Doing the duck dance by Johanna Mack

Retiré – – –

pace, pace, pace and de-mi-rond.


Keep your head down.

Now up and



Catch this


and clickclickclick

next breakfasttablespitypic

shock is short – set aside. Pass the butter.


Oops! –

There goes another hack

whose shoulder cam was no bazooka

but can you tell in fog?




Have HD-seen all that

have seen too much

for da da da


apocalypse is now

reality copies celluloid

but car doors ignorant

don’t block projectiles

Fouetté! – – –

Pas de boucher



but yet

no barbecue for me

don’t show me fire

can’t see no smoke

since Sirte blossomed

spectacular roses

invading the sky

when earth is Jahannam

don’t bother to duck

grill ain’t grill

but flesh is flesh, served

to no god


no one to see

Now, traversez!

cross the sea



(sauté! sauté! sauté!)

nobody intends to build a wall


by accident they built a fortress

we love outlanders in the outland[1]


frontdoorfinite hospitality

Wir schaffen dasNot in my backyard

(and where’s the barbecue?)


this boat is (was too) full

quack  quack

this we ain’t நாம் it’s நாங்கள்[2] duck!



What I don’t get

is why they all have smartphones

Rama[3] still has the photos in hers

she virtually still has a nose

no pictures of ibnah       – –


Whose lens

wHOse vIew

whose Shot

WHO’s not

whose mirror neurons are a fact

affect the choreographies

of   ጥፍኣት [4] and بداية جديدة[5]

when trauma saws itself in portraits

who ducks who leaps who pirouettes

at strings, tournez

and attendez


[1] Songline of an NPD-CD distributed in schoolgrounds in 2004

[2] Tamil language has two personal pronouns for the second person plural. While nām means “we, including the person being spoken to”, nāngal means “we, excluding the person being spoken to”

[3] name changed

[4] ẗf’at, Tigrinya: loss

[5] bidayatan jadida. Arabic: New beginning


This poem is about a “rupture” which cannot be dated back to one particular event. Rather, it centers on the current moment, in which a series of events caused what came to be known as the “refugee crisis” in Germany and other European countries. I wanted to include both the reasons for flight and the experiences or reactions after it.

I am trying to combine the terrifying war images with allusions to dance (disciplined ballet orders, the nonsensical duck dance and a clear rhythm), to show how the events seem to occur in a choreography-like way (but who is the choreographer?).

It was important for me to focus on the media’s treatment of these topics: I included references to journalists, cameras, newspapers, cinema, quotes by politicians and other people in public positions.

I also want to address the question of the “nonsense” of war, the impossibility of art to make sense of it. Therefore, I tried to refer to dadaism and express why dada is not the common reaction anymore.

I think that in our globalized and increasingly interconnected world it is impossible to define one single cause for historic caesuras, but there is usually a web of several causes, influences that trigger certain developments or changes. Similarly, it is also impossible to identify who is the victim and who is culpable for complex situations.

3 thoughts on “Doing the duck dance by Johanna Mack

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