by John Balaban
translated from the Bulgarian by Lyubomir Nikolov, with the author
Well, he lived among us and hated winters.
He moved to Arles where summer and blue jays
obliged him to cut off his ear.
Oh, they all said it was a whore
but Rachel was innocent. When cypresses
went for a walk in the prison yard
he went along and sketched them.
His suns surpassed God’s.
He spelled out the Gospel for miners
and their potatoes stuck in his throat.
Yes, he was a priest in sackcloth, who hoped
that one day humans would learn to walk.
He willed mankind his shoes.
I love winter, so this poem has a distancing effect on me from the very beginning, but I do love the ending. (Appropriateness for Lent is of course debateable. Amusingly, Joan Osborne's "One Of Us" came on as I was posting this.)