Statement of Record

Six poems by ANDREAS UNTERWEGER

S

 

The dark woods

X

The dark woods lie outside

    the car & I am made of glass

for you in this very moment

    with this ray of sunshine going

through me absolutely nothing is

    between us, please

X

don’t be afraid: I am empty, nothing

    is in me now but

the light of your eyes splitting

    into several colors that

everybody knows & everybody knows

    these moments which,

X

however beautiful they are, do not

    mean anything . . . The car

is running the way is right

    the bladder is empty & we

have a clear view about

    you and me, the dark woods

X

lie outside.

 

Autopilot (vol de nuit)

X

What connects us is as black as asphalt

as hard as asphalt, just as indestructible

as smooth as asphalt on a rainy night

in the light of gas stations, of silos in the docks . . .

What connects us is glittering in the night

X

wide like a second river here in the plain

a two-lane river flowing in two directions at the same time,

its course regulated by noise barriers,

safety lanes and wasteland,

flowing from me to you. From me to you—and back.

X

Sometimes in the night when I am lying sleepless

I drive the whole distance in my mind,

I drive the forty-six bends

from me to you—and then back again.

Sometimes I am driving in the wrong direction

X

changing, without signaling, the lane,

changing, with one blink, the direction,

suddenly, after a doze of two seconds,

I see myself coming towards me . . . Without braking

I race towards me, it shoots me towards me—

X

until I awake, hurled in your arms.

 

The mouse

X

I killed the mouse with the hatchet

I normally use for chopping wood.

But it was not like chopping wood.

X

My first stroke was too timid.

The second caused one of its eyes to slip out of its socket.

And also the third stroke was not strong enough.

X

It was the cat’s fault. The cat likes to play.

It plays with every blade of grass, every dead leaf—

there’s no killer’s instinct in it.

X

That is why I fetched the hatchet,

the blunt, nicked, rusty hatchet

I normally use for chopping wood.

X

I didn’t want the mouse to suffer.

 

The Spider

X

Who could have known that it would end with IT

like in horror movies where the evil always comes back once again

(that is: once too often—more than you would like).

Well, I should have expected it,

considering how BIG the beast was. Although—

maybe it wasn’t so much its size

that caused such dark premonitions,

but rather the somewhat perverse

number of its . . . well . . . tentacles? Because “legs”

can hardly be the right word for limbs

growing out of the back and rising upwards

(reaching out for me).—Whatever . . . It is not always

as the neurologists say:

the fear of things (or rather: of beasts) is

not always greatest when we do not see them . . . And thus

I was honestly relieved when—with a club formed

of Sunday tabloid supplements—I had beaten IT

into a dark, shapeless lump.—As I said: I could not know

what was still to come, I did not know

what kind of mission I was undertaking when I,

woefully under-armed with a dustpan and brush,

approached ITS cadaver, whistling—

just as though the shooting of the film

in which I’d been confronted with my greatest fear

were finished once and for all; just as though

an end of this kind, an end that was almost too good

(especially in a horror film like this)

were not always a kind of beginning, too . . .

 

The Snake

X

I never met the snake, but the wife did.

The wife saw it, not me. I know

that there are no snakes. There are no snakes,

at least not here, not in our garden—

this is what I told the wife God knows how many times.

There are no snakes around here,

I told her, just as there are no angels.

X

But the wife is different. The wife sees snakes.

The wife sits for days in her dark room—

and sees snakes. And I, who stay outside

every day, down by the river, cutting the trees, I:

do not see anything. Nothing except some yellow leaves

and black twigs,

                        thin, smooth, black twigs

looking as though they had recently been cut and

X

drifting upstream.

 

No Poem

X

No poem

ever meant as much to me

as a text message

to you

X

Although these are

only very few lines

very few characters

that I type,

night after night,

alone and

infinitely slow

on my mobile

X

Just 160 characters,

maximum,

and a character is

so little

a character

is less than a word

often not even a letter

only a dash

or a full stop

or still less

a character

could be a blank

this

shows you

X

A maximum of 160 blanks

to say nothing

or nothing

that was not already known

(you know

what I mean)

X

In the early dawn

I finally send my text message

(not that I ever liked what I wrote, but)

to your

Number Unknown

X

Night after night

I send

nothing

to nobody

X

I have been waiting for an answer

for an eternity

 

 

 

About the author

Award-winning writer and songwriter Andreas Unterweger was born in Graz. He is senior editor of the Austrian literary magazine "manuskripte." His fifth book, titled “Grungy Nuts,” will be published by Literaturverlag Droschl in the fall of 2018.

Statement of Record