Posts Tagged ‘practice’

SPRING IS A WONDERFUL SEASON – April 15, 2016 in Vienna. #Schutzbefohlene *

四月 15, 2016

Hauptbahnhof

SPRING IS A WONDERFUL SEASON

April 15, 2016 in Vienna. #Schutzbefohlene *
Spring is a wonderful season,
trees spilling their green.
Some are cut, some are planted.
Downstairs across they are planting a park,
used to be train tracks.

Last year we had refugees at the station.

Spring is a wonderful season.

They said it was 90,000 people or so
in all of Austria,
mostly in a few months,
who wanted to stay in this country.
Ten times more went on to Germany.
So many people wanted to help.
Train workers, even police.
Volunteers, often more than enough.
We live in the neighbourhood.
My daughter Maia went down to play with the refugee children.
After a while she knew the volunteers.
It was safe.
The refugees staid down by the station.
Some people from our house took in refugees.

There was discussion to use the shop,
the empty shop downstairs in this new house,
for refugee quarters.
Just for the winter.
That shop has bathrooms and everything.

But then they closed down at the station.
It was in December.
They took them with buses, they said, from the border.
On to Germany.
If you said you wanted Germany, they let you in.
They were building a fence.
So in December, the station was empty.
Maybe Mid-December.
No quarters in our house.
But people still coming in.
Coming up through the Balkans, used to be Yugoslavia.

In early January we played Tarot down in the library.
We have a library in our house.
And we play cards, for a few pennies.
On Friday nights.
We have had readings, and even theatre.
Gudrun and Peter, they built a stage.
Downstairs in the big common room.
We had a night reciting Bob Dylan.
Down you masters of war.

But then in January, there was Cologne.
In Cologne at the train station, on New Year’s Night.
Hundreds of women harassed.
Raped, one or two.
Many foreign men there at the train station.
Not enough police, or police doing nothing.
We should discuss this, one of us said.
We had been playing cards.
What is there to discuss, there ‘s not much in the news.
Maybe social networks did play a role.
I want to discuss this.
These refugees becoming a problem.
What is there to discuss, there’s not much in the news.
These refugees becoming a problem.
A discussion is stupid, without any facts.
So one of us went away in a huff.

Later I was away, I was in China.
In southern China, a poetry trip.
From southern China to Southeast Asia.
Self-organized.
The year before they went to Vietnam.
Wrote some good poetry.
Vietnam wars in the background,
including China attacking Vietnam.
And other stuff, daily life.
Morning routine.

This year I went with them through Southeast Asia.
Poets from all over China. 16 or 17.
One or two guides.
Guides of Chinese extraction.
Thailand, Singapore. And Malaysia.
Then back to Nanning, to southern China.

Poetry meetings, almost every night.
Sometimes more.
One time in the airport.
Plane was delayed, nothing better to do, call a poetry meeting.
Poems written there on the road.

Yi Sha has this dream, before every border.
Dreaming they won’t let him through.
Normally he writes down all his dreams.
Makes for good poetry.
But not this time, he was afraid.
Only when we were safe in Malaysia.

They had a crackdown, in Kuala Lumpur.
There was an attack in Indonesia.
Muslim majority in Malaysia, too.
If the father is Muslim, the child has to be Muslim.
Not Chinese or anything else.
It was not like this before.
At least according to our guide.
They have elections and a Sultan.
Or they call him a King, at least in Chinese.

It’s a beautiful country.
Tribes in the woods.
Our guide lived with a tribe for a week.
For a project at university.
She was very young, has a small child.
She speaks Fukien Chinese.
Mandarin with the tourists, of course.
Liked to talk about sex.
Malaysian men with many wives.
Just a few Muslims, who can afford it.

On February first, I came back to Austria.
Refugees still coming, though not so many.
News had been shifting.
Creating a climate against refugees.
We put a limit on loving our neighbours.
That was a poster.
The foreign minister, he’s very young.
The interior ministress.
She’s not there any more now, she’ll become governess.
Governor of Lower Austria.
And the candidate.
Their candidate for Federal President.

President is just a figurehead here.
Like in Germany.
In Germany, he is elected in parliament.
So he is from the majority party.
He or she.

In Austria, everyone votes for the President.
Everyone should.
Everyone is automatically registered, every citizen.
Nowadays you can vote in advance.
Local district office.
Ballot per mail, or there at the office.
That guy for limits on loving your neighbour won’t make it.
He’s trailing far behind in the polls.
But his policies are federal policy.

They let that happen, the Social Democrats.
They are the majority.
But they let it happen, they are just like the rightists.
News had been shifting.
These refugees becoming a problem.
Some Social Democrats work with the Rightists.
Those other Rightists.
That Freedom Party.
Some Neo-Nazis.
Some Neo-Nazis cling to this party.
Some were just Liberals.
In the 1980s they were for joining the European Community.
Anyway now they are shameless Rightists.
Austria should not be ashamed, they proclaim.
Including old Nazis, including SS.

And Social Democrats think they should work with them.
But they are trailing, the Social Democrats.
Maybe their candidate will fall behind,
though not as far as the one with the limits.
They are far behind, both of them.

Three candidates are in front.
Front-runner is from the Green Party.
They always were for refugees.
And there is a woman.
Not from a party.
A former judge.
Liberal views, for the economy.
Definitely not from the Left.
Those two were leading.
But Freedom Party candidate is closing up.

No, he doesn’t say we are all Germans.
Though he says many things.
Austrians first, don’t be ashamed.
Don’t be ashamed of anything.
Works better than just talk about limits.

So I’ve voted already, ten days in advance.

I’m afraid.
That Freedom guy is worse than Trump.
Similar causes why they are so popular.

Austria is very small.
President is just a figurehead.
But I’m afraid.

Austria becomes Hungary.
Headline in Switzerland, two days ago.
Rightist government, fences.
Italy protesting, not only Greece.
Against Austria, in the EU.

EU has been weak.
Rightist reactions in Eastern Europe.
Rightist rhetoric against refugees.
From Social Democrats, some of them.
EU is weak, was very weak in the Yugoslav wars.

Mid-April sun is shining outside.
Spring is a beautiful season,
trees spilling their green.
Some are cut, some are planted.
Downstairs across they are planting a park.

Martin Winter
April 15, 2016
*Schutzbefohlene means people placed under protection. It is the title of a play by Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian author who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2004. She wrote the play in 2013. It was performed, by refugees, at University of Vienna on April 14, 2016, when a group of rightists stormed the stage. They sprayed red paint and reportedly injured performers, including children. I wrote the long poem above on Friday morning, April 15. I had not been at the performance and knew nothing about the incident before my text was finished. But I think my text works as background reading, at least.

 

Zilkpark

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