Bernd Sauermann


The Time Must Not Exceed My Head

A Cadillac thought has driven me past miles of junked apologies, and signs demand I not disturb the sleep of promises to her not yet honored, for if a woman lies in the right direction, she can always be reached with a big car. The stalled sun cables for assistance. I am indifferent. I know violence is ugly. I know ignorance is ugly. She knows tolerance is called for when I am ugly. But soon I will hear from the big motor. Soon these gears will mesh. Soon this will not be a car, but the engine of the moon turning over. The time must not exceed my head, and as the semantics of my driving thought collapse, substandard living beckons. I am surely alive right now. I am surely alive right now, I cannot say “no,” and this is a bad sign.


How It Is

Directly over my shoulder there is a violinist playing in those great, dissonant chords while the recurring dream in which everything is bigger than I am drags its jagged thumbnail across my belly; the words that you don't write down so completely drown out laughter they are like handfuls of dirt dropped on the dry lid of a box.



The sharp edge of our world ending a hand’s width away, the vast assemblage of gears and hardware hums with German precision as we position ourselves with the delicacy that the whirring blades of the mechanism demand.

“Ready?” I ask, smiling. “Ready,” she says, as a child might going to the county fair.

I begin by turning the knob that closes my eyes, and then I push the button that opens my mouth. When I pull the lever, her eyes close in horror, and I hear a gut-wrenching grinding. At that moment I remember the switch. “My God, the switch,” I shriek as I fumble with the controls. “The goddamned switch!” But already I can hear the mechanism shutting down and see a liquid of some sort pooling blackly on the floor.


The Dark Nights of Carthage

I love your combat boots as much as the rose, and your thick, green coat more than the sweet pea. This is to say your lime lingers in my nose and your lemon smells as good as the next exotic oil. Oh eyes, my big “yes” is incensed and coils around your shiny seeds, and the man sleeping dreamlessly on the floor amidst laundry will be kicked in the groin by satyrs. “The broken arm of a chair stays broken, and I'll be your centurion,” I say, and woman, surely would I raze your shaved temple, plow it deep into, and thoroughly salt your keen soil.


Brighton Memoir

Bartered bed, bartered space and sleep again, sins of the hands, the slender fingers of a terminal past, “again” sign the hands, the blue phone calls, again, always, the red dress, blue in every way now like a spastic anthology of tragedies written centuries ago with invisible ink, walking behind some bright angel, sun glancing over her shoulder like a honeyed wind, an eye too distant now to guess the color of, the light of a balcony morning, on top of, beside, beneath, and bathed in the slanting light of a Brighton afternoon, bathed in scenes dancing in projected light on my way to a state of confusion, bathed in blue, outside every red door I passed through.


Bernd Sauermann teaches writing, literature, and film at Hopkinsville Community College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He was also the poetry editor at Whole Beast Rag, a now-retired online (and sometimes print) journal of art, ideas, and literature. He’s had, or will have, poems, stories and photographs published in The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, McSweeney’s, Southern Indiana Review, New Orleans Review, Nimrod, Poet Lore, The Kansas Quarterly Review of Literature, Leveler, e'Ratio, Vinyl Poetry, and many other publications. He has a chapbook entitled Diesel Generator out from Horse Less Press (2013), and his first full-length collection, Seven Notes of a Dead Man’s Song, will be published in the coming year by MadHat Press.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014