Poems by Roman Kissiov


…You must have surely understood
by then what Ithacas mean
C. Cavafy

I am Odysseus, too,
but unknown.
No one ever heard of me,
nobody knew about my shrewdness…

Because I never left Ithaca.

Never in my life did I meet
Cyclopes, Laistrygones and Sirens.
I did not build a Trojan Horse,
I was not famous for any feats…

Because I never left Ithaca.

No one ever knew about my braveness
and the power of my bow.
Even Penelope’s love for me
has long cooled down…

Because I never left Ithaca.

13. 09. 1989




The sky is dark.
The sky is heavy and leaden.
The sky is awesome.
It is shaken by thunder and lightning.

Oh no – just do not think
that these thunders and rumble
are the natural phenomena
already explored by science!…
These are the pounding heavy fists
of the blessed ones
upon the doors of Heaven.





This spring, the birds did not come back from the south.
The trees did not bloom.
There are only vultures perched on branches.
Vultures have perched –
on house balconies,
on boulevards, at cafes,
on benches, on cars,
at bus stops,
at children’s playgrounds, in gardens…
Vultures, vultures perched…
They are standing, waiting.
Waiting, standing.

Vultures have perched…
And only here and there,
only at places – behind a corner
or behind a door ajar –
slightly showing are
angel wings.




Rose of my soul
what is this secret:
sometimes in warm
and wet you wither
but oft in cold
and drought you bloom

Rose of my soul
what is your secret:
your colour changes
all the time –
white red white red
and very rarely black

Rose of my soul
reveal this secret:
why are your beauty and perfume
always for the others
but for me is always
the crown of your thorns




I can hear the grain growing in the soil
I can hear the secrets that the sea waves
whisper to the shore
I can hear the birds’ footsteps on the sand
and the crabs’ footsteps on the bottom of the ocean
I can hear the groans of the condemned in hell
I can hear the cries of joy of the blessed ones in heaven

I can clearly see the embryo
in the future mother’s womb
I can see the sap travelling in the tree
from its roots up to the blooming branches
And in the pupils of the children’s eyes
I can see the flight of birds
I can see guardian angels
at my parents’ sides

I am listening to the voice of my blood
I am staring at the shadow of my words

I am contemplating my young antiquity
And I praise the birth of my eternity




I am living in the world of words.

Everything here consists of words:
The moon and stars are shiny words.
The wind is a long angry word.
The transparent air is a silent word.
The rivers, the sea, and the sky
are vast words with many vowels.
The trees, the flowers – they’re wonderful words
all abloom in the spring.
Words of passage are the birds…

I am living in the world of words.

Time is measured in words here.
Minutes are short words.
Words flow, they flow out
like grains of sand in a clepsydra.
My life is also flowing out…

But I stay on.

My life is a word
that God has spoken.
And every word of His is everlasting.




A long procession of words
against the whiteness of the paper.
A funeral procession…
Whom are the words burying?
The words are parting with their author.
The words are following and mourning over
the poet’s life on earth –
even though he’s still alive,
even though he isn’t in the Land Beyond…

The poems written years ago
outlived the man bearing my name
that I was then.




The poem is ready now.
For reading and for burning.
I strike a match.
What a majestic flame
the poem is.
The words are little flames –
particles of the Eternal Fire
that come up
and turning into stars.
The stars are words.
Each constellation – a poem
from the galactic anthology.




My dear,
I am writing to you again.

You ask me what I’m working on.
How can I put it – I’m trying
to close words into ideas and meanings…
You ask me where I live.
How can I explain – while trying
to close the words, eventually
it turns out the words have closed me.
The prison of words – that is my address.
You can drop by, if you like.
There’s no visiting day here.
I feel well altogether, the conditions are great…
no bars on the windows,
no supervisors at the doors…
The doors, the heavy iron doors
are always open…

Surely you’d like to know
if I have a life sentence.
Then you should know that here
there is no death at all.




A blank sheet of paper –
this is my future.

After me, words are left –
footprints in the white snow of the paper,
showing clearly
where I walked through.




Time and again, to find
the path to the poem –
overgrown with words




How many words words words words words
words words words words words words
words words words words words
words words words words
words words words
words words

and just one life!




is a row
of commas:

A series of commas
and question marks
is Childhood

A series of commas
and exclamation marks
is Youth

A series of commas
and ellipsis dots
is Old Age

At the end,
an invisible hand puts
a stop.




They said:
A poet cannot feed a family

They said:
A poet can feed
Only the worms…

O, no –
The poet feeds the pigeons
The poet feeds the eagles
The poet feeds the angels
The poet feeds the hearts –
the hearts of people
still hungry
for Truth and Light…

The poet can feed thousands
with but five verses




Once, bent over the desk,
the poet found out in astonishment that
his profile’s shadow over the sheet of paper
consisted of words.




Do not look for it on the ground.
His grave is in the sky –
white clouds instead of earth,
a sun for a tombstone
and three rows of birds
for an epitaph.



(or what happens when
the poet’s soul flies away)

A blazing shadow
runs over the peeling wall
of the face
that instantly falls apart
and turns into ashes
The wind scatters the ashes
into the sea
and because of that
it dries up
But the fish fill it up again
with their tears
The birds in the sky
celebrate a mass
and burn up in the flash
of a lightning
And the lightning makes them
dancing stars
The whirl of that star dance
lifts up and takes the poet’s soul
beyond the enigmatic curtains of the darkness
and lays it in the bosom
of the mysterious
hidden light




Each night I dream of my past.
Each night I relive
my past life anew.
Every following night,
my dream grows longer,
prolonged by each new day of mine.
So the days of my life
become shorter and shorter
until finally they dwindle to nothing,
and my dream gets so long
that I won’t be able
to wake up.




We shall wake up

and the morning will fill our hearts
and the light will flow from our eyes
and it will create new worlds
and unexpectedly there will arise
miraculous existences lives and beings
where our eyes look
our eyes streaming invisible light
that calls into being
flowers of joy a garden of ecstasy
amidst the wilderness of time and dusk –
at its death-hour

We shall wake up

and we shall forget all that
is subject to oblivion eternal
and we shall recall all that
is subject to the glory primordial

We shall wake up

and we shall speak the language of the heart
and our words will become birds
in flight in the sky of the dream come true

We shall wake up




Jasper sea
sapphire wings
Silver tree
Fruits of gold

I returned
to where
I had never been.



Translated by Ralitsa Saramova

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