Pilgrim’s Throat

à toi, reine des mouches
petite soeur d’Orphée
ma boule à cris, ma lune de sang d’avant
d’avant la vase





14 September 1998


Father let the dogs copulate and Mother drank herself through her sorrow. No misery meant. No misery at all, really: bottles and copulating animals. The grass was high and in wicked games I rubbed dirt on my sister’s face.
Behind the house ran the railway as always in Flanders and behind the railway was the wood, like.
And I am drawing the fat lines of the wood straight and above the lines of the grass, but that is nothing, that is just a support, the girl I can’t yet squeeze in, the sister with dirt on her face, the courtisan, l’élue du père.
And that’s what it was about: locking her up in the wood, guarded by the railway track on which locomotive monsters were slowly shuttling by. Engines with their red wheels and their black stench, driven by grinning black men who spat from high so high: a long-drawn-out white wisp of spit from that black head, the girl didn’t want to be in the drawing in the wood, the girl wanted Father, wanted to be in Father, and Father spat at me from the high height of his tower-being and I fell down the stairs, down his stairs.


And so: my father let the dogs mate.
My mother drank the sea.
Who sends, who is being sent? Who sends me the painting? Does the painting send
itself to me?


La favorite du roi a le cul épilé.


Mother drank the sea, Father let the dogs mate. I kicked the beasts anchored in each other in the ribs and slammed heavy gates shut on their trembling rumps, I cut off my sister’s hair, a hole in her head, my father spat at me, but I was watching out and the spit slithered from the banister.


Each drawing is a message, each drawing comes from above, each drawing is a key.
Monkeys screeched in the living room; my father built large cages in it, my mother stared and grinned. Each line is a horizon and I inserted the pen in my penis, the stains stiffened the sheets.
Nothing remains, everyting lasts,
nobody comes.
Father let the dogs mate and Mother at the table, the food crumbling from her mouth.
I drowned chickens in muddy water tanks, rubbed dirt in my sister’s mouth, Father hit me.
Big locomotives separated me from the wood.
Who sends me a painting?
Nothing remains, everything lasts.
Nobody comes.



Fra Angelico
a white angel visits Mary


23 July 2001


yes yes lovely fly
lay your eggs
in my eye do
yes yes lovely fly do lay
my eye in your eggs do
yes yes lovely fly
do lay your eggs
in my eye
yes yes yes yes yes yes lovely
fly lovely lay your eggs
in my eye eye eye
lay your eggs do lay
yes fly lovely lay your eggs
in my eye do lay your
eggs in my eye
in my eye in my eye
eggs in eye of mine lay
yes yes yes do lay

fly lovely I love you
lay your fly lay your fly eggs
I love you in my eye lay
your lovely fly lay your eggs
your sticky eggs in my fly eye eye
your nest eye lovely fly fly lovely
in your eye lay your nest in my eye
lay your nest lovely fly lay your egg
in my eye lovely nest
lovely eyes for your eggs lovely eyes
for your eggs my nest in your eggs
lovely fly fly lovely indeed
lay my lovely in your nest lay your eggs
in my eye lay my nest
lay my nest in your egg in your nest eye lovely
my nest eye lovely my nest eyelovely
lay your eggs in my nest eye lovely
I love you


19 September 2001


the steppe


there are no more escape routes
there will be no more escape routes
from now on there won’t be any escape routes anywhere
where does the animal drive itself to?
to what wall of prickly foliage?
where is the animal driven to?
where does the animal drive itself to?
prickly and hard the growth under and for the animal
the animal must be killed off now
it will be killed off now
somewhere in the blistering silence of the scenery
there also in the blistering silence of the murderous
the murderous, yes the scenery kills off the animal
there are no more escape routes, all has been killed off
the animal will be killed off


yes now the animal must be killed off
there are no more escape routes
there will be no more escape routes
now the animal must be killed off
in the blistering heat, in the blistering silence
of the uninterrupted scenery
there are no more escape routes
no the animal knows as much
and most of all it has a foreboding of what is bound to happen
so motionless now, rudderless now
it knows it will be killed off
from now on there will be no more escape routes
from now on there will be no more escape routes
the animal yes must be killed off now
the scenery will not stop blistering with silence
with heat, unchanging, unchanging in
its primordial prickliness in which the animal moves on
writhing no path no route no escape
the animal must be killed of now now now
oh yes now


5 October 2001


and still I am whirling and still I am whirling towards you
from you to you mercilessly you have me whirling: how firm
is my fly-dog-corpse still? how meaty, how still escaped from worms and holes
in which flies are gnawing? how firm is my road to you
my Gaza my Lebanon my wasteland?
how am I whirling and still whirling from you to you?
broken up broken by your so many branches by my so many trunks
from your leaf to leaf I am whirling I am whirling
unwritten? oh no not you me even less, I will always be whirling
from your nerve to my bark


6 October 2001




it can’t always
be a sugar prince on a purple horse
they don’t swim to the bottom of the river
the yellow river


7 October 2001


tous les matins du monde sont sans retour


our dreams begin beyond our limitations
it’s still half-dark in the morning when the cocks start to crow
here and everywhere, possibly also in Nicaragua where dark women
are cleaning themselves of their lovers’ seed in the black river
not you, you keep my seed in you, wait for me wait for me
my black angel angel
here in the ward the junkies are already shuffling through the corridors to fetch
valium and methadone and the like: their dreams no longer go beyond their pain
without the white angel’s generous hand,
I’m dozing off, too much crystal against too much pain, but still carrying all my dreams
nothing will nip that bud in me, no dark bottom
no crystal lake.


7 October 2001


the houses


I shall want you, you will win me
but what will the aching decide?
will it withdraw like the red storks far across the sea in short far away?
for without aching the blood turns colour-empty and light as spring water
take me away to the spring, I shall clean us the way the black birds do:
in the waterfilled roof-gutters of the houses, of the houses of happiness


8 October 2001


the net


why is my body so very black? why don’t my floodgates suck in the light?
my sweaty skin no colourful net? in whose mesh you hook yourself with
fingers teeth toes hair and lips and get stuck forever


9 October 2001




this is the observation ward, here we are observed: monkeys behind a glass door
in the brown corridor yes in that brown corridor the monkey phone rings
and more and long and so much
the operator is munching salty liquorice, she is peeling ochre walnuts
as now autumn is colouring
a single one of us is called, a single one of us may go
hobble limp stumble sock-shuffle
is it mother? is it lover? is it child? is it friend?
it takes so long please please madam madam
the operator is munching liquorice so salty so salty


10 october 2001


der Zorn Gottes — to Klaus Kinski


when Aguirre came down the Andes mountains
3,600 perishing slaves, pigs rounded up and cannons
pulled by Inca princes
he could not know his last talk with monkeys
an arrow pierced his so beloved daughter’s neck
I do not know, my so beloved daughter sister wife of my burnt-up life
I do not know with whom my last talk
your throat slit with rusty sabre steel
I shall strangle myself in you, in you I shall mutilate myself


big filthy creature that I am
big nasty filthy creature that I am
WIZARD that I am


10 October 2001


Daddy Bosch, the war


your people is not mine
oh no
they will pitch battle against each other
in some muddy field
let’s hope they get their skulls crushed
they’re certain to get their skulls crushed
and their brains mixed with peat and wet horse muck
are the survivors seriously wounded, I shall ram my heel into their gullets
and the cracking will deliver me from the stronghold on my backbone
lockjaw in my loins
and then my darling, then we shall love each other
wallowing in their wounds
and still warm guts


12 october 2001


I am not the murderer of the girl who drowned
I did not cut her wrists and her ankles
I did not turn the open wound in her thigh
but I am the liar who promised her from now on: happiness
I made her believe in it
believing in happiness is so easy for one who had been looking for it a life long
and loved me, therefore believed in me
and I lied, for I had never known happiness myself
wizards are liars
I am the murderer the lying hunchback
I loved her
you’ll never believe me


12 October 2001


the executioner


I don’t want to evade the execution no no
no no for god’s sake no


je suis un peintre d’embouteillages


13 October 2001


landscape — after Edvard Munch


am I the murderer of love? will you convince me I am?
is that how you get rid of the heavy burden your love for me would be?
would you rather break that rock on my shouders than simply tell me:
it was so beautiful but much too much?
would you rather break my neck than tell me: darling go now
what you want I cannot do, what I can do you no longer want?
so many mountains so many clouds so much powdery snow between us,
am I the murderer of our love? or is it both of us?
and are we really murderers? are we not just ignorant of each other?
are we not just two errors, packaged together?
two landscapes scattered by some drunken god or other
wrongly put side by side? for instance an iceland and a sunland
you cursing my sun, me scraping your ice and still wondering:
why does the sun not fade into the ice that it melts?
why does the ice not reflect the sun’s blood-red glow?
am I the murderer of love?


14 october 2001


the evening — after Philip Guston


rock me rock me suspended in the unlikely evening light
that blackens the barred window in its red glow


15 October 2001




it’s twelve o’clock I know, for I can hear the crutch man stumping up the stairs
methadone please methadone! his crutches already delight in the coming high
he’s sweating the cold out of his lame body, the preparation takes ten minutes
which is terrible for him, really terrible, the unforeseen pain of waiting
even his crutches are shaking with him
my hands are not shaking just because it’s twelve o’clock, they shake throughout
the yellow-coloured day, because of crystal crystal crystal to crush the pain spiked
in my body, crystal acts more quickly if you crush it between your teeth
or let it melt under your tongue, there are a thousand such secrets
to raise the high or the low
it’s twelve o’clock and I get crystal, I have to swallow on the spot
from a metal cup, only junkies know secrets of rapture,
are in the know
it’s twelve o’clock, I know everything that’s going to happen, now


17 October 2001


little manual — à ma mère


the liar is a supple animal
the sooner he starts, the more gifted he turns out in playing on his art
for the liar is also an artist with all the disquiet that comes with it
the sooner he distorts his world, the more credible his distorted story
the technique to be mastered is of course the body language and the unity
between the story’s form and content
the liar is a supple animal with an infallible dosing capacity
lies must be presented in the right dosage
so that the lied-to has no time to get confused
the liar is a supple animal that must not lose its suppleness in any circumstances
the liar therefore must constantly practise packaging the lie perfectly
so that the lie and the truth can shelter each other fully
the two hazards threatening the liar are forgetfulness and confusion:
regularly practising thinking techniques is to be unreservedly recommended
mental arithmetic, crossword puzzles, memorizing quotations poems texts
(also, showing off knowledge of foreign languages may make an impression)
I am a bad liar, I am not a supple animal
I am an artist with all the disquiet that comes with it, but a bad liar
I learnt to fly to make myself loved both by my father and by Mother
especially my mother was always pestering me with the blood-curdling question:
who do you love more? him or me? and then I replied:
both equally, but I flinched, that way I quickly learnt
that a bad liar is a crippled animal and I became one instantly


19 october 2001


dantesque — to Mario De Brabandere


hell is not the gates
not even the banging sound of the gates slamming shut
hell is the sound of the keys


19 October 2001


to die alone will be easier than to live alone
to live is to die for so long, you learn this
my father’s dogs died alone
were they aware of it? what does a dog know about loneliness?
what did my father know about dying alone?
yet nobody has ever died more lonely than my father
perhaps he had been studying it for too long in his lonely dying beasts
he had felt how the heart broke, the guts discharged
seen how the blue membrane pulled across the eyes and the legs bent as if broken
perhaps it would have been better the other way around
he could have helped his parents die then they would not have been so alone
but I did not help my father to die either, though I wept when I buried
his dogs


21 October 2001


waking up


and you shall wake the child and take it to school
so everyday so everyday so everyday
so everyday as death


23 October 2001


who’s afraid etc.


afraid of course who isn’t
afraid to lose each other and yet we lose each other
afraid to have to lie and yet we lie to each other
afraid of the wrong dreams and yet the wrong dreams creep into us
afraid not to achieve the obligatory happiness and yet we don’t achieve it
afraid to be caught at an unbeautiful moment and yet we’re caught
afraid to be unable to cross the river so wide to each other and yet it happens
afraid not to recognize the enemy, the unknown, and yet the enemy enters
afraid to see beauty change and yet beauty always changes
afraid of course, of course we’re all afraid all of us
afraid to spy the shadows that will demolish our love
and yet this may happen at any moment
afraid that our bodies will tire of each other and yet habit is lurking
afraid that our souls will change colour and change colour they will
afraid that the spring tide that lifts us high above the splattering water
withdraws, how often does that happen!
afraid that our eyes will squint, it is bound to happen
afraid oh darling of course we’re afraid
even more afraid we’ll be when my knees no longer fit into your armpits
my hands no longer in your hair, my thumb no longer in your mouth
but angel so often we shall also be not afraid
because our eyes will never let go of each other


25 October 2001




the pilgrim, that’s what I’ve been since I came to stay here
the pilgrim is a lion’s rest, pilgrims no longer wander far away
they have a girlfriend and keep their hands moist
pilgrims sometimes paint but not always successfully
upset by lack of time or disbelief or etc. they end up with the big madam
who shrinks the knots from their soul
yes yes that pilgrim that’s been me, ever since I came to stay in the mirror
like the rest of the lion of Water-loo


26 October 2001


I have come to love you because of the death
that you press into my arms like a bunch of black roses
do not damage me, or you will not dare to behold me
and your memory of me will chase you like a spotted dog


27 October 2001




the revelation is the question or is it?
the giant combine harvesters that light up the cornfields at night, are they God?
or the reincarnation of Vincent?
where is the revelation? where is the question?
was Breughel an apple picker?
Lowry a wet duck that sank?
where is the revelation and where is the question?
the revelation lay between Mary’s legs, but was the truth there?
and the thundering of the Apocalypse? who was John?
and what stuff did he put in his tea?
the revelation came from John’s arse and the giant combine harvesters
that at night churn up the cornfields with light he would have praised
like a god who stops at nothing
the revelation is an awkward affair as it is the question


29 October 2001


Le grand pêcheur


why didn’t the big fisher of shrimp drown me, when he caught me
in his wide net together with you, he saved us to play with us
and to shoot his seed in the salty water – it burnt our eyes – , the big
fisher’s seed, his net of razor-sharp steel and how he hurt you!
the more you bled the more he groaned and shot at the uninterested clouds
my blood turned into salt water and that was what he wanted: me to bleed invisibly for the white blood makes the water foam and my foam on your wounds
made him go into such raptures that even the indifferent clouds plunged into the sea
and we, my darling, were wriggling like two newly hanged
at the goal posts of Taliban football pitches
who will kill the big fisher of shrimp? trip his horse? pull his steel nets through his scaly skin? who will cure your salted wounds?
pull the needles from your eyes? I’ll have to do it
I lured you to the sea, I’ll have to do it


1 November 2001


the wizard


there’s no hour you don’t know where the lie is
there’s no hour you don’t know what’s going to happen
there’s no hour you’ll claim not to know
everyone knows everyone knows
he who doesn’t want to know
will find out before the others


4 November 2001


the anchor — to Marc Maet


why woodcutters cut wood is logical
but why ships sink is a difficult question
why love strangles us is not that logical but still a bit
for loving woodcutters strangle their wives in ships that sink
there is much more sea than land and the water is so salt, I love salt
I also love licking salty figures
cows lick salt blocks in the meadow
cows are so beautiful but hard to drown
except in floods, when you can see them floating in an awkward position
over the surface of the meadow, spotted whales with club feet
I’ve got to get out of here because a flood might make me bloat
and my buttocks turn purple, no cow no woman would ever fancy me
not to mention my tail


5 November 2001


sex & drugs & rock ’n roll forever — to Ian Dury


il y a Hamlet
il y a Oedipe
Hamlet hallucinated on rampart grass
Oedipus juggled with swords and missed a double blow once
it could have been simpler couldn’t it
if Oedipus who was stone-blind anyway
had screwed Hammelette in the arse
the fathers would have stayed in their coffins
what have fathers got to do with it anyway?
not to mention the mothers, those dirty randy bitches


love me love me


8 November 2001




and what shall we do with the liar?
and what shall we do with the liar?
what shall we do with the liar?
we cut his filthy tongue from his devious mouth


9 November 2001


Daddy Bosch Black Bird — to Alfred Kubin


I am just the raven, wandering about jerkily landing on a rotten field of honour:
one bullet through your left eye, and now? now you’re ready, yes ready for what?
do I have to peck out your other eye? or do I shove my head my wings
my hopping mad grief in your torn up womanliness?


11 November 2001




God a fisher of shrimp and you a little local shrimp
and that’s exactly why, my cricket, God, the eternally disappointed God
throws all shrimp into one large black cauldron of boiling water


11 November 2001



nothing will harm us anymore
the scorpions will sting themselves, naturally until death
le scorpion est dangereux parcequ’il est malheureux


11 November 2001




are we locked up in each other like gladiators?
like lions devouring christians?
like lovers so close
losing ourselves with each touch?


12 November 2001




what lies? the liars ask
what murders? the murderers ask
liars are the shrimp, crabs are the murderers
who am I? who are you? who is she, the white madam torturing me?
and who is the black madam torturing herself?
who are the rats at the foot of the gallows?
are they good at what they do, those infamous gnawers
how should it go on, now that we’re all dead?
we can’t be more dead, more alive than we are now


13 November 2001




the black woman is the mountain, the white woman the river
I want to wrap the river round the mountain, the white river round the black mountain
it would be treacherously beautiful, but the black mountain would triumph
because the core always triumphs over the skin, the water skin
unless the black mountain founders and crumbles in grit and mud
but then the river also founders
and everything turns into a black gritty muddy lake
qui est la femme blanche? qui est la femme noire?
je les aimerai toujours dissous en elles
mais elles, m’aimeront-elles?


15 November 2001


in the tub


you were going to die with me, but these are vocals yes and so what:
dying together also requires you to find a pleasing solution for it
or you’ll get bored out of your mind


15 November 2001




and you, my little rugged girl, lost in a corner of my heart, will be pouring away
with the blood brook, just like that, out of my heart, just like that, out of my body
disappearing for eternity and even longer in sour seas


19 November 2001


petite rencontre à l’asile


every so often we cross in the corridor, I mean : he’s returning, I’m going
he wears little slippers, I wear socks, I have no slippers and – in spite of the sign:
please lift the seat, to leave it dry for the ladies – people here are always peeing beside the bowl
back in my room I dry my socks, wash my feet
I occasionally wash my socks with shampoo
every so often we cross in the corridor, numb with valium I focus hard on the target:
the pee-corner route, but he, he’s coming back from it already
he has relieved himself, an advantage on me
strange that he’s holding his left arm in the air above his bumpy head
and opening and closing his hands in little spastic gestures
is that the sioux junkie greeting?
I don’t know me, I’m still new here and always think of her, because yes
he’s yelling something at me about bus line 71 that departs from nowhere
yes yes and more: lots of metal glistening in his ears
he walks on and I stumble on the toilet platform, wet my pants a bit
perhaps he also loves someone : a sioux junkie woman
in one of those baseball caps turned backwards, covering the back of her neck


21 November 2001


the snail


well, my darling, I’ve started my fourth week
each morning in the mirror I can see myself bit by bit change into a snail
that shows how magical and predictable my paintings are
now the snail is just on my forehead, in my hair, but slowly
its growing shell will enclose my skull and its slimy body will glue my eyes shut
stuff my nose my mouth
this happens here yes
and slowly the snail people drag themselves along the stained walls
the worst are those who have completely turned into snails and stick themselves
in the corners of the rooms so many here, their slime drying up
they have stopped moving
in them some blood ash may sparkle feebly still, perhaps still listening in
to the infamous secret, the humiliation, the debts
perhaps the shrivelled little snail people are still writing about
what must not be known
that’s how, my darling, the snail man’s fourth week starts
I’ll have to bear many more days, accept my punishment, undergo my punishment
my punishment
how will I ever be able to paint again with glistening slime
only in a pitch dark shell and what is being painted in a snail’s shell?
shall I still be able to draw you? I think so
Oedipus would be able to
even with scabs instead of eyes


22 November 2001




now time is really running short
short for what there is left to live, still left to live
so short that too many letters contain it
now time is really running short
short for what there is still left to live
so short that all signs have become redundant


22 November 2001


tenderness is what is left for me, crumbled scattered on the way
black birds make their entrance now, they have become so strong and I so weak
so weak that I can no longer myself lift the crumbs to my mouth
with a wet finger
tenderness is what is left for me, crumbled and scattered on the way
one day you will crumble and lose your magnificent feathers
thank god I loved you so


25 November 2001




and we, we shall wash ashore like plankton at night tide
they are but sand, dead grains lashing us
whipped up by rough wind that knows no better


26 November 2001


who has never been cradled will never be comforted
who has been cradled will be happy


26 November 2001


the thief


clean yourself clean yourself in me, I shall enfold you with an infinity of rays
stolen light


28 November 2001


tous les matins du monde, encore


no dawn is as poisonouos as you, no dawn cares so much about me
no dawn I will not give you, you who are for me, for me who is waking up
blue black little sister of mine


29 November 2001


when the end begins


when the beginning of the end begins, fear keeps a low profile
when the end finds us fear will sneak away from us
fear is for those who want to live
when we lie down, nobody or nothing will touch us anymore
this you know this you have taught me: when the end begins, the joy begins
the joy we have missed so much because of the fear of losing each other
when the end finally creeps up, put my hand on your eye
and I will look deep so deep into your soul through your fingers
never will that image stop existing
when the end begins
when the beginning of the end begins, fear keeps a low profile
nobody will touch us anymore





with Soutine in the mirror


La ruine, seule la ruine est le refuge


16 February 2002


when my pain wears your mask
when your pain wears my mask
that’ll be the day when sorrow stops
so amazed at its own monstrosity


13 September 1998


what is failure? and what is blame?
is retreating into one’s shell a reprehensible act?
a consequence of exhausted mental capacity?
or simply going deeply into the crucial question:
what is attitude and what is truth?




Published as:

“Pilgrim’s Throat.” Unpublished, 2003.

Originally published as:

“Pelgrims keel.” In Pelgrims keel, unpag. Kessel-Lo: Literarte, 2003.

pijl rechts
Philippe Vandenberg