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Janis Rambis is the pseudonym that poet Janis Elsberg used for his early published work. *The Andalusian Dog is a well-known poets' cafe in Riga

Juris Kronbergs

Juris Kronbergs

Translated by Māra Rozītis

from Wolf One-Eye


There was a time when Wolf One-Eye
wasn't Wolf One-Eye
He wasn't called Wolf Two-Eyes
just Wolf

Of that time he had no memory

Did he then see twice as much as he sees now?
Both his own birth and death?
The past and the future?
Good and evil in human nature?
One at a time or simultaneously?
Honesty and perfidy?
Twofold half-truths, two-faced duplicity?
Bones and organs?
Nakedness revealed?
Those who once scattered the seed of the forest?
The one who once scattered the seed of the world?
And had that one been him?
But if it had been another,
had he seen it—or was it a case
not of seeing but believing?


On the pavement he found, not a heart,
but a potato
It wasn't even round,
but irregular and finished
like a sentence in a praised but plodding
literary effort

The day was gray and tedious
like the ringing of a cell-phone
which only hides yet more ringing

He turned his head to the left
Three cars were parked by the pavement:
two legally, one illegally

The latest findings show
that a collective unconscious
as taught by Karl Jung does not exist
It's said that in psychoanalysis the questions of therapists
determine the memories of patients, not
what actually happened

What was it, then, that actually happened?

Well, one of the cars drove off
But if it was one of the legally or illegally
parked ones, he didn't see

He only saw that it had quite unexpectedly
started to snow


(Riga, The Andalusian Dog)

Day skulks off with a whiff of tobacco
Rain. Old film music drifts
from a loudspeaker
Today it's Nostalgia's birthday
Once lived days turn up
like uninvited guests

Time leafs through your old
as yet unwritten diaries
You leaf through time
like newspaper pages
where the print hasn't stuck

Howls of an active emptiness
inside you
which hints at religion
our railing at the edge of extinction
You feed on that:
the manna of nothingness

Empty streets empty windows
fill up with your old ghosts
A flash of thought a flash of proximity
A flash of what may be
Maybe was. May as well have been
Rain all day. Fatigue
Up to your neck in it

A wonder the houses haven't been worn down
By all these writings

A wonder the words haven't been worn away
By all these prints of fingers

A wonder the bridges haven't been ground to dust
Night. Houses of parliament and government sleep

The surrender of democracy
to the dictatorship of dreams

* * *

One evening when I left my room
It followed me
No winds could scatter it
No sun could wither it
No rains could flood it
Even though I never returned to it
It has stayed in my mind unchanged
Time passed but no dust settled
On the furniture books piles of paper
All was as it once had been
Because of me time stood still
I am aware of the simple law
That my physical return would cause
Time's avalanche to sweep over that room
So forcefully that its very existence
Could be cast in doubt
That it could not even be imagined