Fault Lines of Vienna
Whose fault are the lines?
Geography, history, humanity?
Eastern Alps meeting western Carpathians
The ancient route - the amber road
That led from dark and freezing shores
To warm and lusty Rome.
Romans and Huns, Bavarians and Celts, Slavs and Jews,
All came and met and formed
The crucible of north and south,
Darkness and light - east and west.
Carpathian wolves and alpine sheep
Looking at each other across a river
That has been for so long
The border between Roman order and Germanic chaos.
Vienna, the westernmost line Istanbul’s sultans ever reached,
The seam of Europe and the nutshell that presents the stage
Upon which are rehearsed the plays,
Then carried out in earnest and in blood
On scales much larger than this little town and land.
Why therefore fault the lines?
Why not ourselves for not
Expanding our minds and
Comprehending our place as faulty?
Of course the fault here is:
We are unclear as to where we do belong
Whom we should please and whom reject,
Who is a friend and who perhaps a threat?
Where do we draw the line
And thus create new faults?
So why not fold the lines into each other:
Slavs into Germans
Gentiles into Jews
Filipinos into Austrians.
All into one big family with maybe some new pleats
No longer faults.
This city is gemütlich to a fault
Because of southern laissez faire
Tempering her northern Gründlichkeit.
So we won’t change a thing
Not us and not this city.
We refuse to find fault
And will persist
In living our lives on fault lines
Until the plates will move again and
Swallow up all those
Taking a fault for dear tradition.
© 2010, Franz Karl Prüller
Franz Karl Prüller lives and works in Vienna and read this poem as part of an Urbannomadmixes performance directed by Camilo Antonio at Herman Strandbar last June 6.