Six Etudes

Author: Friederike Mayröcker
Translator: Donna Stonecipher

languished almost the whole
day with BUBI in the garden
and find flowers and
blindworms festive in thicket
and thistle glade’

and everyone asks, what are you reading these days &c.,
while the little skull = little bird bill, on the doormat. All kinds
of night pills, &c., aussi the decaying dark-blue hyacinth in the
glass . . . back then ’54 in Salzburg I set off for London, 1
vehement spring, we found 1 hotel room to say good-bye: my
memories faded, &c., don’t remember what happened there . . .
I didn’t want, you know, I did not want to go away at all,
didn’t want to leave you, but I wasn’t crying about that,
when will I turn into 1 swallow. Rolled up in a ball the dirty laundry
on the piano, oh I wandered, lost, while the lea strewn with
leaves: this forsakenness of my eyes, it’s all just bricolage

the gullet of the PRIMAVERA the stems of the white
bellflowers, should we loosen the twine around the neck of the
bundled bellflowers
so the nodding flowers bunched together in the glass in this
glittering morning as if deathbells = GLAS (french) as if
strangled, these glittering flickering harbingers of early spring
&c., there where little grasses graze on a flood of tears, the
rosy dawn 1 pink veil over the flanks/cliffs of . . .

oh the trembling autumn everlastings in the valley, as they
emerge from the village in gray jackets, walking by the fields
of wild apple trees, oh with Mother back then, not much was
said, through the garden where with garden shears and blue
apron. Mignonettes, protégée, say I, the woman waving, &c.,
such talks with Mother, toilsome walking the weather mild the
eyes of
the autumn everlastings, the trembling of the autumn
everlastings in the wind, piano practice
‘études’ . . . 1 pair of flowers from Kurtág on the way home,
practice of the season’s ‘études,’ namely 1 mountain that was
called Piano, &c.

Early spring’s columbine = gloves of our beloved lady

2 small white stones and underbrush in the flowerpot 1 tuft of
moss white forget-me-not eye you my blood corpuscle, say I,
this sm. silver tree of tinfoil on the floor with a wild thatch or
skull cut to rights with a sm. knife, trunk or nape, wears a
yellow string on its rootstock, shines like the sun — I
embedded myself on your pansy, on your pensée: how
MOUTHWATERING say I, when your branches lower steaming
hands to me: gloves in the hallway as Mimmo Paladino drew
them (shallow slopes) these roses devastation like a hunting
burrowed into the pillow buried in the pillow roses
devastation ponytail-bow silky vetch say I tender child fine
little lamb Michi M.

the blushing bloom: my little sibling language in the morning I
wake up green verbena of the heavens springtide’s little
grasses: little ghosts ‘green-torn with red’ = Bernadette H.,
with the moon’s sickle in my hand through the garden
imagination, how mouthwatering, in your quiet searching
words while rain-tears on the window, this constellation light
in my eyes, composed today 5 o’clock in the morning in the
eye of the south wind or the train of golden rain, I was
enchanted by . . .  (the sparse music book &c.)

radius, littlest beautiful speech, blushing bloom up to the neck
little bell little white bellflower in the cup in the glass namely
the little headlets almost suffocating headlets namely in the
glass in the cup SWARMING presented by a friend’s hand
radius with red thread twine bow (History) by a friend’s hand
SWARMING in the glass in the cup that the tears namely
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Invention no. 6 in E major through
the airs. 1 dark piano, bark of a hornbeam on the edge of the
lane, he says, the blushing bloom he says SWARMING white
bellflowers let’s say, head to head let’s say, with whispering
little headlets let’s say and how they touch each other namely
SWARMING: ironing coiffures, with white hands body to body,
he says, filament to filament in the cup in the glass, so sheet
music with pink plastic cover, right? flood of tears let’s say, he
says, SWARMING let’s say, he says, the tears the toothlets
namely suckling piglets . . . Judas-thinkers and -turnkeys sheet
music fiery rain, the green verbena of the heavens’ banks,
heavens’ little grasses of springtide &c.
Blown-out warm-windlets, how mouthwatering

From Friederike Mayröcker, études, Suhrkamp 2013
Translation © Donna Stonecipher

Waste, the day
Ben Nevis, Glasgow
Belle de Jour

Author: Tom Schulz
Translator: Donna Stonecipher

Waste, the Day

Whatever you do, do it
to cheerful forgetfulness:
it all blossoms with no memory at all

(behold the wild thyme
in the lumbar regions of a pre-Provençal night)

There is no haven in the haven
only the dew and the dewlaps

there is no longer no longer

There is no longer
the “sell by” sticker on a swordfish
in a seaman’s supply store

how deep is the ocean
(at an unclear spot
where the text has a screw loose
and the poet shit for brain-

I cheat loss just as I cheated with
losses in the roadstead, where the rocking
made me nicker like a rapt taxi-nag

What you don’t let go of, let it go
into cheerful raptures

The forgetfulness of a street corner
which I was

like you in front of the ice cream parlor:
a jumbo shrimp with mint chocolate chip

The gnostic worm, the glow
-ing filaments of a streetlamp colony

Count me among the berries
Count me among the quinces

Make me flitter
against the flapping blackbird habit

Ben Nevis, Glasgow

You pointed at the whisky wall
with two fingers, Missy MacCallan

I was a squall from Islay
I came over from Lewis as a field of rain

In the glasses stood the holy
ghost, it lit up twice

my evil twin
caused Highland Park to quake
(but I’m an untraditional boy with no pipe)

Leave the salt-drunk sea its bliss
till the Bruichladdich lays the bar low

Pull the Bratentweed out of the Kelvingrove
and dance with me in Westend’s foolish bars

And the Kunst won’t talk to you

Doff your hat for the drinkers from the pier
my dear! They made a memorial

of our bench in the gardens of rampant

Ivy, posthumously        don’t kilt me

We are two
minus two

Belle de Jour

She came on a day when the violets
pounced, the windows cast off
their crosses, God was once again
a moving violation

Toward heaven meant:
a black Friday, all the way down
to your underpants, the collapse
of all banks, people were burgling
their own homes, they vanquished
the threshold, it went from me to euphony
150 million or more

With the tip of the tongue
money was obliterated!

She came on a day when the roses
flew over the pond, when the legislature
went out the window, in bad
German she straightened out two stock marketeers

She went to town
the cypresses were cracking

And this was written to the dream:
God was once again
a supersonic machine

The first poem appears in Nick Grindell’s translation in no man’s land # 1
Originals © Tom Schulz
Translations © Donna Stonecipher

33 Functioning Machines (excerpt)

Author: Veronika Reichl
Translator: Donna Stonecipher


You have to pluck up your courage a bit to touch Frank. Frank is full of liquids. They undulate, they rise and fall in pipes, or freely. In streams that move through him according to their own whims. Everything flows here and there and constantly produces new equilibriums. The liquids roar and gurgle all over, course through him and render him taut and full. And where they’re not streaming through him, it’s moist, mossy. You can go up closer to him and hear the moss squelching; and the blood slurps through his veins; and he stands in full sap. And smells like woods in rain.



For Andreas, things must fit together in order to be real, worthy, and true. Tools that allow for a certain grip, that can name an optimal processing material, and this material is what ought to come to us in life. Even better: toys: counterparts that fit not only because they fit, but because that’s why they were produced. Not chance, but destiny. Destiny is easy to recognize: the same material in the same color. In all its characteristics it says: this is where I belong. And it gives off a quiet “swapp” when it fits into itself in the right way. Andreas has been waiting for some time for a quiet — this time perhaps slightly louder — “swapp.” For not only his friends and his apartment should fit him perfectly and have perfect connections, but above all his girlfriend. Here the sameness of the material is a bit more difficult to establish. Connections can only make the right sound when they are correctly hooked up. “Swapp.”

Manuel always knows what’s real and what isn’t, and when something isn’t real, he knows how unreal it is. When something isn’t real, then one can no longer listen closely, one can no longer analyze the background noises; then the pictures take longer to appear; then one doesn’t know what one has in the background, behind what one is concentrating upon. One can, so to speak, only ever concentrate on one thing without being able to consider it in relation to another thing. And this knowledge of how real pictures appear — they are suddenly there, sharp and detailed — he has buried all the way in the back of his brain, he has repeated to himself sentences in the evening such as: “If I cannot immediately determine the background, then it will get serious. If it gets serious, I will call Dr. Schneider. In the top drawer is the note that I will then give him. Nothing bad can happen. Exactly.”


Original © Veronika Reichl
Translation © Donna Stonecipher

If I Had a Garden
When the winter comes, …
Language Gives Up the Ghost

Author: Orsolya Kalasz
Translator: Donna Stonecipher

If I had a garden
I would mourn differently
would separate mourning from remorse.
It’s bad enough that I can’t get
the word “mourning-grass”
out of my head.
It’s much harder this way.
I have no choice
but to find a garden, and there
bury my fingers in the earth
and wait until the mourning-grass
sprouts into the deep.
I want to mourn in my garden
and when from the deep
I am allowed to pull my fingers out
my nails will be edged in black by
what was inevitable.
The words also allow me to do this,
the words that allow my mourning everything.
Also to want to be done with it.
As if one could predict how the days
put down roots in forgetting.

When the winter comes

When the winter comes, who will still believe
in its cold?

Then through my aunt’s yard I’ll carry
a bowl holding the steaming
pig’s heart over to the pot.
The snow before my steps
lost its whiteness long ago.

There, where the village ends, who does the winter stillness
meet with a precise thrust
and at the little red beech tree
in the rhythm of whose heart
does the peace then fill,
streaming, its vessel?


Language Gives Up the Ghost

Would you like to come over
into my language?
I ask you
you ask me
you sleepless one.
just ask me, yes you me, me you then, again.
Does the gate exist in your language
that opens to the sound of my heart knocking?
Just listen to me, yes you me, me you then, again.
What can the tears do in your language?
What can tears do in your language
when I cart home
from the willow
the weeping willow
the falling leaves
and lay them on your face
do you let them fall, do tears fall in your language?
I ask you, you ask me, yes you me, me you then, again.
Do they want to go back
the guessed words
back to the twilight institution?
What do you give up in your language?
You, the key.
I, I in my language the ghost.
A few skeletons are still lying in the clause.
I’m guilty! You’re guilty!
Who’s guilty!
The goddamned moths are guilty!
You ask me, I ask you, yes you me, I you then, again.
What does the hand expect in your language?
I had her palms, one on each arm
so that something could be begun
be touched, be embraced.
To you she shows only her signs
her sign language.
Can a hand, like a mouth,
sing, or scream
through sign language?
So sing then, sing, scream, swallow yourself,
sob, groan
spit out the bits of sorrow
on a sheet of white paper:
An image. A girl and a wild goose. The goose has one leg lifted.
The girl leans her head on its long, slim neck.
Would you like to come over
I hear you, me, you hear me
so hear
the words we guessed, the guest words
have pushed open the heart’s gate
the leaves, the tears
fall, fall, fall

Let’s exchange
give me the key
you take the ghost.

My Private Leningrad
Northern severity …

Author: Andrej Glusgold
Translator: Donna Stonecipher

My Private Leningrad

The secret pleasure in self-erasure
goes with those places where you can’t go
to the beach without taking a plane, and strewn sand
crunches under your heels.
Dimmed sky. Blockade. For days
the facades have been bombarded by gray light.
The tendency to the horizontal while standing
doubles the live weight sitting.
Gravitational mastery. Who falls?
Who falls first? Whoever falls
will be helped by
a placebo-face.

Northern severity

Northern severity over hills of prefab apartments.
The hieroglyphs sprayed the night before
(The History of My Puberty, Part 12)
fade under a storm of water crystals.
Only outlines and windows can be seen –
an overexposed snapshot.
Inside you sense the dark wood of the built-in closet,
circulating heat, entanglements.
In front of the entrance a skinned cat hangs on the landing
(must have been the Vietnamese).

A man floats in the room with an uplifted index finger.
You’ve met him before.
You can take off your clothes now, darling.


Stiff fingers of pylons claw at the earth.
Not far from the high road the sun disappears
in red. Your switch at the ready, you cross
the unfruitful fields. Your inner enemy
surveys his hands in a dream. You are targeted.
No TV picture. No animal to whom you confess.
Your hair is growing. Your nails are growing.
The train tracks cross in the dark.


your toes in the snowdrifts of the bed
like orphaned farm children

on the windowsill the little Pinocchio
that I brought you from Rome

press on his pedestal, he falls apart
release it, he stands back up weirdly bent

this inexplicable desire, in the middle of your sentence
to ram a fork in your eye

today we’ll go to a museum