Poetry at the Post-Vienna: It’s All in the Red

Red Ghazal

I’ve noticed after a few sips of tea, the tip of her tongue, thin and red/
with heat, quickens when she describes her cuts and bruises—deep violets and red.

Yesterday afternoon I took a visit to the Museum of Art History in Vienna.

The building is palatial and so is the collection. The museum was commissioned in the last quarter of the 19th century by the Emperor, Franz-Joseph I, who ruled for 68 years until his death in 1916.

Tragedy was not a stranger to the imperial family.

Franz-Joseph’s son died in a suicide pact with his mistress; his younger brother Maximilian was executed in Mexico; and his wife Elisabeth Amalia was stabbed to death by an assassin.


Franz-Joseph’s marriage was not the best as his love was not reciprocated by his mysterious and somewhat odd wife. Obsessed with her weight, Empress Elisabeth never allowed it to hover above 110 lbs by subscribing to a strict fasting and exercise regime.

He was so charming—pointed out planets, ghost galaxies, an ellipsis
of ants on the wall. And when he kissed me goodnight, my neck reddened.

Through this ghazal-I absolutely adore this form!—I discovered the poetry/of AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHI. I find her work quite exciting and look forward to reading more.

Poetry at the Post, Day 11: “Contempt” by Elfriede Jelinek

“Contempt” by Elfriede Jelinek, as translated by Michael Hoffman

Panoramic on the Alps Austria 3 July 2009 Photo courtesy of Friedrich Böhringer  under CC Share Alike 2.5 License
Panoramic on the Alps
3 July 2009
Photo courtesy of Friedrich Böhringer under CC Share Alike 2.5 License

my puppet-strings are the
sweet decaying lamps I flutter around.

Two of my besties from Spalding University will meet me in Budapest later this month. We’ll be traveling on to Vienna for a mini trip before we meet up with the rest of our program in Prague. In celebration of our upcoming trip—and out MFA graduation in Berlin, I decided to read an Austrian poet this morning. #lateantiquitystudiesbudapest2014 #threemfagradsonthetraintowien

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004, Jelinek is a controversial writer, mainly due to her political activism, strong feminist stance, & affiliation with the Communist Party—all of which are important to her work. As Jelinek suffers from agoraphobia, she did not attend the Nobel Prize award ceremony but instead sent this video.


I’m not sure yet what I think about this poem. My take away from this morning’s reading is this:

your stupid silence I will just
toss up in the air.

For me, these words are powerful. I think they suggest that we should have contempt for those who refuse to speak out against injustice and oppression. Im reminded of the importance of “voice” and standing up when the situation demands it. Not always easy.

I do wonder if I would be able to do so in a situation where my speaking out could lead to imprisonment,torture, or worse. I’m afraid I would not. Instead, I will try harder to chip away at any infractions of intolerance and discrimination that I encounter.

I never understood age discrimination until I got older—and, believe me, it is rampant. I refuse to allow age to define me and I speak up whenever I can.

“Contempt,”however, does make me curious to read more of Jelinek’s work. Here’s the full poem.


June 2, 2014
June 2, 2014