Tuesday, November 02, 2004


The other day, returning from my farthest trip yet, it became clear:
I hadn't woken up to travel. I was still
locked in a jet, motionless.
Beneath me, there were clouds that looked like deserts,
and deserts that looked like seas, and seas
that looked like snow drifts that would freeze
our flapping shadow. I fought the anaesthetic. I tripped over
cables laid deep in the ocean. Time

drained from my body. My eyes became glazed with care.
And the word on the tip of my tongue leaked out
in a choice of languages. I upgraded
to "vacation".

I learned this:

"All runways are tarred with the same brush"

Or perhaps:

"Hospital rooms are beacons in some universes".

In the transit lounge,
expectations were managed. This is purpose.
I drank it with my mother's milk. I am hard-wired. "Travel

is just a test drive."

(after the German of Durs Grünbein)

I like this very much!
Thanks, Bern. This young German poet (from the former GDR)is a revelation! Unfortunately, most of his poetry has not been translated. Here is a bio from the American Institute of German Studies in Washington:

"Born and raised in Dresden, Grünbein became prominent after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since 1988 he has published several volumes of poetry and essays (Grauzone morgens, 1988; Schädelbasislektion, 1991; Falten und Fallen, 1994; Den Teuren Toten, 1994; Galilei vermißt Dantes Hölle und bleibt an den Maßen hängen, 1996; Nach den Satiren, 1999).

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Grünbein is an unusual talent and the first East German writer to overcome Germany's division.

His writing evokes the intriguing and complex world of everyday existence in the light of great historical changes. Grünbein is also a thoughtful commentator of contemporary intellectual life in Germany. His is a regular contributor for the Merkur and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung."

My translation is a very free one. I might send it to him one day.
Have you read Ensenzberger's Sinking of the Titanic?

It blew me away (Wavecoll lingo) when I first read it.
No I haven't, but I have heard that an opera has been written based on this poem.

Enzensberger is a top-mate-best-never-before-had (harro-mate lingo)of John Tranter. I suppose, according to you, Bernard, he is a member of the "nostalgic avant garde" school of poetry. (You should write a column about that - i.e. Obituaries of the Shock 'n' Awe New Wave)

Here is a poem of his I like:

Elegy on Love

This hairy sign
on the toilet wall
who could divine from it
all the songs tears
the storms of desire
the thousand and one nights
in which humankind
like a phosphorescent patch in the ocean
consumed itself
and forgotten

Nothing here testifies
to those testicled ovaried creatures
born and not born
except for this hairy sign
scratched into
the charred toilet wall

I will look up The Sinking of the Titanic.
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