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Spring

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april breath
of  boyish red
the tongue crushes
strawberry dreams

                                  hack away wound
                                  and wound the fountain

and on the mouth
perspiration white
from someone's neck

a little tooth
has bit the finger
of  the bride the
                                  tabby yellow and sere
                                  howls

the red boy
from the gable flies
an animal hearkens
in his white throat
                                  his juice runs down
                                  pigeon thighs

a pale sweet spike
still sticks
in woman white
lard

an april breath
of  boyish red


Source: Poetry (November 2007)

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

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Spring

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  • 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 Vienna. In a 2004 interview Jelinek explained, “My training in music and composition then led me to a kind of musical language process in which, for example, the sound of the words I play with has to expose their true meaning against their will[,] so to speak.”

    She published her first collection of poetry, Lisas Schatten (1967), at the age of 21. Discussing the influence of writer H.C. Atrmann, founder of the Vienna Group, on her work, Jelinek said that “if you want...

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