Poetry Selection for Bucharest, translated by Geoffrey C. Howes


I brought four of my lyrical texts to Romania – all excerpts from my Text-Image-Sound-Work with Michael Hedwig and Rudolf Jungwirth. Being part of the Bucharest International Poetry Festival 2019 is a great experience, for which I am very thankful.

Prior to the trip, Geoffrey C. Howes (Ohio) translated the poems from German into English, with great sensitivity to their rhythm and melody. Also to thank him for this wonderful work, I want to present the translations here.

Two of six combined texts (2016)

Fries, 2016, Graphit auf Fabriano 250g, 101x876cm, Foto: Joanna Pianka, Universitätsbibliothek der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, 09.06.2016

From the project Combinations: Frieze, Sound, Text (with Michael Hedwig / painter and Rudolf Jungwirth / composer)

Text # 3: speaking and screaming

and anyway: when we speak of speech. when we think, here, my remark, my talk, and my idiom are like the green land that hills up and faults into high mountains, bevels plunges down flattened to clear blue lakes, deep and dark, cold yet soon reaching shore climbing and gently lying down into a level field to take a rest. flatters and chases and some times pounces, that too.

and yet: it is the language we know.

and then comes the one which sands and dunes itself, which speaks to itself of euphrates tigris babylon and winds mesopotamically. which rises rainforestly between the leaves’ eternally moist heatshield and lightsteam, evaporates falls and crashes and crackles as soon as it meets with the desert. which wants something else beyond the other mouths and throat tongue palate-sail over the sea. and knob and ach and grr and oh so strange. so strange.

when we speak of speech. are we speaking? chewing syllables, grunting sounds, puffing up our cheeks. forming with lips words and sentences and sometimes even sense. but we don’t have, however much we try, access to every sense of hearing and every conscience.

what good then does screaming do? it’s just a sound gesture, a distortion, a demarcatery.


a … this far and no farther.
a … the pain must go, the pain must go.
a … look here, see me, help.
a … look here, see me, be afraid.
a … i can hardly bear my life.
a … my world is not for you.


text # 5: intercessions, directed towards empty heaven

dear god who does not exist. preserve us from lonely death, place at our side someone who will hold our hand, kiss our brow, stroke our cheek and embrace us.

dear god who does not exist. grind down the demons’ teeth, cut off their claws and seal off their venom, rip their wings and tongues out so they’ll no longer whisper at our ears right into our little hearts.

dear god who does not exist. grant us the power to pay rents, settle debts, and not to despair over the interest rates and the greed. which is immeasurable, and like manna also falls from heaven and smites anyone not resigned to its system.

dear god who does not exist. let human beings forget what is needed to set houses on fire. let their mental anguish waste away, their minds of hate, their fearful selves. take from them their scorn and their haste and any pleasure at gaining pleasure at the expense of poor wretches.

dear god who does not exist. you scare me. with your lamb, away the sins of the world, come under my roof, heal the soul, only say the word. you say nothing, there’s no roof and your sins are not a world.

dear god who does not exist. write in great letters on the firmament of the inner stars into every breathing thing that it is thus: you do not exist. so that it’s official: nobody will care, and nobody will forgive except we ourselves, except we ourselves.

dear god who does not exist. knock the gold off your fur, the pomp, the marbled stone. the staffage, the chorales, the pillared halls, the false image. and go thither where you belong. live between roots, in the fire, in the air, and in the living light.


FIVE: A stanza from the text-image dialog with the painter Michael Hedwig (2015)

Michael Hedwig, Aquarell

FIVE (Night)

nightly light
submersion submerse
ill lumination

soft and odor
like soil
like grass bush
like wet air

folded bodies
nest ling
with me

deep and out
of the deep
into the round
and out
of the round
into the next


humming a tone
a warm
a tone
and is
i am


and then


onetwentyfourfourteen: A stanza from the text-image project „day work & night work. miniatures“ with the painter Michael Hedwig (2014)

Michael Hedwig, Radierung auf Zerkall Kupferdruckkarton, 27×38 cm


is a naught. an ache. a light. it’s a here. a thing. a snow. it’s a so. a so. a there. it’s a just now. a now. a gone. it’s a may that may come. it’s a day a night a day. it’s a one. not a two. not an i. it’s a not no ache no light. it’s a cry. a sound. a tone. it’s a wandering too. a way. an aim. a calm. a chill. a bright. a glass. it’s a wall. a hand. and then a touching. a pressing. a bendingover. it’s a naught, i say, a not. it’s an ache. a thing. a snow. a raven child. a dog. an is. a never. a far. a blank. it’s an i won’t anymore.



All translations by Geoffey C. Howes.

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