The official illustrator (he was the best in his year at art college)
Wide open. Eyes wide open. He drew. A hand. It was still holding the ring of a grenade. A head, still in its helmet. Mud. A bloated horse. Swords. He walked over corpses. Sat on the bloated horse. The stench of death. The stench of decay. The stench of last thoughts. He drew. But no one drew them, the eyes of the war reporter.
I heard a ticking and turned around. There was a large, white clock on the wall with two black hands, the thin second hand moving little by little. “What’s that?” my eyes asked. “Oh, that just turns for decoration” said the devil.
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An Unsentimental Question in the Night   
The storm came suddenly. Sure, it had looked like rain. For half an hour, the wind had stopped blowing, it had become quiet. Quiet apart from the cries of the birds. But what came next defied all memory. Suddenly, everything went dark. I’ve never seen anything like this, thought the old man. He hurried through the night, which had just been day. Through currents of water, which had just been beach. The water came from the sea and from the sky. It came from all directions. The water plummeted and rushed, pounded and buffeted. As if Poseidon were emptying the sea, thought the old man of a sudden. Emptying as if upturning a bath. He wasn’t hurrying anymore. He was running. Diving. First he wanted to get home. That was too far away. Then he wanted to get to the next yard. Even that was too far. He tried to make out his hand at the end of his outstretched arm. He winced at the harsh sting of the rain on his skin. His hand, he couldn’t see it anymore.  Forget about getting home, swirled around inside his head. Forget the yard. Just get to the dunes. I want to get out of here. Water washed around his feet. It’s the rain, he whispered. Just the rain. But it was already up to his ankles. The ground was too soft to be sand. The water was too deep to be rain.  It was coming from the sea. It was a flood. No, groaned the old man. Where were the dunes? He had been walking straight ahead. Where was the damned sun? Everything around him was water. Water from above and water from below. The old man forced himself to stand still. The water was rising. In front, it wasn’t the dunes; in front, was the sea. He ran into the flood. The old man shivered. He took a deep breath, then turned around. He had to get back. He took one more breath and started to run. Run without stopping. The rain was coming from the right. If I run fast, I’ll run straight, he thought. So he ran fast. He made good progress. I’ll only know if I’m running to the dunes when I get to the end, he thought. And when I get there, I’ll either be right or wrong. I’ll know soon. Soon. He started to shiver again. No time to think now, he told himself. Just time to run, without thinking. So he ran, without thinking. The rain was falling diagonally now. The wind has changed direction, he thought. It’s the wind. And he ran on, without thinking. In front, the dunes. He hurried on through the night. The rain came from right in front now. The wind has changed direction again, the old man thought. It’s the wind. The water flowed around his ankles again. The old man took a deep breath. Without stopping, he gave himself one last instruction: to the left. It’s my last chance, he thought. Either I’m right, or I’m wrong. If the wind has changed direction, I’m lost. And he hurried on, faster and faster. Gasped, ran. And, like a flash, he felt the pain in his foot. He flailed his arms, grasped at thin air. Fell. Felt the sand. Held his foot without thinking. Then he fumbled around in the night. A beam - wood! His heart almost burst. Wood! Solid wood! He followed the beam, and felt a wall in front of him. A wall! He stumbled on, it must be an overturned boat. Laid out. A boat, which was laid out! I’m on sand, he thought, tired. I’ve made it. Still he stumbled on. About nine feet, he guessed. The boat was high enough, the old man crouched under the edge. It was dry. He curled up inside and caught his breath. I can wait here, he thought. Until morning. “Hello?” he heard, startling him. The voice came from next to him. “Hello!” he heard again, this time firmer, more menacing. “Hello,” the old man replied, uneasy. His voice stronger now: “I was running from the flood and bumped into the boat, sorry.” “I’m here because of the rain,” said the other. A figure came out of the dark, a shadow knelt in front of him. “I’m Pete,” said the shadow. Pete smelled of alcohol. The old man breathed out, the tension draining from his muscles. He almost laughed. “Hello, Pete,” he said. “I think there’s room for you here,” said Pete. The old man could have sworn that Pete was smiling. Pete was OK. The old man leant against the wood, as the rain pounded on it. “Do you want something to drink?” asked Pete. He held something to his chest, a bottle. It was still half full. The old man felt the rum pouring down his throat. He handed the bottle back to Pete. “Thanks,” he said. “No problem.” So they both sat there. The rain beat down on the boat. Like a melody. And they listened, endlessly. Maybe an hour had passed. Until Pete handed over the bottle again. The old man sat up. He wanted to say something, searched for the words. “I too have a boat like this,” he said finally, against the drumming. “With a motor and nets. You can be out there for days.” “Really?” said Pete. He moved closer. “Yes,” said the old man and wiped his mouth. The drumming was unbearable. He had to keep talking: “my boat is better than this one,” he heard himself say, “I’ve had it for a long time. 25 years. I had one before it, too, which was just as big”. He drew breath. The rain drummed down. The old man felt the rum. He lowered his voice: “When I was 20, they told me that I would never have a large boat. They were right, but I don’t care. It’s OK”. He took another gulp. “I don’t even have a boat,” said Pete and took the bottle back. The rain beat down its melody. So they sat there. Sat and listened to the rain. Until Pete handed over the bottle. “But I was outside, too,” said Pete. He straightened up. “On a ship!” The old man flinched, then turned his head. He almost whispered: “do you know Venice?” “I was there,” said Pete. He nodded. The old man leant his head on the wood and took a deep breath. He searched for words. “I think of Venice when I’m out on the water,” he said quietly. He took another sip. “I know everything about Venice.” He spoke more hurriedly. “I must have read ten books about it. In the evenings at home, I read the books. I know them all off by heart. And when I’m out on the water, I dream about it.” The rum felt good. He looked at Pete, his voice sounded hoarse: “Venice, I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world”. “Why am I telling him this?” thought the old man. “I don’t even know him.” Pete nodded slowly, then he turned his head: “why have you never been?”
Go to a graveyard if you can stone is longer than a man stone won’t remember beneath‘ man only man remembers man
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(copyright by Markus Witte)
It had only been three days. The old man was standing at the port; everything was still wet, and smelled like a wider world. The ships were as big as houses. The people on deck looked tiny. He blinked. So many ships. There would surely be an Italian one. He had taken the pets to the neighbour’s and stuck a piece of paper in the window. In three months, he would be back at home, presumably. The bench was sheltered from the wind. It was still wet. The old man sat down and fumbled for his rucksack. There wouldn’t be a ship today.
The Pianist (a large apartment in Budapest)
The day the great Ramin broke his hand… he had wanted to get on his bike once again and had fallen off just short of the waterfront… he sat with his plaster cast on the brown leather sofa… looked at the old photos on the walnut cabinet… and in his thoughts … he played...played...
14 circumnavigations (a tribute to the sonnets of William S.) And night has gone and moonlight still remains to light the sun to light the way of mine through all the dark trough all the heat it gains through all future eternities it shines oh wind and tides and ghosts before I die regard the miles I passed my limpid wings regard my humble aim I’m just a fly and out of darkness I passed fallen kings passed whispering and murmur love and hate passed bulbs and suns followed the distant light tell me did I already pass the gate it’s dangerous to death I can‘t decide the final goal the deadly aim I found when do I reach the flame that I surround
Noon There is no tree, there is no shield, there is no shadow on the field. There is no movement in the air, yellow horizons everywhere. The sun is high and stings your arm. Another summer has begun.
That thought it cut me like a knife I will be much longer dead then I’ll be alive
(translated)
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