Deep under these smiles, as though in a coffin,
The terrible, repressed, wise complaints
About the fact that we are forced into this existence,
Jammed in, firmly and inescapably trapped
As though in jail, and we wear chains,
Confusing, hard, that we do not understand.
And the fact that each man is distant and estranged from himself
As though from a neighbor whom he does not know at all,
And whose house he has always only seen from the outside.
Sometimes, when I am shaving a chin,
Knowing that a whole life
Is in my power, that I am now master,
I, a barber, and that a missed stroke,
A slice too deep, cuts off the round, cheerful head
That lies before me (he is thinking of a woman,
Books, business) from his body,
As though it were a loose button on a vest—
I am overcome. Then the feeling came over me... this animal.
Is there. The animal... both my knees knock.
And like a small boy tearing paper
Without knowing why,
And like students who kill gas lamps,
And like children who turn so red
When they tear the wings of captured flies,
So I would like to do the same,
As if it were a slip,
To make a scratch with my knife on such a chin.
I would too gladly watch the red stream of blood spray.
A certain Rudolf called out:
I have eaten too much.
Whether it’s healthy is very questionable.
After such a greasy lunch
I really feel uncomfortable.
But I belch beautifully and smoke
Cigarettes now and then.
Lying on my heavy belly,
I chirp nothing but songs of spring.
Longingly, as though on a ramp
The voice squeals from the throat.
And like an old lamp
The wind blackens the bitter soul.
A Barkeeper’s Coarse Complaint
It’s enough to make me throw the chair through
the panes of the
mirror Into the street—
There I sit with raised eyebrows:
All bars are full,
My bar is empty—isn’t that terrific...
Isn’t that strange... isn’t that enough to make you puke,,,
The damned jerks—the miserable phonies—
Everyone goes right by me...
Here I am burning gas and electricity—
May God and the devil damn me to hell:
Damn It all... why is my bar the only empty one...
Grumpy, reproachful waiters standing around—
It is my fault—
Not one damned person comes to the door—
Cramped in a corner I sit with a hopeful face.
No customers come.—
The food rots, the wine and bread.
I might as well shut the joint.
And cry myself to death.