Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

New York 1999 - 2010


                                      Time Square


After having been last in New York 1999 - it was a special time during which the twentieth century was about to go out the door, and therefore appropriate to gauge what Andre Breton and Peret had to say about poetry - I could not really anticipate my failure to make it the next year around, that is in January 2010. I was meant to give a key note speech at the symposium 'Arts and Social Justice' to be held at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Prof. Anderson was teaching there and who not only organised the said symposium, but curated as well for the 15th anniversay of Kids' Guernica an exhibition. I had wanted to travel there via New York. But then to my first surprise they did not allow me to fly out of Athens to New York due to having but a temporary passport which the American Immigration would not accept, so the information. I went then back home, to Berlin, in order to obtain a permanent passport but when I arrived at the airport to depart, another surprise awaited me. They could not find my booking when I wanted to check in. Only then I discovered the mistake that my travel agency had made. They had booked my flight for Wednesday and not for Saturday, the only day I could fly for the previous day I had received my valid passport. So instead of flying I dreamt in a poetic way of being again in New York. This brought about the following poems.

Hatto Fischer

Athens / Berlin 8.1.2010 (revised May 2014)


To write an answer

Writing down a sensible answer

is most difficult and painful

since the main question is: why?

Love is more difficult to comprehend

when compared with careful reflections

I made about my desire for her.

After all she clings onto life

independent from my wish

for a common life with her

free from despair, and yet

I still dream of going with her

to that place of life called:

New York, New York!


Borders of Manhattan

No more a crisp wish, no more anger,

only galore the street where tires burn and stink.

They tell me go up that street, or no, go down

and under the next bridge till you can cross over

to meet the youth ready for frank talks with old folks

about the hip of going down town just for the sake

of a spin around the neighborhood where women

weep to see children growing up as if a declining sun

thousand miles away to circumvent dust and dryness.

If only the rain would come to bring relief from the heat,

but on and on it goes, at every stroke of the hour

they stomp their feet on the ground and cross subway grids

while listening to the news about battles being waged

to leave behind more people dying without a sense of life.


Elpida affecting stock market speculation

You returned like a windfall

To the stock market now going mad

Like a bull seeing red as a sign to go

To keep the brokers so extremely busy

That they swallow their morning coffee

While running up the stairs

And only stop when values topple

As if it matters no longer to normal folks

Whether they ran flat footed aground

Or pressed their nose flat against glass

Reflecting sky scrapers and yellow taxis.

In such a town everyone seems to get caught

On the wrong side of the street

Since not gallons of oil have to be measured

But the outpour of grief mixed in with joy

To leave everyone confused, emotionally speaking,

By what happened before Woody Allen jolted

After you had passed by him always smiling,

Tipping with your elegant fingers

On the forehead so as to say psychoanalysis

Is like those puddles left behind by the rain,

And they do matter for reflections to clean

The air by becoming an invisible broom

To sweep finally the sky above Manhattan

Free from clouds so that you can sit down

In Central Park on one of those benches

Where joggers pass by and children

Smile when their hands grip red ballons.

Once you just sit there, let time simply pass by

As if you do not want to really notice

How life begins to awaken under your soft nose.

Then your eyes shall follow those sea gulls

To make you wonder where do they come from?

Along that path toddlers shall try their first walks alone

While their mothers, absent mindedly mind you, smoke,

And by doing so look the other way out of a wish

Not to be dragged for too long by the children

Into dreamless worlds when the day seems never to end.

You shall sigh in understanding to be a mother is never easy,

But as complicated it may seem, still worse are the men

Who leave too often the women behind to cope alone -

If only marriage was not just a mirror of inadequacies

Felt every time when you think to return home

Where formidable stairs in need to be climbed await you

Only possible to reach the 10th floor when you can uplift your soul

Despite knowing at the stock market they gamble on values

Soaring higher than the birds now that you have returned

As mythical figure of fortune for men who are without love.


The marathon runner

Her beautiful legs certainly look like

she could easily run the entire day,

on and on, through crowded streets

or while crossing Brookelyn Bridge

still able to look down at barges and ships

passing underneath in noble silence

till they blast their horns as salute

when passing the Statue of Liberty

standing there to greet those who fled

hell as sign here begins a safe exile.

She made sure to stay in the Marathon race

winding through Manhatten till in Central Park

where it ended they could throw themselves

happily exhausted into the grass

and to cherish their feat portrayed

by the New Yorker in the next edition

in satirical form as a surreal campaign

initiated by those who wished to declare war

against laziness and obesity.

There is some nemesis in such an attempt

to overcome the static of age

marked by aching back and heavy lungs.

Always New York stands aside,

and just smiles, knowing to appraise

like the wise aunt, the New York Times,

that all things will abide with time.

But then you think about that unborn child

while walking back home past Brooklyn Museum

where dreams about art are stored

for future generations to explore

till they find something true to say

about the life of that marathon runner

with some links to the Greek light.


Borders of Madness

You don't give away anything,

do you! But don't throw me away,

at least not just right now.

As city you need to sustain

me so that I can live even if madness

prevails since life seems to be possible

only on the dark side of the moon.


I have asked you many a times

but due to melancholy, or the Blues,

I have forgotten your name.


The chestnut tree simply will not do

to hang someone, even if you stay

around Washington Square

where policemen on horses

shall look down at you to check

if they need to drive you

out of a town ruled by the wind.


It is an easy ride by subway

out to the Bronx, but along the way

everyone incurrs a deficit of sunlight

and only papers seem to gather

at the gutter when everything else

remains absolutely still

like abandoned bottles

cast into streets instead of rivers

so that no message arrives

in time to revive a broken heart.


I listen carefully when someone

speaks especially when something

glitters like Gold through broken teeth,

and claims his brother went off

to join the army promising paradise

compared to what exists here.


In frames formed like horseshoes

many try their luck to find a job,

but half way there to the interview

a woman bumps into me and suggests

an alternative route through life

is what all prefer compared to dark alleys

of broken limps and drowned out cries

by the children asking for more

than what the taxman can demand

since you stand up to life only as long

as you can pay your bills on time.


With promises roller coasting in like waves

before election day, there is no way to tell

those political parties apart since all join in

when the ticket parade passes by Manhattan

and every building there displays open windows

when otherwise work is done behind closed doors

for whatever happens at the stockmarket,

it has to remain a deep secret

shared only by Salamon Brothers

and others who like to know how to connect

Europe, Japan and USA 24 hours around the clock

till decisions are made by the executive

driving finally home to his wife

waiting in the suburbs for a relieve

from yet another boring day

spend at the gym, then the supermarket

and finally with the kids

coming back from school

to take them to sleep

before dad gets home.


To plea with you out of hunger

after another devasting day

means I need to spend more time

near borders of madness

drawn lucidly by those

who consume on 5th avenue

all kinds of goods they don't need

except to claim they obtained

that purse, this suit, the ring

just there where it counts

to have been at least once in your life

as if madness is a dream come true.


So when crossing Time Square

to greet yet another New Year

something special is in the air

when standing at the threshold

of a new century and realizing

the Iron Curtain has been lifted.

It lets politicians risk to promise

they will stomp out besides corruption

the reason to go to war, and thus

they make the new world appear

as something everyone can believe in,

even by all those strangers

coming to that novel town

Frank Sinatra sang about

as being New York, New York.


Indeed, you are no stranger to strangers

and therefore ready to give to everyone

a ticket to ride into their dreamt off paradise.



I nominate you for President

even though you are only a city

but even if you don't run as fast

as the other candidates manage to do

I believe you will catch up with everyone

before they cross the finishing line.

I see already the blue banners and red ribbons

decorating your great chest behind which

a still greater heart pumps blood

into every vein becoming streets

filled with life around the clock.

See! The folks are already waiting for you,

but like any true winner you need

to be recognized while running down

that last mile, that last stretch of smile

worn thin by politics off the air for now.


Afterwards in Central Park

They need to sweep clean

the elongated streets

after the ticket parade

passed by Central Park

where joggers pass other folks

spread out like mushrooms

over the grass after the rain

had receded and again the eyes

could see the skyline of houses

forming a rim like those haircuts

made along a soup bowl

put simply over the head of the child

if only to be a bit taller than the trees

making sure this is a park, and not

a parking lot to let things play out

till the next rain makes everyone dash

for shelter not of their own making.


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