You may use the term
- “You Americans”
if you like
But I must tell you
the credibility of your logic
decreases by half
Like when I hear the unevolved say
- “You people”
your country’s name
your heritage name
in the sentence
“You Africans always…”
“You Chinese just think you’re…”
“You women can’t stop…”
However if it rings
“You Americans always…are so hospitable.”
“You Americans are just…hilarious.”
“You Americans can’t…keep making me laugh like this.”
Then continue starting sentences with
- “You Americans”
But if you are sour inside
And want to make a global point
Run the sentence in your head first
Think and be patient with what you want to express
Then maybe your logic will be heard
And not dismissed
by the ancient art of profiling
Making your credibility increase by half
maybe you just shouldn’t drink so much in public
- From the book Modern American Gypsy, found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/
We Want The Red Head
“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
The bar screamed alone
“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
She felt, special, pretty and proud
“We want the red head!”
“We want the red head!”
Atop the table she took a bow
Then did a dip
Spun her dress and winked
Then eloquently sat back down
My First Dinner in Heaven
I want Shepard and Banksy to paste the walls
Dali to arrange the furniture
Rockwell to prepare dinner
And Picaso to choose the wine
I want Van Gogh and O’Keefe to choose the flowers
Gould to play his piano
Edith Piaf to sing
And Ms. Audrey Hepburn to be my girl
I want Dr Suess and Gorey to trade stories
Jane Goodall to inspire us
Fred Astaire to teach us steppin’
And Arno Rafael Minkkinen to photograph us all
I want my mother and father to be kissing
All my old pets to be young and playing
My old teddy bear living
And all my heroes as proud as anything
I want to eat, drink and laugh with everyone
While Rembrant and Basquiat work together,
Drunk off hot wine, painting us all
At my first dinner in heaven
Red Hood Girl
Jane always spoke
Of having a red hooded cape –
Like Little Red Riding Hood’s cape
And after her mother came back
From her year in Paris
She had a present for Jane –
The bright red hooded cape
It was long and soft
With long strings to tie around her neck
Jane loved it
She wore it to school
She wore it to church
In front of the television
And even to bed
But one day, when Jane and her old Irish setter Richie
Went out for an adventure
Richie decided the best way to escape the evil flying monkeys
Was to jump into the brook
And roll around in the mud
After Richie bopped back over to Jane
With a muddy nose
And mud clumps under his belly
He did his shake
And mud sprayed everywhere
Richie noticed that
Jane looked devastated
Quickly she brought Richie back to the brook
Washed off the rest of the mud
Jane then tore off her red hood
And used it to
Dry Richie fluffy again
When the two of them got back to the house
It would be her
That would get
the running faucet behind my back
hiding my mind
is like holding a running faucet
behind my back
sometimes I can get a thumb in
which makes ideas and words
spray violently wild
but most of the time
it just gushes free
and the poor,
happen to be around
All four poems are from the book, Let The Poets Come & Stop Me available here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/
Thanks for reading,
This is the last section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy. Poems will continue to be posted daily.
Todays stories start in our Sprinter driving through France, then heading by boat to England, to finally fly home back to New England.
Enjoy & thanks for reading!
France to England
Even if spirits are high, after two months on the road, men need to tip-toe round each other. It is the time they come together in their exhaustion, or turn away from one another for survival. If you smell something rotten in a man after two months, best keep your distance, or it’ll be your throat he cuts.
We were bound for the 9:00PM ferry from France to England, just pulling out of a roundabout when the police lights came on. One French officer came to the left side of the Sprinter and rolled his eyes when he realized the driver was on the right. His back up stayed back right. The 1st officer spoke aggressive French to us, and when we told him we only spoke English, he continued his monologue until he felt validated or felt the emotional cadence of his message would at least be absorbed by us men. When the tantrum was over, he spoke to us in English. He asked us many questions that profiled us as the king pin drug dealers of western Europe. However, the only thing we were guilty of was sinful thoughts. We were asked to follow their car back to their stations one-hundred meters away.
The station looked as if it was an abandoned war bunker, crude and useless. There were plastic gloves and ointment out for effect. All the table tops were wet, with small puddles. Our bags were all brought in and they tore through them like a fourteen year old boy would go into a garbage bag with the promise of a dirty magazine inside. We had now missed our ferry and would have to drive extra miles tonight to be able to make the performance the next day. It was not the time to test us, it was not the time to push us.
Men from New England know to give people of authority a tea spoon of sugar of respect or they will find themselves downtown. But not us, not now, not tonight. Seven Americans and one tired Englishman stared at these four French officers as if we could see the cut of their throats was just passing their vocal chords. And they could feel it. Our silence, direct eye contact and quite focused answers tells any man, violence is a breath away.
“Whose is this, whose is this, speak up,” one of the officers grabbed a bag of aspirins mixed with vitamins and held his trophy high.
“It’s mine officer,” I stepped forward and turned my shoulders to the man, an unneeded act and everyone in the room knew it and the men know how I am when I’m tired, when I’m angry.
“What is this! Explain!” the officer said.
“Aspirin,” I said. “Head aches.” I pointed to my head and winced.
The officer dumped the pills on the table and his men, save one, surrounded the contents, poking with pens.
“What is this? Now you think about what you say, because what you say now will be for our records.”
“Aspirin, for headaches,” I said in the same tone.
“What, do you all then get headaches?” one of the men said sarcastically and they all laughed a little.
“Yes”, I said.
“Imagine that,” one of the men said under his breath.
The officer went over to the man and said, “Ce qui? Speak up.”
“I said they’re for headaches. Aspirin,” he replied.
At this point they knew they didn’t have anything on us and we knew what that meant. We were taken to a room to stand, to stand for a very long, long, long time.
Two hours later they came back and let us go – but not soon enough to catch the next ferry. We would now be six hours behind schedule and four hours away from sleep, if any hotel was to be open in England by the time we reached it. Our tribe was sound though; the officer’s shenanigans brought us closer. We were solid men again; one.
Once in England we got pulled over. The two bobbies were very kind. They explained that it looked like our Sprinter was too heavy and that they wanted to take a look at it, at the next off ramp. The interesting part is they wanted us all, save Dale, to ride in two different squad cars to the off ramp. “We don’t want to go and see the tires give lads, then the axel drop and find you lot barrel rolling. Ride with us, c’mon then, we’ll take a look, if all is fine, you can be on your way.” The coppers were honest and truly concerned for our safety.
In the back of the car I said, “Officer may I ask you an odd question?”
“Of course,” he replied. “Go on then.”
“The night sticks you carry are great. What, do they just latch on there to your belt and snap off when you need them?”
Surprisingly the officer said as he pulled the baton off and handed it back to me, “Exactly, yah, they’re quite powerful, just flick it and the rest comes out.”
His weapon was now in my hands. I flicked it and was holding a serious brain crasher.
“Yah,” I said as I swung it around a tad; like a child would.
As I handed it back to him, the officer said, “Cheers mate.”
All I could think of is how could he hand me, a stranger, his only weapon and how that would never happen in the States. You can get thrown to the ground for just looking at an officers weapon. I could have hit him, strangled him, anything. There are so many things us American don’t understand, because we basically live on an island and are too deep within ourselves, our sole culture, at this point to understand thoughts, ideas and values that are different from our own.
At the same time, I ain’t saying he should have given it to me; that was kind, but a bit dumb. But a good man is hard to come by these days. A man that doesn’t bark at other men, like dogs do, but good men, men who live by practical wisdom, men who care for others, because that is what’s right. And those officers we’re just that. Good men.
Laundry. Laundry can be more important then a woman – eventually. 8:00AM. Seven Modern American Gypsies and a Modern English one loaded our vinegar smelling cloths into washers, followed by the beautiful washing powder, scooped and tossed in by the kind middle eastern young man that owned the Laundromat. We were in South London – Gipsy Hill. That’s how it’s spelled. We all sat, drank coffee, some smoked and chatted up the young owner. He liked us. We liked him.
“Been traveling, I can see,” he started.
“Yes, for a while now,” I said.
“I love traveling. It is the only way to stay happy. Fresh.”
The young owner told us he’d watch our things and that there was a breakfast spot a couple shops down called – The Gipsy Rose. That’s how it’s spelled. The place was small. The smell of eggs, bacon and coffee warmed our souls. We took a table by the bricklayers, construction works – the only other type inside. We ate hardy, for we didn’t mind spending our left over, heavy English coinage. As we scooped beans on toast we spoke of the excursions high times and low times. It was easier to laugh at the low times now that Boston, our home, was a few days a way. We razzed the men that kissed the late night women and they razzed us for not. We asked Dale what his plans were for gathering his tossed out belongings. His mate told him that he was going to let him stay with him until he could properly find a new flat. After that we dined in silence.
The young owner had folded and bagged our warm clean clothes. It was a move that was truly kind. We gave him some copies of our record albums and the joy it gave him made it even.
“I hope to take holiday next year with my wife.”
“Well if you go to the States , let us know.”
Nothing on our front burners, we headed to a pub – the Paxton. There we drank down Guinness. I bought rounds for the men that were out of dosh. It was very dark inside. Seedy. The windows were covered by velvet curtains. In the small amount of light that did sneak into the Paxton, we spoke more about the trip, about the shows and about The Lovers of the Sound. Different men had different favorite nights. Mine was at Botafar in Paris.
“Oi, I have a friend stopping by,” Dale said, getting off his phone. “He’s going to take us to his wine cellar. ‘S brilliant place man. Brilliant. It’s old and you go down to like a dungeon. You’re all going to go mental. Good bloke too, good bloke, went to University with him. Good bloke.”
POP! And your glass was filled once again. POP! Bottle after bottle. POP! And we were starting to understand a peaceful feeling. Us men swayed, smiling, standing in The Wine Cellar with Sam and his men he calls – the Averys.
“Told you man, it’s fucking brilliant,” Dale chorused.
Sam took us down to the basement, then to the basement’s basement where the stone became much older looking. And then even further down until we stood in what looked to be an ancient castle’s dudgeon. The kind that if you ever saw it, it was the last thing you ever saw.
Massive barrels, the size of whales, holding wine distilling, were built into the old stone.
“This one here is very old,” Sam would say. I shouldn’t open it but bah.”
“It’s truly expensive, expensive?” I ask with a slur.
“You don’t wanna know mate.”
“But yes mate” one of the Avery men interrupted with a hiccup.
“Here David, mate drink that down, have a go at this here. This is my favorite. Smoky, not reeeally fruity, or what have you, yah, more smoky. Yah. Smooth. There, have a go, have a go. Right? Right? Was I wrong? Mm. Lovely. Here, here. Whoops. I’ll clean it later, no worries. There, yah. Cheers mate. Cheers.”
POP! And your glass was filled once again. POP! Bottle after bottle. POP! And we all had red lips and teeth.
“you’re so cool, you’re so cool”
I was reading the last few pages
of the screenplay True Romance
in a dark club in Kingston, England
when a young girl approached me
“are you really reading
or are you just trying to look cool?”
I said, “I’m reading a screenplay
I like reading screenplays”
“Well, you look like you’re just trying to look cool”
she double mentioned as she walked away
I wasn’t sure if I should feel bad for the girl
that the sight of someone reading sparks annoyance in her
or if I should feel happy that I look “cool” reading.
it’s a damn good screenplay
the wondering skye
she’s a model from Kingston, England
not the normal kind of model she says,
“the whole thing’s a bit silly really, ‘s rubbish”
it was the second to last day of a two and a half month tour
and the men and I
were packing up the trailer
for the last time that year in the United Kingdom
next was Canada and then the States and possibly Mexico
I turned to pick up some gear
when I saw her
and I said without apprehension
“lord, I love-a-love, love your hair”
it was red and done up in a way
I’ve only seen on the side of WWII fighter planes
she laughed and said “thank you”
“what’s you name Ms?”
“wow, skye, what’s next,
are you gonna to tell me you’re rich and single”
“well I’m not rich,” she said
then we both smiled
I remember her blinking slowly
or maybe things were just moving slow for me
there are some people you meet
in your life
that you can’t spend time with
for a number of reasons,
but distance is what I’m really speaking of
and for some reason
with these people
there is a short
and it makes you
it keeps them
in your mind,
and you like them
The last concert for our England and Europe excursion was in London at The Underworld, located in the center of Camden town, where rockers, artists, thieves and drug users reside.
Us men loaded in for the last time. Set up our equipment and merchandise for the last time. Sound checked for the last time. And sat at the pub connected to the venue called The World’s End for the first time that morning. Even though we are battered, we feel strong knowing that our bodies will soon have a chance to recoup.
At the corner edge of the bar we downed Snake Bite ‘n’ Blacks for memories’ sake, but moved on to popper cider, Guinness and Stella after two rounds. We had invited all the friends we had made on the first leg of the England dates to The Worlds End for some drinks a couple days before. They trickled in. Each one looked hungry for a pint. One of our men had a girl he had fancied on the first leg of the tour meet him as well. With lovey-dovey eyes, they sat close, at the end of the bar. Some of our new friends brought photos of us together from the month before and we all pointed and laughed. It was nice to be in London with friends and it was nice knowing that the concert would be mental.
And the concert was mental. Lovers of the Sound leaped off railings, speaker cabinets and even each other. With force they would grab at my microphone to sing, slamming it into my face, chipping my teeth and opening my lips. They would jump up on stage, knock me down, opening my palms and wrists as I slammed them down on the edge of electronics trying brace my fall. Lovers of the Sound would dog pile on my back, even leap off it tumbling my body back. If my hand got too close to the crowd they would pull me in, my back now on the dance floor looking up at legs and hands that would reach down and pull me back up. Lovers of the Sound tear my shirt and pull my hair unknowingly. Lovers of the Sound cheer and I cheer. Lovers of the Sound scream and I scream.
Sweat. Us men and the Lovers of the Sound were drench head to toe. We all slipped and fell from the sweat on the stage and like all shows that are on the brink of a riot the ceiling rained our perspiration back down upon us.
Looking out on the crowd that looked like religious pictures of Hell, in the middle of the last show on this continent of the tour made me smile. Somehow with all our bruised bodies, us men still had the fire in us. The crowd looked like swimming demons. And we were the minstrels of Hell.
Backstage I duct taped four open areas and rubbed my fingers and tongue against newly chipped teeth. My body steamed in the bathroom stall as I changed. I draped my wet cloths on the urinal and sat down with my dry ones on my lap. I changed very slowly. Exhausted. When I stood to put on my dry pants my muscles would give and I’d loose my balance, falling hard against the walls of the stall. The cage rattled. Semi dry now, I washed my face in the sink and stretched. I slapped my face to awaken my second wind.
Back at The Worlds End, above The Underworld, we found Ben. He had come with his lady. I spent most of my time against the bar listening and smiling at other people’s stories and ended my night laughing at a dark table in the back listening to more. It was nice for us men to sit with Ben and Dale together and recap the tour. It was nice to see Ben with a lady, who I could tell he was prone to make laugh and it was nice to see Dale flirting with a pretty girl, who I could tell liked him a lot. Everyone got too drunk, trying to spend all their leftover pounds, so not to bring them back to the States. Too good. Too drunk.
Outside the pub, some of our good English friends got into a brawl among each other about money. Bloody sidewalk. I broke the tussle up with one of my men and we both simmered our red hot mates down. It was an explosive night, a proper London night.
The next morning we had a lot to do in a small amount of time. On account that we slept until noon. And we didn’t leave the hotel until 1:00PM. We also moved slowly once we hit the bright streets, enjoying a long proper English breakfast and a couple pints down the street with Dale before we saw him off. It was our defiance against time restraints; it was our way of saying, ‘we did a good job, everyone take it slow.’
But when it hit 3:30PM we knew we were back to work.
London Traffic. Ben muttered under his breath, “They’re all fucking wankers I tell yah. Bloody wankers.” We reached Ben’s storage house, to return the music gear we had rented. London traffic. Ben pantomiming the size of the other drivers small unmentionables outside the driver side window while advising, “Grow some yeah twat.”
We reached the manufacturer plant to return all the merchandise we didn’t sell. London traffic. Ben laid on the horn screaming “Fuckin’ hell, bloody London traffic; move yah dozy cunts, go on son, sort it out,” to finally reach the airport with our personal bags and the instruments we brought from Boston, now packed in brown boxes wrapped in duct tape. I took a moment to check that nothing bladed was hidden deep in my belongings.
Once at the airport counter, we learned one man in our group’s passport had expired that day and we would have to leave him in England for two days until he was issued a new one. The man would have to meet up with us in Boston the morning before starting our Canada / North American tour. We left our man with Ben and hugged them both goodbye, but made sure to give our man a cheeky wave, while laughing and razzing him as he watched our tickets get scanned and watched us head to the plane.
England to The United States
The plane ride was spent in the back of the plane, with brave stewardesses drinking cans of Carling, listening to their dreams without giving advice. Unabashed flirting.
The United States of America
I believe when people don’t have much, they welcome nice things. Unlike The Fortunate, who often like to act in their play of life as people that don’t have much. And no, when I say ‘nice things’, I’m not referring to a hot car or a flashy watch. It’s more that one wants to come home to a kind house, hot shower, clean clothes, enough food, and not just the bottom shelf food at that.
4:30AM . We were heading home once again, all sitting up, looking out onto a silent and still Boston. We all share a feeling of happiness to be home, mixed with a sadness deep in our stomachs and throats to have the adventure be over. To see our sky line and streets gave us a connection that we haven’t felt in a long time. We felt home. Our love for Boston is great. Slowly, we dropped each man off. Separating from the group is always tough after a long expedition; the silence is eerie and short goodbyes were clumsy. One of the men and myself were the last ones to get home. And truly, it’s not my home, it’s his, but there’s a bedbug infested couch that I’m to collapse on for two nights and I was only two miles away from it.
We parked the van in a driveway. It was covered in snow mixed with trash. Hopping out, Boston’s sharp, biting air threw us into survival panic. Oh, how quickly our New England skin relaxes to the warmth of the vans heat and toughens when tossed outside again.
Of course, the last man of our tribe rightfully assumed I’d have the front door open by the time he latched up the trailer and locked down our exhausted van. But, with the complete loss of feeling in my fingertips, I was nothing but a fear-driven teenager in a slasher movie, illiterate in the functions of using one’s house keys. I had to reassure myself that if I kept enough pressure on my first knuckles, they would somehow relay a message to my fingertips to turn the key. This was one of the rare moments my body was so angry with me that it was reminding us both who was the real operator of this complex appendage.
Like most men my age, the last man thought he could get the job done faster on drive alone. Now stood two exhausted, bouncing, Boston boys, laughing, cursing, fumbling with their temper-testing house keys, as our half zipped up bags lay in the snow, collecting a nice new light coat from above.
Where could I find warmth? I found it by sticking both hands in my mouth and desperately exhaling warm breath on what used to be my fingers, a small amount of blood could slip down my first knuckle and will the key slightly to the left for a successful unlatching of the front door. Success. We danced inside with the grace of a first year Inuit modern dance class student.
The trash was as generous as the skunk cabbage in my father’s swamp. It lay ankle to chin deep. If filthiness is ever commended, the gang I run with in Boston have given it a new talent.
Yes, there were trash bags filled, the product of a brief moment of motivation. But now they lay open, almost guilty looking, as if it were they who were accused of vomiting up the filth. My good friend Todd’s underwear and socks hung on the coffee table drenched in beer and leftovers. There was no way to tell exactly what the leftovers were. The only name that could suit it would be, chinese-freeto-pizza.
The last man let out a long, fully sodden breath and went up to his room to inspect the damage. “Hopefully, there’s no one doin’ it in my bed,” he said, as he made his final tour exit.
Without taking my coat or my backpack off, I began to push the trash about. I grabbed one of the trash bags and began to clean off the table. The scattered change wouldn’t come off; it was coated with sugar-beer shellac. This new, powerful shellac coated the entire makeshift coffee table, eating up the covers of different magazines, playing cards, and cigarette boxes, forever documenting they’re existence.
I remember getting word from the road that the couch given to us by a fan was now, indeed, full of bed bugs. This couch was Todd’s favorite place to watch late night Twilight Zone reruns, but after getting bitten so many times by bugs, I hear he now uses the chair. No matter, it was now 5:00AM and I wasn’t about to sleep on the sticky wooden floor.
So, I looked under and behind the small couch and found the ‘smiley face’ yellow sleeping bag no one has ever owned up to. I then made a nice little area, free of trash, but not odor, and finally lay down. Every muscle thanked me by fully relaxing and falling asleep before me. My senses, however, scanned around in disgust. They could see what my muscles could not. No matter, I was in heaven.
I woke around 5:30AM to Todd discovering me. Todd doesn’t sleep, he never has. I thought that if I kept the blanket over my head and avoided eye contact, the four-hour drinking reunion was avoidable.
“Hey, buddy, when’d you get in?”
“Just now,” I said.
“Who is that?” from his bedroom.
“Baby, this is my best friend, wanna Pabst, or are you hittin’ it?”
“SSAK,” Todd opened a can, he was having a drink no matter what I was inclined.
I was wondering if the young girl’s voice was the girl I had met before tour. Or could it be some new girl I hadn’t yet met. No matter, I gave her no “hello.”
“No, man, I’m just gonna hit it,” I said under my warm drinking shield, “Tomorrow though, we’ll hit up Charlie’s.”
Todd was satisfied; he loves any talk of an outing to Charlie’s…Oh Charlie’s is a seedy bar in Harvard Square where young people research degenerates like us. My last view was of Todd heading back to his room and of my bruised feet at the end of the couch.
I woke thirty minutes later to someone slamming the door with a small fist. My roommate Johnny Trouble came down the stairs in his boxers, sleepy and annoyed.
“Oh shit! Hey bro,” he said to me. We hugged, then look at the door. “Man I think that’s Todd’s ex.”
BAM! BAM! BAM!
“TODD OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR. OPEN THE FUCKI…TODD! TODD!”
“Shit,” Johnny Trouble and I said in unison, stepped away from the door and took a seat on the couch.
Todd busted out of the room handing us all cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, opening them as he did it. He sat the girl next to me and handed her a can as well, but not before taking a big long chug from it.
“Hi,” she said. She was sleepy, small and confused.
“Hi,” I said close to her. “Hey, I’m just saying, if this is the girl that I know, stick close by me, she’s really tough. She gives a new talent to daaamn meeean. She’s meaner than a fifty year old woman ordering in a nice restaurant.”
The door banged and banged and the screams got more frantic and insane.
Todd opened the door and the ex-girlfriend sprang in like she had been pushing the door.
“Where the fuck is she?” First she checked Todd’s room, then dashed to the bathroom, then dashed up the stairs, to the upstairs bathroom. She found nothing. Coming down the stairs with power she approached Todd. “Where the fuck is she, Todd?” Then she slowly looked over at Johnny Trouble, Todd’s new girl and me. She sussed it out. “You. Uh, Uh, nope, no way,” she said as she made her way over the coffee table. “This is my house.” She grabbed the confused girls wrist, dragged her over the table, dragged her across the room and out the door. Johnny Trouble grabs and drinks her fallen beer.
Us men just sat there looking at one another. We all kind of smiled in fear. Slowly Johnny Trouble and I rose from the couch drinking and we all walked to the front door. There we saw the ex-girlfriend tossing the new one half in the bushes, half against the van, fully in the now powdery snow, then storming back inside, slamming the door so hard the house shook and locking all the locks on the door. She then went into Todd’s room and slammed his door shut as well.
“Did you just get in now?” Johnny Trouble asked as we both took our seats again. Todd lit a cigarette, grabbed my beer for a long sip and made a defeated look as he went toward the front door.
“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING OUT THERE TOOODD,” Todd’s Ex screamed.
Then Todd turned around and went into his room.
“Night” he said dreadfully.
Watching him I thought, ‘Well, Todd still lives dangerously.’
Johnny and I talked until our cans were done; we both were happy to see one another, but we’d catch up later. What was on both of our front burners was being unconscious once again. Johnny Trouble quietly opened the front door and hid the girl up in his room for the night. She was shivering.
Morning. I pulled myself up and scratched the five-day-old beard I had grown. I spotted an old water someone had left but not finished, I killed it. However, my throat, my brain, and my body needed more. I reached for a full bottle of cranberry juice, what a score, and took a couple desperate gulps. My taste buds to relay didn’t have enough time to decipher the encrypted message that there was more vodka in the bottle than cranberry juice, but they tried as fast as they could. It was too late, I guess I was now partying.
My bare feet blackened as I made sticky steps to the kitchen. It was as if someone poured glue on the floor and was having a laugh at me.
To make my other buddy from the house a bedroom, I had poorly nailed to the kitchen ceiling an enormous blue tarp, which now drapes down, making him a makeshift wall. But, the six extra feet at the base of the tarp sat piled up on the floor. We all talked about cutting it, but never did. I tripped on it, of course, confused, forgetting the ways of the house and banged my knee on the open bathroom door. But I didn’t forget really, that’s just an excuse. I simply get confused in the morning; I trip on things every sleepy morning.
The kitchen looked like a cabbage patch of open trash bags over flowing. If you have ever seen the movie Aliens, it was similar to the scene where Ripley found the room full of open alien eggs. I noticed that every dish, bowl, glass, Tupperware product, pan, and skillet was used and then stacked. The kitchen was one big ashtray, an orgy of rotting food and cigarettes. I opened the fridge in the hope of finding a half drunk Gatorade. Todd, for some reason, only drinks half of his beverages. But when I opened the refrigerator door there wasn’t a small wave of coolness, it was a big wave of warmth and the most offensive odor I have come across to this day. In the first three minutes of being awake I hadn’t noticed that all the trash bags were full of rotting leftovers, eggs and milk. The fridge had been emptied for a reason I still don’t know. I found the Gatorade I was looking for on the floor next to the old broom.
I had to get moving, because I had a big day of going to get a haircut. I hadn’t talked to my father or mother for about two weeks and thought I remembered them saying they wanted to have dinner when I got home, or was it for me to watch the house for them – I had forgotten. Either way I knew they asked for me to come home and one must look nice for Mum. But the hair cut would have to be paid for not with money, because I only had enough dosh for a bus ride, a subway ride, and a train ticket home.
“How was he to pay for a haircut?” an observant person might ask.
Well, the way the underground-lower class of Bostonians works is ‘trade within jobs’. If I worked in a club, I’d let you and your friends in for free. In return if I needed a pair of new sneakers you’d give me your employee discount. Got it? Well, Will’s girlfriend Gillian knows how to cut hair, so I grabbed two new records of the group I run with and a small T-shirt to trade for a cut. But I figured I should shower, so I don’t lose the deal on account of my offensive body odor.
The last time I had a shower was more days ago than I’m keen on admitting, so it was time to wash up. After tour, a long tour, the first shower home reminds me of the old western movies when the band of cowboys stop in at a town’s brothel and draw a hot bath to wash away any memory of their excursions.
I sludge up the stairs finishing up Todd’s Gatorade, but when I enter the bathroom I see that it doesn’t have a trash barrel anymore. The back of the toilet is now used for discarding used products. So, I let my empty bottle slide down the mountain of toilet paper rolls, used tissues, boxes of new toothpaste, pizza crusts, old beers and, I guess, someone in the house has a girlfriend now. I place my empty ‘Mountain Extreme’ Gatorade bottle on the top of the pile, it rolls down and out the doorway.
The floor was coated with wet magazines and brown moldy towels. That brown scum in the toilet, similar to the scum found in abandoned truck-stop bathrooms, had managed to coat the floor, walls and sink. A movie director would have said that his set designers went too far trying to emulate a junkie’s bathroom.
But, my shower, was divine, I stayed in there for at least forty-five minutes.
In the shower, there were wet boxes of old products on the floor and on the shelf. The ink that labeled each box ran and stained the shower walls and floor, similar to a crying drunk girl’s running mascara. I combed through the wet boxes looking for a bit of soap. Under the sopping Zest soap box, (yah I didn’t know they still sold Zest either), was a piece of soap no bigger than half a dog biscuit. That piece of soap cleaned my entire body.
After the good wash, I threw on the same clothes and slicked my hair back in a manageable 1950’s pompadour. The way Pop does. As I walked downstairs, I eyed the crate of food that the last man was damn smart to bring in. The crate, well I should say the smashed plastic basket, was given to us in Texas by a fan four months ago, regrettably I never met her – so I don’t know her name. It was full of chips, cookies, and other snackable treats. But, I remember seeing some cans of Chef Boyardee raviolis in there one hungry night.
It was only seconds before I was back in the kitchen combing for a can opener. It was where I expected it to be, at the bottom of an old Tupperware bowl, covered and camouflaged by floating macaroni, used matches and cigarette butts.
When a can is frozen, the interior food doesn’t just slide out like we’re all used to, and the use of a plastic fork can only pathetically chip at the frozen future Petco breakfast. All and all, I managed, and dined on, warm in some places frozen in others, ravioli.
I headed out, the first time a lone in a long time. I took the 66 bus to Coolidge Corner and met up with Gillian. I asked her to cut my long hair like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs. She did just that. It was about then that I realized I had bedbugs bites on my ankles, neck, fingers, and hipbone. They itch like a bitch, I mean, not as bad as poison ivy, but a bitch just the same. I hid them from Gillian.
After the cut, I took the subway to the commuter rail to catch the 2:00PM train home and I was scratching all the way.
Sitting on the train heading home with my bag beside me and my eyes closed, I received a message from one of the men.
“Mexico is on, are you in? So now it will be Canada, The States, then Mexico – a bit more than two months. And we’re gonna leave a bit earlier than we originally thought. Can you be ready in 2 days ?”
“Of course I can,” I wrote back.
Thank you to all who have joined me on this adventure. I hope you had fun spending time together. Currently I am working on my new novel, which its topic is a secret – ‘shhh‘. I am also work on ‘The Modern American Circus‘ – the continuation of ‘The Modern American Gypsy‘. Come Hallow’s Eve I will take a flight with my men to Asia. We will lay our feet down on Japan, China, South East Asia and Australia. During these days I will be taking notes and will craft this excursion for the third part of my wayward Gypsy series.
From today on, I will continue to post on this sight poems from my other books. I hope you will continue to peek, read and enjoy.
Thank you once again for taking the time and supporting wild writing.
- David McWane
Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories start in Denmark then Germany through Belgium heading to France
The first thing I noticed leaning against the Sprinter in the center of Copenhagen was all the beautiful woman. Just beautiful. Lovely. Hair flowing behind them as they road their Wicked Witch of the West bicycles, with perfect posture. I, the paralyzed American, hadn’t a clue what to do about them. How do you choice a woman to speak to, when each one of them would tragically twist your tongue? All us men stood and stared; smiled and exhaled.
“Oh right non of you lot have been to Copenhagen yah? The woman are fucking brilliant here. Top. Read that ah, Denmark is the happiest country of them all,” said Dale as he came around the Springer.
“I heard that too,” I said.
“Great beer, great beer. And smoke,” Dale continued.
“Heard that too,” I said again.
“Yah s’proper. Yah they do it right here. They know what it’s made of. Oh and they got this market right, that has just troughs and troughs of smoke. You’ve never seen anything like it. The squatters took a whole block, made this mental market mate. We’ll go for sure.”
And we did.
We sat with local bottled beer, on a stone wall, past the Green Goblin mural and soaked it all in. We watched the market play out, saw the troughs of smoke and continued to breathed in deep the woman that were too pretty for us to talk to.
That night we were put up in a small empty apartment, over looking downtown. It was a quite weeknight. The wet streets sizzled from beautiful black bicycles. We played cards, drank beer and coffee, ate cheese with meats and took turns toasting bread. Denmark eased us. I thought of Arend; he was right.
Germany through Belgium heading to France
“McWane, David! McWane, David!”, shouted the border patrol officer.
I was nudged awake by three sleeping men. We were at a border crossing, Germany to Belgium.
“Dave, mate wake up, this officer has a question about your passport,” Dale said.
I ain’t pretty in the morning, I ain’t nice neither, I ain’t nothing but annoyed, and mean, angry even. If you are on fire, I’ll help yah, but if you ain’t, help yourself.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Why is your passport like this?” The border patrol man began splitting the cover of my passport in two, ripping the cover off.
“God, c’mon, ‘s because your ripping it in half, Jesus Christ.” Then I went back to sleep and know nothing else.
except one pretty girl
“thank god we’ve made it,”
dale said, “I was losing my mind there,
us nine liminal men were
a ten hour drive
through east Germany
through the hopeless night
finally to end the drive
at the only open hotel in Belgium
our bodies were stiff
but our souls we’re hungry
joy from not being in the sprinter
made us parade about
we had a fresh air about us and
while unpacking the luggage
we caught word
that the Belgian hotel
had an open courtyard
and a full bar
and it was still open
we unpacked with urgency,
like that of a midnight swimmer,
submerged in a cold New England lake,
with a direct line of vision
getting the hell out
it smelled of mud and freshly lit cigarettes
it smelled of friends and the hope of laughter
the night’s lodging looked to be
an old elementary school,
now converted to a quirky hotel
all sporting big duffle bags slung around our shoulders
and healthy 22oz German beers in our hands
exhausted, yet exuberant
opened the front doors
and were finally home
somewhere we knew not
little ragamuffins and hooligans roamed
these school’s halls many years before
grown ones do
we tossed our bags in our bunkhouse
plopped on our choice mattresses
the six bunks were bunked three high,
right up to the ceiling
half of us headed to the shower room
while the rest of us unpacked,
drank and laughed together
and about women
once the washed men were sorted
they met the waiting men in the hallway
and together we headed to the courtyard
a gift for us all
we found a party that was already in full crescendo
everyone dressed to the nines
men in suits that actually fit
and women in dresses that made them feel ten years younger
if it wasn’t a wedding reception
it was some sort of family reunion
I could tell that, because the
grandmothers and grandfathers
twirling and kissing
everyone cheered our entrance
as we walked through the orange bowed doorway
as if we were the matadors of the night
one of us was led by an older man at the party
to dance with a smiling slender woman in her early forties
she looked like a snake
as much as
she looked like a cat
she was long and sexy
with eyebrows that lifted sharp in the back
with bang-snap hips
and pillow case lips
we were all alive here
the music that played kept the earth on fire
it was a cross between gypsy music and, well,
mixed with nothing
it was just gypsy music
eyes wide with honest drunk smiles
tongues licking canines
lips puckered to kiss anyone that’d accept
women who looked over shoulders,
with hands on hips
- their best angle for the men to see
for us men
it was this excursion’s
the party was in their thirties and up
except one pretty girl
who sat in a beautiful blue flowered dress
at a small table,
under a large yellow umbrella
beside an adolescent tree
looking bored, but not tired
she held a glass of ice
and twirled it around
a thin red straw
us men were old enough not to mind
the ages of the other party
but she was around eighteen years old
so she couldn’t yet relate
alone, she sat
across the courtyard
across the firecracker dance floor
looking at us
wanting an escape
wanting a conversation with the matadors
the young men
from around town
but she wasn’t allowed to leave her table
or by any chance walk to our side of the courtyard
you could tell that,
after her father walked over to her
pointed at us and brought her
a new soda
us slightly doolally men with
now dizzy dancing
with gypsy mothers and grandmothers cackling
danced as the music continued to burn the earth
and the earth burned our feet
and our souls cooled from the release
I noticed, as my drunk and me
twirled the women
and belly laughed with the men
that the young girl
would smile at times and laugh at times
changing her seated position
by crossing one leg over the other
and over again
she sat longingly
in a blue flowered dress,
under a yellow umbrella
at a small table
beside an adolescent tree
with a thin red straw
waiting for it to be all done
or just waiting
to grow up
The Sprinter seemed to be driving fine, but when we reached the center of Paris and stopped at the a red light – it died. All seven of us men had to push the massive vehicle eight blocks to a friend Yul’s house. The French loved the scene. Not in a sarcastic way either; the fumbling of seven men with a mission brought them true smiles. They put thumbs in the air, cheered and would even jump in adding to the muscle when there was an incline. The English man smoking and steering, the Americans razzing and pushing and the French cheering and helping. It must have made one of the gods happy, for outside Yul’s house was an open parking spot.
Yul and his love Benedicte greeted us with wine, olives, bread, cheese and meats. We dined on the balcony. We drank until sunset. The sun left us with different shades of orange. And yellows. Then the blues and purples climbed up to the Paris night. The van would be hard to sort out, but we called a garage that would take a look at it in the morning. Luckily we had a day off the next morning, so tonight’s work shift was over. Desperate men got to wash some spoiled cloths. Yul and his love brought us to La Butte Aveyronnaise, a small restaurant with a friendly staff. We drank, we ate; we love Yul; we love his love. The wine kept coming and there was more food then us all could eat. The waitress thought us beggarly to ask to box the untouched meats and smashed/mashed potatoes called: Aligot. And she was right. Us men must be savvy; prideful we are, but royalty we are not. The box will feed us all in the morning and keep us strong until night.
Bill paid, we walk to Yul’s soaked in wine. We would stop and touch pieces of Paris’s beautiful street art, made from the one they call – Invader.
Back at Yul’s the men drank on. Benedicte retired, speaking soft close French advice to her wine soak love. “Bonne nuit” she at last said.
We razzed, getting too loud, but then brought it down, then getting too loud, then brought it back down again. We agreed: Paris is the only place to break down. And toasted that Yul is a mighty host.
At a roadside café finishing up hot coffee, talking about how much damage the mechanics fee and parts would be on our excursion, we headed out again, unknowingly followed by two French officers. This roadside café was a trap. Officers will sit in a road side petrol shop at the standing café waiting for foreigners, then, once the foreigners leave, the trappers spring their trap. They got something to prove.
The French coppers had us line up while they went through our bags, the Sprinter and the back where all the gear was. An hour and a half delay. They even had us hold our hands up as they went into our pockets. Not a smart or manly thing to do. Logically, a hidden pocket prick, from a drug needle, sends an officer straight to an AIDS test.
They fished around and pulled the contents out. Even though we could tell that this must be in their handbook, a good humiliating act to do to a suspect, we didn’t care, we thought it a laugh on them. You see, we are from New England, Boston boys and this act only proved to us that they would get closer to a man then we would. To be frank – it’s simply something a man who likes women wouldn’t want to do. I’d say, “empty your pockets.”
When it was my turn and the officer brushed something private in my pocket, I looked down at him, raised my eyebrows and smiled. And the lot of us men let out held back laughter. The power balance swayed. The officers no longer spoke forcefully. The officers apologized and, as men, they knew we thought them to be silly.
The Road To Église Sainte-Ségolène
The gypsy reunion the night before,
a party at a Belgian Hotel
full of dancing and shouting
women and music
had made me feeling like,
I was a
who had eaten too much,
but damn happy about it.
I stepped outside
a nightclub in Metz, France
with a warm, low, thumping
It was rounding 1:00PM
in the afternoon.
I walked the stone streets,
still wet from the morning shower
in the bathroom sink.
I would stay wet through the day,
for the sun would not be
burning though these misty clouds.
It was a quiet French town.
Door hinges let out eerie squeaks,
with the help of the weak wind.
The last few days were a low time for the souls of us men,
but the last night was full of
red wine, good beer
and groups of people
who didn’t know one another,
but loved one another.
Continuing with the wet stones under my feet
I came to the small center for a sit.
The stone bench
was facing a water fountain.
I used the mist from the spray to
rub my face clean,
cleaned my ears,
and dunked my head in the fountain
to wake up.
I could hear
the faint, wavering notes
of a trumpet player warming up.
I whipped my wet
hair back and took a seat
back on the
Mixed with the sound
of the water fountain
and a small French flag flapping
in the cold wind,
with one bird chirping,
the municipality slowly came
alive around me.
An ancient church door in front of me opens,
but no one exits.
A young boy riding a bicycle
with a younger boy on his handlebars
The restaurant Jehanne d’Arc
are strung together neatly and locked.
A quiet, older man approaches
and sits on a bench near me,
he looks at the fountain,
squinting from the spray,
exhales a long breath
and closes his eyes.
I look at him twice,
as I dry my hair with my hands.
On the second glance,
a pretty older woman,
with long black hair
and a long black coat
leaving her perfume scent.
The sent was sweet.
I notice I’m swaying a bit
from my hangover.
makes its entrance again.
I wipe my wet face
and look around a bit more.
Through the spray of the fountain,
two young girls
and chit chatting.
One has started up smoking; she’s clumsy with it.
A young couple takes the corner
with a bushy puppy
and they look at me.
They talk about me in French,
but seem to be alright with me.
Finally, exiting the open door
of the church Eglise Ste Segolene – Prarrkircke,
a priest and a friend come out
and lock up.
They shake hands
in different directions.
The young couple’s
barks at the priests
and the older man beside me moves on.
The church gives out three bell tolls
Then it begins to rain.
And the rain picks up
and my page gets very wet
and my head aches and aches even stronger,
and I head down Les Trinitaires,
back to the venue
to see the men again.
The Englishmen were
late to this gig
and are just now
beginning their set,
to no one.
I look up and see the Frenchmen
in the second story window.
They are opening many bottles of red wine.
This is their hometown.
are all smiles up there;
their women are beautiful.
And I wonder how my spindly ass got
to such a beautiful place
and I wonder if I should join the Frenchmen in wine
and I wonder why I had left the group of men for so long in the first place
and I wonder why I’d call this boring, quiet, place
Thanks for reading! I will post 10 pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/
And check out the bonus poems below.
Bonus Poem 1 of 2
le logique du couple
we should never try and understand
why one man loves a woman
and a woman her man
we must shy away from the hearsay of love
are we but fools
imposing our opinions on another’s love
it is only
le logique du couple
Bonus Poem 2 of 2
les larmes du jeune coiffeur
I live in a basement apartment
so my bedroom is in an alley way
alley number 34,
in the Back Bay of Boston,
when I sleep,
my head is a brick wall away
from a popular
smoke break area
it’s either the
from the restaurant
catching up with
letting out big laughter,
just talking about the women
from the weekend
or it’s the South Shore girls
from the salon
and talking about how stupid their boyfriends are
starting at 5:00AM
it’s the men,
but after 8:00AM
it’s strictly the girls
with incredible linguist speed
make plans with boyfriends
on their phones
when they need to be picked up,
what they want to do after work
yet most often
they are in endless arguments
with the inaudible men
my alarm clock
is men laughing
the tears of hairdressers
“you don’t listen”
“well, if it’s over just tell me”
“why the fuck are you being such a shit?”
if I’m sleeping late
and if a girl is knee deep in a good scream,
I’ll have to listen for as long as her break – thirty minutes
but it’s not uncommon
for one girl to finish and
another girl to come out and begin
the women of the hair style salon
snap chewing gum
and ask ‘why?’ a lot
I lay in bed hearing their thick South Shore accents
hear their points and counter points
hear the pauses for long drags of marlboro light cigarettes
and try and figure out if I think she is right or not
most of the time
they are the right ones
maybe their men are stupid
but one morning, my waking argument was different
the man was actually there
he had shown up in alley 34
and parked his car three feet from my pillow
the stylist must have been new
or at least had not spent much time
crying in the alley
because I didn’t recognize her voice
she was French
right off the boat French
and he was too
their thoughts danced out in their voluptuous language
thick words, spoken from the front of their puckered lips
bounced into my ears waking me
they went at it
screaming with stone skipping speed
in and out of English I picked up her saying,
“well, if you want to break up with me, then do it now”
then, after minutes of French he’d say in English,
“you are so negative, you do not listen”
and she didn’t listen
I don’t know exactly what their logique du couple was
but they both seemed wrong and
I wanted to get out of bed this particular morning and
get to what it is I had to get to
but I had left the blinds up the night before,
so, if I didn’t stay put, they’d see me
and my spindly white body
a brick wall length from them
oh, they fought for too, too long
she wouldn’t listen
so I got out of bed
and they stopped dead in mid-sentence
and the air of
I could hear their thoughts
yes, I did, I mentally sent back to them
I yawned in the hall,
stretched in the bathroom
and scratched my entire body
in the kitchen
- visible from the window
I then walked back to my bedroom to
put the blinds down
they were holding hands looking at me
once the blinds snapped shut
I went back
to the loo
for a piss
‘you don’t listen jeune coiffeur’
Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories start in Austria, then the Czech Republic, to finally Germany.
Austria to Czech Republic
Little villages sit in the dips of the green hills of Melk, Austria
I look to my left
Out the window
Driving through Austria
On my way to Bruno, Czech Republic
I want to write about how beautiful the countryside is
But you don’t care to read about that
So I won’t
Instead I will tell you about
Something readers do find interesting
The sadness of people
The man sitting front right is depressed
With his head on the window
He is loveless and has stopped caring for himself
The driver is an Englishman
And he is tired
It is his 2005 Sprinter he mans and we ride in
He feels as if he has nothing, other than the adventure he is on now
But that keeps him going
He holds a face that reads hope
But he must still work through some thoughts before his full glow returns
The man far right in the middle row is full of anger
And is biding his time to voice it
His emotions torture his wisdom
I hope one day he will accept life for what it is and what he can make
Possible in it, if he just comforts his own angry thoughts
And stops wondering why the world is not following his angry logic
I hope he finds this before he dies
To his left is a man full of self doubt and pain
He was brought up weak
And what he hates most is that he knows he’s weak
But he is a good man
Kind and funny
To his left is a man who has no responsibilities,
So he is very happy
He is a simple man and easily amused
Runs away from things that do not make him happy
He will need a woman to help him understand the serious parts of life
In the last row, far right – this man is also very happy
He feels lucky
It is his first time out of New England
He is fresh, a green man
Loves women more than anything else
And the women love him
He will also need a strong woman to help him understand the serious parts of life
In the back, another man is sleeping atop the luggage,
He is hung over, but content
He is a man of simple needs
And his greatest need is to be drunk
He will do okay if he sobers up
For he is the smartest of us all when not wet
And I am the odd one
A man who has lost control of his imagination,
Like a full bender, spinning without a top
Some people like me
Some people dislike me
Not many know me and I like it that way
I’ll need a woman
Before my image of them fades
Before too many of them wrong me and I give up on them
We are a group of men
And we work well together
It is inside a dark week that we travel though today
And our souls are low
And our thoughts are dreadful
But outside our windows
Are bright yellow fields of rape seed squared off perfectly
Into lush family gardens
And the little villages sits cozy in the dips of the green hills
Melk, Austria gives
Endless stone walls
Shingled roofs – red and orange
Patina church towers
Sheep trotting together
Baby sheep running to keep up
Set on the tallest hill
A statue of an angel
Pointing to the sky
Many people speak of how beautiful the Czech Republic is and they are right. But when you have as many prostitutes as they do, it becomes silly to me that one would say how yummy a sundae is and not point out the cock roach crawling on the whipped cream.
When driving into Czech Republic, you must take one long road that has woodlands to the left and right. It’s not the type of place where you’d think a stiletto heeled blonde in a red frilly mini skirt and a light blue elastic tube top would emerge from, smoking a cigarette and waving you to stop by shaking her tush and breasts. However, these women do exist here and they are not Big Foot’s harem. The ladies of the woods emerge from little huts or lean-tos, deep in the woods and stand on the sides of the road for men and boys that simply cannot wait any longer for a kiss. Thinking about it, this system does seem more organic than the dark streets of Detroit. And the choices in these woodlands seem better than the classic man on man action showcased in the film Deliverance.
So all and all, seeing the bright frilly skirts, tinny tops, red heels, big hair and souped up breasts, waving and shaking their delicates as you drive by on this woodland stretch of road heading into Prague, is as odd as seeing a bird while scuba diving or an octopus while sky diving. But without them, we wouldn’t have them and what a visual gift they provide. And without that visual, we would have this. And without this you wouldn’t be squinting with that perplexed look, saying, “Is this even true?”
Dale said, “The Devil lives on this bridge.”
“What d’ya mean, the ‘Devil lives on this bridge’?” I asked.
“Take a look, go on, be careful yah, he’s ugly.” Then Dale takes a long drag with eye contact and holds his breath as he says, “Can’t take his photo though, he’ll hold a mirror up to you. Show yah the real devil.” Then Dale laughed. “‘S a real sight, man, ‘s a real sight.”
And what do you know, at the end of the bridge was the Devil. Crouching, shirtless, manic, pierced and barefoot. He painted himself with chalk on brown paper. Two blue horns came from his head, tattered brown pants, not many teeth, but a big Cheshire smile. He hissed, spit, grunted and growled, crouched, crawled and scowled. I raised a camera to him and he dove down covering his face, emerging with a mirror pointed at me. Then he put it down and crawled back to his painting of himself, grunting and spitting.
The devil is uglier than they led you to believe.
When the sun goes down, the girls wake up, and when girls wake up they need money if they’re gonna score. We walked through the wandering prostitutes to meet up with a friend of mine from my hometown that now lives in Czech Republic. Two young working girls stood dipping French fries in KFC mashed potatoes. With gravy teeth they try and chat us up. Us men acknowledge the young working girls with a smile and a touch to the brims of our fedoras, yet we walk on.
“Most of the porn girls are just uneducated, with Daddy issues. And they’re all on some sort of drug,” said my friend that now worked in the Czech porn industry. “They mostly live in Bruno, all the famous ones, you’ll probably see some there while out drinking. My girl’s from there.”
“Does she do porn?” I ask.
“Yeah, but she only does girls since we started seeing each other,” he says.
After many drinks, one of my men and I walked over to The Devil’s Bridge. That’s not what it’s called, but that’s what we call it. But we got a little lost, so we decided to ask a young lady walking toward us for directions.
“Excuse me, do you happen to know where…”
“No, only one at a time,” she interrupted, “not both, no group suck ‘n’ fuck.”
Green Fire, Nazi’s & All The Beautiful Girls
We were lighting our third
flaming shot of Absinth.
My friend was nervous about tossing the green fire back
and by being nervous,
1, 2, 3,
His face burned with the green flames.
‘Silly American’, was the general thought.
After he was put out,
the smell of
burned nose hairs took to the bar.
It was 1:50AM;
Bruno, Czech Republic.
Ivan, the club owner, continued about how it was
May 1st – Nazi Demonstration Day.
“Five-hundred people plus had participated in this demonstration,”
But I was unable to comment,
I just couldn’t stop looking
at all the long
at the bar.
Czech Republic To Germany
Now is the time for silence. The drives are quiet. Down time on tour is a delicate time. A man must give another man space if he is to expect his own to be honored. So if one is smart and has control of their thoughts from their brain to their mouths then, now is the time for silence.
Each one of us knows deep down, that every man is a ticking time bomb. Now is the time to talk low, now is the time to play cards, Pierdro for us, now is the time to buy or bring back from the Sprinter a beer for your friend who sits alone, now is the time to ask questions about each other’s lives and not talk about your own, now is the time for old jokes and old stories of better times, now is the time for silence. Now is the time too keep your mouth shut about the little this is and that’s that are getting under your skin, boiling up and making you crazy. For if one man voices the short comings of another man then – BOOM!
Now is the time for silence.
Berlin. Cold Berlin. Stormy Berlin. Drunk, dark and a snow covered latched door in Berlin. An old key in Berlin. Lead by Simon is Berlin. An empty church in Berlin. A newly constructed bunk house in Berlin. Fresh sheets in Berlin. Touring German musicians also being put up in Berlin. Handshakes in Berlin. Smiles in Berlin. A long table in Berlin. Crates of beer in Berlin. “What’s this?” in Berlin. A hookah in Berlin. Late hours in Berlin. A switchblade gift in Berlin. A “Thank you,” in Berlin. Thunder in Berlin. Lightning in Berlin. Going outside in the night to look at Berlin. A simple church, sitting on a small hill, caught in a snowstorm, with agitated clouds sending webbed lightning across the sky, flashing briefly, illuminating huddled men in Berlin. Everyone around the heater in Berlin. The last of the wine in Berlin. Everyone up to the bunkhouse in Berlin. Cloths hung to dry in Berlin. Warm in Berlin. Stormy outside in Berlin. Lights out in Berlin.
By noon we had left the Church. We figured out how to get to the Berlin Wall by just moving forward and detailing our direction as we moved. Most of The Wall has been taken down; Germans are not proud of it. It isn’t a statue. Yet some of The Wall still stands. Remembrance to reinforce practical wisdom.
Everyone was in top mood this day. No-need laughter was let out in abundance. Being silly and acting the fool was on everyone’s front burner. The morning coffee had done well. And catching up on sleep wrapped in clean sheets didn’t hurt either. Cameras out. Smiles on. “Use up your film mates; we’ll get more, we’ll get more.” Snap, flash, snap, flash and “Could you take one of me here?”.
“Wow,” we all cadenced while we tried to see who could jump and touch the highest point on The Wall. Dale gave us an impressive history lesson that in 10 minutes painted more than my 8th grade Social Studies class could all year.
I found an American flag spray painted on The Wall, bent down along it and pocketed a couple pieces of The Wall for my father and future son. Black lines on the spray painted flag looked to me like an image from one of my past poems titled, Running With Your Arms Out. So I positioned myself at the base of the lines, to have it look like my cast shadow had his arms out. And when I looked up to where the sun was being covered by the fast moving bruised colored clouds and from where the new rain derived I heard – ‘snap-snap’ and…
…“Brilliant mate, you’re gonna love that one.”
For too long
rain and sweat for me.
Shivering in complete darkness
I step inside the squat’s shower.
The cement is slimy and cold.
I feel around the blackness with closed eyes,
I find a bar of soap,
I find the water lever and twist it.
Water blasts out,
from the man before me.
The city of Gottingen in East Germany
is too dark and too cold tonight.
And my body feels as if
it is just a starving ghost
Once the water strikes
the scalding makes me smile.
I had forgotten how
muscles relax, I had forgotten
what pleasure felt like.
For too long
there has only been focus,
struggle and pain
for too long
I get a wave of excitement
to look outside my window
for a poem
because I am in Germany
and anything could look
and a spark could happen
and a poem could be born.
Today, I feel lucky to not be in New England.
A boy like me could never afford a trip
to Europe and I take a moment
to remind myself that.
I will look out the
window of the
as I drink through this carton of bottled beer,
by the light of two candles.
The men are playing cards,
laughing and talking
electronics of proper amplifiers
and guitar pick ups.
I look out and think
how lucky I am,
‘How am I so far away?
How am I in Germany and not America?
Am I doing something right?’ I think.
I finish a beer and pop open the Belgium beer stashed
in my back pocket as I lift the window fully open
and sit in the windowsill, three stories up
with my legs dangling.
I think about how
boring America is.
I slide the blue velvet curtain over
So I can sit sideways in the window frame.
I look out in search of the spark,
in search of a poem,
in search of the young eye,
that eye that finds
what the adults miss.
I look and look.
And drink and drink.
And look and drink and then,
I bring my brow down and really look,
while I take a long swig of my bottled beer,
but there is nothing,
nothing special for me.
Only a red car,
with a street light above it
and trees blowing slightly,
from the gusts from the east
and a dog barking
from somewhere in the fog,
and the distant sound of harsh girls
that I had met hours before giggling.
I put the pen down.
I put the paper away.
I open a new beer
and turn to the men talking
to engage them and
get in the card game.
is boring too.
Us men decided to go into a peepshow. We needed a cheap laugh. And not one of us had ever seen one before – only in movies. We waved to the man at the counter, walked down a narrow, dully lit red hallway, stepped inside small booths, and each put coinage into slots that make the metal window slides go up. Sure thing, there was a woman taking off her delicates, dancing a bit and kissing at all the tinted windows.
We all smiled on our way out, laughed and asked each other what kind of lousy booze we would like to go find. As we crossed the street we noticed one of us was already there, kicking dirt and looking sullen.
“What’s goin’ around, yah?’ I asked.
“Didn’t you go into the peep thing?” another man blurted.
“I saw yah go in. I saw him go in.”
“Yeah I went in, but I guess I read my door wrong. I put my coinage in and then, the um, the window started to raise.” He kept on while his hands we’re in his pockets and he looked down at a glass Coca-Cola bottle he was kicking along and spinning around with his toe.
“Yeah, so I saw the girl’s shoes, heels I mean, and the window went up and I saw the legs, with the pantyhose and the window went up and then the tush, but when she turned around…” He looked up to see all of our eyes wide and our mouths covered with our palms. “It was a naked fella.”
Not one of us men didn’t have to go to one knee, keel over, gasping from laughing on the side walk of Hamburg. He laughed too, but he still wasn’t too happy about it. Yet it was a good cheap laugh and perfect timing for us all.
I like zombie movies. People would tell you I love zombie movies – I just think I like them quite a lot more than others. And Hamburg, Germany has as many prostitutes as the pinch point in a zombie screenplay has hungry zombies. The venue we were performing at was four blocks from the zentrum, a fifteen minute walk. But, it would take us an hour fighting off the zombie prostitutes of Hamburg, Germany.
The ladies are only allowed to stand in a circle the size of a Hollywood star in Los Angeles. If they leave that area and step into another girl’s area, they would be in a lot of trouble, cat fight trouble, because they would be in another lady’s rightful work area. And I believe they rent these small areas to stand as well. These zombies would grab your shirt, pull you close, grab your hand, pull you close, grab the back of your neck, belt or even your unmentionables, just to keep you close. At first they act as sweet as a school girl with a big crush on you, or a playboy bunny hot for her billionaire. But if you step outside their area, they become mean and vengeful. “Go fuck each other, gay boyz! I bet youz big gay boyz for each other! Go sucky, sucky each other gay boyz. FUCK YOUZ GAYZ…GAY BOYZ!”
Some girls are allowed to walk free, but they were careful not to walk into a stationary prostitute’s area. Pushing, yelling and grabbing was the lawful right of these ladies.
Grab, flirt, whisper, pull, kiss, touch, caress, tug, tug harder – insult. SCREAM! The ladies were fishing and the men were their dead fish in their dirty sea. Some are young, some are old, some cover drug sores with thick make up, some would handle you right there, some you take back to a designated pimp house, some you could take behind a dumpster. Most of them seemed German or Russian, but as an American, my nose does not smell accents as well as Europeans.
We began to take the long way back to the club, because, like zombie movies, these zombie prostitutes were too dead, too hungry and there were just too many of them to come out alive.
Zombies of Hammburg Germany
Zombies, of Hammburg Germany
Everywhere, the female allure
The precocious love of—
Junked little girls sitting quietly
On the #57 bus
It’s last stop at – ‘Desperation’
The fast hard life
No reason for fear
When all of instinct’s adrenaline has been used on
‘Love’ becomes a word of betrayal and swindling
A listless emotion becomes a commodity
Now, incorrigible for daytime society
Trapped, standing in designated working areas
Two feet by two feet concrete square
Clawing at passers by
The pulsating vein, a different syncopated heartbeat
Humanity’s own living meat feast
Carrion skin, dying under—
Caked make up cracking, from—
Coarse sores protruding—
Like a snow covered volcano
Pungent perfumed burning
Despondency of childhood innocence
Replaced with Man’s pitiless traditional
Handbook for women
His inimical greed
Dead and walking
The German Compliment
If you ask me,
Germans are alright people.
They drink to laugh,
are joyous and loud
and don’t try and talk politics
with me at 2:00AM
like those in other countries do.
However, they do one thing
that strikes me as odd.
If and when they compliment you,
they always add an insult after.
The insult is stronger
than the compliment
cancels it out.
I call it – The German Compliment.
In Munich, a blonde girl – quite pretty,
with a voice like a sexy double agent
in a James Bond film,
walks up to me confidently,
interrupting the conversation at hand, stating,
“You guys were very good,
not as good as some groups, but good.”
I said, “Thank you.”
She checked my eyes for sarcasm,
didn’t find any,
and went back to her friends.
In Goettingen, a wet drunk,
slapped my shoulder,
gave me a full body shake
and embraced me.
“Your new record is great,
track four is shit,
but it’s great.”
I said “Thank you.
Track four is my favorite,
give it another go.”
“No,” he said. It’s shit.”
the German Compliment.
It’s quite confusing when
you’re not ready for it,
but very fun,
when you are.
My favorite was from Erfurt though -
“I only liked it because I was drunk.”
said a slobbery young man.
It’s short and has a good punch.
I told him,
“Well, I’m glad you’re drunk.”
Thanks for reading! I will post 10 pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/
And check out the bonus Poems below.
Bonus Poem 1 of 2
Don’t Visit The Graveyard When It Rains, When It Pours
listens to the relatives of the dead
at funerals and burials.
He tries to get a feel for who each person was.
Then, later at night, he visits each grave,
telling the innocent they are still wonderful people.
He sings lullabies to the little children,
even tries to give everyone an update on their family,
When he can.
The Gravedigger is very patient.
The souls appreciate him greatly.
They love the old man.
God is still a bit unsure of him.
And the Devil thinks he’s a riot.
But when it rains,
when it thunders,
when the wind moves showing its teeth,
The Gravedigger visits different graves.
He visits the graves
of wicked men and wicked women.
These nights, with haunting fury,
he curses them down,
cuts them apart with his words,
screams “Murder” over them
and reminds them how they are hated.
With confidence, the Gravedigger glares at their stones,
by his side – the rain and thunder.
These are the nights that the Devil climbs up.
And crawls atop each tombstone.
He stays through the night,
drinking bottle after bottle of blood wine.
the thunder claps,
the Devil choruses the Gravedigger with laughter
once he’s lit from the wine.
Screams. Screams. And screams.
The two point jagged fingers.
The two rage murder.
And souls scream horribly back.
It is punishment.
It is horror.
It is nothing you want to see.
So visit when you will,
but the graveyard is not the place to enter,
when it rains, when it pours, when thunder claps.
Best leave it alone.
Bonus Poem / Audio Poem 2 of 2
Smoking Her Chalk
Seventh grade Social Studies class was my favorite
There was a seating chart
I was in the front
Usually I would have been discouraged by my Vulnerability
To get called on
But Mrs. Jones smoked her chalk
Like an old 1930s actress
And I liked my seat because of the up close view
It provided of her
I don’t believe Mrs. Jones knew what she was doing to Us boys
After she chalked up the black board
With dates, names and old excursions
She would sit on the front of her desk
In front of me
Toss her red hair back
Cross those thin legs
Shining wet from the school’s harsh overhead lights
Her loose shirt flipped over a bit
If it was a good day
Knees would show
Even the white lace underskirt
Would sneak out
Then Mrs. Jones would smoke her chalk
Like an old 1930s actress
She would hold one of her elbows
In the cup of the other hand
Her small piece of chalk, hanging like a cigarette in her Light fingers
She was less then 3 feet from me
What a class Miss Jones had
As we answered her questions
She would squint her eyes
Pucker her lips
And bounce the chalk against her pucker
I would stare
Didn’t she know how foxy that was to us?
Years later I was told
Her husband died from a heart attack
I leaned against my apartment’s door frame
Miss. Jones smoking her chalk like a 1930s actress
‘Maybe I could seduce her now’, I thought
Don’t Visit The Graveyard When It Rains, When It Pours’ is from the book Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary. Smoking Her Chalk is from the book The Gypsy Mile. Both books can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/ and the audio poem is from ‘The Gypsy Mile Reading’ found below at CDBaby.com.