:: Article

Six Poems

By Sylva Fischerová.


Fate: but not as in Greek tragedy
where you carry it inside
where it’s written in your eyes.
Fate like rain: a branch fallen
right in front of you,
pointing to the graveyard;
a blow of a hammer, a rendezvous of two rockets,
a bloated stupidity of chance,
of victory of body over spirit,
victory of a player over the throw of dice.


pecking at the suet I hung
on a tree,
proving things
belong together, one
bringing about another, a useful
its trodden pavement,
fairytale of fairness…
But men, and women! A trap
of desire and sense,
in which, all the time,
hidden streams flow, and rivers and
big rivers, the tins of days, of
appointments and sentences,
still, it hasn’t been said,
litter, paper, curses
and kisses stuck in the air
like handstamps from a child’s printing set,
next to them
enwrapped ball of reproaches,
pikes rising from it,
and above all
jerky sleep,
rocked by a dream…

Those golden rays of sun little Jesus
used to slide down!
That’s what I’d like to
it would be enough
for all my life:
sliding with him
down the ray
to my dark chamber
to the red robins
into the eye of a full moon
without any lie or gloom

Don’t play with it
a lie
destroys mystery


when even words were eaten
and behind our backs

they were forming an image,
an inscription

illegible, but flawless
as that other time when words

were still things, their melody
on the cold, charred ground


You can kill it
beat it up, as with
a baseball bat
in the name of sociology
in the name of habit —
circumstances appeared,
obstacles blossomed,
which hurts
What is it all about?
she asked
I don’t know, he replied
and suddenly they were hemmed in
by a fence of Don’t know’s
as in a besieged Indian village
with their talismans and rituals
and with the huge burst —
with that depth
everything was shooting up from
and flooding
white daily fishes, their well-rehearsed
hi’s and bye’s
because they touched
a mystery
and nailed to it
like an electric chair
they exploded, detonating
among the white floating fishes
and passers-by who clapped
the groundplan
of his private universe


Memories: a palace trap leading you into a landscape, which won’t exist anymore,
which never was, we always do remember things wrong. It’s a land of Féerie, where you pass stiff sculptures on the green grass.
The land’s encircled by the Oceanos of Time. A time loop you can’t get out of.
One day, all that milled sugar-tit of looks, sounds, smells will create
amber, a creature trapped in luminous matter, a luminous
jail: there’re hot and cold
memories, all of them cooling down
in the amber,
dry sperm
injected into white sheets,
a reconciliation? Volvox globator
rolls its colony
farther and farther, bundling up
the rest of the world, globa terrae, a question of
perspective, of insemination, the reflector
of the past universe
blew up and
changed into a red star
Aldebaran, cold and


Mothers are always true —
beside their dogs, their lamps and scissors
where fate’s carpet lies
and adult children
like paintings on large plates.
Mother has one eye
like a cyclops
and the world’s full of dangers,
ants crawling all over.

Mummy, there was no Troy,
but many of us didn’t return.

Translated, from the Czech, by the author and Stuart Friebert

Sylva Fischerová was born in 1963 in Prague. She grew up in the Moravian town of Olomouc as a daughter of non-Marxist philosopher whose works were banished under communist rule. She returned to Prague to study philosophy and physics, and later Greek and Latin, at Charles University where she now teaches ancient Greek literature and philosophy. She has published seven volumes of poems in Czech, and her poetry has been translated and published in numerous languages. An earlier selection of her poems, The Tremor of Racehorses, translated by Ian and Jarmila Milner, was published by Bloodaxe in 1990. She recently began to write prose, and two books of her stories (Miracle and Passage), as well as two books for children, appeared since 2005. The Swing in the Middle of Chaos: Selected Poems, co-translated with Stuart Friebert, was published by Bloodaxe in 2010.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, March 19th, 2012.