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.
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
Monika Rinckhas 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.