Silke Scheuermann, Three Poems

[My translations of contemporary German poet Silke Scheuermann, b. 1973; also novels, essays, short stories; worked as literary academic; first poetry collection 2001. The graffito shot was taken in a Melbourne laneway in 2010.]

Requiem for a just conquered planet with intensive radiation

But what happens when we’ve told ourselves all our stories
ten thousand cool stories

the lexicon of our pipe dreams has been spelt out
and we’ve worn out the seats of our star like the sofa

on which we very precisely got to know each other
when we then sit silently at the window and smoke

nights of almost perfect stillness
in which only your last sentences echo

They talked of us
two actually being heavenly bodies

possessing such a great force of attraction
that they don’t even let out their own light

that is don’t glow but are black
narrators burned up by their tongues

For the Once Most Common Bird in the World

To be the last of a species
what a strange role
Since you once had other ideas
of constriction and vastness Very different
from the Seniors’ Suite in Cincinnati Zoo
Martha last passenger pigeon in the world
what a dilemma, you were so tasty
Just one deli wholesaler
sold eighteen thousand of you in 1855
to hungry New Yorkers
If in your aviary
you miss real flying
remember your flocks
thousands of metres wide
or your breeding colonies
fifty by six kilometres How you
when the first European
emigrants came to America
darkened the sky How you left them standing
in the dark for hours of amazed computations
Remember the time before
the killings and the railway network
A few wild animals
threatened you

The Day the Gulls Sang In Duet

While the water recedes and jellyfish remain
untouched by the salt
the oxidation and the sun
you envy the children boring their heels
into the sand for shells their security
with a force that totally
stuns you

Your eye has been cleansed now has more precise pupils
while the surf eats its way back into the sea
something is missing
a few years
in small bits like the back of a stamp
white as octopus flesh the gulls have taken
There is a pain its connection severed to the head

Tendinous oil streaks cover
the waves Lead through edges of foam
to back then
and into
the time
you slowly frayed went down the stairs
of farewell to the beach here
– you can still swim, but you’ll no longer
swim yourself free –

I know the jellyfish surprise you
by their ability to be ugly and yet transparent
and I know that you’ll now
demand to know screaming what I’m looking for elsewhere
in the hope I’ll ask back


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on September 6, 2012.

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