Kamil Bouška




The wind outside made the street sing:
how strangely the human voice sounds there now,
       as if mutating, as if the body’s fluids went mad,
gray dust rises out of them,
breaks hairs and smiles, disfigures faces, rams cold fingers
       into eyes so fiercely that even light hurts like a stab wound.
But inside, on the floating floor,
       behind the window lulled to sleep by the roller blind,
in the dark brotherhood with abandoned things
       I overhear a touch
       transforming to steam.
And it’s a calm, heavy air that can break the neck.




How to leave this house;
where each room leads to another, from one door to the next,
                                          always only there and never back;
where each hallway coils into another hallway
       like brown stains into bandages
                                          that stink of tincture;
how to leave this house, where the walls wish to speak
       but are blocked up to the ceiling
                                          with heavy suitcases;
how not to tread on the floating floor that exhales
       black soil, brushwood and bones;
how not to lose one’s way on the spiral staircase,
                                          where old rags decay
       in tufts with wet leaves
                                          fallen from trees;
how not to lean on the unsteady banister that leads
       only there and never back;
how to leave this house?


KAMIL BOUŠKA is a member of the poetry collective Fantasía, along with Petr Řehák and Adam Borzič. His poems and other texts have appeared in the journals Tvar, Souvislosti, Listy, Host, and the revue Labyrint, among others. His poems have also featured in international journals and anthologies (journal Poesía 2011, anthology From a Terrace in Prague, Litteraria Pragensia, 2010, journal Absinthe, #18, 2012). His first solo collection is Oheň po slavnosti (Fra, 2011), for which he received two nominations for the Magnesia Litera award, in the Poetry and Discovery of the Year categories. His poems have been chosen for the annual Nejlepší české básně (“Best Czech Poems”) anthology four years in a row (2009 to 2012).


About the Translator:

ONDŘEJ PAZDÍREK grew up in Prague. He holds a degree from Florida State University and currently studies poetry at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He translates from Czech into English. His own poems have appeared in Bayou Magazine, Radar Poetry and Euphony.