Plaint of a Slovak Poet, 1976

Nothing special can be done for us now.
We are reduced to drawing parable
from nonsense verse and snatches allowed
us of foreign poets hysterical

at their own cloistering, ever more sure.
We garden, watch faces wrinkling with age,
our children learning. They will mature
inside this, they too long to turn the page.


I had just finished a relatively lucrative gig translating at the Montreal Olympics. I took the money and ran off to Europe for a couple of months, traveling on my newly-minted Canadian passport.

at the International Comparative Literature Association Congress n Budapest, I fell in with some young Slovak scholars, tentatively , I imagined in love with one of them. I wrote this ditty recapitulating their description of their lives, trapped in Iron Curtain domesticity.

Later, back in Canada, I glued a copy of Sylvia Plath’s latest collection into the covers of Alice in Wonderland and, per instructions of the one who had caught my eye, mailed it to Bratislava.

Never heard back if it made it through the censors.