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Flucht und Verwandlung /

Flight and Metamorphosis

(1959)





Wer zuletzt hier stirbt



Whoever

dies here last

will carry sun-seed  

on their lips.

The night will thunder with the news

of their submission.


All the dreams

that coursing blood evokes

will shoot in zig-zag bolts

from twisted shoulders

mortal torment once again be hammered

home into eternity.


As Noah’s ark pursued its path

down

through the starry heights

whoever dies here last

will wear

a sopping pair of shoes


and through that little flood a little fish

with dorsal fin as taut as any homesick sail

will tug the rotten age

to everlasting rest.




Dies ist der dunkle Atem



This is Sodom’s

dark breath

and Nineveh’s

burden

laid at our

door.


These are exile-lit

oracles,

every least letter

a rocket,

high heaven

held in a honeycomb.


This is the jet-black Laocoon –

scene of such torture – Don’t look! –

There’s no escape –

the Eden-tree’s lostness

sprouts through our eyes.


This is a trickle of prayer

through salt-stiffened fingers.


This is the murmuring

rumour

of God’s bottled oceans.


This is the ebb

star of woe

at play on our sand –




Wie leicht wird Erde sein



How feather-light

the earth will be,

a wisp of sunset-love, no more,

when God reveals

its stone-locked melodies.


Then, with the sudden lifting

of the granite weight

with which it was compact,

the human spirit

will inflate.


How feather-light

the earth will be,

a wisp of sunset-love, no more,

when blazing Vengeance,

drawn magnetically to Death,

is wrapped in drifted shrouds of snow

and hissing

dies.


How feather-light

the earth will be,

a wisp of sunset-love, no more,

when all this star-crossed world

is pinkly kissed away

at last –



Jäger mein Sternbild



Hunter

my constellation’s

a secret

spatter of blood: unrest …

and the echo of running –


But the wind’s no home

only licks as beasts do

at their wounds –


How then weave some respite

out of

the sun’s golden threads?

Unwrap

like a butterfly’s silk cocoon

the moonlight?


O restful shadows –

did I

in your depths  


detect a God-like wink?



So weit ins Freie gebettet




So far out into the open

embedded in sleep.

This refugee soul goes

stumbling under the burden of love.


A butterfly-zone of dreams

tilting its parasol up

against Truth.


Night

night

sleep-wall of flesh

shelters a void

a swelling domain

of dust minus song.


Sea

tongued prophetic with foam

rolls its way

over the winding sheet –

till Sun again climbs

to spread its bright pain-seed abroad.




Heilige Minute erfüllt vom Abschied



Holiest of all

the moment

when one bids farewell

to the beloved.

And then the sprawl of roots:

the scribbled palimpsest

its sundry elements

the birds’ blind-flying wide geometry

the squirming pentagram

of worm-hole night


the ram which pastures

on an echo-image of itself

the winter resurrection

of the fish.


Unblinking desert sunlight

sears the heart.

And yet

a lion’s paw upon the spindle

winds

an ever-closer net

around our grief –

How urgently we need to dream!

For we remain astray


and driven still

by wind and tide

and still at constant risk

of shipwreck

under vacant skies –



In der Flucht welch großer Empfang



For the fugitive

what wealth of welcome

on the way –


Enveloped

in the cloth of winds

feet fixed within the prayer of sand

which never reaches its amen  

for it must pass

by way of fin to wing

and then beyond –


The ailing butterfly’s

no stranger to the sea –

This stone

inscribed with insect-speech

was placed into my hand –


Deprived of home  

I hold the transformations of the world –




Tänzerin bräutlich



Dancer

your dowry

from cosmic darkness

is a resurgent

yearning remembrance of

‘Let there be light’ –


With all the singing passages

of flesh

you gulp down air

made fertile

once again

by planetary hope.


As through the layers

of lava

in a new-born infant’s

rheumy eyes

creation has begun

to re-erupt.


Cradled in your branching arms

prophetic insight builds

its clamorous nests.


Like a milkmaid

now at dusk

your fingers keep on tugging

at the hidden source

of light

till you’re bled

dark.

So you surrender  

to the moon.


Dancer

spinning in umbilical expectancy

to you alone

God gives the perfect

matchless match

of death and birth

conjoined –




Kind Kind im Orkan des Abschieds



New-born

fiery child

here in a blaze a foam-flecked mess a hurricane

of kicking toes

you inadvertently slipped out

into mortality.


Already dowsed – exhaling steam –


A flattened sea

but countless fathoms deep

in you the spring-tide stirs

and tugs at harbour ropes –


New-born

sighing child

your buried head’s

a heavy

seed-pod full of dreams.

They itch

to use you.


Now your eyes

are fixed upon the womb –

But you

lie cradled in a crooked age

where hope alas with unavailing wings

was trapped

the hapless victim of a

flood-apocalypse –




Zwischen deinen Augenbrauen



Between

your eyebrows

stands the imprint of your past:

a cipher

from the sand’s oblivion.


You’ve worked

jetsam,

twisted it, wrenched it

with all your soul’s strength.


Every instant of your life’s a seed

sown into the as yet unheard-of.


Your tears have been

an Easter rain

for hidden harvests yet to come.


On your frail frame heaven has been testing

all of its destructive strength.


This is a state of grace.




Sieh doch sieh doch



Only see

only see

how humanity breaks out

in the middle of the market place

hear the pulse beat

and the mighty city

wrapped around the giant’s body

in a whirl of rubber tyres –

how muffled now

the wheel

of time –

the in-and-out

of all those lungs.


Raven-eyes glitter

intermittently

in glassy shop-fronts

chimneys fly black flags

in the sepulchral breeze.


And yet humanity

says Ah

and is a candle

rising straight on up

into the night.




Aber vielleicht haben wir vor Irrtum Rauchende



But who knows?

For all the smoke

you may perhaps

still find some little breathing space

within our world.


Despite the many fanfares

for illusion

and

the shifty sand-dune speculation

subsequently overlying

what with such a tender hand you’d planted.

Nonetheless?


Because you still persist

in outmanoeuvring

our cunning.

As when we turn the day against the night –

and then so rabidly refuse

prophetic insight

fished from starry depths!


Yet still you find a way

to vindicate the victim after all.


Perhaps the meteoric detours

of our human fall from grace

are best essentially conceived

as storm-occasions of the rainbow kind –


And who can tell

this farmer’s secrets?

Or how the crop will cope

with such thin soil

to feed so many mouths

so ravenous for light?




Im Alter der Leib wird umwickelt



With age

the body’s wrapped around

in blindfolds

spinning

helpless

in the sun’s eclipse.


Yet deep

beneath the surface-swell

there lurks

another species of unrest –

a long-awaited flap of wings.


Death

hastens now

to fruit.

Old griefs supply

the oil of consecration.


Night’s

become

a bonfire

burning up the sky.


And God’s about to go.




Uneinnehmbar ist eure nur aus Segen errichtete Festung



Impregnable

your all-of-blessings built

domain

you dead.


In vain I cultivate

the syllables

earth

sun

spring

silence.

In vain the tongue’s work

tossing its lit matches in

amidst the random darkness

of your letter-stack.


In vain

the roaming of my eyes

in search of flowers to cut

and gather.

Their magic won’t

survive the cutting.


But instead my agony

must split these rocks

and so

in bridal veil of scattered dust

create some cranny for the soul to enter   

where at length the seed of heaven’s sowing

may begin to root itself

within the wound.




David erwählt



David

chosen sinner

enigmatic

loon

a dancing

fleck of homesick

spring-flood foam

all roots ripped up

before the Ark.


And then within

an earthen cooking pot

this stew of bitter herbs and meat.

The loins protrude:

an emblem of the prophets’ plight.

Yet even through

stone walls

they saw the hand of God at work.


Jesus renouncing

earth

water

fire

fashioned air

into a single cry


and then

a little glimmer

from the loneliest of

riddle-thickets

burst

into appalling life –




Einer wird den Ball



Someone

will come and take the ball away

from those who play

at terror.


Stars

have their own fiery law

and a harvest of

pure light –

the reapers  

are from elsewhere.


Their barns are

far away

but set a match to straw

the flare

may yet provide a moment’s cheer.


Someone may sew

the spring-bud’s green

onto a prayer shawl

someone may hoist

a child’s silk curl

aloft.


Amen

to anything

that may convey

the proper

hidden

depths of peace

God’s contemplative eyelids  

closing on the world’s unrest

the mighty wreathing of those lashes


that most gentle birth!




Mischung dieser Mutter



This chance mix

of genes

on which the cosmos

seems to turn

a shuttered gaze.


How would it be

if you and I

and all our grieving love

were otherwise caught up

within the comet’s tail

if we were buried

with the sun

in absolute eclipse

or

if the white-gloved moon

had somehow magically reined back

the surging tides

of life?


Enclosed

amidst the throbbing throng

of heaven’s promises

that question also

still lies sweetly dormant –




Gerettet fällt vieles



Rescued as we are

let’s try and leave

well-ordered records

for the fossicking

of future fossil-hunters

through

our black-edged mourning cards

and other debris from this hell.


Perhaps

in future hells

the counter-memories we kept

of heaven

may yet serve

as pale-blue stony talismans of saving hope?


Or picture now

the tableau

of your last farewell

surrounded by

that wind-chilled huddle

with their outstretched arms –

imagine that it’s blown in glass

and so preserved to be

a sculpted sermon


in the bubble-speech of God –




So ist’s gesagt



It’s here decreed –

in chiselled snakescript.


We’re expelled.


An old Chinese mandala:

Sun encircled

by a twine of sacred twists

this cycle of inviolate eternity

mind stilled

smile fixed

the fiery dragon

snorts at time

whilst earth stands guard

behind a shield

with ancient streaks of windfall gold –


Here flaming-fingered prophecy

declares:

This is the star

that lost its vital shell –


It’s where the fatal apple-pip

was sown in Sun’s eclipse


it’s where

we fell

we fell

we fell from grace!




Vertriebene aus Wohnungen



Driven out

from where they dwelt

wind-whipped

and with a constant throb of death behind the ear

where murder rules the sky –


All other norms abandoned

they meander

guided by the river’s grief.

Like contraband

they swallow back

their undeclared

distress.


They gather rosemary.

They chew

on roots.

They spend their nights

digesting

loss.

To them

a blistered foot

can mean the end.


Their sorrow is a vulture’s beak

already tearing at spent flesh.


Their prayer’s as skinned

and sightless

as was Job’s.




Kleiner Frieden in der durchsichtigen Stunde



At the gillyflower grave

a moment

of transparency and peace

as heaven’s distant trumpets serenade the dusk.


A palm tree whispers holy tales

of desert solitude.


This epitaph

is framed most fervently.

The brook’s a little music box.

So time goes tinkling by.

You press a sea-shell to your ear


and feel the ocean currents surge!

O minuet of love

O sweetly crumbling book of hours


that too was life –

a dark-enchanted sleep.

But here’s the thorn-prick

here alas

the rose of blood


the jagged lightning

the masked-dancing storm.

And night descends

along this ivory coast –




Hier ist kein Bleiben länger



Here is no further stay

the sea’s already vocal from its depth

the night breathes in

and lifts

both wall and

lolling dreamer’s head.


No finger from above

safeguards

the life-

in-death

of human sand.


Where will I find

the proper melody

for my lament?

It’s somewhere in this

darkly sighing canopy.


But nothing merely natural

will yet suffice –


no remedy but that of

being resurrected!




Mutter Meerzeitgeblüh



Mother-love

by moon-lit sand

an oceanic

stir of salt

a bloom

of blood-flecked memory –


Your eyes reflect the orbiting sublime.

And then

the closer fires

of each life’s transit

in and out.


Your breath’s the primal covenant

your homely glance

defies our older homelessness.


Your warmth deflects

the moon’s cold orchestration of our lives.


Where soothing spells

of wind and water

fail


we crave

your lark-like outcry.




Und überall der Mensch in der Sonne



And everywhere the same:

the sun

casts blackly bleeding shadows

in the sand –

whilst Abel’s children fire

flesh-quiver-carried

fiery homesick arrows

from the coverts of their watchful sleep.


No further guidance.

Just some alien age’s

mere detritus

bits of written mumbo-jumbo

rows of old discarded

wisdom-teeth.


Until

at last the cherub comes

and knots

the four winds’ scarf.

What’s this? –

No weather for a literary picnic anyhow!

But rather

it’s a trumpet blast

from high-rise clouds!


And nothing now stands fast

within the spinning dust.

The scarf alone

that darting crown

all studded round with restless stars

records

the all-transforming passage of the storm –



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