Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Peter Verhelst

THE CADAVER’S UTOPIA

On the banks of the steaming river – evening
brings almost no respite, the bats are plentiful
this year. We lug utopia through the streets

on our backs. We are shadows
of animals, limbs protruding on all sides like barbs.
We fall forwards

and keep moving on all fours,
each with our own private utopia 
on our back like our own private nightmare,

bizarre tragedy,
bad joke,
great love, us

with our barbed, arched backs.
Parasitic utopia
gnawing at our heads from behind;
creating a new network of arteries
through the neck and spinal column to the aorta, sucking us dry,
swelling like a tick, our utopia.

Fury is our plumage. Hardened into claws, fury
pulls us out of ourselves.
After which resentment lifts us above ourselves (iron beak).
After which revulsion (stinking feathers).
After which boredom drags us through grass, through mud, over hills.
After which indifference (discarded rags), squats on our
little heap of a body, utopia picking at our veins.

Give us a war,
not to believe in
but to give meaning to our deaths.

DE UTOPIE VAN HET LIJK

DE UTOPIE VAN HET LIJK

Langs de stomende rivier – de avond
brengt nauwelijks verkoeling, de vleermuizen
zijn talrijk dit jaar. We zeulen de utopie op onze rug

door de straten. Schaduwen van beesten zijn we,
langs alle kanten steken ledematen uit.
We vallen voorover

en in dieval lopen we verder op handen en voeten,
elk met onze hoogstpersoonlijke utopie
als een hoogstpersoonlijke nachtmerrie op de rug,

bizarre tragedie,
slechte grap,
grote liefde, wij

met die stekelige, hoge rug. Parasitair
is de utopie,
kauwend op ons achterhoofd;
een nieuw netwerk van aders creërend
via nek en wervelkolom naar aorta, hij zuigt leeg,
hij zwelt ervan als een teek, onze utopie.

Woede is ons verenkleed. Tot klauwen verhoornde woede
trekt ons uit onszelf.
Waarna wrok ons boven ons uit tilt (ijzeren snavel).
Waarna weerzin (stinkende veren).
Waarna verveling ons door grassen, door modder, over heuvels sleept.
Waarna onverschillig (weggesmeten vod), gehurkt op ons
hoopje lichaam, utopie ons in de aders pikt.

Geef ons een oorlog,
niet om in te geloven
maar om onze dood een betekenis te geven.

Close

THE CADAVER’S UTOPIA

On the banks of the steaming river – evening
brings almost no respite, the bats are plentiful
this year. We lug utopia through the streets

on our backs. We are shadows
of animals, limbs protruding on all sides like barbs.
We fall forwards

and keep moving on all fours,
each with our own private utopia 
on our back like our own private nightmare,

bizarre tragedy,
bad joke,
great love, us

with our barbed, arched backs.
Parasitic utopia
gnawing at our heads from behind;
creating a new network of arteries
through the neck and spinal column to the aorta, sucking us dry,
swelling like a tick, our utopia.

Fury is our plumage. Hardened into claws, fury
pulls us out of ourselves.
After which resentment lifts us above ourselves (iron beak).
After which revulsion (stinking feathers).
After which boredom drags us through grass, through mud, over hills.
After which indifference (discarded rags), squats on our
little heap of a body, utopia picking at our veins.

Give us a war,
not to believe in
but to give meaning to our deaths.

THE CADAVER’S UTOPIA

On the banks of the steaming river – evening
brings almost no respite, the bats are plentiful
this year. We lug utopia through the streets

on our backs. We are shadows
of animals, limbs protruding on all sides like barbs.
We fall forwards

and keep moving on all fours,
each with our own private utopia 
on our back like our own private nightmare,

bizarre tragedy,
bad joke,
great love, us

with our barbed, arched backs.
Parasitic utopia
gnawing at our heads from behind;
creating a new network of arteries
through the neck and spinal column to the aorta, sucking us dry,
swelling like a tick, our utopia.

Fury is our plumage. Hardened into claws, fury
pulls us out of ourselves.
After which resentment lifts us above ourselves (iron beak).
After which revulsion (stinking feathers).
After which boredom drags us through grass, through mud, over hills.
After which indifference (discarded rags), squats on our
little heap of a body, utopia picking at our veins.

Give us a war,
not to believe in
but to give meaning to our deaths.

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
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère