Which Indian Language Poetry will you like to read ?

World Poetry

Some Questions Regarding Poems

Michael Augustin

(for Pearse Hutchinson & Martin Mooij)

Can poets change the world?
--Gottfried Benn

Is poetry
a continent
or is it more like an ocean?

Are there more written
or more unwritten poems?

How much does it cost
to produce
a poem?

Which poem
says more about its author:
his first one or his last?

How many poems per month
does an average
family of four need
to make ends meet?

Should a poem contain
that is found in the newspaper
or everything
that is not found in the newspaper?

Which words
have never ever
in a poem?

If one places
a book of poems
on the scales
and it shows 300 grams,
does that indicate
the weight of the paper
or that of the poems?
What is
the opposite
of a poem?

Do poems tend
to be loud
or to be quiet?

How many old poems
fit in a new one?
And how many new poems
fit in an old one?

What is the difference
between a poem with a title
and a poem without a title
discounting the fact
that one has a title
and the other has none?

Where does one find
the “best before date”
on a poem?

Is it possible
to extend the durability
of a poem
before its time runs out?

Can poems
bring the dead back to life?

Does a poem
have more or fewer lives
than a cat,
and how many lives
does a poem about cats have?

Can one get oneself
against poems?
What in the world
will poems lead us to?

What possibilities are there
to completely forget
a poem
that one had to learn by heart?

How can poems
defend themselves
against being caged
into anthologies?

What requirements
does a poem have to meet
in order to become
a favourite poem?

Can poems about flowers
by self-pollination
or do they always need
a poem about bees?

Does a love poem
have to be good in bed?

Which love poems
are better:
the pre-coital ones
or the post-coital ones?

Are love poems
bound to one person
or are they transferable?

When, at the very latest,
must a short poem stop
if it doesn’t want to risk
being mistaken
for a long poem?

Can poems
be produced artificially?

How many poems
can one read, at most,
if one still has to drive?

How can poems
be prevented?

Can a poem sense it
if it’s brushed
by the mantle
of literary history?

Should poems
be provided
with the foot-note
“please delete what does not apply”?

May poems
refuse to give evidence?

Should one throw poems
to the drowning?

What do memorable poems

Do political poems
the interests
of apolitical poems?

How good must a poem be
in order to be forbidden?

Do poems evaporate
if one leaves the book
lying open for too long?

Is earth
the only planet
where poems
are to be found?

Should poems
be deployed
in areas of crisis?

Has the supply
of poems
for the population
been secured?

In case of emergency
are there any reserves of poems
and for how long
would they last?

How long
can a human being
without poems?

Translated by Sujata Bhatt from German
I Feel Sorry
About Poems
About Readers

I Feel Sorry

Michael Augustin

I feel sorry
for the man in the red jacket
who has been longing for a blue jacket
for the past twenty years
but each time he buys himself a new red one instead.

I feel sorry
for the winter
that will never live to see the summer.

I feel sorry
for the little children
in whom adulthood
is already lurking.

I feel sorry
for the words in vain
because they will always remain in vain.

I feel sorry
for the radio signal
filling gaps between programs
which is only put on the air
so everyone hears
there’s nothing to be heard.

I feel sorry
for the question
whose answer everybody – and I mean everybody
claims to know.

I feel sorry
for the dungeon
that has to hold out
down there for centuries
without even having been convicted.

I feel sorry
for the barber’s apprentice
who of all things
has to accidentally
cut the throat
of his boss’ best customer.

I feel sorry
for the preacher
who just can’t remember
the word AMEN
and so is doomed to continue talking
until judgement day.

I feel sorry
for the pursuer of happiness
who without knowing it
has already for some time found happiness
and doesn’t have the slightest clue
that it has even started to run out.

I feel sorry
for the echo
that for once
would love to have the first word.

I feel sorry
for the punch line
that always hangs on the end.

I feel sorry
for the second mitten
of the one armed man.

I feel sorry
for the hamster
in the wheel

for the goldfish
in the bowl

and for the man
in the barrel -

I feel sorry
for the pig in the cold cut.

I feel sorry
for the serious situation
which everybody mistakes
for a game.

I feel sorry
for the fashion
which happens to be nothing
but a passing fashion.

I feel sorry
for the future
that with every passing second
only to add to the size of the past.

I feel sorry
for Berlin.

I feel sorry
for the bathroom mirror
that clearly shows its horror
when I look into it
in the morning.

I feel sorry
for the limits
that will always
have to remain within limits.

I feel sorry
for the pea
on which the princess tosses and turns.

I feel sorry
for the legs
that go all the way up
but then can’t go a step further.

I feel sorry
for the first one
who goes over board
and for the last one
who misses the boat.

I feel sorry
for the woman who runs the gallery -
for whom every single vernissage
turns into a finissage right away.

I feel sorry
for the window
through which everyone looks in
but no one looks out of.

I feel sorry
for the dead writers
because they always
have to fill in
for the living ones.

I feel sorry
for the stare
that goes into emptiness

and for the free kick
that misses the goal.

I feel sorry
for the ascetic
whose pillows
are filled with lead.

I feel sorry
for the parallel lines
because there’s no way
to prevent their collision in infinity.

I feel sorry
for Tom Sawyer
who never had the joy
of having children
with his blood brother Huckleberry Finn.

I feel sorry
for this poem.

Translated by Sujata Bhatt from German
Some Questions Regarding Poems
About Poems
About Readers

About Poems

Michael Augustin

are not written,

were there
before there were poets.

are scratched
window panes.

are decomposable
and therefore must not
under any circumstance
be burnt.

are open around the clock
(even the hermetic ones).

from foreign countries
do not require
a visa.
A good translator will do.

No one
should be forced
to read a poem
or even to write one.

cannot be held responsible
for their author.

don’t read poems.

can be exchanged
for other poems
at any time.

Translated by Sujata Bhatt from German
Some Questions Regarding Poems
I Feel Sorry
About Readers

About Readers

Michael Augustin

‘Writers are always on duty’ – Borges

Readers need to have everything in writing.

Readers have a screw loose
in their bookshelf.

Readers read only
what is written out for them.

Readers always see the world
in black and white.

Readers overlook
precisely what they should look at
when reading.

Readers are only after one thing.

Readers let themselves
be lured away
by authors who are total strangers.

Readers happily agree
to be chained to the page,
they follow the order of words
and they are Peeping Toms.

Readers pay
to be insulted by writers.

Readers would like to,
but they can’t.

When readers are drunk
they read everything double.
When they are sober
they read only half.

Readers couldn’t care less
what they read:
a poem by Gottfried Benn
or the small print
on the tube of toothpaste.

Readers should read
each others’ minds,
they should read
between the washing lines
or they should read
their tealeaves
but they shouldn’t read books!

Readers actually do believe
that every single word
was written just for them.

Readers don’t realize
that there’s a difference
between the words
‘machine gun’
and ‘chewing gum’.

If readers could read
they would read
something else

Translated by Sujata Bhatt from German
Some Questions Regarding Poems
I Feel Sorry
About Poems