The Austrian Riveter: From THE PATRON SAINT BY NIGHTLY FIRE by Robert Prosser, translated by the author, introduced by Anna Blasiak

Robert Prosser is yet another brilliant performer among contemporary Austrian poets. He likes adapting his own literary works for stage, turning them into recitations or performances. His ear for the performative element is clear in his poetry, with all its rhythms and alliterations. He can also be amazingly evocative – I could see, but also smell and taste what he was writing about. Firs in fog, caves and ravines in the mountains… This eye and ear for nature also comes across strongly in his prose writing.


Firs in fog
in a haggard world the hungry I
want to atone for nothing
but we have to we have to they told me
they said it all started with a bite

And the taste must have been a shard
broken from heaven and eyes cut open
look: there are possibilities
this idea was enough to chop any notion of love

God is a gravedigger I believe
he shovels a hole in me
and there he waits
a lie about redemption

They told me about caves and ravines inhabited by hermits
mountains echoing of their screams and visions and prayings
but here is none
except me except you
except us none is here blessed Mary

A piece of lime
I drag you pull you
I whittle my praying my love
until you find form
your face your hands our body
pricked and sunburned and frostbitten
we can stay at the river bank like lovers would do

All around us only rocks
I’d prefer an apple I’d choose apple and beauty
instead of stone and oblivion
the apple is a mirror hanging in the wilderness
we both are enough
to smash it and finally become one
to bite in the apple like in the flesh of another
in my mouth the knowledge about a second human

Mary your eyes
I carve them big and empty
can you be something other than ugly
the walking justifies my flaws
step by step more wood more rock more doubts
but Mary I feel Mary I obey
I build a shed on your command
a house for the two of us
and maybe someone will find it
discover carving and bone
of you of me

By Robert Prosser

Translated by the author

From The Patron Saint of Nightly Fire

by Robert Prosser

Published by Sampson Low (2020)

Read The Austrian Riveter here or order your paper copy from here.

Buy books from The Austrian Riveter through the European Literature Network’s The Austrian Riveter page.

Robert Prosser is a writer and performance artist. He lives and works in Alpbach, Tyrol and in Vienna. His novel Phantome (‘Phantoms’, 2017) was nominated for the German Book Prize. His fourth novel, Verschwinden in Lawinen (‘Disappearance in Avalanches’), was published in 2023 by Jung und Jung.

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