Poetry at Sangam




(Translated from the German by Andrew Shields, Peter Waterhouse and Birgit Kempker)

Sign with red claw. Build an ibis. Fetch wood. Carve the body. Carve the white egg as body. Send it with bacon rind. Glue the body to the neck. Drill holes. Stick the legs in the holes. Say – Ibis. The ibis belongs to Pessoa. Shout out loud – Togetherness in the woods. Thoughts black. Birds heavy in the sky. Connect like Goethe. Melt like Hamlet. Shit yourself into the air like Beckett. Get in line. Mix with the ghosts. Drown!

The most beautiful kind of distance. Step out. It leaves you. Release yourself. Smile. Don’t be high, nor curved, nor stretched out, nor splayed. Nor powdery, nor cottony, nor sand, nor gravel. Nor bush, nor hill, nor hollow. Nor puddle, moor, sea. Nor sieve. Nor sponge. Nor adjective. Nor shy.Gentler. Be porous. Be one of those tentacled mysterious tabernacle? The pointed throat to God? Tunnel chalice channel?

Be glad. Short empty beautiful time. Gone out of yourself, it thickens. If it’s left you, know it. Know it as the form which leaves you. Know yourself as what you are not. Be happy that it goes, this form. How does it go without form? Knowing is accompanied by sorrow, if knowing is leaving – love. Strange game. Brave world, that has such people. The form rides away, as figure. Riding out of the fields of meaning. Out of Elberfeld. [1]

Rest your head on the pillow. Head calls memory to memory. Nietzsche calls – When man considered it necessary to invent memory, it never worked without blood, martyrs, victims. So, you bodies, open up your heads without delay.

Call out – Sky, lid me. Call out – Enclose me, so that I may discharge into you. Call out – Pride, make my sin swell from within. May feverish swellings like mushrooms, may from heads mushrooms hypocritically discharge up into the sky. Like heads. Take turns. Bang back. Extinguish. Üride, don’t discharge into the blood. Now and then softly fall from the planet. So much rupture and release, go your way.

“That he who is intoxicated has already refused to express what really moves him, that he strives to express a casual, unseriousness instead of the unspeakable literal meaning, that in speaking he often has the feeling of being guilty of dishonesty, an that – this is most strange and needs clarification – what is expressed tentatively, so to speak, can be far stranger and deeper than what coincides with what is meant.” [2]

To shut the knowing. To open the not–knowing. To put sentences in front of entrances and badgers in front of sentences. To attract sharks. To tie fear to the sharks. To tie fear to the sharks, securely and forget. Float in the bubble. Closed and osmotic. Open the bubble. Blow. Be clever and idiotic.

Be like logic. Logic knows where it’s good. The head may be wooden. Logic wants to go under the hat. Message the words: Get out of the head. Chop words out of the head. Chop the head out of woods. Out of board woods. Out of idioms. Out of forest of boards in front of your head. Ask the question now. Question: It is decidedly an advantage to be a blockhead? For whom? Is that also decided? For what comes out of a blockhead? What‘s the blockhead then? What‘s advantage? Some fourth thing? Is it decisiveness? Prepare the head for questions, then let go. Let your head go for questions. Roll on the ghost train. Relax. Meet ghosts. Mix with ghosts. Get in line. Circulate.

The black of the birds is full. The birds fall from the sky. Ways, shriek the birds. Shriek? Do the birds shriek at the people? Where does the shrieking fall? Are the people full? Full of shrieking? Is falling the way? When? How long? From what distance? Does magma bubble?

Akhenaten? Distant tone? Is it distress and distance? First on the way – you, the birds overhead, black. A lot of black. Then shrieking. Then falling. Can you see the tip? Is it time to chop off the pigeons‘ heads? Is it personal time? Is going under nice? Are the riders already in sight? It swarms. It teems. There’s no space. Not a bit of empty time. Not a thimbleful. Ears full of lament. Then hearing loss.

That isn’t a good closeness. The seam between sky and earth roars. Crashes. It is distance from earth and darkness of sky. It is sticky, greasy, ganged up time. It is indistinguishable night and there is nothing visible.


[1] Elberfeld: Wuppertal Elberfeld is a town in the „Ruhrgebiet“. Elsa Lasker – Schüler well known Jewish German poet was born here and died in Jerusalem, and I was also was born in Wuppertal Elberfeld; also there are the famous horses from Elberfeld.

[2] Walter Benjamin


(Exercise in Drowning has been shown as a room installation in the Suisse Institut, New York, in the German Bibliotheke in Frankfurt at the book fair and in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Basel. You can view/hear the composition, which has been done with Bernd Kempker, at www.xcult.org/kempker).