“One Day” by Max Sessner

Max Sessner


Everything comes back to haunt us
one day the boy you beat
up a long time ago
stands before you in the street car
he is like you now around
sixty his hair thin like
yours generally he looks 
like you moves like 
you as he approaches you
walks past gets off
at the next stop
that was it you turn
after him and note 
the stop and tomorrow
you will forget it
Translated from the German by Francesca Bell

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022
Tribute to Translation


Max Sessner was born in 1959 in Fürth, Germany. He has long lived with his wife in Augsburg and has held a wide variety of jobs, working as a bookseller for the Augsburg public library, and currently for the department of public health. Sessner is the author of eight books of poetry including, most recently, Das Wasser von Gestern (The Water of Yesterday). | Francesca Bell: “I first came upon the poems of Max Sessner in the pages of the Austrian literary journal manuskripte. I was reading German-language journals with an eye toward finding a poet in whose work I could immerse myself, and those first eleven Sessner poems caught my attention and held it fast. I wrote immediately to ask permission to translate them. In Max Sessner’s work, I found a poetry that is simultaneously melancholy and funny, deeply tender and yet eviscerating. His voice is entirely, profoundly his own, and his poems, deceptively accessible, contain complex, often uncanny, ideas and sentiments. I remain fascinated and humbled by how deftly he uses surrealism, not to obscure reality, but to illuminate it.” (web)

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