Zeitgeistlyrik: Pedagogic Poems:
On Poetry (Satis Shroff)
An established bard motivated me,
A poet from the American mainstream.
Words of praise that soothed
And amused me.
He compared my lyrical fragments
With works of poets
Of whom I’d never heard.
A protest poem about a drunk landlady
Reminded of W. H. Auden.
A ballad about a Gurkha mother
He said: ‘the best of Auden
And E.E. Cummings in tone here.’
I greet the godliness in you.
We shall see again.
‘There is such a surprise and delight.
A triumphant moment (here).
A small miracle of revelation.’
* * *
Deleting Lives in the Cyberworld (Satis Shroff)
The young man and his double-clicks
In a cyberworld
Of bits and bytes,
Full of elves, tough turtles,
Warriors and evil beings,
Who destroy hamlets, towns,
At the command of a few clicks.
An unreal world
Where the fantasy stories
The elimination of farmers, slaves,
Knaves and enemy warriors,
But a click away.
You are the creator,
The maker and destroyer,
You are Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
Thumbs up or down,
Death to you,
HOOKED TO BITS & BITES (Satis Shroff)
You’re short of amphetamines.
It’s a long way to the apothecary.
You’re falling asleep.
Drowsy bits and bytes,
You haven’t taken a bite.
Your inner man is growling,
But you have no time,
For bodily needs.
To your bits and bytes.
Oh, it bites.
Groggy in the Afternoon (Satis Shroff)
Groggy from the Cyberworld at home,
Fritz goes to school.
He’s tired of school,
And is restless.
Retalin doesn’t seem to work today.
The lessons are irrelevant,
He sees not the classmates.
He sees the goblins, Power Rangers,
Sword-fighting Ninjas ,
Scores of other figures
With terrifying grimaces.
Fritz also makes a grimace.
He is now a monster in his thoughts,
Has to strike the others
Deficiency Syndrome (Satis Shroff)
The enemy surrounds him,
Laser-blades flash like lightning.
A gash and Fritz falls on the floor.
But rotates his prostrate torso
With his fast working legs,
Lashes out with his sword.
He’s almost killed them all.
He’s a hero who never gives up.
Suddenly he hears teacher Frau Hess’s voice:
‘Fritz, steh auf!’
He becomes calm,
Gone are the warriors, Power Rangers,
And super heroes and mighty enemies.
Fritz recognises his classmates,
Hans, Joachim, Cassandra, Brunhild,
As they shake their heads.
Was it a dream?
Oh je! Frau Hess will certainly call Mom.
And tell it all.
‘Scheiss ADS!’ mutters Kevin.
East Bloc Kid Goes West (Satis Shroff)
A pair of heavy, sharp scissors fly
In a dark Hauptschule classroom,
Thrown by an Aussiedler school-kid,
Near Freiburg’s Japanese Garden.
The scissors can slash your face,
You can be maimed for life,
If the sharp ends
Bury in your eyes,
Let there be light.
Vitaly, a boy from the former East Bloc
Comes to the West,
In search of ancestors and heritage.
What he gets is rejection but freedom.
Freedom to do as he pleases,
With pleasant negative sanctions.
‘Even in jail they have TV,’
He says with a laugh.
He grows up in a ghetto,
And his anger burns.
Anger at his ageing parents,
Who forced him to come to the West,
But who are themselves lost
In this new world
Of democratic, liberal values,
Luxurious and electronic consumer delights,
Where everyone cares for himself
Where the old structures of the society
They clung to in the east Bloc days
Don’t exist anymore.
A brave new world,
Where economy and commerce flourishes,
Where the individual’s view is important,
And to others.
The East Bloc boy learns
To assert himself in the West,
Not with solid arguments and rhetoric
But with his two fists
And karate kicks.
He fancies cars and their contents,
Breaks open the windows,
Takes all he wants.
Brushes with the police
At an early age.
English, Latin and French at school,
He prefers to play the clown:
To dance on the table,
Make suggestive moves with his groin,
High on designer drugs,
High all the time.
Opens the classroom door,
Sees a girl from the seventh grade,
And yells at her.
His behaviour brings laughter
Little realising that he turns off
The girls he admires.
He grins and insults his peers.
Rejected by youngsters,
Admonished by grown-ups,
He watches the society.
Chic clothes, streamlined cars, plastic money,
But forgets that there’s personal performance
Behind these worldly riches.
‘The rich German drives his BMW
With his head in the air.
What does he care?
What does he care?’
A pair of scissors fly
In a dark classroom.
His pent-up emotions,
Let loose in a German Hauptschool,
Near the Japanese Garden.
His classmate from Croatia
Throws chairs at another.
‘Aus Spass,’ he says.
Just for fun.
He shouts at the German Putzfrau,
Who cleans the classrooms:
You mad woman.
And jerks his pelvis at her.
Is the school-system to blame?
Are western culture, tradition
Social, liberal values and norms to blame?
Are his parents,
Who speak a conserved Deutsch to blame?
Is his Russian mother-tongue,
His great Russian soul to blame?
Nobody answers his questions,
Out in the West.
“Verdammt, I want to be heard!”
The people shake their heads,
Mutter, ‘Ein Spinner!’
And walk away.
A pair of sharp, long scissors
Fly in a dark classroom.
The scissors can slash your face,
The Japanese Garden (Satis Shroff)
Nine Hauptschule kids in their teens,
Sit on benches in the Japanese Garden,
Near the placid, turquoise lake.
The homework is done sloppily.
The boys are bursting with hormones,
As they tease the only blonde from Siberia.
A fat guy named Heino likes the blonde,
But she doesn’t fancy him.
A conflict develops.
The teacher tells him in no uncertain terms:
“Lass Sie bitte in Ruhe!”
But Heino with the MP3 doesn’t care
And carries on:
Grasping her breasts,
Caressing her groin.
She puts up a fight
To no avail.
Heino is stronger, impertinent,
And full of street rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the other teenies
Are climbing, kicking the Japanese pavilion,
Spitting, cursing shouting
Hauptschule Kids (Satis Shroff)
The grey-haired gardener in charge comes,
Tells the Hauptschule boys to behave
Boredom in the afternoon.
The boys don’t want to play soccer,
Handball or basketball.
Sitting around, criticising, irritating each other,
Creative workshops: music, songs, essays, own movies?
Nothing interests them.
Killing time together,
Cursing at each other,
Getting a kick provoking passersby,
This is the Hauptschule
In Germany today.
Matsuyama Blues (Satis Shroff)
The clever kids go to the Gymnasium,
After the fourth class.
And clowns remain in the Hauptschule.
An ironical name for a school,
For ‘Haupt’ means ‘main,’
Comprising the lower class of the society:
Kids of foreigners, ethnic Germans from the East Bloc,
Who hope to make it somehow,
As apprentices for hair salons, car repair garages,
Kebab shops, Italian restaurants,
Roofers and masons.
The Japanese Garden,
A present from Matsuyama
To the people of Freiburg,
With truncated shrubs and rounded trees.
A waterfall and quiet niches,
A place for contemplation,
For the Hauptschule kids,
A place to get together,
Be loud, grunt, fight with fists, shove, scratch,
Slap, spit everywhere,
And play the gangsta.
“At night they throw empty alcohol bottles
Where ever they like,” says an elderly lady
From the neighbourhood.
Wonder how the kids are in Matsuyama?
Sonderschool (Satis Shroff)
“Halt’s Maul, Du Missgeburt!”
Says one to the other.
‘Halt dein Mund, Du Jude!
Ich hasse Juden, Mann!’
Barks a fat Hauptschuler.
The others play football in the classroom.
The teacher says emphatically,
‘It’s forbidden to play soccer here!’
They reply in chorus:
‘It doesn’t disturb anybody.’
A grey-blonde teacher barges into the room
‘Leben Sie noch?’
To his colleague.
Are you still alive?
Boris has an appointment with the police.
They nabbed him stealing a car.
Nicky quips to Suleika:
‘Du hast einen fetten Arsch!
Albin runs helter skelter,
Settles down on a table,
Chewing gum between his yellow teeth,
DEAD END (Satis Shroff)
Hans, Fritz and Bruno do their extra homework,
Meted out as a punishment by the English teacher.
Vitaly throws scissors in the classroom,
Which land with a thud on the cork wall.
Heino is doing his best to disturb the group,
With his loud MP3 music.
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Du Hurensohn!’ he says,
To a fellow classmate.
A Kosovo-kid who’s hyperactive,
Steals and fights at school.
The Germans send him to a Sonderschule.
His father’s proud
For ‘sonder’ means ‘special.’
‘My son is attending an elite school,’
Only to realise later,
It was a school for difficult children.
THE SEA SWELLS (Satis Shroff)
The sea shells on the sea shore
Suddenly the sea swells.
Ring the church and temple bells.
All is not well.
The sea has gone back.
Brown-burnt Tarzans and Janes
From different continents,
Wonder what’s going on.
A man from Sweden
Is immersed in his thriller under the palms.
A mother and daughter from Germany
Frolic on the white sunny beach.
Even the sea-gulls stop and listen
To the foreboding silence.
The sea swells,
And brings an apocalyptic destruction:
Sweeping humans, huts and hotels,
Boats, billboards and debris.
Cries for help are stifled
By the roaring waves.
The sea goes back.
Leaving behind lost souls,
Caught in suspended animation.
I close my eyes.
Zeitgeistlyrik: GROWTH AND STASIS (Satis Shroff)
Das ist Toll,
Dear Frau Moll.
It comes from textese,
An English computer dialect
That causes teachers and language lovers
To sigh in anguish and despair.
Great feelings and words
Per SMS today.
Circumlocution has gone away.
Why beat around the bush?
Keep it precise,
Don’t waste words.
When someone sends you
A message with ‘I love you,’
Don’t get worked up.
It can be an admirer
Or a pesky virus-ridden spam,
That sends love-you-mails
To your near
And dear ones,
And to all and sundry.
That’s neither lol
Hang out your tongue,
As we say in German:
Es ist nicht toll.
That’s language in metamorphosis:
Phases of growth,
Succeeded by stasis,
Dear Madame Moll,
WENN EIN KIND/ If a Child…(Anon)
Wenn ein Kind kritisiert wird,
lernt es zu verurteilen.
Wenn ein Kind angefeindet wird,
lernt es zu kämpfen.
Wenn ein Kind verspottet wird,
lernt es schüchtern zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind beschämt wird,
lernt es sich schuldig zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind verstanden und toleriert wird,
lernt es geduldig zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind ermutigt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu vertrauen.
Wenn ein Kind gelobt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu schätzen.
Wenn ein Kind gerecht behandelt wird,
lernt es sich gerecht zu sein.
Wenn ein Kind geborgen lebt,
lernt es zu vertrauen.
Wenn ein Kind anerkannt wird,
lernt es sich selbst zu mögen.
Wenn ein Kind in Freundschaft angenommen wird,
lernt es in der Welt Liebe zu finden.
‘The manner in which Satis Shroff writes takes the reader right along with him. Extremely vivid and just enough and the irony of the music. Beautiful prosaic thought and astounding writing.
‘Your muscles flex, the nerves flatter, the heart gallops,
As you feel how puny you are,
Among all those incessant and powerful waves.’