Martina Sinowatz

Der Daumen des Vaters

Eigentlich weiß ich gar nicht, was meine Heimat ist. Bosnien oder Serbien, Serbien oder Bosnien?

Geboren bin ich in Bosnien. Dort verbrachte ich meine ersten Lebensjahre und alle Verwandten, Freundinnen und Freunde lebten dort. Mein Vater hatte seinen Betrieb auf der serbischen Seite und baute dort ein Haus, in das wir einzogen. Bald hatten wir auch in Serbien Freundinnen und Freunde.

Dann begann der Krieg. Mein Vater sollte als Soldat kämpfen und sich entscheiden, für wen: Bosnien oder Serbien, Serbien oder Bosnien.

Die Brücke über die Drina, die beides verband, wurde zerstört.
Meine Großmutter kam oft zum uns gegenüberliegenden Flussufer. Wenn wir es spürten, gingen auch wir zum Fluss, sahen sie dort drüben stehen, uns zuwinkend. Wir winkten zurück und weinten.

Eines Nachmittags stiegen Mutter und Vater ins Auto. Mutter hatte die Axt dabei. Als die Eltern zurückkamen, hatte Vater einen blutigen Verband auf der rechten Hand. Mutter erklärte, es sei beim Holzhacken passiert.

Am nächsten Tag sagte mein Vater, wir müssten Serbien sofort verlassen. Wir machten uns auf den Weg nach Wien. Meine Eltern sprachen kein Wort.

Ich lernte schnell Deutsch und kam ins Gymnasium. In der zweiten Klasse erzählte die Geschichtslehrerin, dass sich im ersten Weltkrieg viele Männer selbst verstümmelt hätten, um nicht kämpfen zu müssen.

Plötzlich wusste ich, warum meinem Vater der rechte Daumen fehlte.
Ich sprach kein Wort.

Eisprung

Der Eisprung ist da. Ich verspüre nicht nur ein heftiges Ziehen neben dem rechten Hüftknochen, sondern auch Lebensfreude, gepaart mit einem selbstbewussten, zufriedenen Körpergefühl. Meine Laune ist auf dem Höhepunkt, es ist genau der richtige Tag für ein sexy Outfit:

Als Unterwäsche wähle ich den Seidenslip und ausnahmsweise einen BH, damit der Busen nicht so mikrig wirkt. Das enge, rote Stretchkleid habe ich schon lange nicht mehr angezogen – eigentlich wollte ich es schon einmal in den HUMANA-Kleidersammlungskontainer werfen. Dazu passen die schwarzen Strümpfe, deren Bund frau an den Oberschenkel klebt. Erstaunlich, dass das hält. Die Haare stecke ich auf, Ohrringe nicht vergessen! Und welche Schuhe? Die hohen schwarzen natürlich.

Leider ist es kühl draußen. Ich muss die Jacke anziehen, aber lasse sie noch offen, für den Fall, dass noch jemand in den Lift einsteigt. Im 4. Stock kommt tatsächlich Dustin Hoffman (der junge) dazu. Er begrüßt mich besonders freundlich – noch nie  hat er mich so lange angelächelt. Im EG angekommen, hält er mir die Tür auf und ich stolziere mit kessem Hüftschwung an ihm vorbei.

Der fesche Doktor-Richards-Busfahrer bringt den Bus so zum Stehen, dass die vordere Tür genau vor mir aufgeht. Er strahlt mich an, wünscht mir einen „wunderschönen guten Morgen“ und fordert mich mit einer einladenden Handbewegung zum Einsteigen auf. Ich gehe nach hinten zu einem Platz, der noch frei ist, und spüre den Blick, der mir folgt.

Beim Sitzen habe ich allerdings ein Problem: Das kurze Kleid gibt die Strumpfenden frei. Ich kann Strümpfe eigentlich nicht leiden. Das unangenehme Material liegt zu eng an und frau muss dauernd aufpassen, nirgends hängen zu bleiben. Dustin hat mich so eigenartig angeschaut. Hat ein Strumpf schon eine Laufmasche? Nein. Er hat sicher gedacht: na, die ist heute aber aufgedonnert. Er hat mich gar nicht angelächelt, sonder hat sich vielmehr das Lachen kaum verbeißen können. Auch der Busfahrer hat sich über mich lustig gemacht, wollte mich ein bisschen auf den Arm nehmen, zum Zeitvertreib im öden Busfahreralltag.

Schnell erledige ich alles, was ich erledigen muss, lasse die dämlichen Hüftschwünge bleiben, haste statt dessen mit den für mich typischen raschen, plumpen Bergsteigerschritten vorwärts (du gehst wie ein Mann, pflegte mich meine Mutter zu kritisieren), bleibe bei der Rückfahrt im Bus stehen, reiße mir, zu Hause angelangt, die beengenden Sachen vom Leibe – ich werde das Kleid doch in den HUMANA-Kleidersammlungskontainer schmeißen.

Am Abend gehe ich aus. Die ausgebeulten Leggins sind nicht einmal frisch gewaschen. Unter dem weiten Sweatshirt sieht mann gar nichts vom Busen. Die Haare trage ich offen: Das ist herrlich bequem!

Sylvia Petter

ich lebe im al

ich lebe im al
im (al) von austr(al)ia
im (aus) von (aus)länder
im land der freiheit
des narren

mach‘ ich’s r(ich)tig
mach‘ ich’s f(al)sch
bleib‘ ich (aus
jedoch
en liberté

ich beweg‘ mich
im al
im al-leingang
geh‘ nicht ein
samt al-leinsein

keine leine im al
no leashes in aus
(i’m a roo not a dog)
no roos in aut

(got the t-shirt)
korr(ich)ierte
bin kan-gourou
in aut

Louis Armand

Lit-Mag #40 – Expatriations:  The expat edition

Four Poems

Goethe in Venice

Strange the things that happen out of
the blue. A roof-tile plunging, its graceless
ricochet. Why strange?
talk fills the arcades
vying with abstraction for a vacant place.
the lido at midday, vaporettos,
rubbish piled on the shore. Sleep
comes garlanded in sedatives, rewinding
the brain’s unwitting documentary.
Indescribable rattlings and scrapings.

Years pass. Lying awake one april night
amazed, you calculate the odds,
each wrong step confronted with a
sense of ending. it has no name.
expecting any day now to find a skull
on a beach to enlighten us.
Others also. In the ingenuous photograph
they are all still smiling, as though
they’d simply misplaced something
that sooner or later is bound to turn up.

Santa Maria dei Monte

Broken ground, potshards, a grid plan worked out
with austere lengths of measuring-tape arrayed across
a muddy complexity. What’s known? A theme
emerges, develops, suffers its dénouement each time
we go beyond the surface of the problem.
“A lifetime seeking to take the tail into one’s mouth.”
Men and women lived here once, staked their
fortune on a landscape of degraded artefacts. Their
ceremony was merely a ceremony, like their god,
their sex, their system of economy: the wrested meeting point
of provenance and things acquired by accident.
How would they have imagined us to be? Sifting
their bone-ash: old television shapes wrestle
in the stalking house at the end of the mind. each
conjunction, each fragment leads us further and further
astray – who can say if we will ever complete the task or know
what its purpose was meant to be?

Une danseuse ne pleure pas sur scène

In the herebefore, playing to dismantled houses:
the Bora in Trieste, mist in Venice, in sienna
rain. i go down to the beach and watch
seagulls, empty bottles washed up and empty
messages inside. the desire of others for mass
communication. And have the fittest survived?
We rehearsed our grudge on the long dreary
mid-winter ride to Far Rockaway, refining and
paring down. “Man is not born free or good.”
So you say. Shedding the years of unreality –
untidy, inefficient, obscure years performing our
one safe act under cover of publicity. A blank
slate of sky behind glass and the sublime and
idiotic crowd turned to face us. Crab eyes glittering
under ledges; a carcass washed up on the last tide.

On Henrik Galeen’s Student of Prague

The aliens had just invaded, it was the soundtrack
from Les Misérables. We were leaving the airport,

wind full of sub-zero static. A woman with black
and white skin in the shadow of the moon, reappears

from a John Cassavetes film or reminds of Hapsburgs
and Mitteleuropa. It is in the nature of mirrors

to strike a bargain before the fact, without witnesses.
Last night I dreamt about you, you were completely

real – grasping at the idea you lived and that it was
necessary. Cried, then, at the first star above the roof-

tops to fade. It was that very same Étoile of the
unknown soldier, the Star Hotel, where I’m sitting

and writing this because it’s cheaper with better rooms.
Outside, floodlights over the sidings and freight yards,

a suit coat hanging on a wire fence in rain. Dreaming
of a cellist in a charcoal blouse, bruised inner thighs –

saying it was found out “from consciousness,” being
seen, heard, felt, smelt or tasted. Or staring and

listening in a bed in nowhere. Is it easier being dead
for a reason? Memory by imagined navigation.

Their eyes were open like ours, it was impossible to tell.
Reversing the roles. Behind everything a simple

yet remote promise hangs. It is a ghostly music we are
always waiting to be soothed by, that never comes.

Tony Baker

Lit-Mag #40 – Expatriations:  The expat edition

Two Places

(Impasse des Deux Sèvres, Niort)

Noel’s prepared dulcimer as good
a place as any is fresh
after rain on the tarmac warm
spats smelling unlabellable the same

way custard isn’t crème anglaise. Alleyed
lawns of noise kick in
like it’s a jigsaw of missing bits
mashed to mystify how come (by

Pierre’s white beard) beneath the sun
light bright snapped aluminium they
can ever come into their own
place in the first place.

Elle a eu une aversion complète à l’anglais
and we thought maybe its rhythm
a pathology, comme quoi
nos mots roar through the next

morning’s small asylum now.
By this canal any route
could be navigable and our house
a floating source without finish

that has blips in for the shadow
fish to flesh out against the opal-
escence of a hospitality they couldn’t
for one moment care the least

bit about. Between strings you traffique, Noel,
with scraps of paper, screws & stuff
strange sonorities fruit upon the instant
mulch that’s soul-fodder if it’s

anything much at all. I hear
l’envie de former des sons, de
se ranger pour que              “all
the little seedlings” (that’s

Pierre again) “puisse
transformer ceux qui sont au sol” (unless
I didn’t hear him saying
right) “again, since”, he sd,

“we need the occasional revolution.”
And this water picked at
by insects olivey
dark as old lubricant Castrol

GTX    “tu sais
les choses ne vont pas
changer d’un jour à l’autre
and this water’s a singing bowl even

a Saturday dulcimer, Noel, tu as raison.
Ten minutes from the centre ville
et on se croyait in a forest out
of homewardness, remembering

paths that crossed
limb from limb in a gingerbread
dream you’d say it’s difficult particularly
now to get language out of, clear

as clafouti for breakfast & beetle
leg-like in its movement.
This/ that/ white        table
from Conforama it crawls across—a guess

obviously, though it’s pretty
inexpensive plastic garden kit and self-
assembled like a form as not
of conversation dibbling & suddenly

full of noticeably singing birds.
This/ that            white
serin                pace of speech
particularly in evidence to the south where

a huge cloudlessness clings
to the air-hum blindé with text
messages I can’t imagine anyone
could ever orient by. This /

that           rings        a bell
of belonging, là où les saules
sont rooted to the spot
& the coffee’s a brisk

causeway to that whitish boathouse
two walkers are passing by, end
of story, going right
there, to where the day’s laundry starts.

         ****

(Rue du port, Douarnenez)

In the bookshopthat I mistook for a café that we’d been in ten years previously, I asked the salesman if he had any of Georges Perros’ books in stock. Booksellers don’t always know of Perros and often assume I’m mistakenly referring to Georges Perec, but Douarnenez, where even the public library bears Perros’ name, was surely the one place I had a chance of being understood. The salesman pointed to a shelf on which were three volumes of the Papiers Collés, which I already had, and the Poèmes Bleues which I’d seen before but bought anyway. Perros was ultimately a reclusive who adhered to Douarnenez because he had his four walls there, his unsteady towers of books, his motorbike, his Tania, and these were world enough for him. Lorand Gaspar tells in the introduction to an edition of the letters he exchanged with Perros that it was a nearly impossible task to prise Perros away from his home but on the one occasion he did manage to persuade him to visit Tunis where Gaspar was living, Perros, having disembarked after the journey, expressed complete indifference to a tour of the city that Gaspar proposed. Why on earth would he want to do that, he had come to visit Gaspar ?

The Poèmes Bleues is a slimmish volume printed on creamy paper with a fattish price.
So you won’t be eating tonight, says Liz.
Ah, but this is nourishment for the soul, says the bookseller.
I ask if Perros’ house was nearby, having placed it in my mental geography in the western part of town near the harbour. The bookseller says he doesn’t know, he hasn’t been living in Douarnenez long but he thought it was up the hill somewhere. And he waves with his right hand towards the mouth of the river and the little island with its improbably prestigious customs house, beyond which the only direction is out and further out towards a lot of sea.

Further along the portside we find a café. It’s early evening and the seats on the terrace are half-full and filling. The sun’s too warm to sit out under, so we find a bench under a canopy, order a beer and watch the serveuse go back and forth, chicaning through the customers carrying trays heavy with drinks, collecting money, confirming orders, calling to find out who it was asked for two ‘64s as she’s lost track. Nobody responds. She’s the only person serving and just managing to keep her fatigue under wraps. When some friends arrive she greets each one with an automatic kiss and exchanges a few words while simultaneously attending to a man with a newspaper at another table. It occurs to me that this town is nearly as far to the west of the capital as Marseille is to the south and that the rhythms of the place might be as they are because it’s too far from the economic centre of the country for the place to be squeezed into a shape that it doesn’t really want. Its western-ness feels to me like a physical sensation – geography in a metabolic phase. And it occurs to me too that I can feel that precisely because I don’t inhabit the place or serve drinks.

An empty glass shatters as it hits the ground and the serveuse goes off to fetch a broom to sweep up the fragments. In the harbour the water is sludge green and glossy as acrylic.

A man walks by with an over-bulky Labrador. Passing the café, the dog seizes up and refuses to go forward. We watch as the man tries to tug it along, dragging at it with its lead so that the collar pulls against the coat on the back of its neck but the dog has set anchor and stares immovably forward. The man abandons hauling against the dog’s resistance and walks to a table – the dog following without being urged – and orders a Perrier. The dog lies down, imperturbable as stone. We invent a history for this couple, deciding that the man must be a former alcoholic who once habitually drank in the café, always bringing his dog with him; and now, even though he doesn’t touch alcohol any more and would rather walk on by, he’s obliged to follow the old routine because his dog won’t be dislodged from it.

The dog’s given a bowl of water but doesn’t drink from it.

****

There’s a noise round here where I live              
how could I miss it the noise
of man     it’s the voice
I know
            it all too well,

enough. A noise
that comes not from men, men
are my companions         this noise
           it comes from nowhere it drives
me mad hearing it it’s like nothing human 

 

I’m just a man standing by the window  
the ocean           the boom         of its cannons
that roll over the horizon    I’m just
a man, maybe
the movement of a wave deferred that breaks
over me
that which the head leaves suspended beyond
all reason   
                                     where better     to hang.

****

the gulls were squalling overhead the narrow       walls like they were fetched
from old black and white films          immigrant            homes at least there was washing
strung the street      stucco fissured into maps         with some steps going up
a handrail       and all the windows shuttered while the air
all April it hadn’t rained             was smelling of diesel
from the cisterns in the depot below and damply, vaguely fishy      The boys

and the gulls

over them so the pavements were white it might have been gum or guano they played on
with a soft ball         the goal defined by the width of the street
and I made
to dribble past all four of them and kicked it over the bar
to the slatted door behind
and that was ok because I was a stranger in that place and they didn’t
know me from Adam and we weren’t
ever going to either
and there weren’t shops or cars even in that sheltered part      the school
holidays probably

and one was black and two were white and the other somewhere in between

and the gulls

while on the shore       a few hundred metres further down
a woman sat alone         on a few square metres of weedy rock
in shadow           directly beneath the road which bent
around the seawall she lay staring              up
at the sun with dark glasses on        as if doing yoga        we
hadn’t meant
to end up there             and it took
an age
until I realised
what I liked that part of town for         not the boats

especially
or the way the land got knotted into the bay so it wasn’t clear
which limit was the others’          or how what the people were doing there looked
to go well with the buildings, or at least suggested the buildings
were lived in
as though ‘occupation’ in that place meant not to take over but to inhabit

and the gulls,
they,

but it wasn’t this I liked especially so much as
I realised
it was the town’s,
the wilderness of its turnings away     its alleys and tightnesses,
it was that it had forgotten to arrange itself for tourists and you could read that
as an absence holding               over the roofs of apartments
in the wedges of sky
in a bike
painted green and hung with flowers outside a restaurant painted likewise green
read it in the tenements
that must have been from a decade or two back and were piled boxes literally screwed together because you could see the screws going through the struts along the corners of the walls and you couldn’t see how they’d ever stand for long

in a land of megaliths and gulls

and even if I was wrong         and even if that was all sentimental
and for god’s sake I was a tourist anyway and couldn’t be otherwise because to visit doesn’t allow a contact that adheres     or holds      under any grip

still, what held
there was the mosaic and rhythm, the commonplace
intrusion, the weeds
inevitable as conversation growing
at the foot of a fence which no-one’d grubbed up, or ever would

and they were there
right there where
the day’s laundry was starting and hanging and the boys were playing football

au dernier fil de la quenouille.

Tarek Eltayeb

Lit-Mag #38 – (Not) at home in Vienna

Drei Gedichte

Falscher Glanz

All diese glänzende Pracht,
die du hier siehst,
kann bedeuten,
dass man sich die Luster
von anderswo geholt
und sie nie zurückgegeben hat.

Wien, Amerlinghaus, 22.06.2005

Gedanken von links nach rechts

Sie hatte unterwegs Mühe,
ihre Gedanken mit sich zu schleppen.
Ich nahm sie ihr ab
und begleitete sie bis an ihr Ziel.
Sie bedankte sich
und schenkte mir einen ihrer Gedanken.
Dieser lief von links nach rechts.

Ich mühe mich noch immer ab,
ihn von rechts nach links laufen zu lassen.

Café Westend, 21.06.2005

Ein Geschenk

Wäre das nicht ein wunderbares,
ein unerwartetes Geschenk
zu Tagesbeginn,
wenn der Nachbar,
der auf der Treppe
an dir vorbeiläuft,
trotz seiner Eile
ganz spontan
das Schweigen der Welt brechen
und es
– auch wenn nur knapp und ohne ein Lächeln –
sagen würde?

„Morgen“

Wien, 05.07.2003

Louis Armand

Unsentimental

SANTÉ MENTALE
(for Kevin Hart)

& looked back, at the mute open
seamouth–(agape, with the ex-
pression of a tired cabaret
singer, denuded by an absence

of applause)–the shorelights re-
cede beyond an unheard-of
precipice: the mast rigid,
the sail folds in upon the scene

THE SEA WALL AT X

unaccustomed to these more remote
dialects–you begin again
to retreat … into the sanctuary
of immediate & familiar objects:

pale spectre of a lighthouse its image
below the harbour wall–
& summoned here
across some blind gulf of memory

as though you had stepped down
to each of those shores–
waiting, for the time
when silence would give a mirror
for your nightsea crossing
& all the surfaces would depart

THIRROUL

midnight while the storm still raged
we climbed a steep hillside above
thirroul–skirting the forested clefts
until beneath us we perceived
the inertia of the vast low landmass
the river the valley
the changeling sky reflected on the sea
& north along the scarp-summit even
the lightning–each bolt
a naked tree of blue fire–stood
quivering & arched about to fall …

after the rain, the dark swollen
banks of the illawarra
like a band of flesh–the confluence
palpable–a carnal medium, there
between the shoreline & beyond
(the ocean & tidal immanence
of dawn)–retreating to absence
while we descend
knowingly to that harbour
as though a vestige of what had passed
could be gathered in its depth, & read

Departure from X
(for Anna)

how many ways to leave there, time
across the harbour–& frail
light tracing out … hesitant; then
below the wall a movement

as though you had returned–
crying the angelus
to a sea or it breaks upon
these cold dark stones

& searching the tide for something
overlooked … each interval alone passing
out beyond the ships beyond
the glistening impediment of winter rain

as sleep beckons from a place further off
without pain–or surveillance

OMITTING THE WEATHER

approximately, false eyelashes–such a difficult
cohabitation … other clues, the almost
ventriloquism of eyes, „mere window dressing“
luscious as a polaroid …
& when the snow began to fall that year
it wasn’t so unexpected, the gradual onset
& wearing off like anæsthetic („it’s cold,“ „i can’t
feel anything“)–hoping for redemptive significance
in borrowed pseudonyms, a vague
re-enactment–the erroneous confessions one kept
poised in antique bedrooms, & restless
homunculi stooped behind curtains, under sheets
whenever the light outside became
too inspired, intimate, for what had always been
considered the stranger–a chorus
of unspeakable words bitten hard between the teeth,
to purchase a few requisites of authorship
past lives, more than cheap lustre–masking
the aggressiveness & banality of epidermic
contact: the last scene in that drama, when such fictional
personae as we are lie in the afterglow
of performed sentiments (though they too exist
& are real) & the backdrops fading
against the fatuous applause of decembers–
it’s becoming harder to make amends, & only hope
that next time, in the spring …
but who would be left, then, to recount it?

THE QUERENT
(for Justin Quinn)

journey by land: autumn, & from the rail
carriage a line of flight between
the locust trees cuts across vision
& eyes reflected in the window lower

(dusk had reddened the station yards
& time rusted hulks shimmering–
although it is passing the horizontal
grimace of the landscape still portends)

sleepless fingers turn a playing card face-
upwards–ten of spades. outside
the guideposts flicker, say nothing …

wait for the border crossing at midnight:
search the eyes of the guard who takes
your passport knowingly in his hands

MADAME DEFARGE
(KNITTING AT THE GUILLOTINE)

when she opened her legs i was
standing in the doorway
reciting a passage i had learnt by heart
from a book on the french revolution …

she closed her eyes
& with the fine points of her fingernails
traced the pale

unperturbed lips of her sex

from one side to the other
whispering over & over their names:
saint-just robespierre saint-just robespierre

ISLANDS

there is no shore that gathers.
i without ceasing come
from is to will be. i do not
dwell in the hollow of that tide.
i do not pass there

below dusk’s straitening eye.
sea-wrecked lips form
broken hemispheres. unexplained.
the wind undresses the waves
caught in white virtuality

there is no shore. dark hands
clutch at the tongue.
the stone depth neither speaks
nor denies you. the stone.
the word alone declares itself

in fragmentary arrest suspended.
everything has been left unfinished.
everything. time like ropes of sand
knotted & loose. knotted. slipping
from hooks of air

there is no shore that receives
you. i without. ceasing.
there is no shore. in the hollow of
that tide. in the hollow. there is
no shore that receives you

Michaela A. Gabriel

Five Poems

nursery

fingertips focus on careful
shapes, odd colours
rectangular sounds tentacle
their ways around
red-cheeked rooms

babies‘ eyes scream with
dreams unheard of

i swallow blithe bubbles,
meandering mouthfuls of life
and push the darkness
back into sunlit corners

orange crush

on evenings when
the sun sips
orange crush
i fall in love again
with your torn
shadow

deserted playground

another deserted playground
i can see the guardian angels
hovering above the rusty seesaw
reclining on the yellow plastic slide
idly gossiping on a cloud,
hanging low

and one of them,
a little chubby one
in the corner behind the swings,
is devotedly biting his
angelic fingernails

butterfly

i butterfly across
your belly and
once i’ve landed in
your heart, i’ll
grabbag it
spiderweb it
and some day burst
the tight cocoon

ich in allen dingen

ich baumwipfle in den wäldern
eichhorne von ast zu ast
schmetterlinge über die wiesen
dunkle nur, um nachts
erneut zu monden

Catherine Basilicata

Sanguinity

SEEDS OF THE PAST

Why do I wander when I’m living in reality?
I have enclosed my soul inside their raven vault.
If I were to sever the hands of the past then
I may free the clutches of despair.

The choices I made before bear the weight
of the present.
There are no thieves in my bed, only a liar in my mind
while my eyes remain open behind my hair.

If there is anyone listening, please remove the voices
in my head, so I may not break the glass.
A crystal shouldn’t feel the sharp pains that I have seen.
bathe me in acid and sink my demons that dare.

Having said the above, where do I go now?
Under your knife, for the seeds of the past are inborn.
I rather leave than see my dove tear and purge
while all watch and stare.

SQUIRM

A cold chill runs through my body when I look
back.
I almost felt sorry for him, he had a lonely and
rough upbringing.

We were friends from the start, although he
changed with time and wanted more.
To go no further wasn’t in my mind, especially
when the calls were made while crumbling.

Ending the friendship became a must when he
aimed to spray venom.
The situation placed me in a paranoid state, fear
cascaded down my cheek in the event he was coming.

He claimed it was my fault on the day he was taken
away, far from reality he remains.
Lack of love from his youth guided him to obsession,
till today I hear him starving.

ETHEREAL

I watched them create an interlude and my eyes raised
when the blood they shared spilled.
He was born earlier while she was the same frame as me,
he saw then beckoned me in.

As a child they made me feel similar to a shell,
that needed to develop.
He displaced my inner being while she watched
the breach in sin.

When I grew into an adult any touch would send ice
through my system.
I concealed the memory far deep where I couldn’t even reach,
to resist the din.

My body placed itself into shock then the wasps settled
to ask me the question and answer.
My soul served no shame due to clarity and a violated past.
Now I soothe myself not punish my Yin.

SANGUINITY

Sitting on a bench, sounds of black birds ringing
and the crowd in the backdrop, listening.
We begin to walk down a pebbled path,
covered in blue pearls, reflecting in the sun.

I look into your dark eyes, watching me as I caress
your skin while speaking in tongue.
When I repeat eternity, you whisper in time
to the beat of a heart that is done.

Breathing in the sensation of a crystal surrenders
no doubts, it’s clarity embraces life.
The chase for death slowly unleashes the abyss
for fun.

In the book of the past, it shall remain, for all I feel is
the present and future whilst in your arms.
Blinded behind its title, sanguinity lies a state
of where I have arrived, minus none.

VOICES

A child raped of her innocence began to
hide behind closed doors.
As a woman she stored the absence, and was
branded a lost soul.

The tangles inside emerged in her paintings,
while keeping the energy cloistered.
He caught her emotions and felt a rhythm like
no other, he became whole.

Storm broke the silence every time she was
with him, her former self wouldn’t allow fruition.
Evidence of blood was found in the corner,
she restored the cover that kept her sole.

She enticed the pair that freed his demon,
which left him open after watching her anguish.
Her mind ascended to fin an idea of no
value, letting go made her voices enter his shoal.

Gerald Ganglbauer

Multicultural Publishing –
How hard is it to do in Australia?

Mabel Lee (Wild Peony) chaired a panel of publishers at the Carnivale Literary Festival, New South Wales Writers’ Centre, Rozelle. Invited were Raghid Nahhas (Kalimat), Ivor Indyk (HEAT), Veronica Sumegi (Brandl & Schlesinger), and myself.

Here is my short answer: it’s bloody pointless, mate.

However, I’ll try a longer one as well. But let us ask at first: what actually is multicultural publishing supposed to be? Is it simply multilingual publishing or publishing in a language other than English or just any communication of an ethnic minority?

I honestly don’t know, as I don’t even believe that true multiculturalism per se exists. When I arrived in Australia in the late eighties I already was publishing contemporary literature for a decade or so in the German language. Publishing literature as such is hard enough. Let alone in a foreign language. Besides, it is absolutely pointless to do so for there is no market. The few German language books asked for in Australia are more easily ordered and shipped from Austria, Germany or Switzerland. The books of Australian authors I published in the German language or in bilingual editions where targeted for the European market. The hundred or so copies sold in local foreign language bookshops certainly do not justify a commercial publishing house.

So why do we discuss multicultural publishing, if it does not exist? Stretching the topic a little more I even doubt multiculturalism. If it describes a melting pot of nations and cultures like in the American society, it is not multiculturalism. If it describes the coexistence of cultures next to each other without much interference, as it is the Australian reality, it is not multiculturalism. What’s the point of living in Bondi Junction as a Jewish Australian, in Leichhardt as an Italian Australian, in Lakemba as an Arabic Australian, in Surry Hills as a Greek Australian or in Cabramatta as an Asian Australian? The list can easily be extended. What’s the point in sending the kids to ethnic schools, effectively separating them from the Australian culture? Do we want to become a conglomerate of little foreign colonies?

The people of this great country come from many places in the world and arrive for many reasons. And there lies some of the problematic issues. One can live here forever without the feeling to belong. True multiculturalism should be expressed in an oath that we all speak English, feel comfortable in T-shirts and thongs and call our next door neighbour mate, regardless of his or her colour of skin or whatever. This, as we have seen, does not work. For example, I have friends of Lebanese background, for they are Lebanese Australians. Not Lebanese who rather live in a Muslim country anyway. I have gone out with Hungarian, French, Greek, Colombian, and Portuguese Australians and our common tongue was always English; however, I have also met an East Timorese Australian who managed to live in Sydney for twenty-five years without learning a single word of English. That’s not what I call multiculturalism. Her having access to media in the Portuguese language and the support of the refugee community was even contributing to this non-integration.

So, is multicultural publishing the wrong instrument for a better multicultural society? (Or a ‘cosmopolitan’, as Ivor Indyk prefers to call it, and I agree.) Yes, we do not need an Austrian Club in Sydney for Austrians. I have not been there in twelve years and I’m proud of it. If there is one, it should be for Australians. We do not need Arabic schools for Muslim kids. If there is one, it should be for Australians. We do not need German language newspapers or community radio. If there are any published or broadcasted by Germans, they should be in the English language. We do need SBS TV and radios programs, foreign film festivals and language bookshops — and we certainly appreciate the international cuisine in the many restaurants; however, we do not need multicultural publishing.

Oops, now I have made some enemies, for it is not politically correct to condemn multiculturalism. Thank God I’m not of Anglo Saxon background – being a wog boy myself, I can openly take a stand in this sensible issue. But now that this is established I might as well take it further: I would stop funding multicultural projects, ethnic newspapers, and private schools. Take all these saved millions and give it back to the people. Spend it on Aboriginal reconciliation. On education for all these wog boys like me so we all speak and write better English. On publishing houses that do foreign literatures in translation. On bilingual websites. On so much more, that fosters one Australian people shaped from a great many culture, and one understanding.

Gerald Ganglbauer
Rozelle, 20 October 1999

Marianne Gaponenko

Odessa

schwarz ward ihr alle
raben-torwächter schwarz
wenn ich in den turm
um mitternacht wiederkehrte
in die arme des geliebten

zu schnee wurdet ihr alle
am morgen

Dulzinea zu Quichotte

Die zartesten und schwersten Rosen
Werden zuteil, mir und dir!

Nichts kann nun meine Worte aufhalten
Sie sind Perlen, sie rollen mir durch die Finger

Mit geöffnetem Visier
Wälzt du dich im Schnee,

Die erste Rose an deinen Lippen,
Die zweite – in der Mähne deines Pferdes,

Aus deinem Schwert wächst die dritte,
Die vierte und die fünfte in unseren Herzen

Wollen Wurzeln schlagen.
Nein! Wir reissen sie heraus
Tragen sie als Fackeln vor uns.

vogelfänger sind dein gefolge, september,
irrt getrost durch das schlafende haar der ära
an der brust – zaubermaskotten mit luft eures landes
das durchsichtige vlies auf den schultern
als gabe der frau die tut, als ob sie schläft.
redet ihr laut, verwandelt sie sich in die katze,
zögert: zerreissen oder verführen, keine
rettung von ihrem haar, das kein haar ist,
sondern der wald, der durch euch irrt,
jeden von euch nach namen nennend.

lächelt und schlaft dichtaneinandergedrängt,
ihr, durchsichtiges vlies, das selbst kam
damit die schönste über euch tanzt

Es wurden netze
nach fischen geworfen,
es wurden haare
gekämmt eine stunde
vor morgen

es wurden sterne
hinaufgezogen

eine schar von frauenarmen
flatterte über den dächern

den kieselweg hinunter
liefen schlaflose lippen der frauen

gesungen wurden namen
der geliebten am ufer
und frauenherzen hochgeschleudert,
zärtlicher als höher,
höher als leuchttürme

geküßt wurden leere
hände der geliebten.

sternenstaub an den lippen
der frauen prophezeihte
den aufgang der sonne

die faust voller schnee

das laken. dein kopf darauf –
ein farn ohnegleichen

blühe tonlos blühe aber
blühe ich flechte die decke

die decke aus atem
aus schwur und gedächtnis

gedenkend der schneeflocke
die ins auge der liebenden gerät

sie schwebt überm meer stürzt
hinab ich flechte die decke

ich decke dich zu fange das
was dich nie mehr blind macht

entschlüpfe als flöte
den eingeschlafenen fingern

deine finger frieren nicht
meine blühen weiß

Wie komisch, du
nanntest fallende
sternschnuppen
müdegewordene
schwäne

an wimpern hing
der schwache körper
des regens, rutschte
in die heissen
handflächen

im augenblick, wo
der leere krug
platzte vor trauer,
reichte das kind dem kinde
den goldenen apfel

Laß mich erzählen,
schnee machte
das gewölk verrückt,
gerettet ist der pfad,
er führt die königin
zum fischer,
zur wäscherin
– den könig,
den mund zurück
zur rose
und tau
wirft in die löwenaugen.

Es bleibt der hand nur
aus der hand zu lesen
der flügel liest aus dem
ersten besten blatt,
und immer tiefer
geht der pfad durchs herz
zum herzen wird gereicht
der becher voller schlaf und schnee