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Ernst Halter
translated from the German by Marc Vincenz



Close the eyes over the deep view.
Wet afternoon hangs
in November veils.
The place is empty and wild,
no one falters down the path,
step after step along here.
Who might actually go
where there’s nothing left
except what remains after us.
History dusted away
by storms’ white particles
save for time,
snowdrift in a mesh of optic nerves.
It’s clearing.
Perhaps somewhere in the background, water,
undiscovered stretches.
The radiation of a fixed grey eye
storms through bulrushes and grass.
A panic thumps in my throat—
of a Lord of horrors.


Observing a Cumulus Cloud

Muted drum of rain,
vertical storm,
steam of droplets—hailstones—
chaotic entropy
in thermodynamic disequilibrium,
ship on the Sinai, God at the helm,
freezes onto the red Saharan dust,
boils the knife-edged Siberian frost,
swirls in eternal snow,
ten kilometers high.

O to be a cloud rider.

Overturns the prognosis.
The grass of a rainy night
grows over the Gobi Lut Karakum.
Storm towers cling to summer’s tent,
forgotten by weather god Tessup.
The round shells of the rose chafer buzz through the eclipse,
the vapor a glimmering salt lake,
and every cart leads a dust caravan
between the stubble and the thunder.

Whales rise from the bottom of the air.



Time eats itself up.
What was didn’t become,
what becomes is absent,
what should have become
fades to insubstantial When.

The spring snapped,
the backwards clock chimes.
Mirrors restore the room.
Crimes don’t find the perpetrator,
everyone comes out of the war,
the ovens open their maws,
the sleepers rinse mud from their mouths
and return over the golden bridge
back to the hammer and Seder.
The first day dawns.



All poems from >Menschenland< Wolfbach Verlag Zurich, 2010. The complete collection is forthcoming in translation by Marc Vincenz, under the title, Man's Country.





Ernst Halter is a Swiss author and poet who lives in Althäusern, Switzerland. He has been publishing poetry, short stories and novels for over 40 years.

Among his most important works are: >Die Stimme des Atems< (The Breath's Voice) (2003); >Über Land< (Overland), (2007); and the novels >Das Buch Mara< (The Book of Mara), (1988) and >Jahrhundertschnee< (Snow Century), (2009). Contact author.

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