The Wicked and The Naked by Sebastian Droste

Algol

He took the puff and powdered his narrow thighs

He lightly coloured his brows

And painted his lips

Then he placed a golden chain around his waist

And dipped his fingertips in rose water.

 

He slipped on bright silk stockings 

Clamped them with golden bands to his hairless legs

And slid his slender feet into leather shoes.

 

Then he threw a dull gray cape around his naked body 

Placed a round Basque cap on his narrow head with its soft blond

        hair

And pulled it deep over his left painted eye.

Then he took a bottle of Chevalier d’Orsay water

Loosened the silvered stopper

And stripped off the remainds of the pales powder that clung to 

        his light-toned ears

He poured the drops of amber-coloured numbing water between

        the narrow grooves of the wide cape.

 

Then he took an amethyst between his slender fingers

And left the house.

 

Only a few badly painted boys lingered on the Piazza Fontamorosa, 

        who crept away at his sight

The whores screamed like the turkeys of the old Marchesa Spilla

 

Yet he stepped lightly across the dark square

And turned, swaying his hips lightly, onto the Roman road

 

Before the Magini bar sat a few pale boys who brushed against

        each other and laughed softly

 

He took a gin quietly

Mixed it with a hard drop of marsala

And slowly sipped the fragrant drink

He gave a friendly nod and went, without paying, to the Piazza

Of the theatre of Carlo Felice

And parting his cape

He stood naked in the square

And smiling, showed his narrow painted thighs

An outcry went through the streets 

People poured out of the alleys 

And formed a circle of tumbling bodies

A troupe of singing fascists neared on the busy September 20

        Street

Who at the sight of the narrow boy’s body

Suddenly broke up

And whimpering, got down on their knees 

An altar boy rushed out of the Church of San Lorenzo

Streaming tears about the naked one’s feet

 

The women hid their breasts

And flailed their thighs

 

A blind panhandler fumbled and screamed 

The men bellowed and kneeled forward

And fell in the same way, moaning, to the ground

Only the wicked man stood smiling in the crowd

He wore a tight dark coat

And large black glasses

He had powdered his face pale

And his bold eyes were blue rimmed

His large, red-painted mouth shone like a ruby

The naked man fumbled about his powdered thighs in fear

And tore off his gold chain

 

The wicked man rose laughing over the bodies of the crowd

And slowly came near the shivering naked man

 

A groan went through the crowd 

The altar boy crawled shyly to the side

And the blind man sank moaning with him

The wicked man went quietly to the naked man

Put his thin gold-powdered fingertips around the hips

And kissed his navel

The paint on his red mouth stuck to the body of the naked man

And shone like the glaring sun of midnight

Confused by the scorching beams

The gasping crowd fearfully drew back

And disappeared into the narrow alleys

 

The wicked man took the slender neck of the shivering naked 

        man

And strangled him with his thin fingers, still smiling

The naked man dropped the amethyst

And made a slight noise

The powder trickled off his twitching body

And the brilliance of his eyes went out

 

The profligate strangled him with precise accuracy

And cut the narrow head off, with a fine slice, from the still

        twitching body

And lightly powdered the bleeding wound

Then he took the painted head of the naked man back home

Placed it in a glass baroque window

And sank to his knees

This poem comes from Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase (Dances of Vice, Horror and Ecstasy) by Anita Berber and Sebastian Droste. This particular poem is by Droste and displays a rather interesting obsession with powder and thighs.

I think that this poem may have become a little lost in translation, although I suspect that even in German this isn’t the best piece of writing. It feels like a first draft, the interesting idea moment, but it’s a negative that no-one bothered to develop. Shame really because there’s something wonderful in the image of that gold chain around the boy’s waist.

Unfortunately I have no real suitable image to go with this poem, so instead I have opted for a semi-naked, jewellery adorned image of Droste himself from Algol. 

The poem itself is available in this gorgeous reprint of Die Tänze des Lasters, des Grauens und der Ekstase from Side Real Press.

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