By Elfriede Jelinek b. 1946 Elfriede Jelinek

Translated By Michael Hofmann

my puppet-strings are the
sweet decaying lamps I flutter round.

I am as immense
as a black kid with a spinning top.

drowned tripper fat
crawls into hollow cuffs to be sewn up
like hot cats
cracked soft caryatids in tails.

I'll force you all to your knees
your dirty muzzles will squawk
out of your faces.

and I will continue to climb
I'll spread my thin arms along the queer walls
till they bleed.

I'll reach into threadbare velvet
so that you bash yourselves like poor moths
on corners of night.

the reason I'm here is
to scratch all the white bellies
squatting down there.

your stupid silence I will  just
toss up in the air.

I am as sky high
as all your staring regards laid end to end
on the ground somewhere
lies my broken smile.

Source: Poetry (November 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2007
 Elfriede  Jelinek


Recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature, Elfriede Jelinek is an Austrian poet, playwright, and novelist. Born to a Catholic-Viennese mother and a Jewish-Czech father in Mürzzuschlag, Styria, Jelinek grew up in Vienna and lost many members of her family to the Holocaust.

Jelinek studied music intensively from an early age. She graduated from the Vienna Conservatory and studied theater and art history at the University of . . .

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Poems by Elfriede Jelinek

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Home Life, Relationships, Love, Desire

POET’S REGION Eastern Europe

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