“It Is” by Max Sessner

Max Sessner


Sunday and the bells
tolling to services one last
look in the mirror and
the pastor climbs into the pulpit
I want a new car
Father in heaven but something always
goes amiss and so we find
instead in the evening an
injured blackbird in the garden you make
your dress bloody as you
carry it gently into the house it doesn’t
bother you maybe you say
we’ll remember this day years from now
or we’ll dream of it
my dear your hair by the way
is going gray bit by bit and the bird will
likely not survive the night


—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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