This 35 mm pinhole movie is a portrait of the Dutch poet Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, filmed in Genoa, where he lives. For this film, Ilja translated and read in Italian one of his poem, "Idillys 26", from the collection "Idyllen", Amsterdam (De Arbeiderspers) 2015.
The pinhole camera plunges into a mysterious visit to the city guided by the poet...
I’ll hang up the grapes, I’ll pour in the wine,
until they’re brimming and tingling on the vine,
they’ll sink singing into the soil and disappear.
I’ll stick the fleshy meat back on until cows reappear
that rush lowing from slaughterhouse to pastures wide,
growing ever cuddlier and plumper beneath their hides,
they will replant daisies with their generous maws,
and live only to staunch their mothers’ sores.
I’ll use planks to reconstruct trees. Their crowns will sigh
with freshly unroasted birds on boughs, whereby
they’ll crawl back into eggs so perfectly round and white.
I’ll repair shattered windows using rocks to smite,
turn ruins into cities shooting cannonballs,
while gun’s barrels swallow bullets from old city walls.
I will un-mine the mines. And far-off foreign realms
will be abandoned to beaches spotted from the helms
of the ships of travelers who pull crosses from the ground
and sail backwards on galleons ever homeward bound,
drawn along by strong winds, burned to nothingness,
and you know, the world grows, as it learns less and less.
Now every night I awake punch drunk with pleasure
at parties where red wine is produced at leisure,
beer gushes from throats, and words become sweet,
until I stroll those busy streets in the midday heat,
my eyes blinking awake as I go home without moping,
where, queasy and broken, I go to sleep hoping
that yesterday’s yesterday will be yet again fine,
another day for spewing liters and liters of wine.
I am highly privileged, I am very much aware,
so little to do all day, while other people bear
the burden of putting the shit back in babies.
They’re forced to go to the shops and fetch crazy
amounts of fresh-minted dosh. There aren’t enough jobs
to spend that money on. They are the underdogs
of our production society. But as for me, I am content
to pursue my passions, to rewrite and re-invent
my poetry all day long, a black not white obsession
with a dedication sure to leave a lasting impression,
carefully going over those printed letters one by one
until there’s nothing left and everything has gone,
no sorrow, no doubt. It’s a pig. Sometimes I do less
than six or seven lines a day. I try to avoid excess
that way, sometimes I manage to my satisfaction.
But then the virgin white springs back into action,
a blank page upon which anything can fall short.
And it’s just the same, my love, as trying to snort
your sweet smells out of my nose and dismiss now
your hands that rested like a fever upon my brow,
the way I craft luscious fruits from potted jams,
and barbarian hordes drift upstream like lambs.
It’s like the way I can silence songs with music
and build beautiful cities using modified Uzis,
just like I believe if only I had met you tomorrow night,
everything that has gone wrong would go right.
© Translation: 2016, Michele Hutchison
First published on Poetry International, 2016.