The poem moves through a body and doesn’t stop to say hello

By Björn Kuhligk

Translation UniKent Translators 2019

 

1
If you journey through a country, it’s a journey well made.
If you leave a settlement, you will find another.
If you’ve written a poem, you’ll write the next.
If it’s a joy, it’s a joy.
If you drink a beer, you drink a beer.
If I continue in this way, I continue in this way.
If I eat Bangers and Mash, I’m eating Bangers and Mash.
If it’s a joy, it’s a joy.
If you use your own life as material, then so be it.
If you’d like to invent new grammar, just do it.
If you’d like to create a new perception, just do it.
If you want to wreck something, you want to wreck something.
If you want to do something, you want to do something.
If you continue like that now, then you’ll continue like that.
If a potato speaks to another potato, it says: “I don’t want to be eaten.” If it’s able to say something else, then it might say: “It was better in the ground.”
If you continue like that, you continue like that.

2
If you go from the source to the lighthouses, then you don’t go from the lighthouses to the source.
If I talk about brackwater, then I’m not talking about deep-sea-fishing.
If I talk about algebra, then I’m talking about something that I don’t understand.
If I talk about the weather, then I’m talking about the weather.
If I talk about photography, then I actually have a clue.
If I talk about poetry, then I think that I’m not supposed to talk about that.
If I write poems, then I write poems.
If you write poems, that’ll do.
If you go from the source to the lighthouses, then that’s what you do.
If you become emotional, then the heath must burn.
If you become quiet, you become quiet.
If you set yourself a writing task, then you’ll have writer’s block.
If you have writer’s block, you should spend your time on something else.
If you say crisis, a country should burn.
If you write a poem, write one.
If you write nothing, you write nothing.
If you say ‘one’ over and over again, at some point nobody’ll know who is meant anymore
If you say ‘one’ over and over again, one means only oneself.
If you say ‘one’ over and over again, everyone is meant.

If I say ‘we ’over and over again, someone will say, I am not part of your ‘we’. My grandfather never wanted to batter the protesting miners.
If you go from the source to the lighthouses, salmon will swim with you.
If you go from the lighthouses to the source, salmon will swim with you.

3
I know that art is just the tragic clustering of all deficits.
I know that to me this thought seems very logical.
I know that I write poems with this thought in mind.
I know that I find them strange, the people who write poems and publicly comment on poems in general.
I know that I find them strange, both the full-time and part-time critics of poetry because they have an idea of what a poem should be.
I once saw a beach scene in a French film in which a man said to a woman, “Madame, I would like to sleep with your daughter. It shall be like a poem that I dedicate to you.”
I don’t know what a poem is.
I know that anyone who considers themselves a great or important poet has gone round the bend.
I know that every child is able to write a poem.
I know that teenagers write poetry.
I know that I’m an adult and I still write poetry.
I know that every poem is the clustering of all deficits.
I once wrote that I would carry the poem, titled ‘Beer’ by Karl Mickel, across the Alps, in order to ensure its survival.
I know that I underestimate the Alps.
I know that every poem is sad.
I know that I don’t want to carry any sadness across the Alps.
I know that I write poems because I want to write poems.
I know that this logic is ground-breaking.

4
The poem borders the United States of Pointlessness in the West.
The poem borders the volunteer fire-brigade in the East.
The poem borders a bag of organic flour in the South.
The poem borders subsidised childcare in the North.
The poem borders, if it does have borders, on complacency.
The poem moves through my body.
The poem moves through my body and doesn’t stop to say hello.
The poem takes what it needs.

The poem needs years, or two minutes.
The poem sometimes turns out like shit.
The poem is then deleted.
The poem is as clever as the one who reads it.
The poem is as dim-witted as the one who talks about it or writes about it.
The poem needs no smart-arse, needs no simpleton.
The poem does not need to be written about.
The poem wants to be written.
The poem does not want to be written.
The poem is cottage cheese.
The poem wants to say: Leave me in peace once I am finished.
The poem wants to say: It was better in the goat.
The poem wants to say: How do you know what I want, and why can I even speak.

5
I write when something comes.
I write when something doesn’t come.
I write when something arrives.
I write when something doesn’t arrive.
I write when the deficits.
I write when a t-shirt states, “I’m a Muslim not a bomb”.
I write when the lows, the highs, the in between.
I write when the free-diver, the speed-climber.
I write when these damned hurt animals.
I write when this neglect.
I write when the beauty of a field.
I write when the hush, when the silence.
I write when the deficits.
I write when the frozen patch of meadow before a family house.
I write when the heath burns.
I write when the country burns.
I write when the high-chair rockers, the bath-water-captains.
I write when the love, the hate, the emptiness and so on.
I write when the snow-covered, dog waiting at the traffic light and his cluelessness.
I write when greater attention is promised.
I write when money is offered.

6
I reply, I write them with my hands
I reply, I can make a good living off of it, enduring it temporarily and partly, thanks.
I reply, I will not give a response to that, you wouldn’t ask a novelist why they haven’t written any poems.
I reply, that every skyscraper or bungalow has more sex appeal.
I reply, that every closed body of water has more of everything.
I reply, that even a village fête excites more people.
I reply, that this occupation is more ridiculous than a village fête.
I reply, that this occupation is more serious than a village fête.
I reply, that I do things that young adults do.
I reply, that it is a faulty circuit.
I reply, that it is a craft.
I reply, that this sometimes makes me happy.
I reply, I write them with my hands.

 

From Steffen Popp (Ed.), Spitzen.  Gedichte.  Fanbook.  Hall of Fame.  Edition Suhrkamp Taschenbuch,  Frankfurt, 2018.    (2016 version of this poem)

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