Peter Wortsman is the recipient of the Beard’s Fund Short Story Award, and a 2010 Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of A Modern Way to Die: small stories and microtales and two stage plays, The Tattooed Man Tells All and Burning Words.
His numerous translations from the German include Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil (Archipelago); Peter Schlemiel, the Man Who Sold His Shadow by Adelbert von Chamisso (Fromm International); Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg (Archipelago); and Travel Pictures by Heinrich Heine (Archipelago).
One of his prose poems (a good one) can be found after the jump.
THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX
Sometimes, sound asleep, she lets out cries, foetal and almost unutterable, rousing you into sudden listening. The riddle of the sphinx must have been posed like this--howled--moaned --wept. You listen intently for an instant, try to decipher the inconsolable hieroglyphs, then embrace her without thinking. Shadow of a bird of prey passing, the unnamed sadness dissolves --in silence--or sometimes is repeated in the deafening howl of a delivery truck stalled in early morning traffic