Ario Farin, “A Labyrinth of Open Space”

A Labyrinth of Open Space
Ario Farin (please visit endstation leipzig)

The street I lived in was like any street
Alive with ivy mapping out the brick
And scales that scurry off on ivory feet

And chalk-pink houses rising in a slick
Of handprints on a ripple of concrete.
And I would ride my tiny BMX,

A scissor gliding through a scarf of heat;
And cutting through a back passage I kick
A luminous green ball along discrete

Scents varnished on the garden gates: meat
Unravelling on bone, potatoes stiff
And bruised by tender slaps of beet;

And open windows breathing out the sheet-
Held silhouettes a pulse of cells is quick
To leave asleep, the human shape a trick.

The terracotta pot the football hits
Doesn’t crack. It tilts and spills a sweet
Black smile that greets you, Welkom Thuis.


“Ivy mapping out brick:” there are designs. Sometimes nature makes them, sometimes we make them. That is living. “Scales that scurry off on ivory feet:” nature has a design on us. We are marked by it. But the truth is not so final – “chalk-pink houses rising in a slick of handprints on a ripple of concrete.” We design and in designing exhaust ourselves. That seems to be our nature, inasmuch we build, dwell.

So far, the poem has been an ascent. No immortality yet, but order can cut through chaos (“a scissor gliding through a scarf of heat”). There may even be shortcuts. Only – something gets set in motion that can’t be taken back.

We are moved from the tactile – what we may have control over – to scents. You really have to pinch your nose to not smell something. The scents aren’t bad. I’d pay for chicken that was tender enough to fall off the bone right now. The potatoes are sweetened by beets. And whatever we think we see in open windows are just that. Shadows, perhaps even if fully revealed. Again, not a bad thing. In a way, our individual, private selves are very real. Of course, there’s a descent throughout these images that seems to have the opposite character of the ascent. Design accompanies decay, after all.

And yes, it’s like death is welcoming our speaker home at the end. Is it the realization of death that causes maturity? The labyrinth isn’t the ascent/descent in the images. There was disorder and death inherent in design all along. It isn’t death as much as failure that’s the issue. How on earth one can identify death and failure with each other? One would need to have a lot of ambition, no? Well, not quite. What one really needs is some open space to play in. The deeper frustrations in life stem from “why can’t we just…” I suspect many people think about their wants in work and relationships as their asking for the least possible. But playfulness is the key. Even in our moments of our freest, greatest potential, there’s something dark – that we may never come to be.


  1. I like the poem. Your analysis is potent…

    “But playfulness is the key. Even in our moments of our freest, greatest potential, there’s something dark – that we may never come to be.”

    Thats pretty frighteningly true.

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