Schwund und Reue

Cover of first English language edition. The d...

Cover of first English language edition. The design is based upon a German war bonds poster by Fritz Erler. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can read, won’t read.
Would read, don’t read.
That book sits face up on the table
next to me, it’s eyes staring at
my sheepish ones, like those
of a portrait that follow you
around the room, accusing, unblinking.

Or maybe they’re like
those of that dead French soldier
lying in the crater with Paul Bäumer
in All Quiet on the Western Front,
another book I never finished.
Like Paul, I feel remorse, loss,
over somehow killing my old hunger.

I was once voracious like you,
but lost the combat for my consciousness
and now I lie here, paralyzed,
with my toes framing that big screen,
notebook and tablet on my lap,
pinned down in my depression by this
bombardment of distractions.

I want to pick up that book and
conquer it, but, shell-shocked by media,
all I do is numbly flip a couple of pages
and place it face-down again.
I really wish I could be like you,
finishing every bit of reading you…
Hey, where’d you go?

My deepest apologies to my friends Claudia and Quirina if I have butchered the German words in the title. I wanted to express my paralyzing feeling of loss and remorse. Which I feel…I really do.

8 thoughts on “Schwund und Reue

  1. A very interesting poem, Joe, and you most certainly chose the German words quite aptly. I sense a loss of control in this poem, of one’s senses, of being able to decide when and how to engage with our world and that to regain this sense of control one is in a way at war with the world, which bombards us with information at an alarming rate. There is a reason when one has an aversion to read certain things/books. To cut to the bone, I have this policy that there are more great books in the world than you could ever read in your lifetime, and life is short, so my policy is only read the best stuff, and if it doesn’t light your fire, move on to the next one. Don’t waste valuable time. And no remorse for a book unread. 🙂

    • Thank you, Quirina. Someday I should learn to master English before I start fooling with other languages for my titles.

      I’m not always exactly sure what I’m trying to say when I write these things, but I was feeling badly about not having read a book for weeks and months at a time, whether I liked it or not. It is a war I wage within myself and that I always feel on the losing side of.

  2. Joe, there’s much feeling in here. Quirina’s comment sums my interpretation of it, well. I have never been what one might call a ‘voracious’ reader, but I do often feel a sort of ‘loss’, but, more than this, the time I’ve had over the past nearly two years of blogging and engaging with some special people, whilst at times being enlightening, has left me feeling over exposed to all the other crap that invades our mind space. Whilst most of the time We can be selective in what we chose to allow into that space, sometimes, when I’m feeling even a little vulnerable, it tends to overwhelm.

    Well expressed, Joe, very well expressed.

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