Forty-one Objects: Carsten René Nielsen, translated by David Keplinger (Bitter Oleander Press, 2019)
Even though I have almost forgotten your face, there are still days I miss you. What a wonderful surprise it was, therefore, to roll back the thin lid on the sardine can and see the sardines, all with your face and dressed in their finest evening gowns, as they lay there row upon row, staring up at me with their big, sad eyes.
8 mm Film
The dead are always filmed in a lighting that falls between two seasons. They walk around with their backs to us under the grey November clouds, stand as dark silhouettes among naked trees in the bright sun of spring, sit with torso and face completely in the shadows on one of the last summer days. On rare occasions there is someone smiling who moves towards the camera, talks to it. We see the lips move but hear nothing. It only lasts a moment, then it cuts to something else: a child on a beach, then a woman in a kitchen, a car on a deserted country road, bushes and tall grass swaying in the wind.
Following the birth he was laid out in a grand piano. He lived fairly well off his wordless daydreams and by the few faint notes the strings produced when he turned in his sleep. Outside on the street, people passed with black umbrellas, the streetcars full of snow stood parked in the cemeteries, zeppelins hung attached to the sky by pins. Had the moon crumbled into the fine dust that settled on his eyelashes? Did the sun rise in his right ear and set in the left? Did he have any siblings, and well, who was that, who every year on his birthday sat down at the piano and began to play, but always stopped so suddenly and without any explanation?
World Cut Out with Crooked Scissors: Carsten René Nielsen, Translated by David Keplinger (2007)
You are lying in the dizzyingly high grass. You remember it as an aurora borealis, an insignificant, brief happiness. Or: you are thirsty and dream about melting glaciers, chipped cisterns, reservoirs without boundary, nights on your back on irrigated fields. Or: you have fallen in love with the world and sit in a library with the first edition of the Belgian astronomer Quételet’s catalogue of 10,792 stars, a register of all the world’s totem animals, a book on mushrooms that grow only under our duvets at night, a natural history of the glove. Or: You are here. Right now.
House Inspections: Carsten René Nielsen, translated by David Keplinger (BOA, 2011)
“And what’s the trouble here?” ask those of the police officers who walk on the house roofs or with both of their arms stretched out to the sides, balanced precariously on the cornices. “And what’s the trouble here?” ask those of the police officers down on the street, who, squatting in front of the doors, peer through the letter flaps. “And what’s the trouble here?” is shouted in through grated gates with only a faint echo as repartee. “And what’s the trouble here?” ask police officers, who are encountering police officers, who themselves, somewhat despairing, ask the same question: “What is the trouble here?” Even at night, while the running lights of an airplane inch across the sky, the questions can be heard as a hardly audible mumbling in the darkness between houses: “What ... is ... here?”
House Inspections (BOA, 2011) at Amazon here
World Cut Out with Crooked Scissors (New Issues, 2007) at amazon here
Visit Nielsen's webpage here