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Anne Buerki

Café des Pyrenées

As the weather forecast predicted,
snow came down on this town.
It fell overnight in unhurried violence
and silenced sight and sound.

The waitress at the coffee bar
ploughs over to their table
with a cup of melted snow.
What else would you expect?

Three older men, already frozen;
the woman is still fighting it,
her hair neatly icicled,
not dripping,
her frosty lashes shivering,
still thawing on her skin.

The dog’s nose pokes her hand;
nothing there for him to sniff.
I see his eyes,
I see his tail,
struggling through the snow
like a defective windshield wiper.

Leaving Eastern Germany, 1986

Waking with a shudder,
feeling him stir –
it’s the wind in hair and curtain.
The train’s a ship between continents
with her as unhappy captain.

She’s left him.

Two weeks ago she’d come
to the land of cabbage-pale people,
sharing compartment and small talk
with retired citizens coming back in.
They all claimed innocence
in front of the man with the dog;
she sailed through in the wake of the cucumber king.
(‘Have some, it’s good against thirst.’)

She’s left him.

First stop after the border
he waited, her republic prince,
her coal-smell adventure,
romance between overgrown tracks.
Heading east,
as trains grew slower, colder,
on wooden benches
there was plenty to do for their hands.

But now she’s left
wild song, woven alleys.
She’s left
the land of sunken tales.
She’s left
gray dawns peeled by roosters.

She’s not one to marry.
She’s left him behind.

Like a battered old swan into water

Like a battered old swan into water
the woman steps off the train –
one foot,
the other,
the freckled hand last to let go.

the crowd, simmering behind her,
and parts
as a river for an island.

from shoulder-bag to shoes –
one step,
another –
hennaed hair fanfaring her way.


It rattles the shutters,
shakes the chimes,
a wild bamboo bone dance.

It sails the tarp,
summersaults a watering can
– red –
across the yard.

It bows elder pine trees,
quivers bushy youngsters;
flies hair and leaves,
drives trash and clouds.

My thoughts will kite a ridge.
They’ll whirl and swirl,
they’ll flutter and rise,
then hold –
and glow
in the wind.

Stepping out

Stepping out
into a Saturday-quiet street
flashed me right back
to a campground on Big Sur:
same tired smell of fallen leaves,
same absent-minded silence
of an early autumn morning.

Ducking out of the little camper
I try not to wake you,
ancient pharaoh, blindfolded
with a red bandana.

This is no morning
for feather-teasing,
no rabbit-nose twitches,
no muted giggles until
your nose is completely off-center
and has to be put back in line.

I let you sleep,
my hibernating hero,
my true love of today.

I let my feet go
for puddles of leaves
and zigzag my way to the shower,
devour the chocolate you’ve left in my pile
while, slowly, the world gains colour.

The place is deserted;
we’re a weekend’s leftovers.
The showers are empty
and I take my time.

Halfway through my elephant solo
and three of my quarters down the drain,
a sudden fear makes my pulse stammer
and turns the water cold.

I left you alone –
door unlocked –
you asleep.

I try to pretend
I’m a grown-up woman –
I’m out of the door
before the water is off.

Running, of course, I lose my towel,
whirl around, pick it up – and on,
and finally, through the trees, our little camper
and a ranger – picking up trash.

I slowly walk up to the car.
Things are still as I left them,
and you are still asleep,

my hibernating hero,
today’s true love of mine.


In the following performance poem every ‘x’
represents a finger snip and every capitalised word
is especially noticeably stressed.

This is a Vatican xx x Rap

WHAT’S the pope, WHAT’S the nun,
what the hell, what the fuck are they doing here?
And up and down
and back and forth
and come and go
– O –
that was a blow

What a good place
to give it a try,
those long empty hallways,
   nobody in sight.

Maybe little crisp,
   little chill, little brisk,
   but when you go strong
   you’ll be plenty warm.

WHAT’S the pope, WHAT’s the nun,
what the hell, what the fuck are they doing here?
      And up and down
      and back and forth
      andcome andgo
            – O –
               that was a blow!

   Now she is a pro,
   what know-how, what style,
   while he is just clumsy,
   ’twill take him a while.

WHAT’S the pope, WHAT’S the nun,
what the hell, what the fuck are they doing here?
      And up and down
      and back and forth
            – O –

      Ain’t easy xx
                              Inline x

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The Showcase section features writings by several workshop participants. The following authors all have their separate pages:

Milena Diviani

Alan Greiner

Lucy Hay

Matt Kimmich

Nicolette Kretz

Margret Powell-Joss

Sara Probst

Matthias Rüegger

Sripriya Sitaraman

Hans-Jürg Suter

Brigit Zogg