3rd May 2023


1 minute read

János Marno

The Ghost of Rococo

translated by Owen Good

3rd May 2023

1 minute read

für Gretchen[1]


In my blindness I see the ladybird

on my finger as a pearly drop of blood,

and I suppose its black spots

to be wormholes, swallowing whole

my successive squints. And now here

I would stop, why blot any further

reality’s ruptured image. I stand here

on a stool, leaning out the narrow

toilet window, in rolled up sleeves that

the white folds might better pad

my fussy elbows. Shirt to stern-

um unbuttoned, the autumn sun

beats down on my face and awfully

ill chest that will send me to the grave

before long, or after, with any luck. Lady

hasn’t budged an inch, stranded

a hot knuckle from the pink nail-

bed, and red, riddled with holes, as if

oozing into the light from the bone

whose tissue in the poem begins

to crumble. The drop of blood isn’t my own,

as we say, I didn’t suck it from my thumb,

it landed there, plucked from thin air;

as the sky filled with tissue and bone.


[1] Gretchen, Gréta, meaning: pearl (gift of the sea)


written by

János Marno

More about the author

Issue 04


More about this issue

translated by

Owen Good

More about the translator


In Focus
“it was iron: i thought by János Marno
A fragmentary avantgarde poem by Hungarian poet János Marno, with seemingly no framework, contorted with cynicism, lust, shame, villainy, and terror.
The Ghost of Rococo by János Marno
In this poem by Hungarian poet János Marno in a private moment of near hallucination a ladybird on a finger is mistaken for a drop of blood.
The Personification of Nothing by János Marno
An aphoristic one-word poem by veteran Hungarian poet János Marno that captures both the black humor and the utter pessimism of noir.