Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Six Poems

[My translations of six poems by Rolf Dieter Brinkmann: 1940-1975; also creative prose, radio plays, director of experimental films; died in a car accident in London; rejection of literature as art: ‘One should forget there is something like art! And just start’; translator of US ‘underground’ poets; in his ‘Note’ from 1968 Brinkmann noted: ‘I readily admit that I haven’t been stimulated by German poetry. It has dulled my vision. In contrast, I am thankful for the poems of Frank O’Hara who showed me that absolutely anything one sees and deals with can become a poem, even having lunch, if you look at it closely enough and reproduce it directly enough. Also, O’Hara was a passionate movie-goer, which I find appealing.’ The photo above was taken in Melbourne’s Chinatown.]

Ever more words

ever more
words grow over
night towards the colour black
which drives
its ocean
between us
in which we don’t
leave off
from the terrible
strain of loving

if I
were a sailor
or a dog with
an anchor tattooed
on my forehead, I
would seek
your mouth
high over
the sea

then
language must be as easy
as death and
as quick: there
is too much
I cannot
say.

Writing poems

Oh, everyday things
the everyday things

the postman
early morning

throws bills
and printed matter

letters and
postcards

into the house –
he doesn’t believe

in poems
and still lives

in rain
and snow

as a poetic
image

and wears out his soles
and drags his bag –

he would
much rather

dig over the garden
make a few beds

drink a beer
then lie in the shade

forget the letters
forget the doors

and all those things
and all those things.

Simple Ideas about my Death

He
will come, neither
with a knife
in his hand
nor
screaming

he will come
like someone who just happens
to be passing and asks you the time
he will come and raise his hat

eleventh of February
nineteensixtythree, shortly
after eleven o’clock, the morning
without much
prospect, much
light that
falls into
my room, Engelbertstrasse
fourth floor
and he will come
he will read the meter
and the gas

he will
close the door, politely
like someone who
doesn’t know
how to deal
with life.

Image

The woman with the
white
summer hat

who is slowly
pushing
a pram down

the street
what
is she thinking. That

she is pushing a cart
full
of leaves

down the
street
pink, like

plastic? Oh, how she
walks.
the white

hat in the
sun
white. The white

metal frame. And then
when she
leaves

the thing that destroys
her image.
She not

alone, absent
like
a thing

and more, till she
finally
disappears.

The Orange Juice Machine

is on & it’s good that the barman
first looks at the bare bits of
a girl drinking a glass of cold

tea. ‘Pretty hot in here,
isn’t it?’ he says, a question that
decorates the room a bit,

what else? She’s got a strong
body and when she extends
her arm, puts the glass back onto

the glass counter, there’s
a sweating, hairy
patch under her arm which

changes the room for a moment but
not the thoughts. And everybody sees
she likes moving

like this which gets the barman
going after a long
pause in which only the fan

could be heard as
always, or mostly, around
this time of day.

After Shakespeare

The winter hand falls off
and is lying in the garden where now
there’s a wooden scaffold.
The dark summers

fall like the hand.
You’re freezing in your head.
Autumn with its
dead fish on the

bottom of the rivers is
like the kiosk with the old
woman sitting and reading
the newspaper till someone

comes and buys one of the cold
rissoles lying in the
glass vitrine smeary with
fat. The passer-by pays,

eats, throws the bone
at the invisible angel.
And spring arrives, disperses
the headlights through

tinny leaves in the evening
sinking with the wooden scaffolds
by the river.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on December 6, 2011.

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