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. 

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