“August Evening” by Max Sessner

Max Sessner


and chlorine scent on my shirt from
the swimming pool the aunts
are there smiling slipping me
small change and what do you
want to be someday they
ask the spirit I say of the
boy who drowned last
year while swimming
his bicycle still stood in winter
in front of the pool oh they sigh
and one scuttles to the bathroom
no one budges until
finally there’s a flush


—translated from the German by Francesca Bell

from Rattle #61, Fall 2018


Max Sessner: “Why do I love poems? Every morning, I rode the bus from the village into the city to school. At one station, the old poet boarded. He was fat and looked friendly, a little like Pablo Neruda. He seated himself with the women who were also riding into the city. Unexpectedly, he began to recite his poems. The women laughed. I was impressed. They maybe weren’t especially good poems, but what does that mean? For a moment, the bus was a driving poem, and I sat inside it.” (web)

Francesca Bell: “I discovered Max Sessner’s poems in an Austrian journal called Manuskripte five months ago. Since then, I have translated 39 of them. His poems have a delicious combination of deep melancholy and dark humor, a mixture I am unable to resist, one I return to again and again. I’m proud and grateful to be the first person to translate his beautiful work into English.” (web)

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