pollen,

consider where it all began —

the flight of bees in that moment of

April sunshine, a breeze wafting back and forth. Never

again will it pass by, nor the

bees that flew just so.

Why carry along the pollen

of these blooms – and not those — and not others?

And why, among thousands of blossoms

from which to mature, why did these berries alone

become this wine?

Ah! with a bee, with a chance breeze

is born the wine and born its drinker —

in the play of dancing pollen, in the blossom-filled air.

Wine, as we drink it, dies. Do we notice?

Lifted, its aroma spreads, glows for a moment on our tongue,

momentarily revived, glows in our eyes,

in our laughter – and is no more.

An all too simple death. We, the living,

rest in the knowledge: it will come, a mouth will drink us

like wine.  A simple

death. Life — the miracle of blooming.

(trans. by Laila Salins)

The peculiar business with the monument

(Dīvainais notikums ar pieminekli)

The first to notice it were

the fishmonger women – riding the tram to the market:

“Hey, hey, whad’ya say —

she’s got a bun in the oven!”

Those who heard it turned aside:

“Bunch of nasty women! Nasty, indeed! No shame!”

But what fishmongers say just won’t go away. Soon,

with telescopes,

secretly peering through binoculars,

even the menfolk had to admit:

“Something’s going on there,

something, hmm, quite peculiar —

those fish women sure have eyes….”

Before long it was a secret no

more. Only the city’s powerful still

pretended not to see it.

          But now and then

strange jolts were felt throughout Rīga:

buffet glasses and windows rattled.

          Seismographers registered

tremors in the range of mild earthquakes. But the fish womens’ gaze

                    told another tale:

“The little one’s kickin’…” and they counted the days.

It was – must’ve been July – around noontime the whole city

turned hot and muggy. The tremors

increased. Cracks emerged from the asphalt

around Lady Freedom. Train tracks bent. The trams were halted. And then,

as the arms held upright for 35 years slid down toward her lap,

She

fell

to her knees.

When She stood back up,

at her breast was a child.

The tremors stopped. All along the boulevards

and parks thousands of folk milled about, struck by a miracle.

Calling out at dusk, the wailing fire engine trucks

appeared  — hoisting up a slatted ladder.

          The loudspeaker announced:

“There’s some kind of a defect in the statue…”

          As darkness fell

floodlights were turned on: and there She sat —

in the beams of the rays,

at her breast — a child.

“Hush, little baby…” this voice — it hummed

through stones and through hearts.

          Trouble is, the firemen were

building scaffolds around the statue and

climbing up. And, as one of them

reached out and nearly touched Her with his hands,

the sudden silence of the onlookers wafted

high above the city, above Her,

as in cathedral vaults,

and at that moment

the lights

went out.

          Darkness whistled past the statue

like ropes, like ships’ cables.

                    And, when the floodlights came back on,

She once again stood tall – arms stretched upward.

It seemed someone was fleeing through the crowds.

                    “Catch him! Where’s the child?”

But catch him they couldn’t.

Later —

it’s fall now —

the fishmonger women are talking:

“That boy, how he laughs

with the mermaid’s daughters,

as for the suckling nurse —

she’s a young woman who

catches fish in her traps

others say words —

a poet perhaps….

I ask: “What’s she look like?
The fish women turn and grimace at me,

as if at the sun, as if at the sea:

“Why you still askin’?

don’cha understand?”

as a silvery salmon

is placed in my hand

(trans. by Laila Salins)

Rain (Lietū)

(in Stockholm)

I head into the rain.

I walk and walk in this rain. It is

impassable. Impassable

groves of rain, woods of rain, primeval forests of

rain. I’ve lost my way.

I’ve passed back through my life. Through my own

birth. Through my mother’s flesh.

Further back. Further. Where am I?

Rain. Rain. Impassable.

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

Letter from a Christmas stable  (Vēstule no Ziemassvētku kūts)

(in the Latvian countryside, dated 1976)

Yes – we’ll celebrate Christmas right in the stable. We’ll wait

for the Virgin who has conceived

the Son of God from the Holy Spirit.

          (Here I stopped writing and looked at the old family Bible in its old wooden covers:

          what times we live in! any newborn child

          is such a wonder now it seems from the Holy Spirit. And isn’t it so?

          Blasphemous talk, and yet

                    Where, dear God, will you abide

                    when all of us have died?

Epiphany, you ask? The Three Wise Men? Where

would they come from?

From the lands of the East? From the West? From the Arctic Circle? —

                    no, not those, they can’t be expected to come.

As for ourselves, where would we find three wise ones? We’ve got

barely two — the third’s a simpleton. Or is that another tale?

                    All hale, holy night!

All hale, the stable – with all its smells! The lantern throws shadows

before us. Feeling our way

barefoot, through straw — through cattles’ muzzles

                    and flanks. We listen to

their breathing,

          mooing,

                    bleeting,

                              where,

where in this stable will a star shine forth – where will arise

the cry of

THAT CHILD?

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

In the night  (Naktī)

As if in the starry fields of heavens

someone had reaped star flowers —

as if someone dazzled in the heavens

had embraced a daughter of the sun —

as if the curtain of heaven had suddenly been torn open to reveal

even more heavenly heavens —

as if, spanning All, a peacock of paradise had spread its tail —

as if an All had just there begun and ended,

                              while with head thrown back you stand, —

                              while with head thrown back you stand,

someone has shiningly shot through there abovein the heavens

your life and your death.

          (trans. by Laris Salins)

Concert in the Dom Cathedral, Rīga  (Koncerts Doma baznīcā)

Hands. A pair of hands. Severed

on the rails in Vorkuta twenty years ago,

fitfully these hands are playing the organ,

the hands alone,

while someone else, with frostbitten amputated feet,

with feet alone,

is running along the organ pedals for twenty years now,

is running from the Arctic Circle

home.

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

The Unspoken  (Nepateiktais)

It rang that night.

I hurried – too late…  And now I know:

it was you — calling me from the darkness —

a moment before disappearing.

No, lord knows, it’s not the words,

but the unspoken that binds us

through life and death.

(trans. by Laila Salins)

Ballet  (Balets)

a half crumbled mural

A heavenbound

Christ — with eyelids closed, as if still in a dream,

with nail perforated

feet,

          as if springing away from the world —

a ballet dancer.

But the midriff is gone — in its place

now invisible to my eyes

dances

the flesh of God?

          (trans. by Bitīte Vinklere)

Storm in the streets  (Ielās bij vētra)

A storm in the streets —

slamming the door behind us,

it hurled us together against the wall

that reeled like a woman

in dread and passion,

like you.

“Let’s run!” cried your mouth

as you forced it away from mine.

But the storm tossed it back

like a scarlet leaf

at my cheek,

my eyelids,

my throat.

Then you ran — but the street surged about you,

splashed you with lights torn from lamps and from windows

and, rising underneath you,

knocked you over —

and, with a wave,

you were swept back

into my arms.

The street enfolded us like the sea. Buildings drifted

past as they sank locked in an embrace

with their lights.

(trans. by Ruth Speirs)

Metamorphoses (Metamorfozes)

More and more ardently

I resemble earth:

I am sown,

I am mowed,

cows chew me as they

moo me

high and low they moo —

         who knew

         that I’m full of such melodies!

And lakes have descended within me

and rivers,

long and stumpy spawning fish

meander and gleam —

         ah, my passionate fisherman’s nature!

And, speaking of waters…

wells, these wells of mine:

there the maiden lept

after her spindle,

and arrived in

my

underground –

there bread’s about to burn

there lambs must soon be shorn

there an old geezer’s been longin’ for a sauna

for a thousand years.

The tale continues…

the good sister returned above ground,

adorned in gold,

dancing up to the heavens

as the very sun.

         Sure, they accuse me of

         turning her head…

But all will be well,

there’s no need to wed,

I’ll frolic around her

wherever I’m led.

I’ve got waters aplenty in darkness, fields aplenty —

how sweet to lie with waters, to run with fields —

to run with fields,

to dream with stones

and be thinking thoughts with hay and straw —

         must be why I’m feeling

         so blissful.

And sense, also, more and more ardently

that I’ll return there, from whence I was snatched. And then

         from my clay may god

         bird whistles prepare and

         into them blow a song

         out of thin air.

                                                     (trans. by Laila Salins)

Manhattan baroque  (Menhetenas baroks)

Reflections of neon lights

flood the streets with rainbows —

a floating narcosis,

synthetic somnambulism, moonstruck

movement in streets of a moonless city.

Crowds float along till three in the morning,

not sensing

that they’ve left the sidewalks,

wading

          upward

                    along

                              neon rainbows.

Before sunrise —

in the final hour of narcosis —

on the topmost ledges of  skyscrapers,

          nylon

                    winged

           cupids

sit.

 (trans. by Ruth Speirs)

PUBLICATIONS

Anthologies:

Inara Cedrins, ed. Contemporary Latvian Poetry. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1984.
Walter Cummins, ed. Shifting Borders: East European Poetries of the Eighties. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993.
Emery George, ed. Contemporary East European Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Ruth Speirs, ed. Translations from the Latvian. Exeter: Exeter University, Exeter Books 17, pp. 16-27. (poems by Gunars Salins and Linards Tauns)

Literary journals:

Texas Quarterly, trans. Ruth Speirs, Spring, 1962, vol. V.; The Literary Review, trans. Ruth Speirs, Spring 1965.
Visions 26, trans. by Ilze Klavina-Mueller & Gunars Salins, Black Buzzard Press, 1988.
Zintis, Spring 1961, vol. 1.
Translation: The Journal for Literary Translations, trans. by Bitīte Vinklers, vol. XII, 1984.
Arena, trans. by Ruth Speirs, P.E.N. Centre for Writers in Exile, London, Nr. 10, 1962.
Scattered Voices, trans. by Velta Sniķere, the Latvian P.E.N. Centre, Stockholm, 1978.
Lituanus: The Lithuanian Quarterly: trans. by Gunars Salins & Laris Salins; (Chicago) Special Issue on Baltic Literatures, vol. 23.