Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen

Jalalabad Blues

I marched past the worst atrocities to an anguished weeping       
rising from 25.000 Bézier throats – I soared above pyres, in solidarity
with the Cathars– above the blood and the stench in the streets
rimbombo, rimbombo, I tamboured in the Rue de Rivoli
danced on a flamethrower with a bayonet
with the 15-inch-howitzer howling at the cold
above Brandhoek, leper, Hellblast Corner, No Man’s land
the mustard gas scorched us from the face of the earth
I buckled by the side of G.E. Ellison, the lancer last to fall,
mucked in with the sexual intercourse and hunkered down                      
in forgotten graves – Solferino, once again             
           


10 May 1940: I watched Stukas cut through the cornflower-blue sky,      
bombs screamed, columns of fire raged – tore off skulls,
limbs turned into blood stumps: life gushed away along the railway verges         
over the scolding stones and the shards,
families mowed down under the poplars and behind the hedges
 
o Vox Clamans in deserto
 
the man on a wheat sheaf was assassinated
the wind slyly brushed the children’s hair and a song rose
from the hideouts – rang out until it smashed to the bone,                       
a broken home: under a bluish glimmer
three small, blue clowns – one at the basement window               
‘mama, I smell Tulips, the smell of fresh corn and bread’              
           

 
Treblinka, Sobidor, Nagasaki – kamikaze-aviator: crystal-splinter-death-creator,
I staggered forth, bludgeoned blue as the frozen ghost of the Deep Dark Hole
in Johannesburg, in the fifth isolation cell, sjamboks
Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, the river was red,
Sarajevo’s bleeding grit, remember the images on your TV screens
1999: grandma mutters in the wheelbarrow – from Pristina to Neprošteno,       
earthquakes carrying the suffering of war, confluence of rubble and blood
at your mouth Muzaffarabad Kashmir necropolis
not a jumper but blue like children freezing in sackcloth and ashes
 

 
three drummer boys, came marching from the East…
 
singing bombs bomb Baghdad, the bleeding sand of Uruzgan
hear who dares to listen  – silence shivers like the mustard gas in Halabja
over the fields of skulls at Dzerzhinsk, from Najaf to Nyamata
fleets of clouds gather up the azure from Afghanistan
I said: ‘fear from Kandahar, find your wings – shards from Kabul, gather yourselves
Snagovo and the horrors of Darfur; I implore you, black angels from the Congo,
at Serê Kaniyê’s barbed-wire-tears, Ras al-Ain’s weeping mosque
but in Gaza a child played itself to death.
I remember a bombardment, a father searching for his daughter
in the corner of his eye, among the debris two small, blue feet on TV                  
and ever since I sing just one song
like the melting clock of Lampernisse          
 
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes     
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath
 

Jalalabad Blues

Jalalabad Blues

ik marcheerde langs de grootste gruwel naar de jongste jammerkreet
uit de 25.000 kelen van Béziers – solidair met de katharen
ik scheerde over brandstapels – boven het bloed en de stank in de straten
rimbombo, rimbombo, ik tamboerde in de Rue de Rivoli
danste op een Flammenwerfer met een bajonet
met de 15-inch-houwitsers houwend op de kou
boven Brandhoek, Ieper, Hellblast Corner, No Man’s land
het mosterdgas schroeide ons van de wereld af
ik zeeg naast G.E. Ellison, lansier die ’t laatste viel
mengde mij in het geslachtsverkeer en wortelde
in vergeten graven – Solferino, keer op keer



10 mei 1940: ik zag Stuka’s snijden door de korenbloemenblauwe lucht
bommen gilden, vuurzuilen stormden – rukten schedels af
van ledematen tot bloedstompen: leven gutste weg langs de spoorwegberm
over de blakerende stenen en de scherven
onder de canada’s en achter de hagen families neergemaaid

o Vox Clamans in deserto

met een man op een korenschoof werd afgerekend
wind aaide sluiks de kinderharen en uit de schuilgaten
steeg een lied – weerklonk kapot tot op het bot
een gebroken huis: beneden blauwig schijnsel
drie kleine, blauwe clowns – eentje bij het kelderraam
‘mama, ik ruik tulpen, ze ruiken naar vers graan en brood’



Treblinka, Sobibor, Nagasaki – kamikazepiloot: kristalsplinterdood
ik strompelde voort als in Johannesburg the frozen ghost of the Deep Dark Hole
in de vijfde isoleercel blauw van knuppelslagen, sjamboks
Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, rood zag de rivier
bloedend gruis van Sarajevo, herinner u de televisiebeelden
1999: grootmoeder prevelt in de kruiwagen – van Pristina naar Neprosteno
aardbevingen van oorlogsleed, samenloop van puin en bloed
bij je mond Muzaffarabad kasjmieren dodenstad
geen trui maar blauw als kinderen bevriezend in zak en as



drie schuin tamboers, die kwamen uit het Oosten

zingende bommen op Bagdad, bloedend zand van Uruzgan
horen wil wie hoort – stilte rilt nu als het mosterdgas van Halabja
boven de schedelvelden van Dzerzjinsk, Najaf tot Nyamata    
wolkenvloten verzamelen het azuur van Afghanistan                                            
ik zei: ‘angst uit Kandahar, krijg vleugels – scherven van Kaboel, verzamel u
Snagovo en gruwel van Darfoer; ik bezweer u, zwarte engelen van Congo
bij de prikkeldraadtranen van Serê Kaniyê, de huilende moskee van Ras al-Ain’
maar in Gaza speelde een kind zich dood
ik herinner mij een bombardement, een vader op zoek naar zijn dochtertje
in een ooghoek tussen de brokstukken twee kleine, blauwe voetjes op de tv
sindsdien zing ik nog maar één lied
als de smeltende klok van Lampernisse

dood o was uw woord maar een lamp voor die koude voetjes
dood o was uw woord maar een lamp voor die koude voetjes
dood o was uw woord maar een lamp
dood o was uw woord maar een lamp
dood o was uw woord


Close

Jalalabad Blues

I marched past the worst atrocities to an anguished weeping       
rising from 25.000 Bézier throats – I soared above pyres, in solidarity
with the Cathars– above the blood and the stench in the streets
rimbombo, rimbombo, I tamboured in the Rue de Rivoli
danced on a flamethrower with a bayonet
with the 15-inch-howitzer howling at the cold
above Brandhoek, leper, Hellblast Corner, No Man’s land
the mustard gas scorched us from the face of the earth
I buckled by the side of G.E. Ellison, the lancer last to fall,
mucked in with the sexual intercourse and hunkered down                      
in forgotten graves – Solferino, once again             
           


10 May 1940: I watched Stukas cut through the cornflower-blue sky,      
bombs screamed, columns of fire raged – tore off skulls,
limbs turned into blood stumps: life gushed away along the railway verges         
over the scolding stones and the shards,
families mowed down under the poplars and behind the hedges
 
o Vox Clamans in deserto
 
the man on a wheat sheaf was assassinated
the wind slyly brushed the children’s hair and a song rose
from the hideouts – rang out until it smashed to the bone,                       
a broken home: under a bluish glimmer
three small, blue clowns – one at the basement window               
‘mama, I smell Tulips, the smell of fresh corn and bread’              
           

 
Treblinka, Sobidor, Nagasaki – kamikaze-aviator: crystal-splinter-death-creator,
I staggered forth, bludgeoned blue as the frozen ghost of the Deep Dark Hole
in Johannesburg, in the fifth isolation cell, sjamboks
Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, the river was red,
Sarajevo’s bleeding grit, remember the images on your TV screens
1999: grandma mutters in the wheelbarrow – from Pristina to Neprošteno,       
earthquakes carrying the suffering of war, confluence of rubble and blood
at your mouth Muzaffarabad Kashmir necropolis
not a jumper but blue like children freezing in sackcloth and ashes
 

 
three drummer boys, came marching from the East…
 
singing bombs bomb Baghdad, the bleeding sand of Uruzgan
hear who dares to listen  – silence shivers like the mustard gas in Halabja
over the fields of skulls at Dzerzhinsk, from Najaf to Nyamata
fleets of clouds gather up the azure from Afghanistan
I said: ‘fear from Kandahar, find your wings – shards from Kabul, gather yourselves
Snagovo and the horrors of Darfur; I implore you, black angels from the Congo,
at Serê Kaniyê’s barbed-wire-tears, Ras al-Ain’s weeping mosque
but in Gaza a child played itself to death.
I remember a bombardment, a father searching for his daughter
in the corner of his eye, among the debris two small, blue feet on TV                  
and ever since I sing just one song
like the melting clock of Lampernisse          
 
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes     
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath
 

Jalalabad Blues

I marched past the worst atrocities to an anguished weeping       
rising from 25.000 Bézier throats – I soared above pyres, in solidarity
with the Cathars– above the blood and the stench in the streets
rimbombo, rimbombo, I tamboured in the Rue de Rivoli
danced on a flamethrower with a bayonet
with the 15-inch-howitzer howling at the cold
above Brandhoek, leper, Hellblast Corner, No Man’s land
the mustard gas scorched us from the face of the earth
I buckled by the side of G.E. Ellison, the lancer last to fall,
mucked in with the sexual intercourse and hunkered down                      
in forgotten graves – Solferino, once again             
           


10 May 1940: I watched Stukas cut through the cornflower-blue sky,      
bombs screamed, columns of fire raged – tore off skulls,
limbs turned into blood stumps: life gushed away along the railway verges         
over the scolding stones and the shards,
families mowed down under the poplars and behind the hedges
 
o Vox Clamans in deserto
 
the man on a wheat sheaf was assassinated
the wind slyly brushed the children’s hair and a song rose
from the hideouts – rang out until it smashed to the bone,                       
a broken home: under a bluish glimmer
three small, blue clowns – one at the basement window               
‘mama, I smell Tulips, the smell of fresh corn and bread’              
           

 
Treblinka, Sobidor, Nagasaki – kamikaze-aviator: crystal-splinter-death-creator,
I staggered forth, bludgeoned blue as the frozen ghost of the Deep Dark Hole
in Johannesburg, in the fifth isolation cell, sjamboks
Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, the river was red,
Sarajevo’s bleeding grit, remember the images on your TV screens
1999: grandma mutters in the wheelbarrow – from Pristina to Neprošteno,       
earthquakes carrying the suffering of war, confluence of rubble and blood
at your mouth Muzaffarabad Kashmir necropolis
not a jumper but blue like children freezing in sackcloth and ashes
 

 
three drummer boys, came marching from the East…
 
singing bombs bomb Baghdad, the bleeding sand of Uruzgan
hear who dares to listen  – silence shivers like the mustard gas in Halabja
over the fields of skulls at Dzerzhinsk, from Najaf to Nyamata
fleets of clouds gather up the azure from Afghanistan
I said: ‘fear from Kandahar, find your wings – shards from Kabul, gather yourselves
Snagovo and the horrors of Darfur; I implore you, black angels from the Congo,
at Serê Kaniyê’s barbed-wire-tears, Ras al-Ain’s weeping mosque
but in Gaza a child played itself to death.
I remember a bombardment, a father searching for his daughter
in the corner of his eye, among the debris two small, blue feet on TV                  
and ever since I sing just one song
like the melting clock of Lampernisse          
 
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes     
death O came from your breath but a lamp for these cold toes
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath but a lamp
death O came from your breath
 

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
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