Esther Murbach- Wild West Poet

poet2Esther Murbach, born in the middle of the 20th century, was raised and is living in Basel. She studied languages, history and philosophy in Basel and Berlin. She is a journalist and translator. She has been a freelance author since 2008.


Wild West Poet*

My stolid hometown of Basel
was brimming with excitement
at the arrival of the unruly Irish poet
who came to conduct a workshop
which was expected to produce quite a stir
in this civilised part of Middle Europe
as the guy is of the wild kind
not (yet) being tamed by a Nobel or a Booker Prize

Though, he had been considered prize-worthy
by some experts in his homeland
long- and short-listed on several occasions
once even the winner
when the Connemara Sheep Breeding Association
advertised a competition
for the best piece on the feelings
of a ewe at the birth of her first lamb
in free verse

He snatched the prize easily
the reward being a young ram
of the Blackface Mountain Breed

The ram was opposed to being milked
the Breeding Association was opposed to exchanging him
for an ewe
who would at least have been useful
to the poet’s breakfast
by adding milk to the extra-strong Irish Tea Blend
to which he was addicted

Apart from the tea
he was hung up on other things in his diet
like slurping the faces on Facebook
before the first morning cuppa in my kitchen
savouring even the occasional unsavoury portrait
of a so-called friend
appearing on the screen
happily produced by my ancient notebook
who enjoyed my guests’s undying attention
as his dedication to virtual communication
surpassed mine by far

Not to mention that the poet was unable
to get through the day without the solid foundation
of crisply fried bacon and sausages

But bravely he kept quiet on the fact
that the lack of black and white pudding on a Swiss table
sorely tried his ability to survive the withdrawal symptoms
caused by the unavailability of this drug
which could not even be produced
by our local Irish Club

Thus suffering
the poet still let me lead him
to our local English Seminar
where the workshop was scheduled

We were greeted
by a long line of participants
queueing up for the thrill
of being taught the shivers
by a literary carnivore
short of the temperament of a wounded Celtic tiger

Getting iron bars
for safety during the workshop
separating the exotic animal
from the intimidated crowd
had been contemplated by the University Board
but the statutes said
cages were not allowed in the historical Baroque building
which housed the seminar
because of aesthetics and monument protection

But who would protect the students from the slashes
in case the predator felt like lashing out?

Things did not turn out as badly as expected
due to the dietary shortcomings of the Swiss habitat
the carnivore lacked his habitual ferocity
the complacency of the emergency ward
of the nearby hospital was not disturbed

The blows he dealt out were minor
treated with band aids
and a few balmy words
from those unharmed

The few victims who were nicked
licked their wounds
and we all survived


*Inspired by the visit of Kevin Higgins of Galway to Basel/Switzerland in November 2013

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