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Four Poems
Primal Crow
The sky
blue above the landscape.
Blue, and then landscape,
Crows pending
like questions marking the air.
Trees holding tight,
one sideways glance and they’re driven
onto the ledge of the horizon.
Propped up by branches
clouds drag past.
City of metaphors
My day: strolling around
a form glimpsed from a window.
Over sterling rooftops
a still-higher sky.
Below in the inner courtyard of a butcher shop,   
Jewish, Rue Oberkampf,
over the trashcans a steaming layer of rancid frost.      
Smoke break.
The apprentice butcher in his stained tunic
mimes slamming tennis balls against the brick.
I do what I want.
At night I go alone
through the shadows of the streets.                   
at the Place des Vosges,
along the Canal Saint-Martin
his armor-plated car came by
winter in it.
Paris is old, cold, and icy.
The gray sky, the roof slopes
glittering silver
like frostbitten leafs.
In the darkened windows
of bistros and cafés
something missing.
Through the city’s quiet stillness
the cold drives me
the gardens, the byways,
from Concorde to Bastille.
You no longer have the Henry-Miller-line in Clichy.
You no longer have anything other at night anymore.
You can only liken yourself to an unbridled band of diddling birds,
the birds,
obscuring the air
the question marks
and likewise what seem to be trees,
trees here and there,
and back-&-forth limbs,
shrieking their coarse cries.


Street Map
The names don’t mean a lot to me
State Street, Clark Street, Belmont
The illusion is no safer backup
It leads to the left here
It leads right to the here
from westward toward the east
There’s the lake—
But of perspiration, there is nothing like it
and of the light between two lucky teeth
that meets with the streets at night
with a slight hollow sound  Here,
you believe, is the overwhelming all-by-itself
I stand at the window and sweat my I-centric self out
Save yourself, who wants to


There where the night broke an arm
on the lamp at the end of the houses
I explain silence
as sound
the tasteful street-flamboyancy
in a mist of atomized kerosene (airfield)—
ends up in an alley
the alley leads
up to the lamp
the lamp
in nought
What is that?
I bring water to a site
That water lacks all taste
First one says airplane
then one says sweat
my entire body soldered
with that water this skin
we are emphatic
One is waiting for me
the alley
leads up to the lamp
and ends in


Everything is captured

The scenery in a photograph
The mood in a script
The major events on the television
Who still remembers the night of July 30?
The auburn hair of the owner of a billiard table
mirrored in the flat-screen above the bar
To speak?  How bizarre
Those three at the bar are an all-in-one cocktail society
Slowly a ball rolls over yesterday
Was a door slightly ajar
No, just the sound dialed down to near-nothing
Warmth like a sent message
From whom to whom?
We went from block to block
and up the high-rise house
Downstairs, cars are committing
Slow-motion acts of auto-da-fé
it’s time to fade out
now hurry up please
it’s time to fade out
And from somewhere one hears
The glass windowpane pierced
from beneath by a bullet
The landscape lies like one unified music
Crouching at the table some touring Giant
Redeye Cicadas
sizing us up
What do we have to be alien

Matthias Göritz is the author of three volumes of poetry—Loops (2001), Pools (2006), and Tools (2012)—and two novels: The Short Dream of Jakob Voss (2005, winner of the Hamburg Literature Prize, Radio Bavaria Prize, and Mara Cassens Prize) and Dreamers and Sinners (2013). He is the William Gass Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems and a translation of Dante’s Inferno (with illustrations by Henrik Drescher). Her most recent book is A Doll for Throwing (Graywolf Press, 2017).