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Poems by Ron Winkler

Translated by Jake Schneider


it was more than touristy
the way you laid shadows in Montmartre,
incessant crucivisitor at Place Sacré Coeur,
in the robes of a sacred, atheist gesture…

you said it lacked for height, multiple layers
of springtime, that and what you called
home linguistics, which was just as wrong
as your recap for that garçon:
I had the snow – can we pay please? – and with a
gulp: bitten-off language.

then we tossed the tip to the guys
sipping Saint Pigalle with their dogs
for the smell of endearment in the streets,
akin to wax and dish soap,
that rinsed around your one-lane
show, right on target, but

harder to substantiate
than our renewable, Sahel-colored impression
of the city in one of its bamboo winters,
where you harvested walking sticks
for cobweb days.
the time was now.


our arrival was catastrophically lovely,
the sky scenically colorless, and the present
like a precise body of water.
we collected gods and polished
them late into the night. the air was
big. there were chanted animals,
apparitions with idiosyncratic panicles.
most of it looked possible.
we felt strikingly now.

for Christiane Wohlrab

the pyramids seem
lifted from a textbook on aesthetics.
hawkers swoop in with vocabulary
for withstanding their beauty.
the hieroglyph for stoicism
must be a camel.
pretty soon everyone succumbs
to the heliopuncture of the sun.
to see other old gods, there’s
an entrance fee. the Sphinx
has been known to convey
a rather inaccurate picture.


the way I knew you, as a chant from naked fragrant June,
and the way you could hasten your hair, was a trip
to a southern condition. there were four-lipped coasts there,
the touch of acacia, and in the dunes behind them we exchanged
unusual light, an almost genetic correspondence
that we called an altar and where we deposited deep sea nights,
little jellyfish sensualities under the auspices
of our eye bugs and sometimes our heron joints.
I researched in you the most fantastical metaphors
of this century and tended to the feral zoo
of your glances. we oystered around each other oceanically, as
we belonged among those who had shamanic dreams
and those who are dreamt of shamanically. I was
never so two as with you.

Ron Winkler, Fragmentierte Gewässer, Berlin Verlag 2007 © Schöffling & Co. Verlagsbuchhandlung, Frankfurt am Main

Ron Winkler Photo: private
Ron Winkler, born in 1973, is the author of five collections of poetry and two volumes of flash fiction. Winkler has given readings in thirteen countries and his poems have been translated into twenty-one languages, with English translations appearing in over a dozen literary journals including Circumference, the Chicago Review, Washington Square, and Jubilat. His poetry collection Fragmented Waters, excerpted here, has been translated on a grant from the US National Endowment for the Arts and is currently seeking a publisher.

Jake Schneider Photo: private
Jake Schneider is a writer, translator, and New Jersey native. After studying creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, in 2012 he received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship to translate Ron Winkler’s poetry – the youngest recipient to date – and has lived in Berlin ever since. He has also translated poetry by Marius Hulpe, Silke Scheuermann, and Thien Tran; an assortment of Austrian fiction excerpts for the Literaturhaus in Vienna; and an eclectic range of non-fiction including books about cave climbing, paper planes, and narcissism. In February 2015 he hosted ‘Untranslatable: Exploring the Boundaries of Translation’, a reading and concert featuring nine translators’ original renditions of allegedly untranslatable texts.