CRY OF A FORMER DOG
Konstantin Pavlov
Translated from the Bulgarian by Ludmilla G. Popova-Wightman


THE EXQUISITE IN POETRY
OR
A VICTIM OF TROPICAL FISH

No one wants to publish my poems.
No one wants to read them.
They are dangerous.
They arouse base instincts
and corrupt the spirit.
(As the man says
who will appear at the end.)
They are particularly bad for children.
And for grown-ups.
All my friends abandoned me.
All the girls stopped loving me.
A widow said I was a wicked person.

For want of company,`
I bought three red fish
in a glass tank.
I fed the fish
and changed the water.

One day
the unkempt cat of my landlady
caught me unawares
and stole my most playful,
my prettiest fish.
The remaining two recoiled in horror,
when they heard the treacherous beast.
But I guarded them most carefully.

One evening, when it was raining,
out of longing,
out of loneliness,
and I don't know out of what else,
I decided to read aloud a poem
I had written that day.

With self-deprecating irony,
I bowed to the fish and said,
"May I have your permission
to recite a poem?"

I read a cynical,
an antisocial poem.
(As the man says,
who will appear at the end.)

When I looked at the fish again,
I was struck dumb by surprise:
the fish had turned black-gray
and with their enormous jaws
and sharp teeth,
looked like small sharks.

They didn't touch the fish food
I poured from the bag,
they treated the bread crumbs
with disdain.

I snatched the cat then,
my landlady's unkempt cat,
and threw it to the fish.
The hapless beast was torn to pieces
in a flash.

From that day on,
cats became their favorite food.

Every evening
I read them my corrupt poems,
(as the man says,
who will appear at the end),
and the fish grew
and became more ferocious
until they really turned into sharks.
The aquarium could not hold them,
and the cats were not enough.

Then everything happened with lightning speed
and according to the rule:
while I was reading my most terrible poem,
the aquarium cracked
and broke into fragments.
The two sharks charged:
the gentler opened wide its jaws
and gulped me down,
the other ate the wardrobe
where an informer was hiding.


ELEGIAC OPTIMISM

I won't be nasty anymore,
nor provocative.
I will choose my means and enemies with care.

Bye-bye Sofia, I am going back to nature!

In Kurilo, I have a nice little house—
I will mend the old fence,
and live there quietly, invisible.
In the winter, I will meditate.
In the summer, I will raise . . .
What will I raise?
Only snakes dart in the weeds.
I will raise snakes
instead of carrier pigeons.
You can achieve anything with goodness.
They say that snakes become very attached
to their masters.
I will send them
as a small favor
to my enemies.

1960

© Ivy Press Princeton and its authors.

Website design by ImageLeap