2. srpna 2004

Galerie Prague Summer Program

Walter Fitzsimmons 1

Walter Fitzsimmons2

Tessa Hite 1

Tessa Hite 2

Tessa Hite 3

Hailey Wojcik 1

Hailey Wojcik 2

Hailey Wojcik 3

Rose Schwarz 1

Rose Schwarz 2

Chapel Taylor

Melissa Walters

Melissa Walters 2

Sosi Vartanesyan 1

Sosi Vartanesyan 2

Sosi Vartanesyan 3

Jo Doran - Prague

The numbers at least, seem the same, marked out

at a respectful distance, one next to the other.

Assembling, quickened by this questioning. By this fumbling

that does not seem good enough to rely on. A living wall.

Let’s say we understand, breathing a word over the shoulder,

an afterthought, the rest carried out bit by bit:

this inflection, the rolled Rs, the opening large of the mouth where

often a mere nothing, a mood, will change the scale,

balance the ragged caution sounding of no yesterdays.

Is there any sin in that? But there it was, this tradition,

stalled, coughing its small perfection

but otherwise sloping gently it seemed without breathing.

Yet, listen for the sighs: valka, rána, zila, vcera, words with

no other longing than to die in the air,

offer themselves up with incredible silence

for death has a longing for them.

But this is a heavy example; instead

ask about anything you are alive to:

milenka, hubicka, duvera,

especially in times of unrest,

or today, when the eyes listen;

when every door and window would remain

open, awaken the corners, sweep up singing from some dusty hour:

“How people do always carry their own enemy within.”

This is not a warning, but a song, a curving poem

which grows together inextricably, in a certain sense

a rough quietness, an unlit page

opened at once; difficult to defend,

moist with examples and patterned with the eyelid of memory, or

on the contrary, with what is not immediately understood:

how things become what they have to be,

how a whole nation might very well remain

in a land of hidden absence, where even the trees bear different fruit,

which is enough to impress even a child, as you may know.

And birds, the size of crows, who look like crows, but are not crows, who

- but this is probably an illusion – shoot their dark arrow

tails straight to the ground. Magpies, white. And blue, the color

that is driven by the wind and abandons itself to it.

Mixture of light and dark, waterless dreams thrown against

a wrong turn of the wheel, a moment’s slip of mind.

*All even lines are from Kafka

Margaret von Steinen - Prague

Kafka Cento

In the course of time

you will come to this city and be

always in motion,

and if it’s cool, wrap yourself

with a great flower-patterned

woman’s shawl with long fringes,

mingle among other tourists,

who like you, had no wanton whim

of what had led them to this place

of copper, clay, and tall-spire roofs that

did not seem particularly suitable

for purposes of defense. You may feel

the need for an advocate, but realize

advocates are by nature hard to set in motion,

and just when you believe one is within your grasp, they’ll

slip through the tiniest gaps

of the Charles Bridge, leap to the Vltava,

float about like rain clouds

on the river’s murky surface.

Below the bridge you will see a man fishing with a cane pole,

hear the water slapping against the old boat,

while around you many vendors will hawk

their wares, and it will cross

your mind that perhaps the most suitable

place for this would be a huge fairground.

Head west through the coal-blackened

gate of the bridge, begin the ascent to the castle on the hill. It will appear

you are for ever on the great stairs that leads up to it.

When you arrive at the crest, you’ll notice a man

reading the newspaper on the steps of the monument,

a story about the Prime Minister’s resignation

acknowledged to be irrefutable,

and if you ask him from whence he came, he’ll say,

I am here, more than that I do not know.

At the dark doors of St Vitus’ Cathedral, another

man with wildly matted hair singing “The Burgomaster of Riva,”

who’ll tell you in plain language,

your arrival was announced to me during the night,

point you in the direction of a gypsy woman who’ll conduct

the somewhat ticklish business

of reading the sole of your foot, revealing you have

no other longing than to die.

She’ll send you inside the cathedral for penance,

what, in this country, is called “giving someone a leg up,

and under the gentle glance of Saint Wenceslaus , a bishop will light

a sacramental candle,

invoke the spirit of St. John Nepomuk, who for centuries

lay and waited (was there any sin in that?)

in his silver tomb to proclaim upon your arrival,

receive him in the name of the city,

which will stir a choir of archangels, convincing you

your death ship had lost its way.

* Italicized lines derived from Franz Kafka’s short stories, Advocates, The Married Couple, The News of the Building of the Wall, The Building of a City, The Savages, and The Hunter Gracchus,

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