29th March 2022


2 minutes read

Kinga Tóth


translated by Valzhyna Mort & Owen Good

29th March 2022

2 minutes read

Übt ein Vogel seinen Mund’

(Hugo Ball: Kind und Traum)

Infants trumpet into elefánt-clouds

bu-bo bu-bo: winged lions sing underwater

nothing to see do you dare to look into the akvárium

do you see letter-snakes rumble

on your tongue “the good heart flutters in a bell jar” “churchbells rise upwards” (Kassák) the image is the mother of the word (Ball)

“the world is born of a bone-colored seed and a turn of a turbine”

zsiráfkrähne rise above the construction babel

lumps of mortar stack subjects prophets’ feet sink in the mortar

the new-language-writers chisel syntax into stone

they trace elephants’ feet they sit in the center of a car wheel

they hang monkeys around their necks the new-priests have critter-collars

they sing with bluethroats

clouds zigzag their winds with scissors

durch lauter licht laufen wir our laughter is louder than the trumpet

in our laughter just enough vowels

our sneezes are consonant

our tongue sweats our modal verbs

in our yawn the long “á” even the long “ó” get longer

we top the letter-curves with a pop of accents we turn

into snails we lick our clauses until they stick

blessyousmilesnails sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

buzz around our mouths see the animal in the sky

does it have a horn does it breathe is the horn hot

air balloon strings a question mark we exclaim

the chameleons are eating ginkgo from our palms

our congratulation-chameleons turn green we gobble with the amphibians

together we exhale our new-language

but the language moves and lives and uses our syllabic limbs

tired and mad it hisses

caught in the abdominal muscle it’s grounded it shakes its back

it flings itself to the ground in a herd we fall on the mortar

in a herd we claw at the earth

underwater the lion sings

the fish let out bu-bo

do you dare to sing underwater

written by

Kinga Tóth

More about the author

Issue 01


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translated by

Valzhyna Mort & Owen Good

More about the translator


Underwatersong by Kinga Tóth
Animals, language, and Dadaistic gestures collide in this poem by Hungarian poet Kinga Tóth, in a translation by Belarussian poet Valzhyna Mort with Owen Good.