Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Andriy Bondar

Jogging

I couldn’t come back to my senses for quite some time
having gotten an e-mail from berlin from a friend of mine olaf

in it besides the mandatory attributes that
are usually limited to ritual questions
about the news the health and creative plans
(as if one can plan anything about this creativity)
as it were in passing totally in the german style without any pathos but
with a very tragic feeling within just a few sentences
he said approximately this:

“yesterday I started avoiding meetings with my neighbor
we have lived side by side for twenty years already we are the same age
and every morning
we go jogging together in a nearby park
he always seemed
a little strange to me when the chornobyl explosion happened
he started wallpapering his place with old newspapers so that
God forbid any radiation didn’t penetrate his apartment and yesterday at
the landing I met his wife who told me he had leukemia
the final stage incurable that this was the end
and I’m now afraid to look him in the eye and you know he
is such a nice person it was so good to jog with him in the morning . . .”

I wanted somehow to calm olaf down immediately
talk him out of it say something like “don’t take it too closely this is fate after all
you’ll find yourself another neighbor for morning jogs and if
you don’t find a neighbor get yourself an irish setter
you know how much they like to run? this is so much better than
with a person and besides dogs don’t get cancer” but

I don’t even know why but I didn’t do it
suddenly it all seemed far too literary to me
I thought this could have been a nice plot-starting point
for a novel by kundera
who loves to depict human tragedy masterfully and here all the ingredients
are ready: berlin shortly before the unification the weird neighbor twenty years
of jogging together newspapers on the walls like a chronicle of historic events
that have changed the face of europe then cancer and you see
he doesn’t know how to look him in the eye

I wrote him something completely neutral
something like “hang in there after all you cannot help him with anything now and you
still have to live and live don’t think bad thoughts don’t think
about cancer”

and then a completely heretical thought came into my head
I thought
that for the past ten years I’ve been living less than 100 km
away from chornobyl I live here and walk down these granite and marble
streets and get choice portions of radiation
I am nearsighted recently they found I have hepatitis
just as a carrier I’m not sick with it but still I have a muffled
form of gastritis which reminds me of itself every now and then I’ve been having
warts now for 15 years they don’t bother me much but still they don’t disappear
just like all the chornobyl children I have thyroid gland problems
sometimes I get a prickling pain in my heart and I’m not yet thirty
but I know for sure I won’t come down with cancer

I am simply convinced that I definitely won’t come down with cancer

I will live long oh I will live so long
I won’t buy newspapers won’t jog in the morning won’t read kundera
won’t walk around the city with a geiger counter won’t go have a physical
I won’t submit a declaration won’t quit the party
won’t join a party won’t take blood tests won’t kill won’t steal

I won’t leave my homeland I will climb deeply so deeply inside my
Homeland

and fall asleep

JOGGING

Close

Jogging

I couldn’t come back to my senses for quite some time
having gotten an e-mail from berlin from a friend of mine olaf

in it besides the mandatory attributes that
are usually limited to ritual questions
about the news the health and creative plans
(as if one can plan anything about this creativity)
as it were in passing totally in the german style without any pathos but
with a very tragic feeling within just a few sentences
he said approximately this:

“yesterday I started avoiding meetings with my neighbor
we have lived side by side for twenty years already we are the same age
and every morning
we go jogging together in a nearby park
he always seemed
a little strange to me when the chornobyl explosion happened
he started wallpapering his place with old newspapers so that
God forbid any radiation didn’t penetrate his apartment and yesterday at
the landing I met his wife who told me he had leukemia
the final stage incurable that this was the end
and I’m now afraid to look him in the eye and you know he
is such a nice person it was so good to jog with him in the morning . . .”

I wanted somehow to calm olaf down immediately
talk him out of it say something like “don’t take it too closely this is fate after all
you’ll find yourself another neighbor for morning jogs and if
you don’t find a neighbor get yourself an irish setter
you know how much they like to run? this is so much better than
with a person and besides dogs don’t get cancer” but

I don’t even know why but I didn’t do it
suddenly it all seemed far too literary to me
I thought this could have been a nice plot-starting point
for a novel by kundera
who loves to depict human tragedy masterfully and here all the ingredients
are ready: berlin shortly before the unification the weird neighbor twenty years
of jogging together newspapers on the walls like a chronicle of historic events
that have changed the face of europe then cancer and you see
he doesn’t know how to look him in the eye

I wrote him something completely neutral
something like “hang in there after all you cannot help him with anything now and you
still have to live and live don’t think bad thoughts don’t think
about cancer”

and then a completely heretical thought came into my head
I thought
that for the past ten years I’ve been living less than 100 km
away from chornobyl I live here and walk down these granite and marble
streets and get choice portions of radiation
I am nearsighted recently they found I have hepatitis
just as a carrier I’m not sick with it but still I have a muffled
form of gastritis which reminds me of itself every now and then I’ve been having
warts now for 15 years they don’t bother me much but still they don’t disappear
just like all the chornobyl children I have thyroid gland problems
sometimes I get a prickling pain in my heart and I’m not yet thirty
but I know for sure I won’t come down with cancer

I am simply convinced that I definitely won’t come down with cancer

I will live long oh I will live so long
I won’t buy newspapers won’t jog in the morning won’t read kundera
won’t walk around the city with a geiger counter won’t go have a physical
I won’t submit a declaration won’t quit the party
won’t join a party won’t take blood tests won’t kill won’t steal

I won’t leave my homeland I will climb deeply so deeply inside my
Homeland

and fall asleep

Jogging

I couldn’t come back to my senses for quite some time
having gotten an e-mail from berlin from a friend of mine olaf

in it besides the mandatory attributes that
are usually limited to ritual questions
about the news the health and creative plans
(as if one can plan anything about this creativity)
as it were in passing totally in the german style without any pathos but
with a very tragic feeling within just a few sentences
he said approximately this:

“yesterday I started avoiding meetings with my neighbor
we have lived side by side for twenty years already we are the same age
and every morning
we go jogging together in a nearby park
he always seemed
a little strange to me when the chornobyl explosion happened
he started wallpapering his place with old newspapers so that
God forbid any radiation didn’t penetrate his apartment and yesterday at
the landing I met his wife who told me he had leukemia
the final stage incurable that this was the end
and I’m now afraid to look him in the eye and you know he
is such a nice person it was so good to jog with him in the morning . . .”

I wanted somehow to calm olaf down immediately
talk him out of it say something like “don’t take it too closely this is fate after all
you’ll find yourself another neighbor for morning jogs and if
you don’t find a neighbor get yourself an irish setter
you know how much they like to run? this is so much better than
with a person and besides dogs don’t get cancer” but

I don’t even know why but I didn’t do it
suddenly it all seemed far too literary to me
I thought this could have been a nice plot-starting point
for a novel by kundera
who loves to depict human tragedy masterfully and here all the ingredients
are ready: berlin shortly before the unification the weird neighbor twenty years
of jogging together newspapers on the walls like a chronicle of historic events
that have changed the face of europe then cancer and you see
he doesn’t know how to look him in the eye

I wrote him something completely neutral
something like “hang in there after all you cannot help him with anything now and you
still have to live and live don’t think bad thoughts don’t think
about cancer”

and then a completely heretical thought came into my head
I thought
that for the past ten years I’ve been living less than 100 km
away from chornobyl I live here and walk down these granite and marble
streets and get choice portions of radiation
I am nearsighted recently they found I have hepatitis
just as a carrier I’m not sick with it but still I have a muffled
form of gastritis which reminds me of itself every now and then I’ve been having
warts now for 15 years they don’t bother me much but still they don’t disappear
just like all the chornobyl children I have thyroid gland problems
sometimes I get a prickling pain in my heart and I’m not yet thirty
but I know for sure I won’t come down with cancer

I am simply convinced that I definitely won’t come down with cancer

I will live long oh I will live so long
I won’t buy newspapers won’t jog in the morning won’t read kundera
won’t walk around the city with a geiger counter won’t go have a physical
I won’t submit a declaration won’t quit the party
won’t join a party won’t take blood tests won’t kill won’t steal

I won’t leave my homeland I will climb deeply so deeply inside my
Homeland

and fall asleep
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