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Jānis Rokpelnis
Jānis Rokpelnis

from Collected Poems (Dzeja —Atena 2004)


It was as if in a dream so flamboyant—
To see the white tiger in India!
. . .Why did the white one, genius and myth
Hurry to spray a young girl's dress?

Caged, the genius of an animal turns beastly,
Because we shall never be considered beasts. . .
We who are creatures unbitten
On which sparkling contempt splashes.



someone herds my eyes into a barn
and milks them


the rowan tree shoots
red pellets at a little boy's bottom
but the boy flutters away with migrating birds
taking along his arrows and sling


sadness peddles its goods under every tree
for scarlet small change of leaves
then the hawkers flutter
away in a V formation

autumn autumn

this is my time
when angels wed witches
and their black-and-white offspring
jump into the first snow


change the wallpaper —
it won't matter
our shadows
still are pasted on the walls

change the chairs —
we shall continue to sit in the old ones
even though
they are made of air

and in one bed
two will sleep as a pair
and two broths
will steam in the pot

the hot water will flow
from both taps
as will the cold
that too

only the knife is one
that shadow-destroying knife
it will help you
as it once helped us


the roads have dried out
place your ear on the ground

beyond the clamor of traffic
hear horse hooves clatter
as if in a great fire
a single flame separates to wander

summer turns green like rot
the evening grows musty
the rider's distance or nearness
to us neither audible nor inaudible


one foot in the poorhouse
the other maybe in the clouds
when prose flashed its teeth
a flower smiled before it bit
but altogether I was quite fine
ruin and I mutually put in order.