becoming an ape made easy
drunk in the dark
leaving the house
daily dramas
excavating a writing desk
the shifting wind

Author: Arne Rautenberg
Translator: Ken Cockburn

becoming an ape made easy

flounder in water
swim on land
jump into mud
get arms and legs
go into greenery
grow some fur
clamber right
to the top
of a tree
an ape from every
burden free

[affe werden leicht gemacht]



drunk in the dark

a light bulb
a light bulb
a light bulb in an attempt
a ridiculous attempt
to attain composure

me me me in an attempt
a ridiculous attempt
to climb a ladder

the light
the light
the light in an attempt
a ridiculous attempt
to illuminate something

the meaning
the meaning
the meaning in an attempt
a ridiculous attempt
to mean something

[betrunken im dunklen]



leaving the house

opening your eyes
leaving the house
and on leaving the house
getting out of bed

changing your clothes
leaving the house
and on leaving the house
closing the door behind you

getting on the train
leaving the house
and on leaving the house
coming out of the station

entering a skyscraper
leaving the house
and on leaving the house
going up in the lift

falling down at your desk
leaving the house
and on leaving the house
not shutting your eyes

[das haus verlassen]



daily dramas


the plane
in blue
white its line


cooling on
an animal


dr gachet’s
abiding slumber
before van gogh’s paintings


from an open book
a flame


a ladybird
its machinegun




excavating a writing desk

excavating a writing desk
finding worms lots of worms
(they writhe in the light)

excavating a writing desk
finding helmets lots of helmets
(some with holes and some intact)

excavating a writing desk
breechblocks gasmasks
(some with skulls and some without)

excavating a writing desk
finding bones lots of bones
(which even death can’t split)

excavating a writing desk
standing in the middle of it as oneself
(in the fog or granted sight)

[einen schreibtisch umgraben]



the shifting wind

the chances it’ll turn out right
increase the longer
it’s all going wrong

should one set
achievable goals?

the chances it’ll turn out wrong
decrease the longer
it’s all going right

should one set

unachievable goals?


From mundfauler staub (Horlemann, 2012) and seltene erde (Horlemann, 2014).


Author: Christine Marendon
Translator: Ken Cockburn



At night I lie down and process light. The secret
which extends our life is memory. Plants
can’t do it, they are vessels and free will is
a ground-note of their being. The idea
all growing things share is to construct,
with the help of light, heavy industry and violently
to close all gaps. Clearing is a good word: to clear space
and there to hold with hot hands saturated, decaying cells
in air and light. Thus great reservoirs of peat build up
over millennia, having surmounted long stages of dehydration.
Then the framework is established. It forms a peculiar film
and in its effect is closely related to poems. As with the
interaction of good and evil its effect is inverted
if there is no internal tension. Everything lies on a plane
without ever branching, which would help form an anchor.
Above, the canopy of leaves works in the realm of light. It’s a
strange thought, to be quite silent and locked into the world.
Each blade of grass behind barbed wire is only make-believe.
Whatever else might be called alive has winter for a friend.





Waste-tips and scrapheaps have always been
rich enough to see the winter out. Imagine
a skin over them and it’s like a force flowing
down into the earth. We bind the sense of our
plant origins to our first setting sail. The idea of one’s
self is like that of the animals. Land is the concept
we pay for, which has become so alien to us
we soon reach a border. The same expanse, yet
so many differences. Grass is obedient and belongs
with the weak, yet enfolds the naked-born
human. Even dead things which were never windborne
turn into earth. We don’t live with our own light.
Those swings from inside to out result rarely
in fulfillment. Whoever seeks other people
sinks into endlessly gentle grass.




When you’re scared have a good look at yourself:
this horrible little eternity
is the blink of an eye.

I was uttered into the wind, the house
thrust me out of itself, spelled me with
open doors and windows, threw me so high
I broke through the clouds, cried AFRICA and
bumped against the dome of the highest ceiling,
the barrier of air and breathlessness. What followed
was a descent, I fell back and thundered into
the earth, I had become lightning. My way
led deep inside, I changed my form
and forgot who I was. I just kept thinking
that in everything I was still I. In everything.

the autumn sun is like the national gallery
twelve golden chimes
no more political poems
the violence of plants
christmas eve 2pm

Author: Arne Rautenberg
Translator: Ken Cockburn

the autumn sun is like the national gallery

the autumn sun in the harz mountains
is like the national gallery in berlin
it again picks out
above the goldenbrown rug of the moors
below the clouds that rot into blue
the gifts it would like to receive
from the peaty foot of this most german of mountains
only the best pictures of course
pictures of slowly dying firs
whose lifelines running beneath their bark
have been gnawed away
by bark beetles
pictures of the aristocratic deadwood line
who for centuries
have dug their mossy roots
dripping and glinting
into acid soils
where the silver mines are silent
ready at any time to fall
when the next storm (sandy?
mandy? brandy?) comes
but for the moment the autumn sun just beats down
on the national gallery:
hundreds of bare trunks
unyielding to gravity
in an ash-blond glow

twelve golden chimes

twelve golden chimes
cross a stream in spate
lie down in a clearing
and reload their rifles

in the telescopic sights of twelve
golden chimes tree-trunks
branches leaves and finally
a windy winding path of cloud

twelve golden chimes lie
in wait when you come past
your ears have long been in
their sights without you

suspecting anything if
each pulls the trigger evenly
one after another you’ll hear
twelve golden chimes

no more political poems

on this last day of april the sun nonetheless
is shown to be to be a loathsome political poem

beyond the big viewing window is the ferry smoke
issues from its chimney and doesn’t drift in the wind

but disappears with whatever thoughts arise the prostitutes
not far from here are with their clients i hate the moment

of the bloody political poem its caustic words of steel
don’t say anything against it just don’t show it your face

on which side is indoctrination when the rescue helicopter
with its quick and fervent prayer hacks through the epochs

(planet of warning pains) what do the oh so insistent carotid
arteries count for then on a last day of april like this

the violence of plants

the silent laughter of plants
at the persistence
of our heartbeats
to them each spring’s
a beat of life

seconds trickle away from us
plants accrue thousands
of hours

and while we scurry
come to our wrong decisions
they silently follow their urges
soon deck with foliage
the ruins

their luxuriant growth
their sparkling green flood
their cold blood

their proliferation over our (relatively speaking) lot
each spring
the violence of plants
makes me shiver

christmas eve 2pm

the presents are wrapped
time stands still people don’t really
know where they’re going any more
I don’t know have you noticed?

the tree is decorated
the table is set the children are quiet
in their rooms with one eye on the clock
anticipation grows

the streets are empty perhaps a dog
needs out again or a kid for fresh air?
doors have never been more closed and
candles never burned more peacefully than now

I lie half-dressed beside you
in bed must have dropped off
I’ll open my eyes in a minute I
don’t know have you noticed?

From  seltene erden © Horlemann, 2014

gingko leaf fairy tale

Author: Arne Rautenberg
Translator: Ken Cockburn

gingko leaf fairy tale

once upon a time
there was a gingko leaf
which i put inside
a copy of grimms’
fairy tales thirty
years ago and forgot
recently i opened
the book again
and saw the gingko
leaf right in
the middle of
the frog prince
brown and beautiful
as if at the time
of art nouveau
someone had sketched
a mushroom cloud
considering the
leaf i lost
the desire to read
and closed the book
again knowing
the gingko leaf
and the book
would live together
happily every after




Starfish dying: their
Inconceivably tender
Tread on the rocks.
On the bicycle
A butterfly’s wing brushes
My clean-shaven chin.
The sculpture at night
In the beams of the ground-spots
The frogs are chilling.
We use chopsticks.
The staff eat with
Knives and forks.
The ladybird
On the hibiscus flower
In the ashtray.
Outside the ice-cream shop
The pavement’s covered in black
Dots of chewing-gum.
As the train crosses over
The kestrel is still
Hanging in the air.
The gust of wind that’s
Ruffling the squirrel’s fur as
Its claws grip the tree.
Cackhanded bumblebee
Whacking your furry torso
Bang into the bench!
The dangerous step
Down the coffin-bearers have
To negotiate.


Originals © Arne Rautenberg
Translations © Ken Cockburn

Grey stone without forest.
Tongue. Sedan.

Author: Christine Marendon
Translator: Ken Cockburn

Grey stone without forest.

Grey stone without forest.
The gardener may
not dig there.

Grey stone: a reflection of us.

You sleep badly, sense
the wakefulness and sleep
in others’ eyes.

I really think it’s
the animal we can’t
leave in peace.

Will I unknot myself?
That it’s this – this –
I don’t know about myself
is weirdly lovely.

Do you remember?
Oh, I remember all right:

To lose sight of
the Amazon region
would look like tears.


Tongue. Sedan.

I didn’t know this corner of
the country. I was sent a letter
asking me to come. I’m coming,
I cried, and lost my luggage before I’d
even set out, including the book, a
present and the card with greetings from my town:
eating strawberries in the necropolis. Haste
urged memory, which way, can you
remember? I had to sleep, slept
on the journey, in my sleep I dreamed that
in my sleep I found flowers and thought of
bringing a little something: that’s the usual
thing away from home. Dreamed that,
arriving, I was handed bowls
the flesh was tender, red as cactusflower
empty-handed and sound asleep
I was carried over the border.

Originals © Christine Marendon
Translations © Ken Cockburn


Author: Arne Rautenberg
Translator: Ken Cockburn


bruno schmitz / ground floor left

i will appear and you will see
me with your own eyes by the crash
barrier behind me mere nothingness

on the snaking asphalt they skid they
choke press down on the pedal i will
appear and you will see me

with your own eyes by the crash
barrier behind me mere nothingness
before me your daughters and sons

the only going back left to me
is a suck on the cigar the smoke
i draw it down deep maybe

more of me are coming behind me
flashing lights whatever i blank out now counts
for nothing whatever i fail to notice

was always what was left
of the oncoming traffic and the faint
reflection of hares’ eyes on the verge then

suddenly i will appear and you will see
me with your own eyes by the crash barrier
behind me mere nothingness when

will you send the next dazzler? for
only what appears from in front can
pass i drive as long as my engine turns

in it my monotony burns then
i turn off the light and if
you are in luck i drive by

nicole / ground floor right

the last tired dyed strands blonde
like marilyn grow out of these years
when diamonds cavort on sunday evening

a carnival of bedroom carpets
the curtains drawn (just a narrow slit)
the monsters look on some guy

lies back and drinks his aperitif acquires
a taste for wrinkled hands and the
unblinking eyelashes of back-combed beauty

the happiness of true nudists far removed
from all rays of hope oh man when will you come
true i would devotedly implore you

big strong man oh oh oh yes touch
me or else i cannot believe i am real
a hypochondriac shadow sitting

on checked polyester if i can no longer
be beautiful why should i not just
die why should i not just

wait until a madman goes for me with
a knife why oh why are the strands
growing out of these years


Geisterfahrer and Straßenmädchen are from a sequence
of twelve monologues,
Das Dunkle Haus (‘The Dark House’),
published in
edit. Papier für neue Texte, Leipzig, 2002.

Originals © Arne Rautenberg
Translations © Ken Cockburn