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Three Honey Protocols

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE PONDERS LOVE

 

Honey protocols, hear how they mock, snow white and super blue:

On the footpaths, we are told, radiators grapple with hydrants and

at the marble quarry puss licks her belly until the shag is fluffed.

Get well cards addressed to third parties. The cable car’s driving

crank whirrs. Here dwells Friedrich Nietzsche. On ukulele, recording

his propaedeutics in song. Huzza, a subcutaneous Alpine ditty.

Dissimilarity as a religious doctrine. The root chord: E minor.

Robert Walser says Friedrich Nietzsche was not. Huh? What?

What was I not? You were not loved. Hence your resentment.

The vengeful perfidy of one unloved. Meanwhile, new arrivals tuck

in to hearty snacks. Sausage. Berries. Poire Williams and Gentian.

Friedrich Nietzsche and the mild master of remorse converse

on stacking chairs. Are they onions? Are those contacts – or blows

with the fan? Is it a hand-forged bark spud, swathed in camellia oil?

We don’t know. They speak quietly. The mountains’ endless murmur.

Friedrich Nietzsche ponders love. Robert Walser smiles in silence.

 

 

THE ARBITER’S SICK

 

Honey protocols, hear how they mock. I’m still asleep,

they’re fighting already. My assistants are whacking each other

with hangers and brushes. Oh boy, the arbiter’s sick today.

I see how they batter their limbs, whose workforce is mine,

in order, thus squandered, to own themselves at long last.

Or so the assistants think. How wrong they are! Whizz bang,

the ankle joint, the nose bone. Cat’s tongue, mop and deerfoot.

OMG. Who’ll sew this for me? Who’ll stitch it up? Who’ll fetch

and bring back, who’ll support, who’ll transcribe? What do

mops and moping have to do with each other? Check it for me!

Enough of the fisticuffs! When do we go to print? Assistants,

get to work! The theme is: The arbiter’s sick today. Let’s go!

Mixed dactyls, skipping rhythms, inner universe of middle rhyme.

Bear me forth and write it all down. Realise me in places

where I cannot set foot. And, while conciliation soon prevails,

it’s still lying there, the cuddly toy of my tattooed assistant,

who always was my favourite. Ah! I’ll never sack a single one.

 

 

TRANSLATION

 

Honey protocols, hear how they mock, you translated yourself –

didn’t you? – into everything. You translated your chemisettes,

your crumbs, right on into The Great Glory, where they vanished

instead of helping, or hampering. You stared up into The Glory,

you leaped up at it, but the force of your leap was too feeble

for your heaviness. Gadzooks. Glory can be reached by express

train in approximately ten seconds, but not by you. Everyone knows

you were mistaken. It said elephant’s flap and your translation was

waggly tail. And when dates were proffered to the welcome guest

what was it you wrote down? Please demolish the rendez-vous.

Ready you was, good you wasn’t, this you knew, you was muddled.

Cloud-sized losses, so nothing serious, launched into distance

and getting lighter: then very many realisations at vanishing point.

 

*

These poems were selected for inclusion in the January 2016 Translation Issue by Daniel Medin, a contributing editor of The White Review. He is Associate Director of the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris, and an editor for The Cahiers Series and Music & Literature.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


has published numerous volumes of poetry in German, the most recent of which is Risiko und Idiotie (kookbooks). In 2015 she was awarded the Kleist Prize and the Heimrad Bäcker Prize. She lives in Berlin.

Nicholas Grindell grew up in the UK and has been living in Berlin since 1993. His translation of Monika Rinck's to refrain from embracing was published by Burning Deck in 2011.


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