Der Zuschauer

A Journal of Essays and Reportage on Drama, History, and Literature

Archive for the ‘Correspondence’ Category

Intellectuals: Lesbian and Otherwise

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Written by herrdramaturg

April 24, 2012 at 11:15 am

Poems by Stanley Richardson from the German of Georg Heym

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Berlin I

Forcefully, barrels roll up from the belly
Of the dark warehouse onto the high barge,
The tug-boat draws close. The Lion’s mane of smoke
Hangs sooty below on the oily water.

Two steamers come by with brass bands;
Their funnels cut sharp into the arches of the bridge.
Smoke, soot, stench lies on the filthy surge
Near the tannery with the shit-brown skin.

At each bridge, where underneath,
We make our destination, the signals
Sound like drums growing in the night.

We gratify ourselves slowly by the canal
In the garden. In the idyl afterwards
We see the gigantic smokestack’s torch of night.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Berlin II

The raised roadside, on which we lay
Was white from dust. We saw in the road
Countless torrents of people, great crowds,
And we saw the cosmopolitan city towering above.

Packed motor coaches forced themselves through the crowd,
Little paper flags were pushed out on the sides.
There were buses covered and open,
Automobiles, smoke, and the Armageddon of horns.

All headed to a great sea of stone.

Still, towards the west we saw down long roads
Tree after tree after tree,
And in them the filigree of the leafless crowns.

The round sun hung huge at the edge of heaven,
And red beams shot through the evening’s course.
In every head lay the dream of light.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Berlin III

Chimneys stand in great open space
On a winter’s day, and hold up their burden,
The black skies’ darkening palace,
As a golden step burns its lower edge.

In the distance, between leafless trees, many a house,
Fences and sheds, where the cosmopolitan city lessens,
And on frozen tracks, a long freight train
Laboriously drags its heavy self along.

A poor graveyard juts out, black, stone on stone,
The dead appear from the red destruction,
Out of their hole. They smell like strong wine.

They sit roped along a wall, their caps
From Rusland down along the fleshless temples;
They sing the Marseillaise, that old song of tumult.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.


Sunken, deep, the day, in purple-crimson,
The river is awash, white, immensely smooth.
A sail comes; it raises itself out of the boat
And greatly spreads the ship’s silhouette.

On each island the autumn forest rises
With red tree-tops becoming clear in the air.
And from the ravine’s darkening depths
The forests’ sounds ring out like the rustling strings of the zither.

Darkness in the the east is pouring out
Like blue wine rushes out of the fallen urn
And in the distance, in the high night,
A black greatcoat flowing round, shadows an Attic tragic boot.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Robespierre: Where Is Reason Now?

He moans a short time. The eyes stare down
At the wagon’s straw. The mouth masticates white foam,
He draws it back in swallowing through the cheeks.
His feet hang naked through two struts of wood.

At each jolt of the wagon he flies upwards.
His chained arms then whistle like bells.
One hears children’s happy laughter ring out.
Their mother lifts them up out of the crowd.

Someone tickles his leg; he notices nothing.
The wagon stops. He looks about himself, sees
At the street’s end, the black blade of justice.

The ashen-grey forehead is daubed with sweat,
The mouth distorts itself awfully in the face.
One waits for the screams. Still one hears no sound.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.


Hunger commands a dog, the more he closes
His red mouth. The blue tongue casts
Itself in and out. He rolls in dust, he slobbers
On withered grass, which he has rectified from sand.

His empty throat is like a great door;
Inside fire trickles slowly, drop, drop,
Which in the belly burns. Then an icy hand
Grows around the scorching gullet.

He staggers through steam. The sun is a spot,
A red oven door. A greenish half moon leads
A dance before his eyes. The dog is gone.

A black hole yawns; cold stares from it.
He falls down yet still feels as the terror
With frozen fists constricts his throat.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Last Watch

How vague is your sleep,
And your hands so heavy.
You are already far from here,
And you listen no more to me.

Under the flickering light,
You are so sad and old,
And your lips are ashen,
Caught in everlasting rigidity.

Already in the morning quiet,
And perhaps in the air
There is still the rustling of garlands
And a scent of decomposition.

However, the nights are deserted
Now, year upon year upon year,
Here, where your head lies now,
And lightly, forever, where your breath was.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Just Now the Days Go Lightly

Just now the days go lightly
In the gentle red of evening
And the hedges are thinning out,
Towers stay put in the cities,
And the houses are carefully painted.

And the moon has gone to sleep,
With its enormous white head
Behind a huge cloud,
And the streets go pale
Through the houses and the gardens.

The hanged men, however, swing
Fondly up in the hills
In their black silhouette,
And the executioner lies sleeping
With his arm around the clammy axes.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

The Suicides

Mad among trees where the branches snap,
They are frightened at every clammy step,
Sneering and rotten, and in shock as
A white fire flickers in their foreheads.

Already, their life is flat like out of a pan,
Steaming in the grey air and made blank.
They see themselves squinting, cross-wise,
Their eyes in blue water run completely together.

Their ears now hear many muffled whispers;
They stand as shadows in the darkening passage,
And weak voices come towards them,
Growing louder in each pond and every tree.

Hands brush against the weight of their necks,
Lashing forwards on their stiff backs.
They go wavering as on a narrow bridge.
And no more risk trying to grasp the void.

In the expanse of evening a dark snow falls,
And as tears will cover your beard,
Thorns and barbs want to grab,
And laugh lightly with the cracking head.

As fish hang themselves in a net,
The compassionate moon bursts out with great light.
The suicides stamp with long, boney legs-
In darkness, they are the scraps of dead things.

Stanley Richardson,
Adapted from the German of Georg Heym.

Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

March 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Gorkyland: Driving towards a Burning Hotel

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So, before he had become a rogue cop, on Beacon Hill, where his girlfriend introduced him to the fag-bar, Sporters, on the back side of Beacon Hill, back in the 1980s: “The place was jumping up to heaven like a line dance to the toilet, where guys kept offering me lines in the crapper on toilet-paper roles, and poppers, and the joint sold more Budweiser than any bar in the Boston area. Anyway, the vagina and I had an argument and I left her rat-hole and had no money for a cab back to Southie, so I decided to take a cab and then do a runner on the driver. Coming back down Bowdoin Street and heading towards Charles Street, I came by Sporters again and found an empty cab parked outside, lights on, engine running, and I thought, fuck, what the fuck, so I jumped in and took it for a ride. I got up on the Southeast Expressway and there was a great, crazy sky from the Carleton Hotel in Quincey, on fire, going up in purple skyline and the usual smoke. I was high as a well you know kite kite kite, so I just kept following Deep Purple. Then I got down to the Quincey rotary and because of the fire there was a line of State Highway Patrol cars, twenty deep, and I had to go through the line in a stolen cab, wired on poppers and cocaine, and of course they just looked in and waved me on. Cab driver to the nation in a time of need. I had kept the CB radio on and it was chirpy with no mention of the stolen cab I was driving. Then, remember the purple haze I was driving inexorably towards, I got sloppy and called in some stupid noise on my own radio. The line went dead, no one made a peep; the car-thief was on the air. That’s when I realised I had to bail. I called a friend of mine who lived in Savin Hill with a trash-heap lounge-lizard car he couldn’t get rid of. I told him to drive it into the public lot at the beach; it was now two, three in the morning. He said, “What’s up?” I said, just drive it there and leave it. I saw it as soon as I drove in the lot; I drove straight into it with the stolen cab and totaled both cars. I hopped out and ran home. He got the insurance and he owed me one. The next morning I slept in late, then went out and got the papers and read all about the hotel fire. Real news. I was young; I still had my work with the Police and the MBTA ahead of me.”

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012, Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

March 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Gorkyland: Taint

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Sometimes, we, the Gorkyland main-framers, decide to go out in search of a certain object, or, a certain aspect, of human potential and experience; we go out looking for human possibility. It is said that everyone has a taint, even though the OED does not seem to list this particular nuance of human anatomy. One either knows about it not, or, one does, often heavy with the olfactory gathering intelligences from the nose and the tongue, and rarely, the eye. You may not know you have a taint; you cannot not have a taint. What does a taint do? Is an examined life possible without a taint? Is a female taint any different from a male taint, or either different from a bisexual taint? Do cows have a taint? Do howler monkeys have a taint? Do women with those tick-tock tick-tock stalker boots have a taint? More importantly, have they ever done anything worthwhile with a taint while wearing those hideous, thunder-thigh announcers? Did Lassie have one? Did Eddie Haskell need one? Mrs. Cleaver definitely had a taint. Saint-Just? Robespierre?

Now when you go out looking for something you have to be able to stick your nose in something.

Wide-tongued swiving is one way to really get at taint; Pliny the Younger, mentions this in his Letters. Mina Loy mentions it in her Lesbian Baedeker.

Woof woof bark bark!

Schlampen ja ja da da da ja Fotz zwischen. You can Doktor Frankenstein taint.

God, Dear Reader, should taint be shaved? Should it be left hairy, hirsute, while everything else is shaved bald, temporarily?

Mark Twain doesn’t do taint; Charles Dickens doesn’t. Trotsky and Susan Sontag do. Courbet does, as all fans of the 1871 Paris Commune know. Zola. Flaubert, Victor Serge. Do babes who don’t shave their legs or thighs have more of a taint than baldies? Jewish taint? Jap taint? Austrian taint? Polish taint? Jaegermeister taint? Now we know that Wittgenstein had a thing about taint but we are not sure if it was a male taint or a twat taint. Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore had a thing about a beaver taint. There has never been such a thing as a kosher taint, but you can pour single malt scotch on a taint and lap it up without disgrace. Red Vienna had a lot of taint, as did Moscow when George F. Kennan was there. You can find taint in the crotch of an old oak tree in Missouri. Alligators are afraid of taint. It is not possible that taint ain’t. African-Americans who think they are Black Irish do not have taint.

You can rock, bop, and jive taint; you can funkadelic taint; you can paint taint. You cannot SVU taint. You can only arrest SUV taint.

Most importantly, you can scratch taint, but only if it itches.

God Bless taint; God Damn taint. You can lower-case taint, you can swat-team taint, you can double-up and double-down taint.

Spread your legs for taint; open your pupils for taint; order taint on the rocks or straight up.

You can marry a taint; you can divorce a taint.

Taint definitely has a sexual content.

Catherine Millet never mentions her taint.

Dada jaja dada jaja.

Goodnight, and, good luck, taint.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

February 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Gorkyland: Death Comes to History

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Things keep happening; people keep getting tossed; women get caught blowing men in the cellar, off you go. Others are told to leave for what? Why? Who knows? People keep getting tossed. Then people die. One King of Naples, hispanic, a Yankee/Giants/Mets/Jets fan, has numerous wives, girlfriends, comes up from Jersey and does the Boston system and eventually, after one year or more, gets housing, and then dies within weeks of moving out and in. Dead two days when the police find him. We last spoke on Superbowl Sunday. I congratulated him on the Giants’ victory; he graciously accepted my congratulations. There is more to tell: grey hair, pony-tail, constant cane, white bathrobe. No hint of drugs or booze so far as I knew, but what do I know? Now? Then? Tomorrow? There have been some various controversies regarding the use of artwork amidst texts, and god, we writers just are happy to have some access to publication and money per line or word. We don’t decide these matters; Ekaterina Degot, decides this; Max Klinger decides this. We just do the writing, I just do the writing, such as it is. There are commissars as well; people, women most often, who decide about correct language, human kindness in a nutshell cliché. There are commissars who watch Law and Order: SUV, pop-eyed, uncritical, and yet, are all over your attitude and tone of voice. Prohibition is so very inside the heart of every American woman in the United States. What are we to do? What is to be done?
I find it hard to keep straight, I find it hard not to worry about being appalling, shocking, nasty. There are dogs in the ditch; there are butt-ugly skanks, skags, assholes in the square. There are people who are experts on Wodehouse and know nothing about Celine. There are excuses for Eliot and there is rabid hatred of Pound. There are hefty Norton Anthologies Of African-American Literature. Who actually reads Black History in February? Do you? There is a book published this past January, Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters, edited and translated by the English poet, Michael Hofmann, that I think is superb and useful for anyone who is hacking away in the trade: meaning writing at anything at all. I have read Roth in German and English. He is one of ours, if you and fate will allow me to assert this. But then, evidently, I am a dog; I am not a son of the soil, I am not a man of the factories and cow barns, a pork butcher to the world; I am only a writer, I am a white man and I get Faulkner’s expression, “a train car full of cannon balls” quicker than you do. I’ve seen men drink shoe-polish, and I’ve seen men drink sterno drained through cheese-cloth; I’ve seen men drink Listerene and I didn’t care whether they lived or died. There is hope and faith in The Brothers Karamazov that is above the underground, but then Dostoevsky was a gambler and where’s the recovery in that?

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

February 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Gorkyland: Protective Custody

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So, this time the gentleman next door who was tossed, wasn’t actually tossed so much as he was taken away by the Cambridge Police department in protective custody. I had gone to sleep at my usual eight o’clock. The said madman had been seen in the kitchen nodding off into his dinner plate. Then he was seen sniffing the door frame trying to figure out a way to pass through. Everyone kept telling him to calm down and go to bed. Then he was seen sniffing the back steps leading up to the women’s quarters in the rear. What else can I say? The police were called and he was taken away. He did not come back, either last night, or this morning. The verdict from the experts was heroin or oyxies, because of the nodding off. Crackheads and coke addicts do not tend to fall asleep in their in their spaghetti. The point, earlier, was that someone next door the night before never came home (Dennis the Menace), so when Edward Said came in as the new dude he was suddenly enlisted by the loquacious new boss of the room to move beds and box springs around, so the Todster from the wet shelter at Albany would have the better main-frame. He had Chinese ideograms tattooed down his spine. After this and after I had gone to bed he begin to go wired and weird and crouching like Homo sapiens in a transformer world. What was he trying to smell on the back stair? With pints of Rouble Vodka you always know what will happen next; with heroin you never know: OD and death, bliss and extascy, or madness and mayhem. Who knows, if he had a few pictures of naked women he may have survived. I should point out there was a new broad from upstairs in the kitchen last night, who wore her shorts below her waist and hips like one of those gangbanger, loser, hip-hop assholes, and I can assure you no one needed to see her fat rump while eating Mexicali tacos. The Todster was not then present in the kitchen. You may think this is all electric barracuda or sex on the moon, but hell, I’m just trying to read Sergei Eisenstein, make notes, and then go to sleep. I keep my appointments, I go to AA meetings six days a week. I don’t want to run for public office. I continue to study German.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

February 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Gorkyland: Huge Birds in Central Square

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There were seagulls, really big ones, fighting with ravens and pigeons in the streets for food and trash this morning, right out where all the buses come bounding into time and space and then stillness, and the hordes on the sidewalks were eight abroad or abreast like in Manhattan. And the thing was, last night, at the shelter, they had tossed an African-American woman from upstairs who was crazy but clean and who never drank, did drugs, nor yelled, nor shrieked nor did any of the periodical, weird, science-experiment shit that so many babes do. She was benign, I swear. I mean she was crazy about her three bags of fabrics which she carried about with her everywhere she went and she had all these bizarre, anal, pack-rat organizing tendencies, that made trying to clean out the refrigerator once a week while she was around impossible, but still, she was no fright or horror. She read the New York Times in Au Bon Pain. She had a musical, clear, high voice that seemed incongruous coming out of her body. She dressed in some of those rich fabrics she kept in the bags and seemed African although she betrayed no accent. It seems all the other females hated her, couldn’t stand her; it was all about the toilet and how long she spent in there. “She showers with the light off.” But then all the women upstairs are bitches with pie-slits for eyes, and voices like howitzers, and they can all peel paint off a wall with the language and the attitude, and they call their abandoned daughters cunts, liars, or twats. Anyway I thought Jesus Christ where is this woman going to go at night with all her bags and the ice and snow, and sure she said she’d be back in the morning with lawyers but that never happens the very next morning. You get tossed and you feel angry, outraged, impossible, lost, and then it’s, “Where do I go now? What do I do now? I didn’t do anything.” And then this morning it’s like Spring outside and the enormous seagulls were out fighting ravens and the drunken pigeons for food in the street. You thought, I thought “What we need now are some red-tailed hawks to swoop in and do red tooth and claw.”

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

January 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm