Four Poems

translated by Marc Vincenz

 

 

Miscellany

 

A lonely prediction
followed on the heels
of a great bene-
diction.

 

 

Through the Valley of a Hundred Valleys

 

Birch trunks glow
in a rambling green.
Stretches of cable wobble.

But first, at the rail station in Re
holt, the even-footed conductor
fetches his kingly orders:

Even today, his skyward glance
gives nothing away
about the hour of our death.

And again, we dive dizzily
deep into the thicket.

 

 

Heated Peace

 

For Peter Schaerli and
his Special Sextet

 1

Already with the first twittering
a yearning hooks us by the elbows
and drags us off. We glide
as upon rails overland
through cities, through marshes
crossing rivers and debris
and dream ourselves to
distant beaches.

2

Night breaks in. We
travel on. It brightens
over a hamlet.
The train halts. And
a trumpet rises
from its driving position
and invites us to dance.
Joy swings us wild
for a little while.

3

Deeper than dark,
the sky is also
southerly and hot. We
nest in our tender
armpits and
extinguish our thirst drinking
goblets of asphodel.

 

4

Full of lungs and
anticipating us on the platform,
the fresh brass band sweeps us
from the dreamy night.
The rails glimmer, lure us
away. In the tent at the railway embankment
a wandering circus is rehearsing
for the afternoon.

5

The new evening turns blue.
Lianas sink their tendrils
into our hearts, in our stomach
cavities: more wishful thinking
than aching, more passion than pain.
Along the tracks, hammocks
suspended from mast
to mast, and young love
glimmers through the cracks.

 

6

Between the rail ties
grass grows, iron cables
get lost in the sand.
We cross distant continents
—they give us a signal!—
and reach a white
motherly beach. In
the interior, they’ve been preparing
the celebration for days.

 

7

A garish noise
shocks us back
toward the old world, ghostly lights
flare up, enmity.
We hang new bridges
over old graves:
a heated peace
remains.

 

8

The trumpeters want to depart again.
They lay rails in the breezes,
fire-up the keyboard. Lower
your visors! Rumors encircle
the drummers. Then we move quickly
and guilefully onward through the ethers. In the guts
of the standup bass, the worldly eel
silently snoozes.

 

 

 

Nocturnal Harvest

 

Driveshaft at the fore,
the Big Dipper plunges
toward Earth,
the cart sparkles.
With the glow of my cigarette
I guide it home.

 

 

Translations by Marc Vincenz : The author of eight collections of poetry; his latest is Becoming the Sound of Bees (2015, Ampersand Books); a ninth, a book-length poem, Sibylinne is forthcoming from Ampersand Books. The Washington Independent Review of Books recently called Vincenz “A peripatetic linguist … [he] prospers through travel like a psychoactive medicine man. Each poem is an open environment where anything can happen — a ceremony of advanced thinking — where a pilgrim of great altitudes accepts life’s vagaries.” Vincenz is also the translator of many German-language poets, including the Herman Hesse Prize winner, Klaus Merz, but also, Werner Lutz, Erica Burkart and Jürg Amman, and has published eight collections of translations with three more forthcoming – the latest is A Late Recognition of the Signs by Erica Burkart. His translation of Klaus Merz’s collection, Unexpected Development, was a finalist for the 2015 Cliff Becker Book Translation Prize and is forthcoming from White Pine Press. He has received several grants from the Swiss Arts Council and a fellowship from the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. His own work has been translated into German, Russian, Romanian, French, Icelandic and Chinese. He is International Editor of Plume and Executive Editor of MadHat Press and Plume Editions. He lives and writes in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Recent and forthcoming publications include The Nation, Ploughshares, Washington Square Review, Guernica, The Common and World Literature Today.

Join the discussion

  • (will not be published)