Norman P. Franke
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
Norman P. Franke is a Hamilton based poet and scholar. He has published widely about German Enlightenment and Romanticism (Novalis, Lessing) as well as German-speaking exile literature (Albert Einstein, Ernst Kantorowicz, Else Lasker-Schüler, Karl Wolfskehl) and Albert Schweitzer. Norman also works as a documentary film maker ('Past Present - the Poet and Environmentalist Peter Dane'; together with Elaine Bliss) and translator. Norman’s poetry has been broadcasted on NDR radio and published in anthologies in Germany and New Zealand.
Kailua, Hawai'i' i

Teens throw bottles of ice tea
onto the roof of the shelter
for buses to Honolulu.
Where the gutter is missing,
it rains ice tea, teen tongues
stretch out for it,
for each other. A girl
lost in her history book.

Boredom in paradise.

Feral on the road
roosters; policemen
wearing starched shirts
and taut biceps.

Blanched Japanese women,
who have not ridden
a bicycle for years;
groaning Germans
in brand new hiking boots.

Rugged mountains
dispute creation theology
with tropical clouds,
the grey-green colour spectrum.

Three slowly passing
transcendence killers
assembled by Harley-Davidson;
tattooed statues on the controls.

Flirting volleyball players
collect plastic waste;
in ankle deep evening surf;
a future monk reads Augustine’s Confesssiones,
the trade wind turns the soul’s pages
to 'but not just yet',

and the Moon pulls the waters
of the Middle Pacific over
the darker regions of Atlantis; and I
I walk under the nineteen species
of palm trees, dreaming of the Gildemeister
catalogue of textiles my mother
used to receive at this time,
fifty years ago; the dark green fabric

from which we cut palm fronds
to shelter the stable of the Nativity.

Memories of late travels

Voyages to islands,
listed only
on lost charts;
and that once,
just once
in a sleepy summer hour
over the school atlas:
that’s how it all begins.

Stopping over at Chek Lap Kok,
at adulthood, unanswerable
questions, theory books, irony,
and drinkable wines.

Or take this lake
between alpine mountains:
a mandrake;
the panna cotta, firm
and gentle like a lover’s breasts;
even songs of last mountain hermits.

Why shouldn't a place
be a strong wind
and a death;
and unicorns
led by old enchantresses
through rain forests
whose skulls
shall  be displayed
in the lobbies
of Swiss museums;

or the question
whether great hope
can also lead you