„What’s distinctive in Erik Davidkov’s poems is his felt presence. He doesn’t just observe, as poets do, but also allows us to observe him, honestly. Him and those close to him, his family, friends, and painters he admires. He shows us, in his own phrase, how to invest in someone else.
A.C.H. Smith (author of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal)
Some words reach reality and others go beyond the borders of the senses. In your dreams life can be found in forms none other than human. Thе human part dissolves into the soul and turns you into Leviathan one last time before you wake up. After that you become part of the path to a freedom that doesn’t exist. The real tragedy is that you won’t find death anywhere. This and more astonishing poems in the first publication of Erik Dana Davidkov on the pages of the online magazine New Asocial Poetry.
In your dreams you think you are invincible,
you can swim in the skies as you would in water,
you cannot be hooked, tamed or trapped,
and your mother always called you dangerous.
In reality, you are aware this is only in dreams,
you try to figure it out, but the questions never end,
and you are alone in the world, without family
or lust for life, a thought of comfort worries you.
As you walk on the beach, dry feet on wet sand,
you see yourself, washed up on the shallow,
a whale the size of your home times ten,
with every inch of life rotting away.
You let time pass, then visit the grave again,
now you have become a cathedral of bones.
You lay inside your ribcage, naked, alone,
listen to your body speaking, the song is empty.
Nothing can upset the balance of good and evil,
and your absolute submission is the path to freedom.
You walk away with the knowledge that this death
is somehow deserved and should not be questioned.
Now, knowing that the animal you dreamed of
is also mortal and can also die, you become humbler.
You are disappointed, and this trauma stays,
you begin to come apart at the seams.
You begin to dream of a black and blue void,
in which you dive, disappear and on the other side,
maybe, with selfless sacrifice and confidence,
you will be the Leviathan just for one more time.
The man with the golden arm
walks up to you in the crowded room
and kindly asks you to light his cigarette
and as he inhales to light, both hands shake.
He is hurting, there is something hidden
behind this unbearable heaviness of being,
a state of mind left after the change had come.
He is a different animal – from the skinny build
you can see that both his shadow and silhouette
are variations of the same broken person.
You ask Otto about this man.
He replies – There’s a great tragedy
in any human who gets hooked on something,
whether it’s heroin or love.
The man with the golden arm sits next to you
and whispers in your ear – It leaves nothing else
to be desired.
A SHIP RETURNING FROM A VOYAGE
IS NOT THE SAME VESSEL AS IT WAS ON SETTING SAIL
after MARK SELIGER
After the bridge comes the mist,
after the mist, some rain must fall,
after the rain, the temperature changes.
Before the body collapses, the temperature changes,
before the mist, snow covers the bridge,
before the bridge, the body curves.
After the bird had died, it was included in the collection,
after the body fell, it was included in the collection,
before the spoilt fruit, came the worms.
Before the bird had died, it was never valued,
before the body fell, the collection wasn’t even planned,
after the bridge was constructed, worms flew on mist.
Before the flood was photographed, it was cloudy.
After the curves of the body, the waves formed a woman.
Before her breasts turned to rock, her nipples turned to sand.
After she was laid on rocks, God caressed her hair.
Before the rock turned into sand, time became irrelevant.
After electricity was discovered, snakes sizzled in protest.
After the two boys met on the bridge, came the mist.
Before the pain, the ruin came, the ruin with a name.
After the mist, some rain fell, the temperature changed.
Before the city collapsed, the body curved.
After the stream of pain, the body steps on thin ice.
Before the temperature changed, the body was the same.
In between before and after was a pathway of rocks,
in the middle of a lake, which leads to the body of a woman.
Fruit sprouts in this woman, filled with worms and oil, a soil lashed with lead and prone to disease, to infection. A soil in which a bird will fly into, get a worm, then out.
If this woman floats with the current,
she will reach a way to prevent her pain.
If she decides to swim against it,
then she will perhaps reach the source.
In Belgrade, we lie on the grass,
the two of us, naked, like animals
our skins touch, like sand and glue.
Beetles in my stomach, butterflies in yours.
In the Sava lake we swim for hours,
our hands acquire a sea creature-like texture.
I touch your back, you turn around.
We breathe in deep and dive.
We kiss for an hour, then you walk away
and look for somebody else to set on fire.
Something called my name, as I was swimming with a friend who I had never met, inside a square pool that seemed to have no bottom, only darkness. Something called me to go outside. A soft voice, called out my name, as if on a beach calling out into the sea. The sea is blind, but it can hear, and how much it listens.
As I stepped out of the pool, I saw my mother, kneeling, calling out for me, pointing at the same direction where many others were carefully looking towards. I saw cars, people, horse backed and barefoot, children and animals running towards us with savage speed. Nomads, depraved animals, once a civilized people.
Behind them, the tower of Babel cracked and fell, every stone of beautifully hand-crafted art, fell to the ground. Something is chasing them, I said, we need to go. The tower, they say, the disciples rose for her, and seeing the sun shine, as it fell brought tears to our eyes.
God said it’s all too dark, a woman turned around and said, he has seen the end, and it is here, coming for us. Mother, I said, we need to run. My mother looked at me in a way I have never seen before. She didn’t look sad, neither worried.
She has become an old woman, she cannot run, she knew this was the end. She put both arms around me, as did I. I’m so cold, I said, don’t leave me blind. You run, she said to me calmly, I’ll stay, clean the house and wait for you to come back home.
The custom officers at the border of your dreams
confiscate you and your ability to be a fish,
to swim without needing to breathe,
to not have a broken little heart,
forgive them, for they know what they are doing.
All two things you wanted more than anything,
taken from you, white as a ghost,
you are back to your powerless body, hungry, washed out
and this is only the beginning.
Jesus hears you crying, but isn’t he crying too?
The skin on your ankles felt soft as you swam in the water,
but now the cleaners have stripped you naked
and placed back your chains, barcodes matching.
It was never a dream; you had fallen ill, on a dirty floor,
now you are sane, after the pure absence, you twitch.
They avoid your touch, as your muscles tense,
not with anger, but in regret, you avoid your touch;
you have forgotten something.
The cleaners at the border took your keys,
the ones that lead outside the Gulags.