On this Afternoon in Cologne

the wind was on the ropes in front of the

supermarket the fruit pulp on the

panes as light was loaded

 

The poets sometimes also called

white wagtails stand on such sunny

days at desks near the river

in closed compound fringe events

and flirt with death

 

A gong landscape

trembling reeds the souls on T-shirts while

language dries out on the curb sprained

potholes on the Boulevard of Verse

where each word begs for its reader

 

The one in the cloudless shorts for example

had lavender tattooed on his shoulders

smelled of iron the rust of old

screws before the downpour

 

Friends say you carry the city in your

voice and I don’t know what they mean

 

When I get up in the morning poems

are lying on my sofa raise an arm and

show the shaved pit

 

Rheinland tile canna lily traffic on

the North-South stretch tides of my blood

 

The city is acidulous from the grass the

snack stands’ shadows damp around

the edges heels with a nickel finish and a face

like a coarse curry blend

 

I buy the noodle mist of your

bones the language chips of the nation

bars brooks stucco grapes and then it is

enough

 

An airplane lifts me up out of

the day

 

Guy Helminger

Translation by Tess Lewis