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




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
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



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
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.

I pass oranges over the scanner
there’s a new special offer
me and the cat on the lawn
aunt lucia

Author: Michelle Steinbeck
Translator: Jen Calleja


i pass oranges over the scanner thinking
i have to get away find myself
mend myself in indian forests
a woman calls after me
card left in the machine
shakes her head
two old guys with a dog earnestly shake hands
the dog snuffles the curb and takes a piss

you said that
we could sit by the stove together and
talk about a book or just talk
that’s what you said

the air is light
i plough through it

i want everything from the world and a good deal more
i want to go jogging on sunday afternoon
i want everything from the world and a good deal more
i want to be a good person too

i’m the worst and yet
i like myself hugely

 flies orbit the room like planets
i get in position and become their sun



there’s a new special offer at the supermarket
from which my mother can’t be wrenched
in all sizes and colours
you just need a chat with the manager
and if he finds you suitable
you can buy a baby
it’ll only cost this much
actually it’d be this much
but they’re going cheap because they have so many
the people queue up and the babies are
given the once over




 me and the cat on the lawn

wow you’re fat i say
i gobbled up your bird
says the cat and smiles
don’t lie i say
your food comes from a can
the machine killed it for you
i wish i hadn’t
sighs the cat and yawns
now i have a mouth full of feathers




aunt lucia is in the kitchen
frying my bird
she flips it high like a pancake
while singing an italian lullaby


                               Eingesperrte Vögel singen mehr, Verlag Voland & Quist, 2018.