Invisible War

translated by Erika Mihálycsa
a tram in Hungary creates a streak of blue lights at night

Glints of the tram. The nondescript houses
dream numb underwater dreams. Faces are
transparent bubbles popping off from the windows
where water used to break through. The pedestrians
crossing to the other side of the street drag
heavy years in their shopping bags. Better to forget
them. Some ended up on the hook
of a quick death. Some merely fell ill
and when they healed, let ivy run over the balcony
railings and grew flowers in a case. While
continuing to write, on and off, less and less.
The screech of brakes can’t wake you now from sleep.
Cartilage calcifies, an uninhabitable archipelago
sediments on the frontal lobe. And nothing
can dull the metronome beats of fear.
The tram gets stuck on an octagonal square.
The passengers scream and bang the doors.
No help in sight. They’re slowly overgrown by
the tracery of the centuries, small anthozoa. 

Translation from the Hungarian 
By Erika Mihálycsa

Gábor Schein has published eight volumes of poetry in addition to short stories, children’s books, plays, and two novels. His novel Lazarus! is forthcoming from Seagull Books in 2017. 


A lecturer in the Department of English at Babes-University, Cluj, Romania, Erika Mihálycsa has translated William H. Gass, Jeanette Winterson, Julian Barnes, George Orwell, and others into Hungarian and regularly contributes to several literary publications. Two of her translations into English were among WLT’s 2015 Pushcart nominations.