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NAKED CITY POEMS
real estate
city of flies
mutt's blues
wanky lullaby
black elvis tcb
lousy spring song
+ 2012 TRACK!
as happy as the king
gasmark one and two
verses from an empty nest

SWARTH AS A CITY POET * TRANSLATIONS BY WILLEM GROENEWEGEN * ORDER YOUR COPY VIA E--MAIL
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city of flies

Did you startle awake? Yes, I startled awake.
And the city? The city was gone. No city,
no poet. Relief all round (the fear of

growing up. He who wants to grow up must go.
He who wants to grow up must stand on his own
two feet (wearing half an eggshell as a hat doesn’t help.
Is he growing hair yet? No, he’s still bald as a coot.

A poof? A leather poof. To rest one’s legs?
We could shout at him. Or we could cover him in shit.
He’ll lay his eggs in it (or the city will serve him

a corrective slap on the butt (don’t get yourself
all worked up, son of a Pot Pisser, son of the
Modern Industrial Town, Forever Clean Town,
made in X-burg, life-bearing rock-hard corpse, you.

 

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wanky lullaby

A night like a whiff of poppers:
short, forceful, beating heart;
the other, turning away to light up
a ciggy.
You, dear city, are mine.

Or you stand at a bus stop, waiting.
And darkness wears a knife.
And darkness drives vehicles through its
mistaken veins, the spectacle goddess pulls
pectorals into her black hole.
You, dear city, are mine.

Or when we bore down on you with a child
and the child had neither arms nor legs, belly
nor breast; was just a head, a bawling
ball – and all we did was score.
You, dear city, are mine.

And yes, the busses are on time, and yes:
I don’t give a rat’s arse about poets, who make
things fairer
than they are (and then call it consolation).
You, dear city, are mine.

Or we down our pints, have a piss.
We pencil in a street or rub it out.
You, dear city, are mine.

Or in the moonlight, a wall, a felt-tip
in the moonlight.

You, dear city, are mine.
   
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lousy spring song

Along the ring roads the shutters are opening.
Hurrah, there are yobbo’s in the streets once more.
Walk the dog, time to ration our fare.
I want this song to sound like a general pardon,
a hurrah for ‘skaeve huse’ and new squares,
for snowdrop, hazel and gladiola.

Hurrah to invoice and zoning plan.
Hurrah to getting one’s hands dirty, puking down
from the topmost floor.
Long live the architect, long live the seasoned builder
and the town planner.
Sow your seed in X-burg’s soil, take to task
what nobody graced with toil.

Help the OAPs onto the bus – free rides last longest.
Hurrah to frightened citizens, to the eggs of fear,
to terrorists, migrant birds and cooped up chickens.
Hurrah to belly buttoned lolitas holding neon alcopops
to pouting lips.

Oh, and lest I forget:
One big mac meal, two big macs
One mac chicken meal, nine nuggets
One chicken happy meal and four sachets of ketchup
please

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gas mark one and two

1. A gas works, this much we know. Gasometers
on Buitenstraat. Concrete cooling towers, quickly
dismantled.

Gas was different then, this much we know. It wanted
sacrifices, scoffed fire, black gold, drank litres of sweat.
It was born again every day.

I passed my days by the oven, held up my pants with
a rope
bare-breasted, head covered, madness by pilot
light, everyday madness
coal chomping in the stove, both legs firmly rooted
poking through the ashes.
The way it was, over and out.
Alright, I may have spiced it up a bit.

2. Like that one time (anecdote), that one time when
when that balloon
when in forty-seven that balloon, when at the liberation
celebration
when during that balloon trip, notwithstanding six hundred
cubic metres
of municipal gas, the balloon failed to lift off the ground

The gas in this city is
meant for cooking, not for flying
the gas works said through one of its

We knew (nothing) (but could have known)

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mutt’s blues

Fido is a fierce little stump, Fido is a
dirty maroon-coloured mongrel
Fido shivers at rubber boots that stand
right under a skirt and
at deranged mumbling in peppered speech

A Dutch backyard, a Jap camp
djahé, saté, sausage ‘n’ mash
Eternally faithful to the smell of the past,
a slipper and a tapping leg
(where has time gone) (time stays behind)

In his kingdom of fear loudness lasts
longest: the trigger halts, the penny drops
the machine dives onto his breast, shows its
teeth and starts up, always up
up up bow wow wow – and never down

Now Fido’s dying
No one’s really crying, his heaven
our memories, once again a trip in the
treadmill of tough luck

up up bow wow wow – and never down
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Black Elvis TCB

How are you?
Well. And you?
Would you like anything?
Like what?
Coke.
No, thanks. Don’t do drugs. Just alcohol.
Me too. And coke. Nothing on me, but I can get it real quick. What do you do?
I’m a writer. I write poems, stories, you name it.
You look great. Want to join me in the back?
No, thanks, I’m on my way home.
Which way?
That way.
I’m heading that way too. I live in the West End. What’s your name?
Nick. And you?
Elvis.
Nice name. Elvis, the King.
The King of rock ‘n’ roll…yeah, he’s not too bad.
That’s true. And what do you do? Work, I mean?
I live in the Q. You know the Q?
Ahh-huh.
I have a room there. Nice room. I do the dishes sometimes. Other chores.
And besides that?
Oh, I visit relatives. My mum or my brother. Which way you heading?
H-street. Is where I live.
That’s where I’m going.
This is where I live.
Come to my place for a cuppa…
No, mate, have to work. Elvis, man, nice to meet you.
Nice to you…meeting too, man.

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verses from an empty nest

My father took the city with him (and he died)
He went and took his city with him
that was also ours, but sooner his
in the same way it is now sooner ours, than that of
the child born yesterday

To the centre of the city to
inhabit an unfurnished room
no money from the wall, not a sou for rent
I am out and counted, fee fi fo fum

In X-burg, rather out of kilter
stripping the land of Hole and Nether
leafing through words
I share an empty balloon with the shadows
get nastier by the picture-frame

Make a call at Shukri Telecom, long distance to
myself at the cheapest rate
Hello, not in right now, you can’t get through
leave a message after the tone
Peep-peep hello, peep-peep hello (beep beep beep)

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as happy as the king of pavement cafés

I look like the bald queen of the night
of both persuasions, but mostly cockerel
or capon at the usual, well stacked fest
cackling and pecking at someone else’s crest

who in front of the TV got rid of hunger
making McWar, with all the chip darts pointing
painfully in the same direction, sceptre in the
lap under a skirt of feeble flesh.

As happy as a king and cordial with his consort,
Prince Pint, holds a ball in the land of Hole and Nether.
‘I’m sitting in the pavement café and drink a pint, you’re
in the pavement café drinking pints – poverty? Here?’

Or exposes himself and dances like a whirling dervish,
Orang Orang Tilbo, morphed Donald Duck; while
the princes – fourteen, fifteen years – pummel
pissed for respect, burping with the bourgeois and younguns

or barfing against a pane. Who, when the end of night
is nigh and a taxi pulls up with the meter running,
doesn’t know where to go, only that it’s in the back of beyond.
If only that blue blood wouldn’t rush quite so loudly.

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real estate

Show apartment.
She wasn’t a barrel of laughs. Not in her nature. Neither
before nor after (good meat, badly cut).

Front garden.
A corpse veers through the city. Oh poo, now there’s
two.
I’m shitting bricks, there’s four, five, six.
A corpse is time’s fist (those who duck in time
won’t lose their teeth).

A door slams opens, a door slams shut.
Angry young fun-shoppers bide their time.

Housing-honey
He pronounces puzzle as piss-hole, would like to
lay it down, a piece to him, then one to me
# Sweet, sweet, sweet, you make my hm-hm complete
(after that Man City, football on tv).

Show-box.
The visual fasting did him good.
After a day-and-a-half he could hear his toenails
grow once more
(one month later he went deaf)

     
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X-burger Swarth, city poet of X-burg 2005-2007

It took the city a while to adapt. On 28 August 2005 the office of city poet was taken up by Swarth: bald, dressed in black trousers, black t-shirt, bomber jacket, wearing a red dog collar around his neck. His comments on the town were unsettling, demeaning, nasty and sometimes vicious.
Initially het tried out a songlike text structure. However, the linear poems this resulted in, turned out to be to anecdotal. In the end he found a verse form which connected perfectly with his usual method and with the city. X-burg, and in fact every city, is characterised by stratifications and fragmentation. By coordinating images, snippets, fragments, each based on a concept of theme, poems were created that touched upon the town's kaleidoscopic character and soul.
Although Swarth was aware of the fact that this kept part of his reading audience at a distance, it proved to be the only acceptable way for him. The epithet 'crowd teaser' suited him far better than 'crowd pleaser'.
The poet turned out to be averse to so-called occasional verse. Hardly interested in current issues, the events of the day, he looked for the universal, for the town's soul.
To expose this heart was what he considered his task, thereby hopefully transcending what is typical of X-burg and putting into wordswhat is universally valid. "And that just can't be done through writing blurbs." He called himself 'poet of X-burg' for a good reason.

Excerpt from the introduction by Ingrid Luyckx

   
   
  breath
Newcastle alley in which Morden Tower is located Presenting the first copy to the sheriff of Newcastle
     
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