Andreas Weiland


Years ago, after the lights of the auditorium went out
slit-up pigs, dead peasants, people in flight, rolling
thru the underbrush: The battle! 
And suddenly the face of death, bald, on his bony horse
The colors turned pale, but there was the red flow
of blood from the carcasses of animals, Jakubisko; and your film
ran amuck, your voice suffocated from blood; you had to
show everything, not to say it. 
                                               The Deserters
decompose, the Wanderers are still on their way; then
one of my acquaintances talked of your nihilism, I believe
he too wd not have given you a chance to continue working...
While I, following an offer to work, have reached the distant city
And again, the face of death has appeared: showing
the same traits; in the street leading into town
I have seen it from the wall 
of a small restaurant, looking at me, for a long time – 
closer, colder, than the masks shown on television
And the thought crossed my mind / to get up
and walk slowly towards the wall with its face
of death, and the displayed submachine gun
For a moment, I want it to be loaded
Hearing shots which put holes into death


Deserteure und Wanderer

Vor Jahren – die Lichter im Auditorium ging’n aus
aufgeschnittene Schweine, tote Bauern, Menschen auf der Flucht
rollten durchs Dickicht:  Die Schlacht!
und plötzlich das Antlitz des Todes:  kahl, auf dem knochigen Pferd
Die Farben wurden fahl / aber da war der Strom des Bluts
aus den Leichen der Tiere, Jakubisko; und dein Film
lief Amok, deine Stimme /  erstickte im Blut; du musstest es
alles zeigen, nicht sagen.
                                        Die Deserteure
verwesen; die Wanderer / sind noch unterwegs; damals
beschuldigte einer meiner Bekannten / des Nihilismus dich; und ich glaub
auch er hätte dir keine Chance gegeben,  weiterzumachen, mit Deiner Arbeit
Während ich, auf der Suche nach Arbeit, kam in die ferne Stadt
Und wieder seh ich das Antlitz des Todes wie es mich anblickt, lang – 
näher jetzt, kälter, als die Masken die sie zeigen im Fernseh’n
und berührt davon, fühl ich den Wunsch,  mich zu erheben
geh in Gedanken langsam zu auf die Wand  mit dem Photo
des Todes / und der Maschinenpistole die sie hängten daneben
Einen Moment lang wünsche ich, sie wäre geladen
höre Schüsse, die ihn durchbohren, den Tod

A Slovak translation of this poem appeared in the cultural journal ROMBOID (Bratislava).

The poem was written in a small “noodle restaurant” in Tamshui (Taiwan, China), in 1977 or 1978. The portrait of the bald-headed Generalissimo Jiang Jiezi (Chiang Kaishek) grinning at me bore a striking resemblance to the general on horse-back in Juraj Jakubisko’s film Deserters and Wanderers: it embodied for me the same figure of “death.” Actually, the (probably pro-K.M.T.) owner of the restaurant had hung a submachine gun next to the portrait, for decorative as well as “patriotic” reasons.
Two or three miles north of Tamshui, a lot of carcasses of those murdered by the K.M.T. regime on Feb. 28, 1947 in the Taipei area, had been dumped into the sea, after having been carted there by U.S. supplied army trucks. The fishermen of Tamshui and Bali had buried those swept ashore again, in the following days but nobody dared to speak about it publicly, even in the late 1970s. Taiwan was still under martial law.

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