Poems by János Áfra
(Translated by Thomas Cooper)
Woman looks out the window,
man looks in the door,
forgets his jacket outside,
inside they sit down on a bed,
first the husband tumbles down, then beautiful
face to stubbly mouth, then fingers
set out, white hands
in the direction of unwashed members.
Man lies on his tired back,
strains upward with his neck,
would grab the ear with his lips.
His motions are sometimes raw,
and I just listen
to clothes falling to the floor,
into one another, and the bodies.
Fragrant noises alternate,
and panted fragments of words,
and with a stifled moan
the liberating gleam arrives,
a single extended moment,
something familiar to everyone,
but unattainably distant,
from which, even as a child,
I could not have been
Then seven minutes pass
and the eyes dim,
then seven hours pass,
the mouth tires,
then seven days pass,
the throat begins to feel raw,
then seven weeks,
and nothing happens,
then seven months,
the face is stained with nicotine,
then seven years,
and my father’s back, once strong,
loses its contours for good
with a grey lung
as the earth spins down on him
And life on me.
Commonplaces of nearness
I brood over it continuously, plan
to find a place for him on the shelf, but have only
tried for the moment to see what would look best. He too
might do this, arrange people on shelves,
write little notes about what he could do and with whom
and how and from when to when,
it makes it easier to keep track, then push to one side,
doesn’t take risks, wants a goal and clean conscience,
just bothered that he isn’t able to find a place
for himself on any single, clearly definable
surface, tears into sheets, that way he can be more
than himself in his peculiar details,
points distant from one another, slipped
into some book, just barely poking out,
cause it’s safer to nestle under
larger sheets or between envelopes,
as if he were not himself, just an organic detail
of everything, because that’s the only way life
is worth living, right? leaving a mark before we go,
slipping between the pages of others.
János Áfra is an Eastern-Hungarian poet born in Hajdúböszörmény (1987), currently living in Debrecen. He studied visual arts, literature, and philosophy at the University of Debrecen, where now he is an instructor. He has three collection of poetry, Glaukóma (Glaucoma, 2012), Két akarat (Two Wills, 2015) and Rítus (Ritual, 2017). He was awarded two debut prizes. His first drama was presented in 2014. He is the editor-in-chief of KULTer.hu, an online cultural magazine. He also writes essays and art criticism.
Associate Partner:- 'The Resurgence Poetry Prize'
World’s first major ecopoetry award. With a first prize of £5,000 for the best single poem embracing ecological themes, the award ranks amongst the highest of any English language single poem competition. Second prize is £2,000 and third prize £1,000.