[deutsche Nachdichtung: weiter unten]


I have helmed enough spaceships in my time

to understand a lounge in three dimensions.


My mind can pilot a lightweight craft

through the hazards of your mantelpiece. I can hide


in the nebula of your Grandmother’s curtains,

sky-dock on the lampshade. A Yorkie Easter egg crumbles


in my hands like the last words of the Death Star.

Burner of a billion ships, I hold my head high


under the glittering skies of French campsites,

return to find my parents playing dominos by lamplight,


reconstructing the car dashboard, over and over,

all of us in preparation for some great crash yet to come:
the one I pray for every time we drive to Dixons,

the car whipping round, my body falling out the door,


like, laters! Head slipping across the intersection

like a foamy beer thrown along a bar. I used to watch


those bartenders and think that they were fakers.

But now I have watched the out-takes and


OK I finally get it.
© Ross Sutherland


Ewige Leben (noch und noch und nochmal versuchen)

Ich habe zu meiner Zeit genug Raumschiffe gesteuert,

um eine Lounge dreidimensional zu erfassen.


Mit bloßer Gedankenkraft kann ich ein leichtes Fahrzeug

durch die Unbilden deiner Kaminverkleidung pilotieren. Kann mich


in den Nebeln der Vorhänge deiner Großmutter verstecken,

der Hafen in den Wolken ist der Lampenschirm. Ein Yorkie-Osterei zerbröselt


in meinen Händen genauso wie die letzte Meldung des Todessterns.

Ich, Brenner von Milliarden Schiffen, recke stolz mein Haupt


unter den gleißenden Himmeln französischer Campingplätze,

kehre zurück, um meine Eltern beim Dominospiel bei Lampenlicht anzutreffen,


Umbau, immer und immer wieder, des PkW-Armaturenbretts,

wir alle waren irgendeines echten Unfalls, der unmittelbar bevorstand, gewärtig:


Desjenigen, um den ich immer inständig bitte, wenn wir zu Dixonsfahren,

das Auto rast, mein Körper fliegt durch die Tür,


oder so, bis dann! Kopf segelt die Kreuzung entlang,

wie ein schaumiges Bier, das eine Theke entlang geschubst wird. Früher


schaute ich solchen Kneipiers zu und denke, dass sie Simulanten waren.  

Aber ich hab nun die herausgeschnittenen Sequenzen gesehen und


OK, endlich hab ich’s raus.

© Deutsche Nachdichtung: Konstantin Ames

39 Kommentare

  • Martina Koesling

    ok I’ll try to write in English, so Ross you can understand it?

    I really like how it seems to be out of a child’s perspective, including weird associations, daydreams, very violent but at the same time almost innocent fantasies and how it all (at least that was my first impression when I read it) switches to a grown-up perspecitve in the very last part, in the middle of a sentence and such a fantasy. We are allowed to watch someone think and associate for some time – but in the end the reader is excluded. The stream of images and fantasies stop, the narrator suddenly realizes something and we can’t get to this final insight. I like that, for me it is like a play with distance: you get close only to then realize that acutally you are not, that he might share something with you but that his memories and impressions are not yours and you might be watching but in the end you are always a step behind.

    • Astrid Valencia Jimenez

      This poem was a bit hard to understand at first but after reading it over again, I also realized that it is kind of written in a child’s perspective who matures, which I really like. It starts out with spaceships and fantasies and it ends with the bartender, the beer and him getting back to “reality” from his journey.

    • tabea

      I really like your way of thinking here and how you replied to and analyzed this poem! It is very similar to what I was thinking; the poem tells almost the whole childhood of a person in relation to the world of video games. One possible reason for the reader being excluded at the end of the poem could be because of the person being an adult at the conclusion of this poem. (The terms “bar” and “beer” at the very end tend to let me think that the protagonist is of legal drinking age, therefore an adult.) Adults usually do not play video games, fantasize much or day dream and they usually dissociate from the activities that they liked when being a child. Therefore the protagonist also dissociates from us (the readers). Another possible reason for us being excluded at the end could be because this poem was merely about the world and the phenomena of video games. The adult at the end probably does not play any games so the person does not only dissociate from games but also from us readers. As the person says “OK I finally get it”, Ross Sutherland may be referring to the fact that the protagonist figured that the world he/she is currently in is the reality and not the gaming world. For all his life the games were his/her reality and now that he/she is an adult, and probably restraining from and not playing video games anymore, he/she realized what the actual world consists of.

  • Patrick Lehmann

    Video games are just someone’s (or a team’s) creativity brought to life. It is a place to be somewhere and someone else. There is no failing, just retrying. Until it is finally easy enough to complete. Sadly this is not the case in real life, so people created a separate “universe” where this is possible. This is why video games may still be interesting for this generation when we are older. It gives the person playing a break from regular life. This break cannot only be found in video games, but also in books (or any literature, really), television, sports and other activities.

  • Kasey

    This poem was really confusing but I think it was supposed to be that way. Its interesting how the poem starts with a spaceship and ends with bartenders. Sutherland skips back and forth between reality and what you process it in your mind but it feels like somehow everything is connected. I had to read it a view times to get it and I think its just about this moment in live where you finally get why something is happening the way it is and your mind makes – click – and you just see and think about things differently.

    • Sophie

      I had to read it a few times as well to understand it and I agree with you. I like that it is kind of confusing, because that is basically what a video game is all about if you think about it logically. Life is as well, I think that’s what connects one’s image of reality and reality itself. But I don’t really know what to think about the ending. What does he realise? Or is it supposed to be unknown to the reader?

  • Nicolas Albl

    I like the poem because it is very modern. Gaming is a serious Topic it is creating jobs, but u can also get addicted. The poem takes part in a futuristic game, the dream of every child is it to have an own spaceship or live in alternative reality . Just that is what video games allow you to do.
    Why have you chosen to write about video games?
    Are you a Gamer yourself?

  • Sophie

    I love the mixture of themes in this work of art. Video games, reality – it just makes you think about it. I also love how the lines end mid-sentence. This makes it much more interesting to read and sound different. The ending is confusing to me, but that’s something that I like about it as well, because it makes you think about it even more.

  • Philip Morgan

    I had to read through the poem a few times to fully understand it.The first few lines of the poem reminds myself of when I was a small child going to my grandmother’s house.The child uses the furniture that is available and his imagination to include himself in a videogame, where the child is flying around in his own spaceship. The child is using his imagination of being in a videogame to be at a different place as a different person to get away from normal life for once in a while. In a videogame you can die or fail as many times as you need to complete the mission, in real life though, you cannot die more than one time and therefore have to be careful of things you do.

  • marlenelucy

    This poem makes me think of the innocence of childhood and how it vanishes when we grow older. The creative and imaginary side of things that seem to have no limit and no boundry are taken from us once we enter the next stage in our life; the factual stage that often does not leave any space for our own thoughts. At the same time, like many others have already mentioned above, the poem expresses the great discrepancy between the real world and the digital world of computers. In those fictional worlds basically everything is possible and fear of faling does not exist as you have infinate trials that are most likely going to succeed at one point.

  • florapora

    before i read the poem i thought about the title. “infinite lives try try try again”. i thought maybe he is going to write about a cat, or about restarting life in different places, so when i actually started reading the poem i didn’t get what he meant. now i do, small clips from video games are being but closely behind each other. sutherland confirms that in his second to last row: “i have watched the out-takes”. in the process of the poem he switches over from the virtual video games, to the sad, real bartenders.

  • kest

    This poem describes how modern day people live two lives: one in the video games they play, and the other in the actual world outside. Young people already engage themselves in these computer games and do not realize that they have already become so addicted to the game, to the point were the emotions from winning or loosing the game become transferred to real life. And the obsession grows, because no matter how many times you loose, the computer game always gives you another chance, which keeps you locked to the game. Is is important to distinguish the computer games from real life, and to not engage to much with these games, because it is not good to dwell on non-existing things and forget to live in reality.

  • Jai Omo

    Visualizing the poem is somewhat tragic and happy at the same time. The reader is being confronted with childhood memories and the innocence of a kids life. The world of a kid is carefree like playing a video game which allows someone to escape to a visual world perfected, without problems and full control over his life. Reality and fantasy are being compared. The reality is revealed when the protagonist is literally being pulled out of his memories and confronted with the brutal truth of death, “Head slipping across the intersection” and “my body falling out the door”. This scenery can also be compared to right before a person dies he will see his most important memories.

  • marlenelucy

    This poem made me think of surreal and fictional worlds, of places where time is insignificant and of no use. This world and the virtual world seem to be opposed matters but if looked at closely they are rather alike. Childhood is what compares to these fictional worlds and everyone goes through this stage in order to reach the next stage. During childhood everything seems so much more surreal and only the facets of things you want to see are shown to you which makes it a very peaceful stage.
    “In the nebula of your Grandmother’s curtains”
    “Nebula” is a cloud of interstellar gas and dust, yet it is normally not completely in-transparent. When you refer this term to childhood, this means that you are unaware and innocent, enclosed by a invisible shelter, which in this text is represented by the narrators grandmother, yet you sometimes get a faint glimpse of the real world and the “nebula” gradually clears up and this is when you reach adulthood. In my opinion this refers to the line: “OK I finally get it.” because this line is not only at the very end of the poem, pointing out the end of a stage (childhood) but it also stands alone, which could signify the sudden responsibilities and clarity which are now present in the new stage after childhood.

  • Ross Sutherland

    Thank you for all your thoughts! I’ve really enjoyed reading through them. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to engage with the ideas of the poem and to make sense of them!

    I’ve written some notes on this poem elsewhere on the site, but I wanted to do a follow up here.

    A lot of the commenters have talked about video games and simulated worlds. It’s a subject I’ve got a lot of interest in. We are now entering a new era of thinking around videogames. Philosophy has always been interested in the difference between real and imagined worlds, but more than ever before, we’re getting to put a lot of those philosophical ideas into practice. I’m 35 years old, which makes me the same age as Pacman. Now as an adult, I find myself questioning the impact of games on my subconscious. I play Twitter as if it was a videogame. What other elements of my life have secretly undergone gamification? The boundaries have blurred.

    I’m not much of a game critic / philosophy student. But I try to address these things in the poem. I must admit, I didn’t know the poem would be about videogames/simulations when I started it. This theme just came through in the writing process.

    This is the first time my poetry has been discussed in this level of detail (there’s not a lot of critical writing within the contemporary UK poetry world). And it’s really interesting to see the poem dismantled on paper. As a poet, I spend a lot of time going on my nerve, but I don’t always get the time to look back and reflect on the decisions I made.

    It’s a really interesting dilemma I think –
    In Infinite Lives, we have a piece of autobiographical writing, transformed (through the editing process) into something much more abstract, dream-like. We get the sensation of a person looking back over their life, trying to make sense of the memories. But everything is moving too fast- one memory bleeds into the next. There are gaps in the poem- missing information. And this can create a more frustrating experience for the reader.

    Without my notes, you can only enjoy this poem in a partial, impressionistic fashion. The beating heart is been removed from the body; the reader is left rooting through transcripts of dreams. Which is not to say that dreams can’t be fun / interesting! But the original purpose of the poem (self-discovery) has been replaced by something else (a simulation of self-discovery). Rather than having the poet speak to us directly, we’re put into the position of eavesdropper- listening to the poet as they speak to themselves.

    I wonder- perhaps if the poem hadn’t ended with the line “OK I finally get it”, then the experience would have been less frustrating! As readers, we can accept that some poems can be enjoyed without locating the ‘answer’ within . But when the author themselves is shouting “I’ve had a revelation!” and the reader feels excluded from author’s thought process, then of course, we feel cheated!

    A parody version of the poem:

    Dogs quack in my rear view mirror
    as I think of Dennis, his distinctive hairstyle
    shimmering in my memory like a drowned fox
    at the bottom of a swimming pool, discovered
    one morning by my father who incidentally
    used to wear a hat shaped a bit like Mount Snowden.
    I climbed that mountain aged seventeen
    and saw nothing from the peak
    but the antique disappointment of British weather.
    I used to own slippers shaped like turtles
    and woah I just realised the meaning of life!

    Ah, you could say that the poem “crashes” at the end! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but effectively that is what happens. The reader is thrown off the horse. The game ends.

    On this blog, I’ve read several posts from students where they have responded to my poems by writing poems of their own. I think this is a fantastic way to understand poetry. You can use the form of a poem to have your own journey of self-discovery, rather than just a bystander on someone else’s journey. I think this is particularly true with a poem like Infinite Lives.

    I’d say that at least 80% of the people who go to poetry readings in the UK also write poetry themselves. They’re not necessarily full-time writers, but they all write for fun. I used to find this so depressing! It seemed indicative of the problem with poetry. Poetry as the academic prop, incapable of reaching a neutral audience. I used to joke to my friends and say, “this proves that writing poetry is infinitely more fun than reading it!” But recently, I’ve had a change of perspective. I think I understand this situation a bit better now. I think that being a reader of poetry and being a writer of poetry NEED to go hand-in-hand. This is a new thought for me, but I’ll try to explain:

    Recently, I’ve begun to think of a poem as an exercise in meditation. Through the form of the poem, the poet teaches us to group our thoughts in a particular way. The poet is guiding us by example, showing us a new way of examining the world. We read the poem over and over, learn the “moves” of the poet. Then, when ready, we attempt to put those lessons into play. We write our own version of the poem. Only once we have written OUR version, do we fully understand the original. Only then will we be able to write, “OK, I finally get it.”

    This is something I’ve done all my life. If I see a poem I like, I copy it. I try to learn it from the inside, like learning a piece of music. I try to use artists as spiritual guides. Yes, art can help us grow as people! But only if we get involved. If we stand on the sidelines as a spectator, we relegate ourselves to being consumers. We have to enter the conversation & become part of the art ourselves. – Ross Sutherland

  • Nicolas Albl

    This Poem has inspired me to write this:


    The World revolves around it
    Everyone depends on it
    Children use it to play Games
    Hundreds of us crave it
    No one can live without it
    Once we did not have it
    Love, no it cannot be
    On this World it will take over
    Give it time and it will be inside of us
    Y can we not forget about it?

    What am I talking about?

    • Philip Morgan

      As I read your peom, Nic, I thought of different things that you might have been talking about. When you said “No one can live without it, i automatically thought of the basic needs of a human being. But once you said “Give it time and it will be inside of us”, I thought that your poem is talking about technology. I really like the way you formatted your poem. Well done! 🙂

    • tabea

      I really liked this poem of yours! It’s also so true and I think the question if technology is our only future is very qualified and entitled.

  • Kasey

    Its like what parents and teachers tell us : If you do not show interest in a subject and make yourself want to learn about it, it is going to be way harder to understand and learn about it. Same with poems and other art works. One has to be interested in the art work, wanting to understand and analyse it and not just look at it and be done, so that an effect and a different perspective can be made.
    Reading the poem I din’t even think that Sutherland was talking about video games and how they effect ones mind. I assumed that he was writing about how he changed from thinking like a kid to thinking like a grown up. From living in a fantasy world where nothing is clear, like Marlenelucy mentioned, to facing reality. That’s why it is interesting to see how others perceived the poem.

  • marlenelucy

    Unattainable yet so clear
    The screen being the only barricade
    That still seperates
    Pure from surreal
    Metered from timeless
    Significant from marginal
    Substantial from hollow

    An escape from reality
    Enclosed by algid metal
    Suppressing the truth
    Behind the flickering screen
    An illusion of refuge
    doomed in dark alleys
    or on pixelated battle fields

  • Kasey

    After reading Sutherlands notes to the poem “Infinite lives (try, try, try again)” I understood the poem way better. He explains how he wrote the poem and that it is a description of poetry. A poet starts with one line, a memory in his mind, then randomly writes down what memory comes to mind from the memory before and so on. At the end you then have a poem out of random thoughts that probably no one else understands. So I thought it would be fun to try that exercise.

    I remember through pictures
    A trip to the Zoo,
    Remembering a video about friend
    And dad at the Zoo,
    Haven’t called my dad since a while,
    New apartment with style,
    Graduating in the first dream
    With my new class,
    A faster way home
    Seems longer than before,
    For two weeks alone and
    Halloween is near,
    Plus it’s a Friday this year

  • tabea

    I did not quite understand this text at first until I read Ross Sutherland’s notes on Infinite Lives. As I realized that Ross made the poem up while writing it, did not have a set ending when starting to write and that one could not possibly understand the whole poem, for he brought little things from his life into this poem, i became more fond of this text. Because once again the fact that poetry can be written by everyone, can be about everything, and does not have to follow a given structure is stated.

  • paulineschaedel

    I had to read them Poem several of times until I could understand it. In the first lines it seems like the Poem is written out of the sight from a Little Boy which grows up during the Poem.

  • kest

    I really enjoy the poem Kasey wrote using Ross Sutherlands style with using a random line… I thought your poem was creative and thoughtfull, and find it good that you even managed to make some words rhyme. It is entertaining because the reader has to try to figure out what the author had his mind on while writing it. If the reader interpertated it correct, is everyones own oppinion.

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