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- The Verse of Alfred Lichtenstein - 3/10 -

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... Bloody mess... 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.

A Trouble-making Girl

It's certainly late. I must earn something. But they're all going right by today with smug expressions on their faces. They don't want to give me a single good-luck penny. It's a miserable life. If I come home without money The old lady will throw me out. There is hardly anyone on the street any more. I am dead tired and freezing. I was never so miserable in my life. I move around here like a piece of meat. Finally someone comes over: An extremely well-dressed man-- But in this life one can't tell much By appearances. He's also quite older. (they have more money, Young ones tend to cheat you.) We are face-to-face. I raise my clothes above the knee. I can get away with that. That's the big draw.. Like flies to the light The guys are drawn to us goats... The John is certainly standing over there. He is staring. He winks. Now I'll go right by him... I think: he will give me a big piece of gold. Then I get drunk in secret on expensive liquor, That's still the best: sometime--alone To be drunk quietly, for myself-- Or I can buy new shoes... I won't have to go around in mended socks-- Or... sometime I won't go out walking the streets. And take a rest from the guys-- Or... I'm already looking forward to this... I'm so happy-- Here comes Kitty. And scares the man off.

The Drunkard

One must guard oneself ever so carefully against Howling, without any reason, like an animal. Against pouring beer over the faces of all the waiters, And kicking them in their faces. Against shortening the disgusting time Spent lying in a gutter. Against throwing oneself off a bridge. Against hitting friends in the mouth. Against suddenly, while dogs bark, Tearing the clothes off a well-fed body. Against hurling into any old beloved woman's Thighs one's dark skull.

A Lieutenant General Sings

I am the Division Commander, His Excellency. I have attained what is humanly possible. A lovely consciousness. In front of me Important people and chiefs of regiments Bend their knees, And my generals Obey my commands. God willing, my next command will be An entire military corps. Women, drama, music Do not interest me much. Compared to parades and battles, That does not amount to much. Would that there were an endless war With bloody, howling winds. Ordinary life Has no charm for me.

Falling in the River

Drunk, Lene Levi walked In the neighboring streets nightly Back and forth, screaming, "auto." Her blouse was opened, So that one saw her fine, fascinating Underclothing and skin. Seven horny little men ran After Lene.

Seven horny little men chased Lene Levi for her body, Thinking about what it costs. Seven men, otherwise very respectable, Forgot their children and art, Science and factory. And they ran as though possessed After Lene Levi. Lene Levi stopped On a bridge, catching her breath, And she lifted her blurred blue Drunken glances in the wide Sweet darkness above The street lamps and the houses. Seven randy little men though Caught Lene's eye.

Seven randy little men tried To touch Lene Levi's heart. Lene remained unapproachable. Suddenly she jumped up on the railing, Turns up her nose at the world for the last time, Joyfully jumps into the river. Seven pale little men ran, As quickly as they could, out of the place.

A Poor Man Sings

Those were fine times, when I still Walked in silk socks and wore underpants, Sometimes had ten marks to spare, in order To hire a woman, bored in the day Night after night I sat in the coffeehouse. Often I was so sated that I Did not know what to order for myself.


A fat young man plays with a pond. The wind has caught itself in a tree. The pale sky seems to be rumpled, As though it had run out of makeup. On long crutches, bent nearly in half And chatting, two cripples creep across the field. A blond poet perhaps goes mad. A little horse stumbles over a lady. A fat man is stuck to a window. A boy wants to visit a soft woman. A gray clown puts on his boots. A baby carriage shrieks and dogs curse.

The Night

Sleepy policemen waddle under streetlights. Broken beggars grumble when they sense people. On some corners powerful streetcars stutter. And plush cabs drop into the stars. Among rough houses whores hobble back and forth, Sadly swinging their ripe behinds.

The Verse of Alfred Lichtenstein - 3/10

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