Five poems from “Dickicht mit Reden und Augen”

By Steffen Popp

Translation Bradley Schmidt

Stepping out of the concrete, entirely rabbit fur.
Touching the rough glove, turning it inside out.
Moving something like pebbles slowly in your mouth.The head, the buried cloud form.
The heart, the doubled, enormous sack form.Concrete was thinking, a school
massive. A bell’s inside enveloped in sleep. Sleep
however, was another.

With milky white feet, eyes rolled back like
with conjunctivitis, under down.

We lay, I believe, in both
and sometimes in both at once.

Did I ever meet you, besides in sleep, hours before the crack of dawn
that we, crazy for depth, kissed from stones?
The heart was these stones, you say.
Still, and against them: I don’t think so.

Collection points for secondary raw materials were primal
arcane locations, hidden terminals like black markets, the Party
here quantity counted, weight, here, close to waste, what counted
was the price. Capitalism in the fall of the system’s folds

economy trading in newspapers, washed bottles.
People dragged rags, cable, waste oil for small change
despite all insignificance tangible, free of ideology: profit.
For what dropped out of the first cycle into the second

nothing could not be utilized, long before ecology.
Stone-faced like index fossil handlers adjusted the scales
– we were a collecting team, you cable, I glass, and

a balloon team: you were saving for helium, I for sand
you for silk and ropes, I for pressure compensation, time.
None of that was to be had. So we grew rich.

The We reappeared again and again, a paper tiger
no one wanted to pet. Our tiger consisted of
two pronouns (you, I) and a miniature rat,
what you called a guinea pig, on your hand

gnawed cross-eyed on kohlrabi. A representative
of the myriad tired, crippled pets in their owners’ tow
making the area uncertain – for the eyes.
Sure, we despised art. But that was no reason

to fatten up this squalor, if only to hold a mirror to ourselves.
Between being caressed and trampled dozens croaked
each month, and were buried, tossed into  dumpsters

with their cardboard homes, on the way to the next
furry, feathered, scaled short-term companion. The same
time would, we sensed, also dispose of us, and it did.

The moldy retainer on the breaker box
almost a bridge to life. Behind the appliance shed
we later found teeth with crowns, no idea
how they got there, to whom they belonged.

Cat’s teeth too, jawbones of rabbits –
passion of an disturbed janitor, apparently
a teeth fetishist in our midst. But there
I only saw average heads with hair and glasses

there I only saw us, alarmingly enough. At night
the apartment buildings were sets of teeth, black
with a few gaps illuminated till morning: a hobby lab

a forgotten kitchen light and the desk lamp
you slept in front of, under futuristic headphones
Russian III or hits ripped off from America.

Stepping out of the concrete, entirely rabbit fur.
Moving something like pebbles slowly in your mouth.

Grasping the material, a groping in foam
that coagulates, iridescently coating the furry body.
Kneading the material, dough
skin of a living creature.

Feeling the ground, sealed
the heart above. Below, buried in clouds
the head, its growth against time
metaphysical as stone.

Unlimited headspace, sky, in cone form.
Unlimited stone, in ore form.
Location of these motions that have long determined
reading the segments of the buildings, ancient frieze.

Finding the rough glove on the edge of the complex.
Touching the rough glove, turning it inside out.

From Dickicht mit Augen und Reden by Steffen Popp © kookbooks, 2013
Translations: © Bradley Schmidt 2013