Wie verkauft man die Bibel?


by Artur Becker
Translated by Isabel Cole
Berlin - Los Angeles (Villa Aurora) 2005

Out of I
Don't know what
Maybe out of love
After the picnic
In Prague and Paris
Just after Wondratschek
Who'd long since learned to steal
From the tables
From the train stations
Born in '68
People wrote poems about Vietnam
But not about the children of the children
Who stop getting along
As soon as it hails revolutions
Born for myself
I'm grateful for a bit of forgetting
Right after the last video night
In the museum of the 20th century
I tumbled out of me
Like a kangaroo
If I make the next sailboat
Over the Styx
Call for the moon
It'll tickle my rib
In just the right place
Where man becomes woman
Depend on it

There on Copernicus Street
I grew up
Like a star-catcher dragging all the wreckage
Down from the sky
The old missiles the solar cells the satellite arms
There on Copernicus Street
Corpses were buried
The Gestapo and the officials
From the Polish security service
Who can't tell
The Mensheviks from the Bolsheviks
Often played rugby
The drivers had to practice honking for hours
My grandmother a hundred-year-old Catholic
Clapped from the window bravo bravo more
There on Copernicus Street
Zephir Frankowski from Poznan
Ran the first fair arms trade
A Marxist gives everything away for free
It said on his t-shirt
The brilliant man must have been my grandfather
There on Copernicus Street
There was a seven-hundred-year-old cellar
With secret passageways the Freemasons built
The floor was red stone
In the winter rats and civil rights activists slept on it
But most of all I liked the grey chimney sweeps
They brought conifers and mosquitoes from the cosmos
In big ice-cream containers
Everything was surrounded the house the garden fields
For the snails
The stairs to the cellar ended in the center of the world
On Copernicus Street
Hung pictures of my relatives
When I was five the Virgin Mary fell on my head
She had the heaviest frame, oak
To this day I'm a bit surprised
At the strength of faith
There on Copernicus Street
The sun stood still for me
When I first saw
A child fathered
It was on television on the flat screen
At the push of a button
There on Copernicus Street
The dead ought to rise
I often said to myself
The Schwejks and Don Quixotes
I haven't seen them in a long time
On this street I practiced Hamlet until I dropped
It sounds like omelet
Says Zephir Frankowski from the haunted room
There on Copernicus Street
Meadows and pastures still grow
For us grass-eaters
There in a courtyard
A garden lies shadowless
Ants have wandered in there
To the plum trees and the carrots
With magnifying glass I look under the earth's skin
Always on the lookout
For which stones sing the purest
I lose my breath
When I make myself smaller
I keep thinking about insane Gulliver
There on that street no trams run
And there's no taxi stand
When you think about going away

My mother under the clothesline with the laundry-basket
connected to the pines like a telegraphist
hung up the flyers from Patmos - one head
after another and the sun drew
circles on her back.

She was so brown and light-footed that nothing rang out clearer
not even the voice of my father
directing the concert -
the concert of keys and chains.

That was how he opened the boats and houses on the moraine lake
for the summers and their refugees:
the cousins from Warnemünde and the uncles from Bremen
both inseparable from my parents
in the thickets, the sea-sweep of moor
that made the forest melt
between the brush beneath the larches
and the fire of the grasses and the royal ferns.

Everyone went with us to eat boletus and blueberries
straight into the jaws of the forest where my mother
sang Russian songs - Caucasian - and her eyes
picked the thorns from my pants and
her hands poured the berries
into the pails and cups onto the enameled
grass snakes.

The evenings tasted like cotton candy and wine vinegar
and song stirred up the fruity dusk
where hominoids gazed out at us maybe just deer and foxes
still close enough for a scare.

And the Germans wrapped their cameras up carefully
in towels and fled to the autobahn because it just couldn't be
that the communists in Poland were striking -
against the Decembrists and their monstrosities.

But deer and foxes looked out at us from the forest
and my father smoked eels and fried
Little whitefish for the evening meals.

In September the heather ripened to crowns
in the kitchen the chanterelles dried for the winter
and I knew that next year the grass snakes
would be born again.

Magdalena! While you're in the bathtub
shaving your legs, without lather and scent,
I make paper boats and sink them in the canals.

A red Ferrari bleeds in the alleys, braking at every bridge,
the police set up white grates and yawn.
God knows what we're celebrating, the destruction of Pompeii, perhaps?

My good-conduct certificate shines with the best marks;
I'm still an innocent Canary Islander -
no murdering or stealing, though all my fingers itch.

But your dream is simple as an allegory:
a garden, polished shoes in the hall,
now and then a movie with Robert Redford.

And I talk like the great Gatsby
and set dollar bills aside for a rainy day -
after an overdraft there's always the question mark:
what is to become of us?

© Artur Becker
& Stint Verlag, Bremen (1998),
Schünemann Verlag, Bremen (2000),
Hoffmann und Campe Verlag, Hamburg.

[Aktuell] [Prosa] [Lyrik] [Presse] [Links] [Varia] [Galerie] [Vita] [Kontakt]

Copyright © 2001-2010 Artur Becker
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. All Rights reserved