National Trust

Author: Esther Dischereit
Translator: Linda Frazee Baker



I smoothed the hair of Sophocles
away from his forehead. Again
and again over his glistening
head. He sits atop this bust.
I went back one more time
touched the head
my shoes clattered
on the wooden floor
down the stairs
as if my fingertips had absorbed something
and I had carried it to
where a man was standing
who dropped his trousers
in the middle of the road
where the tents are
surrounded by thundering traffic
and the faces behind the slits
at the entrances vanish
and people in the forests
live on Bainbridge Island
without water or electricity
then I passed along with my Sophocles
hands that had just touched
his head fondled it almost
although such intimacy
wasn’t right, I passed along
beside the tent actually I
only looked
I had buried my Sophocles hands
in my pockets the next morning I saw thousands of people
lying on stretchers.
Thousands of women and men, neighbors,
not because of an earthquake but nevertheless on stretchers.
This had to be done so everything
could go faster on the two days
when the Dentists’ Association
had announced they would offer free treatment.
It was an aerial photo and the square
under the open sky looked blue, blue
from the hospital gowns they used
to cover the people who were waiting.
Two days in the last week of September
in Cedar Rapids Iowa, USA.
The newspapers vanished, the gowns,
the stretchers too
in the museum Sophocles stood still
with his gleaming marble skull
and no body.
I stroke his head
with my fingertips, almost caressed
his head although such closeness
wasn’t fitting. God doesn’t give us
health insurance or medical care
God doesn’t have free college tuition either
Should we shovel the gold from our teeth
in front of the President’s door
so his family can bathe in it like
comic strip characters.
Don’t jump, no water in the sparkling basin.
I don’t know if anyone jumped in.
Sophocles with his marble skull.
I smooth his hair away from his forehead.




As I was passing by the Volkswagen works
I saw that the cars
with protective coverings were racing about
they stood there in an orderly way
like civilian soldiers
ha-ha civilian soldiers
like soldiers who are builders of things
peace and reconstruction
after war
warlords are called “Mr. President”
torture, napalm, mustard gas
Bogner`s swing
grant, o Lord, that
the war that the war

dear imams of this world
I think that
a world conference
please tell the believers
that steel thorns
injure the hands
of the prophets

revile and drive out
the evil doers who lay
villages and countries to waste
revile and drive out
those who bring death
who put themselves in His place

dear men and women who are the rabbis
of this earth to the extent you have
any influence
say that god has not seized any land
in which he dwells he saw human beings
sitting down
he didn’t say anything about occupation

dear ones who worship the cross
or the son and the Almighty
please get rid of these drones
let your hands
refuse to do their job
when they press the button
reverse the switch
let loose the flight of death
pray for a plague that can cause the weapons to rust
let particles set themselves down in the trigger
so it jams
let a piece of rock
get between the tanks`
chainy legs

the Volkswagen Polos are racing
all over the world better to have Polos everywhere
as weapons laptops are good, too
and if there’s no God in my house
for whom then am I performing this service
only for myself and the woman who lives next door
and perhaps also the gentleman
across the street
we’ll start with the laptops
or a book for every child
who really wants a book
you’ll see
children like books

I’m digressing a bit now
grant dear Lord
That the war, that the war …

I’m collecting medicine
someone is going to Kobane
he’s delivering the medicine
it’s the war
it’s the war
Since we’ve been
the war
the war has looked like
a playstation

When we said stop the war
we meant Vietnam
now – what do I mean now

I make myself ridiculous
stop wars
I say it softly just for myself
and when I put my child
to bed and he closes
his eyes—very gently
I say: stop wars, so
I don’t upset him but really
It would be better if I had something
to give him, a chocolate bar
for example
or a meadow or
later a laptop

I’ll stop now. I don’t know how to go on.



National Trust

National Trust Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
The Interior Minister writes back to the seaside
From whence they or you have come
Prison is on land
Transport by air
If someone opened the hatch
the people would fall into the sea
back where they came from
that is forbidden
flight, too, is forbidden
staying is

Flight no
staying no

Lock up or disperse
When they were born
their mothers didn’t ask permission
it’s a flaw that their mothers didn’t
ask permission

They should go
Thousands are going
Going as such
How will the Interior Minister lock up this going

Will he lift up the roads
Bring all the air down to earth
Make the waters run dry

Prisons for those who still keep going
There will be many to be locked up
Whole countries have to be locked up

I don’t think these countries
will fit in our prisons

there was a time when we rejoiced with them
with those standing in Tahrir Square
in Tian’anmen Square
In the souk at Damascus
weapons are piling up
instead of fruits
One man comes from the Congo
another from Iraq

when there’s no place for their bones
in the soil of their countries
do you want to be the person who scatters their ashes by air
Go rather and buy one of them a new pair of trousers
that fits or an
ironed shirt. That’ll do.