sick in berlin

getting sick in berlin

its own black romance
like love in paris
a fling
strangers too close on the metro
fluids exchanged
the essence of nameless kissing
that rheumy-eyed grandfather with
his pre-Euro Aldi bag
his snotrag hard as a
fossil may as well have had his
tongue in your mouth
with a persistent cough
he is part of you
even poetry is humbled by the couple
you have become in fever’s
capacity for

Sunday, 10. February 2008


you are a berlin

(in honor of the end of an era)*

you are a berlin at the center of which is
a Bezirk in the heart of which
is a cafe in the
smoke of which rave the dogs and babies old
beyond the saturated stains of all their days, the
tepid milch kaffees and kretek-punctuated
ennui-activated litany of

you are a berlin of dogs and babies both, the
merde-smirched Ponyhof, imaginary
Schlosses atop ten
landfill-bulges looming o’er this
ganja-clouded yankee-haunted

i love your streets, their
birdshit & dog-do juicyfruits, their
smog-consuming, fog-excreting
piss-fed trees; the orgy of the prospect of
the easty beastie boulevards these trees line up in
nude platoons like flashers bent
and twisted in arthritic throes of
esoteric agony. i love

your frank municipality; its endless
wave of pidgin English
ironies; the sonnet-pretty übermenschy
whores of June the
17th, too late for Bloom,
too blonde and
cool, too cheap
to prove a mystery:

they are berlin and we
ride black
with Ecstasy

Sunday, 13. January 2008


twilight on a corner of the ku’damm in february

the grey walls of the hinterhof stained
with the previous century’s rain under
the drained eye of february’s
glaucous light, so like
an asylum: the courtyard’s box
of underinterpenetrated
lives in this vast stone machine of
flatblock, drinking
a river each day, flushing rich
waste the other way, sempiternal, thick-
walled, cough-muffling, papered
in little deaths, breaths, sweats,
farts, aerosolized desiderata smelling
of cooked cabbage from
the furtive biomass of
neighbors he has never once
heard laughing or
singing. dante rings
an old friend, dresses to
meet him on a
corner of the ku’damm he hasn’t
seen in years. everything, he thinks,
disappears. he never knew
what or why his mother meant in all her
litanies of vague complaint, staring
over his tooth-blonde head as she ironed-on patches or
stirred fatty ersatzes into cheap-n-cheerful soups or wiped
the kitchen window of their
lukewarm semidetached in Hounslow with
never-read newspapers existing only
to chronicle America’s rough
usage of the world, but now
he grasps her point was only ever
to make herself heard if solely
by him, dante, her son, at
seven, his reason
to exist as though
by invitation. she seemed to inhabit
a fenced sanitarium at the gate
of which they could meet but never
embrace. mother, what are you
so sad about? so
crushed beneath? so
helpless at never-winning?
her newspaper-lined casket still holds the
cold broach of her
enigma-grinning. the friend,

a standard
thirty minutes late mimes
apologies from across the
street, sackladen shoppers watching
the Gay Ausländers meet with
bemused irritation, mocked
to every last light of their city’s

Monday, 18. February 2008



berlin is best for

berlin is best for
breaking up; chums with bored disgust aver
they never liked lamented
her/ his arrogance; the not so half
to-die-for-ness that he or she
with all love’s dumb
encouragement of self
perceived. they whom fortune
in smiling scant months upon you
reeved through burning shrouds of
reflected happiness flock once more
in droves to glooms reborn
thick as spinsters to the perfume
of a miscarriage

Sunday, 24. February 2008



*The “end of an era” I refer to had to do with the smoking ban finally issued for Berlin’s interior public spaces, all those clubs and cafes, formerly smoky as curing rooms for smoke-flavored meats now aired out and smokeless, which, ironically, ended up making it harder to walk around outside without breathing lungfuls of secondhand Marlboro

KEY [a “pre-Euro Aldi bag” is a shopping bag from a downmarket supermarket, from before the time the Euro replaced the Deutschmark… you do see them around town, colors warn off, as Germans are notoriously stingy and like to recycle their shopping bags (which can cost a whopping 10 or 20 cents each) forever; i wrote the second pome in response to the historic bar/cafe smoking ban; “Bezirk” means “district”; “June the 17th” is a famous street and June 16th is Bloomsday; to “ride black” is to use public transport without a ticket… but this is also a reference to beloved miscegenational practises as well as to the Tom Waits/ Burroughs/ Wilson “Black Rider” and the Weimar-Berlin vibe of the album and my memories of the play’s global media debut during my early years in the city; “Ponyhof” is from the cynical German saying “Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof,” meaning Life isn’t a Pony Farm;  “WG” is abbreviation for “Wohngemeinschaft” or shared living space of non-relative roommates, an ultra-common Berlin living config; “easty beastie” was a West Berliner pejorative I heard quite often the year after the Wall came down; a “Schloss” is a palace;  Hinterhof: the section of an apartment-or-office building behind and parallel to the part facing the street, separated by a courtyard… lots of buildings in Berlin have courtyards and some go two or three courtyards deep; Dante, a Gay Brit,  is the hero of a cycle of Berlin pomes these are from]


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