imaging process

Author: Nicolai Kobus
Translator: Tom Morrison


i can’t keep sitting so long
i’ll leave you a polaroid
do with it what you will

i’m off now. keeping my legs
crossed so long blocks the flow
of blood it all stops up

in the groin that’s why the mug
up there’s so pale i need to move
already out of focus, right-hand tremor

but the stroke still right precise the left
in my coat (note sewn into seam)
i hate cloakrooms everything

thwarted flight if i had to see myself
sitting like that i’d most definitely
hack away at my face until

my nasal bone could be seen
sideways and snot-like impasto
ran plastically from the sinuses

down my lapels and trouser legs
my own shadow gasping for breath
like a munch viewed from behind

i need to get away from black shafts
from violet squares away from
formal experiments for nothing

and nothing more than twisted
flesh and dreary discipline your
patience will be the death of me

i’ll leave you a polaroid
do with it what you will
i can’t keep sitting so long

Francis Bacon
Self-portrait, 1972
Oil on canvas – 198 x 147.5 cm


imaging process

so easily seen through
the nose
ghosted out (just gristle really)
the chain
round the neck                                  spinning
in fairytale fashion
on spectres
in their prime                              (please

all jewellery
prior to
and some joy
in ornaments                                             the rings
on the fingers
and ears are déclarations
black circles and traits d’union
in the skeletal
a material girl in order
to be not
so dreadfully

Meret Oppenheim
Self-portrait: Skull and Ornament, 1964
(original X-ray)



i remember how between candles i sat
in my collar of mink and mane of dyed locks
with the soft dark midnight at my back

triangular from the front my self-creation:
aequalitas large as life, ecce homo wholly in line
with golden sections of perfect proportion

at some point towards dawn a jeeeesus christ
no, i thought, you’re not so bad at all
a panel so life-like even my cur takes a bite

Albrecht Dürer
Self-portrait, 1500
Oil on panel – 67 x 49 cm


Originals © Nicolai Kobus
The three poems translated are the opening sequence
of the series “bildgebende verfahren”
and first appeared in the anthology

Versschmuggel: portugiesisch- und deutschsprachige Gedichte
(Heidelberg: Wunderhorn Verlag, 2009)
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