Archives

(for I.
maribor
steep coast

Author: Anja Kampmann
Translator: Anne Posten

 

(for I.

He left last year
in the days that followed
you often saw shadows on the branches of twigs
and the sea
washed up whalebones, whose secret midpoint
he sought
A constant outline like the black
within the lighter stripes on the asphalt
or shall we say stones, smaller dancers
inextricable
the mosaic of time or
shall we say patterns a flock of rooks
makes against the sky
shall we say November and fainter light
or shall we say breathflakes and memory
an eternal reversing
like the Chinese man in the park in Paris
shall we say vines on the houses
the sparrows, their fluttering, the anatomy of flight feathers
on an early fall day the midpoint
of every sound
that passes through us.

 

maribor

a heart failure of light
an intrusion into yesterday
a river with plums on the banks
pears a market
and when tito came the villages
and when tito came the healthy
men and the healthy women
and the children who took their dogs on ropes
away with them
and afterwards
and in the woods the shots
the woods the woods the hills
with soft greenish light
and in autumn in summer winter
and the early abandoned year
as it followed the others
it followed followed each other away
the fishers the butchers
nuts to gather nuts
a hollow thud from inside
an emptiness in the fruits and who
picked them up who ate
of them what remained maribor
with whirls of glass of glass
the dogs came back first
with their long slack ropes
that were never dropped only held
tighter and pressed in the
blind hands the forgotten hands
with the lashes
to go swimming to dive
in the village lake in the village pond
in the depressions of the landscape
in the reflections of a new day
the lashes lashes and the dog’s
rope by day and under
the memoryless clouds
in the greenish greenish
where someone came where everything fades
as one goes.

 

steep coast

it’s almost sunday
the wolves get trapped
in the cliffs it’s the sound of the sea that hits us
the rolling of stones ahead a few boots
in the rock how the waves wash against the air
running the wind swells the cape the space
for your small memory yellow
as they ran children who stick out
their tongues in the rain sea salt
to learn the howling of the wind afresh
with the spray comes love rough
in all its ancient languages.

 

Anja Kampmann, Proben von Stein und Licht.  Hanser, 2016.

Something Small
the sum of goodbyes
In stages, at the lake
Les fleurs du ⁠[ʃa ɛ̃]
Temperature change
Long in the tooth landscape

Author: Melanie Katz
Translator: Jen Calleja

 

Something Small

So you approach with
three barrels of preserved lemons
underneath your grey robe
maybe exposed concrete
maybe some kind of spun lace
from Paris, perhaps

And also
oh, yes
in your hand
a turquoise insect

I should, you say
and open your fist

should I, you ask
a small animal flies

away

 

 

the sum of goodbyes

this is how we plucked
the blossom petals
from one another’s eyes
they fell into my open hand
we stood there
and discussed the night
with our gazes
until it started to rain
we handed one another
small (smooth) pillows
made of foam
fed each other
I’ve carried
faint and gently mellowed
minutes
in my bag ever since
beneath the airstream
I can feel them
throbbing inside

 

 

In stages, at the lake

Beneath feathered trees
Sky crumbles into mosaic
Shadows pieces blue
Spiders throw
sticky silk in my face

Later the moon drips onto the paper
Twilight settles
on my eyelids three cubic metres of
fog

 

 

Les fleurs du [ʃa ɛ̃]

Thus Rilke transformed
into a rose-petalled rubber eraser
slipped in next to me under the covers

from there relentlessly whispered
stories in my ear
about knives and gaff-rigged schooners

about the grammar of chocolate
a paper garden
he wrote to me: listen, listen, listen!

The great epic
of an envelopment

 

 

Temperature change

Do you remember

there was a garden, the flowers, the house

Now the world turns around weeds and milk-glass
-hued flavour enhancers
there are stained clothes, three alarm clocks, the dog

Earlier it was you
today I realise
that it’s me

 

 

Long in the tooth landscape

Old toothless building beauty
You’re such a ruin, Martha
very tender
somewhere an abandoned fan is still turning
enviably
and there’s plenty of ship and sand
in Eberswalde again the evening
a wide bar
on the map of your passing years

We’re still waving to you
saying goodbye

 

 

Melanie Katz, Silent Syntax.  hochroth verlag, 2018.

Alphaversions

Author: Liesl Ujvary
Translator: Ann Cotten, Anna Dinwoodie

 

966
This is my body. I am currently in this place. I have certain perceptions, ideas, feelings. I am doing this and that. I am the cause and the controller of my thoughts and actions. I am talking about myself and thinking about myself. I have a conscience. I am the person I was yesterday.

1068
Scientific research repeats, confirms, and expands earlier insights. As if I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The food looks bright and fake. Around the station, the ground is bare, the area has been burned off and sprayed with long-lasting herbicides. The zone is reminiscent of the empty space between a fortress and the outer wall, the shooting range. The burnt ground crackles under my feet, the leaves whisper in the wind. The riverbed is as lush as a summer garden. They will surely kill me at the next opportunity. The gardens are paradise: orderly, calculated, organic, and precise. A straw I must grasp at.

1069
Reality does not hate you. But her intimacies are ominous. This is not an interactive program, nor is it a virtual reality… Real breezes play with the leaves, real shadows darken the ground in the forest. And death is lurking outside. Real death. I am trained for this. You know how to work this sensorium, right? Remain basically alert, and keep an eye on the screens. The weapons are terrible, the defense genius. I can hardly be seen in the wet twilight. The danger is obvious, screaming at the sky. There follows a reorganization of my knowledge and my inner life, in a way I have not been programmed for. I am afraid of the details.

1070
We are soldiers at war. We see each other die. It is chilly tonight. A shroud of cirrus clouds the sky. This contradictory mixture of feelings: fear of the future and at the same time a nervous high-spiritedness, a sweet whiff of freedom. I am alone, shivering, naked in a forest I have never seen the likes of before. I climb out of the water, up the mossy riverbank. The black earth is soft under my feet. The boulders are overgrown with velvety green herbs. I don’t know how I got here and how I am supposed to find my way back. My heart is racing.

1071
They have me surrounded. I do not recognize them, but they recognize me, I have no doubt. I close my eyes and think about the stubbornness of life, the universal desire to melt and unite. Caustic substances, some extremely aggressive and decidedly toxic. I touch my nose and stare in surprise at my fingertips, drenched in bright red. So this is death?

1072
Alarm level 1. I am not alone in the woods… but I feel alone, especially after midnight. Being alone does not scare me. Other things scare me. The systems are insufficiently adapted to the biosphere… the wind in the trees… depthless, uncanny. Oh, it’s nothing physical. My border surfaces are intact. The forest glistens in the night rain. The water flows from step to step, from the full depressions of the leaves into the overflowing chalices of the flowers. The light west wind stirs up mold spores, a fine, sticky dust. Today the forest is peaceful, no predators in measurable distance. Delve deeper into the biosphere? Am I brave enough? I will be careful.

1074
Emotions are not a luxury, we cannot live without them. But how can emotions be described in the language of neurobiology? They are complex collections of chemical and neural reactions, triggered in the brain, forming specific patterns. They depict the state of the body and guide it at the same time. Emotions thus use the body as their stage – its chemical processes, its organs, and its muscles. Their regulatory activities are supposed to create situations which are advantageous to the individual. It’s not that I am feeling bad. Quite the contrary. At the moment I feel surprisingly fit, walking through the sunlight and swinging my arms like I haven’t since I was a child. The path follows a low chain of hills to the east. The chain of hills becomes a rocky plateau, clusters of green plants nest in the earth between the stones. I call uo the weather report; nothing has changed since this morning: no clouds, no wind.

1075
Same genome, same organism. But expressed in a radically different way. Reacts to the environment. My only advice: Keep your eyes open. Keep your back free. You do what you gotta do. What you have been trained to do – training gains ground on panic. There they are! There they are! The dreams are terrible. But isolation has so many faces. Am I still the same person I was three months ago? Am I feeling better or worse? I no longer sleep properly. I am moody. There is no safety. Every day is a risk. Outside, the air is fresh and humid. Outdoor lamps flare up and blind me for a moment. I take a deep breath. Inside and outside, the systems break down.

 

Liesl Ujvary, Alphaversionen 966-1137 (Digital edition, 2003).

Childhood Memory
Unreal May Day
The Linden is in Bloom, and It is Night
After the War
Stele

Author: Reiner Kunze
Translator: Kay McBurney

 

CHILDHOOD MEMORY

When the swallows gathered to fly away,
the bird-barbed wire
strung between the electricity poles
fenced off the village from the sky

And the people were
imprisoned, sentenced
to winter

To telegraph wires
with no birdsong

To the empty nest
within their breast

When the swallows gathered
and their tail- and wingtips
marked the border

 

 

UNREAL MAY DAY

The cherry and pear trees flowered in such abundance
that they metamorphosed
into white clouds

Enblossomed, the village
floated up

With our white hair
we affected belonging
and became weightless

 

 

THE LINDEN IS IN BLOOM, AND IT IS NIGHT

The air … so warm and deathly still
Adalbert Stifter

The linden is in bloom, and it is night
The droning bees are silent now, instead
the air is teeming with stars

Man, that itinerant beekeeper flitting by night to pastures new,
the bolts of his hives slid into place, air flaps open,
wheels rasping,
hungers
for other honey

He has measured the curvature of the firmament
and sets off
to those distant shimmering swarms

Eve’s genes murmuring within him

But no matter how far he extends the radius of his heaven’s sphere
into boundless space, he will only ever fly
along the inside

If we wanted to understand the otherness of the world,
we would have to be
other

We humans under linden trees, in bloom,
at night

 

 

AFTER THE WAR

The farmers hoed over the harvested fields
until the furrow mounds
were trenches

Strangers who dared
venture too close were shown
the horsewhip

Hunkering in the undergrowth,
we waited in the wood
until above the smouldering haulm fires
the moon rose

and to our hungry mind’s eye
an unattainable,
ember-split
potato glowed

 

STELE

What
I
have
seen
no-one
should
see
no-one
should
have
witnessed
this
Though
anyone
who
did
see
it
would
have
been
better
off
dying
soon

[Varlam Shalamov / Kolyma]

 

Reiner Kunze, Lindennacht.  S. Fischer Verlag, 2007.

Sophocles
STOP WARS OR
National Trust

Author: Esther Dischereit
Translator: Linda Frazee Baker

 

Sophocles

I smoothed the hair of Sophocles
away from his forehead. Again
and again over his glistening
head. He sits atop this bust.
I went back one more time
touched the head
my shoes clattered
on the wooden floor
down the stairs
as if my fingertips had absorbed something
and I had carried it to
where a man was standing
who dropped his trousers
in the middle of the road
where the tents are
surrounded by thundering traffic
and the faces behind the slits
at the entrances vanish
and people in the forests
live on Bainbridge Island
without water or electricity
then I passed along with my Sophocles
hands that had just touched
his head fondled it almost
although such intimacy
wasn’t right, I passed along
beside the tent actually I
only looked
I had buried my Sophocles hands
in my pockets the next morning I saw thousands of people
lying on stretchers.
Thousands of women and men, neighbors,
not because of an earthquake but nevertheless on stretchers.
This had to be done so everything
could go faster on the two days
when the Dentists’ Association
had announced they would offer free treatment.
It was an aerial photo and the square
under the open sky looked blue, blue
from the hospital gowns they used
to cover the people who were waiting.
Two days in the last week of September
in Cedar Rapids Iowa, USA.
The newspapers vanished, the gowns,
the stretchers too
in the museum Sophocles stood still
with his gleaming marble skull
and no body.
I stroke his head
with my fingertips, almost caressed
his head although such closeness
wasn’t fitting. God doesn’t give us
health insurance or medical care
God doesn’t have free college tuition either
Should we shovel the gold from our teeth
in front of the President’s door
so his family can bathe in it like
comic strip characters.
Don’t jump, no water in the sparkling basin.
I don’t know if anyone jumped in.
Sophocles with his marble skull.
I smooth his hair away from his forehead.

 

 

STOP WARS OR

As I was passing by the Volkswagen works
I saw that the cars
with protective coverings were racing about
they stood there in an orderly way
like civilian soldiers
ha-ha civilian soldiers
like soldiers who are builders of things
reconstruction
peace and reconstruction
after war
warlords are called “Mr. President”
torture, napalm, mustard gas
Bogner`s swing
waterboarding
grant, o Lord, that
the war that the war

dear imams of this world
I think that
a world conference
please tell the believers
that steel thorns
injure the hands
of the prophets

revile and drive out
the evil doers who lay
villages and countries to waste
revile and drive out
those who bring death
who put themselves in His place

dear men and women who are the rabbis
of this earth to the extent you have
any influence
say that god has not seized any land
in which he dwells he saw human beings
sitting down
he didn’t say anything about occupation

dear ones who worship the cross
or the son and the Almighty
please get rid of these drones
let your hands
refuse to do their job
when they press the button
reverse the switch
let loose the flight of death
pray for a plague that can cause the weapons to rust
let particles set themselves down in the trigger
so it jams
let a piece of rock
get between the tanks`
chainy legs

the Volkswagen Polos are racing
all over the world better to have Polos everywhere
as weapons laptops are good, too
and if there’s no God in my house
for whom then am I performing this service
only for myself and the woman who lives next door
and perhaps also the gentleman
across the street
we’ll start with the laptops
or a book for every child
who really wants a book
you’ll see
children like books

I’m digressing a bit now
grant dear Lord
That the war, that the war …

I’m collecting medicine
someone is going to Kobane
he’s delivering the medicine
it’s the war
it’s the war
Since we’ve been
watching
the war
the war has looked like
a playstation

When we said stop the war
we meant Vietnam
now – what do I mean now

I make myself ridiculous
stop wars
I say it softly just for myself
and when I put my child
to bed and he closes
his eyes—very gently
I say: stop wars, so
I don’t upset him but really
It would be better if I had something
to give him, a chocolate bar
for example
or a meadow or
later a laptop

I’ll stop now. I don’t know how to go on.

 

 

National Trust

National Trust Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
The Interior Minister writes back to the seaside
From whence they or you have come
Prison is on land
Transport by air
If someone opened the hatch
the people would fall into the sea
back where they came from
that is forbidden
flight, too, is forbidden
staying is

Flight no
staying no
disperse

Lock up or disperse
When they were born
their mothers didn’t ask permission
it’s a flaw that their mothers didn’t
ask permission

They should go
Thousands are going
Going as such
How will the Interior Minister lock up this going

Will he lift up the roads
Bring all the air down to earth
Make the waters run dry

Prisons for those who still keep going
There will be many to be locked up
Whole countries have to be locked up

I don’t think these countries
will fit in our prisons

there was a time when we rejoiced with them
with those standing in Tahrir Square
in Tian’anmen Square
In the souk at Damascus
weapons are piling up
instead of fruits
One man comes from the Congo
another from Iraq

when there’s no place for their bones
in the soil of their countries
do you want to be the person who scatters their ashes by air
Go rather and buy one of them a new pair of trousers
that fits or an
ironed shirt. That’ll do.

The War after Next
Bowl in the Oven
Television Poems
Autumn Crocuses
Morbid Contest
Return

Author: Hilde Domin
Translator: Emma Rault

 

THE WAR AFTER NEXT

I have no arms
My hands are stitched onto my shoulders
like wings
perhaps I should become a bird
but I don’t fly
perhaps a human being
I don’t kill
and I don’t need to embrace you
you killers
whose hands have cast the stone
from the very start
it’s only the sling that has changed.

The war after next
Einstein said
will once again be fought with bows and arrows
the fridge after next
will once again be a clay pot
filled with rainwater

Until then
perhaps the moon will serve
the misfits of this world
as a universal concentration camp

 

 

BOWL IN THE OVEN

Bowl in the oven,
you are burning.
Tear-etched,
a glaze of humility
coats the shy
shimmer of a smile.
In this way you are chipped
just a little each day,
until wish and lament melt away
and a rose petal
or a butterfly wing
are almost a coarser substance.
Forgotten bowl,
the rainbow sets its foot
on the hand that proffers you
as naturally
as a pigeon alighting
on Trafalgar Square.

 

 

TELEVISION POEMS

1.
NAPALM HOSPITAL

On the edge of sleep
they emerge
heads
they bob
on the dreamwater
on the sheets
a horizon of dying
heads with big eyes
“Wars are fought with people”
they look at me
eyes
No sky so pale
as pleading eyes

2
BURNING CITY (BEIRUT)

The burning city
burns soundlessly
I see it every night
with a name that keeps changing
the presenter
for now
says the same one night after night
I can turn it off
for now
At least while I’m awake

 

 

AUTUMN CROCUSES

For us, whose doorpost burned down,
on which our childhood years
had been marked off
inch by inch.

Who did not plant
a tree in our garden,
to put the chair
in its growing shadow.

Who sit at the foot of the hill
as if we were shepherds called to watch
the cloudsheep that cross the blue
pasture over the elm trees.

For us, always on our way
—a lifelong journey
as if between planets—
to a new beginning.

For us
the autumn crocuses stand up
in the brown fields of summer
and the forest fills
with blackberries and rosehips—

So that we look in the mirror
and learn
to read our face,
in which arrival
slowly reveals itself.

 

 

MORBID CONTEST

You spoke of burning ships
—mine were already ash—
you dreamt of lifting anchor
—I was long since at sea—
of finding home in the new country
—I was already buried
in the foreign soil
and a tree with a strange name
a tree like all other trees,
was growing from me
as they grow from all the dead,
wherever they may be.

 

RETURN

My feet marveled
that the feet walking beside them
were not marveling.

I, who walk barefoot
and leave no trace,
was always looking at people’s shoes.

But the roads rejoiced in
their reunion
with my shy feet.

Beside my childhood home
in February
the almond tree was blooming.

I had dreamt
that it would bloom.

 

 

Hilde Domin, Sämtliche Gedichte.  © S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, 2016.

 

 

To my Angel
Cold Rain
Departure
Holy Week
Super 8 Film

Author: Anne Dorn
Translator: Paul-Henri Campbell

 

To my Angel

I’ve never set my eyes on you,
although your pose of protest
with your hands clasped
and your wings spread
was always overwhelming.
Angel of Abraham,
you who intercede
when the knife is already drawn
and my heart, shattered to pieces,
permits no reflection:
Entrusted to me, the child
of my love
rests in my arms, and it seems
inevitable that I shall kill it.
But you are holding, still concealed,
the ram that will open another path.
A path I did not know. You alone
made my life valid and whole.

How relentless is your arrival,
as you bind fast and set free
to bridge chasms,
angel!

 

Cold Rain

The forest is rustling.
Like women at the harp
the beech trees coax
wild sounds from the wind
with their whipping branches and twig fingers.
A black woodpecker laughs
as it flies by. Spring
arrived late and cold.
The newborn bunnies
are suffering miserably.
Overdue work lurks
in every corner.

Old friends might sit
in the sun here soon.
Might tell me that they are just
relearning how
to bow, to kneel, and
to use their hands.
Even if it’s only for prayer.

Last night a comet
stood over the house.
The pathways are slick.

 

Departure

Who picks berries in March?
Plucks flowers in the snow?
Catches smiles in a fishing net?

I know of fruits
that find sweetness
on dry straw.
I lived quietly
on the straw of childhood.

My thoughts
shattered the window panes.
Now I?m watching every street,
little dogs with their
restless paws.

They patter tangled patterns
of dust upon the pavement,
always ready, even sure,
to meet the goal.

I can never
close the windows again.

 

Holy Week

Finally, you fluttering birds
outside my window –
you’ve come back home:
You wanted to nest under
the roof. Please be my guest.
And you, bumblebee, little furry
globe, you mistake every flower
on my curtain for food.
You hum warm and wanton,
while you graze my existence
in your flight. Oh, and that silence!
Not a gust, not even
rain beating down. The trees
stand tall now, straight as arrows
waiting for the sky to fall
upon their empty crowns,
which wait like open hands
to receive and to hold.

I sow and plant in the garden.
The roots of joy run
deeper than optimism.

 

Super 8 Film

Wintery white, in wool,
my mother on the sled
digging her heels into the snow.
Now to the right, now to the left.

Tightening the rope with her right hand.
Her left holding the steering rod
beneath her bottom, just in case.

The snow has already hardened to ice.
Roots arch up like fingers
feeling for prey.
Out of the way! And mother’s smile
makes visible her joy:
Her scarf has slipped away,
her skirt billows upwards …

Mama! Hop and jump!
Admit it: “I could laugh!”
Then I call out to you: “Hi, Mama!”
and wave with late love.

 

Anne Dorn,  Jakobsleiter: Gedichte     © poetenladen, 2015.

 

 

 

Three poems from “fugitive moons”

Author: Yevgeniy Breyger
Translator: Joscha Klueppel

 

7.

the spider doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t spin too long. at the bar – plastic caterpillar, you
(in the grass) conceive the divine birth (conceive). hem at the tail.
enveloped in fog – nibelungen fumes – a caterpillar arm, petering out.
twitched in all directions, chirping like a siren.

motion detector, phlegm, or more – who is the child and who is
the wet nurse? then the little one is taken out – so thinly thin – paralyzed
from head to neck, no more than a ward. and then smoke rises up. at first,
even plastics follow time (decay), constructs follow figures –

but not the spider, the spider

doesn’t breathe, unlearns what is substantial. divining regard, the pair
– still plastic – endures the belated exam. oh, caterpillar!
blessed are you in the world, not a hollow spot,
that circles between the planets – not a circle at all – no swallowing

(throatless, too). the caterpillar – briefly lured – is ensnared by sleepsand,
a child arched upward. birth shored up. two dots placed
on a piece of bark (tides) – correctly, even gladly – and then?
from an indefinite height the fall is certain, just spiders – fixed, decay.

 

8.

oasis – being pregnant – behave yourself. a cork hatches
from bottles unseen – already over – (it can happen that fast).
wraps himself around the thighs. when there’s no cream to eat
even the fattest get thin. whether hand over hand or hanging.

you take it up – take it to heart – for a year but then the laughter’s gone.
for sweeter waters. the search doesn’t have to be a well,
no guarantee there’s even one nearby – corrupt plague.
the winch is measured proportionally, along the shaft

unutterably hard (the wound). you’ll have time for measuring tomorrow,
don’t forget the linen. behave yourself. columns one and two.
an unshared meal is a bitter meal (stays warm longer in the stomach).
familiar melt. wrapped wire around the cross together, too ashamed

to hold it. runoff, osmotic findings, it’s equal to the water level
– zero – a crater, pure and far from point of impact, it was counted off (beaten).
a rhyme, two children an unheard-of sector. and splint of wood, soft slide time.
a house has to be an apartment as well, but not vice versa.

 

9.

the world was deserted, a star. remote strength
made of crystal (apathetic). a coward – here flotsam – turns up. his gaze
out of the night. out of the dark of night. confessed – a suspicious line –
(no question) i recognize him for what he is. a retiree. traverses

the umpteenth zenith. – distance, shabby – cut.
he recognizes me, too: yes, i believe you’re all young devils. i believe …
look away quick. birds in the mirror. chaos. (the looks are
cooked and gestures come on call). a cuckoo off to the side.

stiff as a turkey – as usual – a pale companion. mostly
crooked back (not quite like me but close).
more of a vice. we’re following him to the treetop now (fly, bird), then rain.
rain once more. that can certainly happen. and shepherd?

the poplar? the oak? – take note of the same – a world
without thoroughness – watch out, confession – a greenworld? no, thanks.
or was he a stork? evidently, we swapped feathers
and leaves: a trap speaks for itself. a stork for the others.

 

Yevgeniy Breyger,  “flut” (poems 7, 8, 9) in flüchtige monde.  Kookbooks, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educator
The Heart-Lung Machine Answers
Le petit garcon, platonique
Semana Santa
Versions
Lycanthropy

Author: Nora Gomringer
Translator: Annie Rutherford

 

Educator 

I am the virus which like every virus
teaches you. Understand me well: 

I am obeisance, open doors, hold
them open for all kinds of visitors.
The informer is the guest
who with tender interlocking
makes you blush until you leave,
caught out by our night.
The stains then bear a name,
as I bore many, when I was still
just noise and made of smoke
which drifted upwards out of bars.
I kiss the man who kisses men.
I come in the false blood that saves.
I am in every drop, am two-faced,
split-tongued, you have my word.
So I kiss Dallas cowboys, lovely angels
and the smallest, youngest from the sleep
w
hich they dreamt nine moons long.
And you dose acronyms
into the veins of my beloveds,
poison them in quite another way.
I am the virus which like every virus
teaches you. See the other, the other,
the always other as your wolf.
See clearly. Hear me. What I say
does not stem from me.

Place your finger
upon this mouth
when you have heard me out. 

 

The heart-lung-machine answers 

Since I can think
love has been my motor.
Of course I know an Off,
which is followed by an Over,
but when you ask like that, 

then I am love no matter who the person.

 I am so real that I am
beyond doubt.
Should your heart no longer love,
my motor then will love you.
And if no kisses breathe anymore
then I will kiss you without pause.

I am love from demi-gods in white.

 But I digress. You asked
if I could allow death. And I say: 

I am that great automated loveenforcementmachine.
And I smile, and I duplicate like Brecht must,
as laconic as he was just.
And my smiles are never seen.

 

Le petit garçon, platonique

This little boy,
we would have wanted to brood him longer
in the four motherwalls, the stomachyurt,
una volta mas.
When he came, the sun was dark,
the brain eclipsed and half in shadow
the comprehension of all involved.
w
ho was involved?
This little boy
is an alwaysaway,
halfwayhere,
overampedanalogue,
ubiquus.
The simultaneity person of the world.
Doctorspeaksostrange.
Through him is clear how unbearable
this world for those who feel.
Searching hard we also found a word
in the thicket, under leaves and shrubs:
written savant, meaning sauvage.

The little boy,
he speaks no French. To him
the Eiffel tower is mere steel and construction.
He’s helped by keyboards
and screaming, screaming, stroke
for stroke. It is as if
someone recognised us
by that cave fire, the arching inside wall:
a shadow.
Lines ago did I not write eclipse?

 For Birger Sellin, language giant

  

Semana Santa

 When the girl vanished,
she vanished completely.
Day 1 and everybody asked someone:
Where is she? they asked, and
Where did she so completely go?
Day 2 and a few crept
awkwardly in and out of the houses.
Day 3 and cats sat in the windows.
This was no sign.
Everyone knows the Felidae
hate humans.
Day 4 and in the distance a relation
said a prayer, whispered behind her hand.
Very quietly, at night, in the bathroom
under a very harsh light.
Day 5 and two or three cases harboured
things of the disappeared. Who was she again?
Day 6 and a replacement stood,
so suddenly it shocked, in the garden under a tree.
Day 7 and it was a woman.
And as is common for women she wore a skirt.
And as is common for women she wore her hair long.
And as is common for women she wore a ring.
B
eneath her veil
– as is common for women –
she became invisible.

 

Versions

and
a boat moors
Böcklin paints a boat which moors
enshadowed
compelling
a boatman nameless
all too willing to give himself away
Hitler possessed one version
Utoya became one
island
enshadowed
compelling
a boat moors
on board a death
an advocate for the crossover
B
öcklin paints a boat which moors
a boatman nameless
versions of Breivik
on board a death
peaceless
compelled
enshadowing
unshadowed
an island
and

 

Lycanthropy 

you too a wee pelt
you too a wee dog
y
ou too a wee murderer
you too a wee claw
you too a wee tooth
you too a good eater
you too a wee spring
you too a wee bullet

you too a silverling 

you too a wolf

 

 

From:
“Versions,” Lycanthropy”: Monster Poems, Voland & Quist and Co., Berlin, 2014.
“The Heart-Lung Machine Answers,” “Le petit garcon, platonique,” “Educator”: Morbus, Voland & Quist and Co., Berlin, 2016.
“Semana Santa”: Moden, Voland & Quist and Co. Berlin, 2018.
 

Aus:
“Variationen,” Lycanthropie”: Monster Poems, Verlag Voland & Quist GmbH, Berlin..
“Die Herz-Lungen-Maschine antwortet,” “Le petit garcon, platonique,” “Erzieher”: Morbus, Verlag Voland & Quist GmbH, Berlin, 2016.
“Semana Santa”: Moden, Verlag Voland & Quist GmbH, Berlin, 2018.

 

Relocation
… but
Sisyphus
There
On the big wheel
Five lines

Author: Kurt Drawert
Translator: Steph Morris

 

Relocation

I understand my friends
in the East
less and less. Here between
the Hamme and Weser rivers

I know no-one.
Sometimes the deaf-mute
farmer from over the way
greets me, or an official

arrives as decreed
to deliver just what
I’d feared
with a casual gesture.

I was settled
nowhere and nowhere
was I at home, I confirm
without sadness. So what

should I seek out
if I stay.
What should stay
where it is?

The smell of wet
mildewed wood,
of rotten floorboards
clings in my memory,

the night-time discussions
were worthless
and have been sold
to the four

winds. Voyeurs
who knew better,
with the safe stasis
of the long winter

for support, with fine lines
broken apart
on a desk
in some sorry office.

Their silence
on that score,
my friends from yesterday,
is deafening, gone today

because yet again
it’s about missing
the wrong word
at the right moment, the kickoff,

the next stop down the hill.
I’ll get to the point now:
You lied to me. I
was someone else

at the heart of those soiled years.
But when, for a second,
I forget my name,
I totally understand

that foxhole of language
and feel regret
and view the rot
of conscience in its entirety

with leniency,
just as the autumn light
melts into the meadows
at dusk

and it all sinks
into the mist like tired
maltreated animals. But
I don’t understand it.

Yet my muscles
have relaxed and
the ostracised farmer
greets me.

Kurt Drawert, 1992

 

…but

there must be some legacy
with which the history of the body
– which, as silence will win
over remembrance,
I sometimes draw on too,
like an album of snapped sensations –
as well history itself
– given that the country within will crumble
like a ruined fortress
its name lost,
which you enter as a stranger
speaking another language –
can be elucidated.

Kurt Drawert, 1993

 

Sisyphus

Those were the days,
when there was a thing
you had to shift.

A mission bound
to fail at that gradient,
each time knocked back

and sent plummeting,
a punishment
only in an underworld

run by charlatans
with no feeling for the joys
of repetition

at least while matter
was part of the equation,
with no laws

to concern you unduly.
Since your acquittal
you’ve been drifting around

gazing at the void
in your hands,
repeatedly.

Kurt Drawert, 1996

 

There

I’d forgotten how we would meet
then, in those towns now full of
orphaned anthems

in search of a fatherland. In the ruins
of the last war a peaceful,
fatherless calm could be found.

I came here as a child, disturbed.
Here we had it good. Here language
stayed out of the body.

Later, at a tricky stage in life,
just as some of our voices
broke, with others it was

the spine, you recall.
I was gifted with
silence, there.

There, the grass is shooting up
already. The dip in the ground,
surely the place I dreamt of love,
is filled with grit, puddled algae
and oil, squashed tin cans,

a scorched patch. Even the earth here seeks
to deny its past. It had long gone dark
but I stood there still. Everything I heard
was alien. What I thought.
And it was day.

 

On the big wheel

When the axis of the turning wheel
links the rising cars
and the falling cars
along an even plane
there is a neutral instant
in which each are at
eye level.
Then the inevitable happens.
Pride is pride again, and a fall, a fall.

 

Five lines

I want to be like that again,
in love with a sense of love,
like a ship darting into the ocean,
blindly proud. And hearts are hearts
and stone will be stone, until the sails rip.

 

 

From:  Poetry of the German Democratic Republic.  S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2009.

Aus:  “Ortswechsel,” “… doch,” “Wo es war,” “Im Riesenrad,” “Fünf Zeilen,” “Sisyphos.”  Lyrik der DDR.  S. Fisher Verlage, Frankfurt am Main, 2009.