Jan Wagner Poems

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Botanic garden

weighing up my words to you -
silent couples drifting to and fro,
beds of fallen leaves, the naked trees,
the blooms of fences blue as verdigris,

Haute coiffure

the gaze was gripped by the mirror's golden vice:
she with red nails, I with white
cloth, covered like a museum-piece.


we met them in the woods within a clearing:
two expeditions passing through the twilight
eyeing one another silently. between us the nervy
telegraphic buzzing of a swarm of gnats.

Autumn vilanelle

the days' light is running out
and an hour lasts a mere ten minutes.
the trees were playing their last colours.

Provincial bar rooms

behind the bar facing the door
the framed photograph of the football team
smiling heroes whose faces betray nothing

Small town elegy

the shadow caravans that every morning
made tracks, and the carwash installation
that always awoke out of a clear sleep.

Nature morte

a mighty fish, laid out on newspaper,
a table of wood in a cottage in
normandy. quite still, quite warm - the air is
knitting woollen socks. you can touch him or

The West

the river thinks in fish. what was it then
that sergeant henley first wrested
from it, the eyes yellow and locked, the barbels
two firehooks around the ash-grey mouth

Guericke's sparrow

„ … more exquisite than gold, devoid
of all becoming or passing away …"
- Otto von Guericke -


„I am the ninth, a bad position.
But he's still walking."
(Günter Eich)