Nico Bleutge, Three Poems

[My translations of three poems by German poet Nico Bleutge: b. 1972; also essays; first poetry collection 2006; the photo is a superimposition of three shots I took in Melbourne last month]

three sketches


fog, the narrow lines
of the trees, a hunter’s hide, after a while

a second, from the carriage
the eyes cut into the emptiness

of sticky pages, adhere to
the words: the rushing water

was still


lake at dusk. and the foam is rubbing itself
raw on the shores, only the soft rattling

of the rigging on the sailing boats
with a handful of yellow jackets hanging

stiffly before the wind


this gaze between me
and the misted pane

if he grasped out, a shallow cut
into the folds of the landscape

not colour

think of hands, of the net,
while the sister, undiscussed,
goes into the side room. the stillness, alien
breathing through the wall, the Sunday tea
already cooling on the table,
becoming murky. thus does she lie there, eyes
open, and every word passes her by
untouched. Don’t talk, don’t
blow your top. what is shedding its skin,
layering, piling closely onto itself.
that is still creeping along the vertebrae,
emphasizing in the bones.
the days among plants, vases,
the waviness of her hair. The empty
spots on the wall, the smell of Lysol,
don’t talk, only when the visitor asks,
only when the hand, the alien hand,
has been shaken. and don’t forget the state
of the tongue. not the sounds.
was that a hissing behind the door?
was that a wheezing, steam? nothing
wants to cut loose, become sign, what moves
does seem to stay put. silent,
unapproachable, her child’s lips, you can see
her hair net, her tired eyes.
it doesn’t take on colour, the face.

Afternoon, changing perspective

over the line of the jetty. single points, the water
gleams yellow when the sun whispers

through the clouds the hand bends to keep
the light at the iris. eyelashes hang into the picture

the lid’s track on which the sails slip
outwards, gills, and the shore moves

in the direction of the harbour. The hair follows
the wind which comes from afar, on the house skins

goose bumps appear and the window shutters
gasp for air. as if everything depended on the rhythm

of the drops hitting the stone steps
yet the pressure in the fingers eases

they release the light and take the head
with them out to the boats that have long

been like glassy bones, the dunes hiding them
revealing them


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 21, 2012.

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