Martijn Teerlinck

Breath Prayer

An excerpt of 3 poems, translated by Simone Korkus

Breath Prayer — Ademgebed — Martijn Teerlinck

Breath Prayer

There is troubleville the men of scale the flushing wash of the

hand of the cloudman

where does the time rush when it flies? How a hush just

rises from the slightest gust?

this is breath at the adam phase of the bearer, the beaten, the leaver, the looser

there is darkermoon the fencing of questions and suddenly

the ghetto morning wells up from the horizon

slowly it rises from the nightthroat underneath the pillow

underneath the mouth and yes

and yes and yes it is the gethsemane mouth the gethsemane navel a

why for a silence a still for a stillness

a why for a fur that is made out of money here hands even

brokenly blend into each other

this is is and isis this is his and his own here corners of the mouth

break crumbling down to the earthen aorta

high in the sky there are jews in ships of fruits of

trees of peace of peaceful

of peaceloving of fearing that sits in the lungs there are there

not two but twenty they are with so many

there are hymns of him but not hims of hymn the hymns of

him are only his hymns

and hymning his hymn which tongue is spread farther than the

breathing prayer? the stumble despair? the babel blare?

There is music and magic but all is tragic and the anchors cracked the

anchors wrecked the iron seed of the sea

has become a sea fairy remained a sea fairy as salt eye the

citizen his blue family the forsaken

Oh forsake the prophet this is misting is this the this is the fish

that is ingesting his fins

whereas water is hunger and women are taste and each day is Friday

and each day is Monday

every day is a day for crushing dates for feeding

feet with eyes of earth

whereas the eyes are darker and in depth collected by the

unfound child from the barrier

this is the fire of the fruitflyman the hour of the

drunk dewman‘s woman the debauch of the brother of the papaya

and that is the god of the grotto of the growl of the dog of the

rats that is this scar-sign-Dutch

this is the tempered sieved of the seas in face and the gees in weightrace and

the pees in anticipate and tees in trochee

this is the son of the pain the flame on the sun and no one who knows

where the log has begun

how the roll is in place how the vaguest face can efface and

unroll in its sleep

there is the scratch to scratch the patch the pans the tracks

from a and the funnel from o

because there it is great but here it is great and here is the boat

over here is the boat to the

here is the vote for the here is the throat of the here is the deer that the

here is the river to the

here are the drains and here are the veins and here is the breath again and

here is the amen and here is the amen and here is the amen.


The man of horizon-


is wrapped in


the mouth of the

banished flower

calls the air,

the breath-


with a kiss

and the lying man

feels his

slowly fading

breezing tissue


his day is flat

his night is round

he pukes pyramid seeds


the man of little fluid

can hardly



his fibers blend

into everbraiding



fruit be tender


I have a broad smile of cut-off branches

and a century-old spine holds my back

and high in my ears children whisper

their songs through air-withered gums

and when I walked to school I smoked over my lunges

the sweet tobacco from the mouth of the teacher

then I learned how to speak with charcoal

and then I read the color of my hands

and then I read my knuckles that were pimples

and then I read the white shapes of paint on my nails

and then I said in silence to my hands:

you will become big hands, long hands

these palms will warm up the South Pole

and on the North Pole the fingers will dance a waltz

I have a broad smile of cut-off branches

and a century-old spine holds my back

and the sea of my navel searches a quayside

of flesh, towards a quayside of life

and when I came home I winged myself upwards

and laid down my human skin on my bed

and became what I was , the red white angelic beast

and then I sang of backs and branches and spines

and then I shadowed myself shyly into autumn

and then I slid myself underneath the branches

and then I cut buds of laughter with my fingers

and then I saw the dead flower speak to me

then I saw the pain whispering from her scars

and then I was again human and sang the words

of charcoal and I said forgive me my daughter

for I have a broad smile of cut-off branches

and a century-old spine holds my back

For more information about Martijn Teerlinck or Breath Prayer, please visit the Lebowski Agency website.

© Adriaan van der Ploeg

Martijn Teerlinck (1987–2013) was a poet, musician, beatmaker and artist — and without doubt had many other talents we currently have no knowledge of. His poetry, which is monumental, highly sensitive and has a religious — or should we say spiritual? — touch, was published posthumously last September, and caused widespread interest in his legacy — both his words as his music. Erik Jan Harmens, a renowned Dutch poet, wrote an introduction, shining empathic light on Martijn’s unique poetry. Those who love life, should read (and publish) these poems.

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