MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 41-50 — Germany

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Today’s stories are a few quiet moments in Germany & a few blood drinking ones.

Enjoy,

David McWane

*

Germany

            Somewhere between Cologne and Frankfurt we stop.  The venue was an old abandoned library; now a squat.  After the show, late in the night I decided to take a look at Germany away from the all demons inside.  I could hear them all screaming.  Cackling.   I have two 32oz bottled German beers with me.  I stood straight, chin up, with the goal to absorb Germany visually.  Sonically.  I wanted to try her on and see how she fit.  I wanted to get a different view of her from the books I‘ve read.  And from the movies and documentaries, I’ve seen.  I stood chin up, breathing deep through my nose.  I could hear them inside still screaming.  Still cackling.

All around the crumbling, spray painted library were thin trees.  Endless.  There was no foliage on the ground, just thin trees rooted in cold mud.  There was a mist moving slowly through them.  Hauntingly it surrounded me as well.  I walked on a bit to leave the demonic sounds behind.  There were crumbled stone walls with razor barbed wire still strung on them.  There was barbed wire on the muddy ground as well.  And broken glass.  Far off into the trees a dog barked, with warning urgency.  His tone and growl made his shape in my mind.  He was big.  He was mean.  Then far in the distance a police siren became audible.  It’s dull green and yellow hue colored the mist.

I was cold.  My cloths were wet from the performance.  And I felt as if I had no where to go, to feel sound and good.  I finished one of the 32oz bottled German beers and pulled the full one out of my back pocket.  I popped it open using the empty bottle as a lift, then put the empty bottle in the same back pocket.  Then drank on.

My eyes searched.

Germany looked like Germany.  It looked like the descriptions from the books I’ve read and the movies and documentaries I’ve seen.   I went deeper inside the misty forest and leaned back on a thin tree, slide down it, sat on the cold mud, then coughed for a spell.  And drank slowly.

*

Read To Us

 On this wet bench

Beside the wet woods

I read out loud

To simply

Hear my voice

It will help me stay awake

I am tired at 1:00AM

And I am the one chosen to

Stay up and

Help the driver stay awake

For now

I have time to rest

And read

Until 3:00AM

Then we move on

Finishing a chapter now

I stop

To smell the ecumenical scents

Of the small German farmlet

I trespass on

Sitting on the back of a small hay wagon

I look beyond the rope swing

Past the bound hay

To the hidden roads

At the dull yellow glow

Of an ambulance light

Swimming behind the fog

While barely hearing it’s dopplered siren muffle pass

Holding the book back up again

And hearing my words

I break the newly settled silence

And begin to feel them

The life

Of all the hidden monsters

Perched on slick branches

Hidden in black shadows

Crouched low on damp oats

With wings

Tails and teeth

Nervous I might stop the story

Wide eyed

And listening for me to start up once again

I look down

They lean forward

I grab my mark

Open my book and

Calmly read

Out loud

To them all

 

And A Young Pretty Girl Shakes The Pollen Out Of Her Hair 

And the birds start singing,

or they have been

and I just now notice

and my friend learns to play, ‘It’s A Wonderful World’ on his guitar

and more people filter in through the vine covered gate

and now only one boy is playing basketball

and I’ve just showered; dripping still

and have hot coffee

and it’s nighttime now, but still fairly bright

and the clouds move like time lapse across the sky

and someone with a wonderfully different fashion sense laughs innocently

and a young pretty girl shakes the pollen out of her hair.

 

The Wheel, The Slide, The Father & All Of Us

I saw him

from far away,

heading to the

swing set.

He had his

two little daughters,

a young son

and a small

broken

wooden wheel

with him.

 

The Frenchmen

were just finishing up

a basketball game

and as they sat down

next to me,

they panted,

drank water,

cooled down

and smoked.

 

The Englishmen

began down

the old mansion staircase,

we could see them

as they passed by

the bay windows.

They had just

finished their dinner

and were

coming out

the main entrance

to also

smoke.

 

This estate,

used to be the

home of a Count,

I was told.

But now it was

a concert hall,

bunk house

and a park for little kids.

 

The Englishmen

brought a crate of

German beer

and passed the bottles out.

The beer was warm,

but I was happy to have it.

We all sat and watched

the father and

his three kids.

 

Rutty German women

began to show up through the gates;

they knew the Englishmen

and also select Frenchmen.

It seemed to me,

a few of the

German girls

had at one time,

spent an adventurous night of love

with some

of the Englishmen and Frenchmen,

by the way they looked

at some of the men,

smiled,

hugged,

stared

tucking their lips

under their shoulders

and continued to stare,

but that’s just an opinion.

Giggles did whirl about though.

Everyone rolled cigarettes,

everyone smoked

everyone watched the father

and his three kids

and everyone spoke quietly.

 

First, the father

took a board

and laid it across

two swings,

so that his two girls

could swing together,

side by side.

Once they got swinging,

he plopped his boy

at the top of the slide.

Standing at the base, he rolled

the small broken wooden wheel

up the slide,

where it would roll clumsily back down.

This made the little boy

laugh and laugh.

 

And it made all of us laugh as well.

 

The father then played ‘Chase Dad’,

and ‘Dad’s An Airplane’.

His three little German pups, chased like mad

and laughed with excited eyes

until their

cheeks were rosy.

Then they all sat for a snack

the father

had packed.

We all watched,

drinking, and smoking –

the Frenchmen,

the Englishmen,

the German girls

and me,

the American.

The little boy saw a squirrel

and chased it for a couple of steps,

but tripped on a root

and fell.

The little boy paused,

for the shock to catch up with him,

then began to cry.

So the father stood up,

put this hands on his hips

and made a sound similar to, ‘whoops’

then walked over

picked him up,

brushed him off

and gave him a kiss

on his rosy cheeks,

and

everything was good again.

 

These Muddy Kids

Germany is finished

raining on us.

A friend and I

sit on the

wooden cover

of a large well.

We watch four German kids play the game –

‘I have the ball, so come and get it from me.’

 

My friend and I drink warm, German beer,

and he chain-smokes German cigarettes

and the sun has cut through the clouds

and is perfectly in our eyes

and our clothes are damp

and we have seen cleaner days

and it smells like

thick moss.

 

Some of the dirt on my arms

is smeared from the rain,

so I brush it, but it only smears more,

so I pour a little beer on my left arm

to clean it off,

but it doesn’t help either

and my friend laughs at my logic.

 

Only one of the kids

playing the game

is skilled.

Two of them get around alright,

they keep the game going,

but the fatter friend

has trouble just keeping up.

They all dance through puddles

sprint like dogs and

slip on the slick grass

like they should.

 

The days when little men collect their scars. 

 

The game stops

when the ball

gets kicked

into a large dump receptacle.

It was tragic to them;

my friend let out a, “whoop”

and I let out a tired man’s laugh.

 

The young players

surround their lost ball.

The dump receptacle

was too tall

for them to climb inside,

and there weren’t enough

footholds for them

to maneuver up. 

The talented kid tried, but fell,

so the rest didn’t even try.

Together,

they turned and

looked toward us

 

‘Ahh’, my friend and I realized,

we were the adults

in this moment

and we’re being looked at

to save the day.

My friend jumped up with a grunt,

tossed his smoke away

and walked to the dump receptacle.

 

The kids all talked to him

quietly

and they all pointed

to where the ball was.

But neither my friend nor I

speak German,

so he didn’t respond.

He didn’t even take notice

of the kids

chatting to him.

This confused the young boys.

It made them look

at one another

in new befuddlement.

 

But no matter,

my friend reached in

and got their ball.

He handed it

to the chubby kid.

Thanks were muttered.

The continued silence

made the boys

stare curiously

at the mute adult,

but the leader said something

loud to break the silence

and the young players

started up

the game again.

 

Smiling to the mud,

my friend walked back

to the covered well,

hopped back to his sitting position,

lit a new cigarette

and we went back

to watching the kids play

 

I said, “Good job.”

And he said, “Yup.”

  *

4:00AM Wermeskerken, Germany, we sit around a long rickety table, the local Germans, a group of Danish men and us Americans, singing drinking songs and smashing our pint glasses on the table at the end of each chorus.

 

“Oi, Oi, Oi.”

Bang, Bang, Bang – Smash!

And broken red glass covers the table.

 

One of the Danish men had shattered his glass and sliced open his hand, fingers and wrist.  Blood oozed thick and generously, skin was flapped and folded and the color of his face dropped to a graying white.  Everyone was drunk, but the sight of blood released adrenaline and everyone had back their wits.  Go time.

Quickly, they lifted the fainting man and brought him to a different room, laid him down and wrapped his drenched hand and wrist.  German was screamed across the squat, facilitating ambulances and correct phone numbers with addresses.

I sat alone in the bloody pub room.  The table was red with shattered glass and the seat the bleeding Danish man sat in was now pooled with blood.  I swayed then figured I would clean up the mess as my contribution.  There were enough men handling the injured.  I finished my beer, held it under the bloody seat and tipped it forward so the blood could collect in the glass.  Oddly enough it was a perfect pint.  I stared at the crimson glass and thought it interesting enough to show the men before I pitched it outside.

I walked in the room where the bleeding man grew weaker and held the glass up to the men, who were now calm, drinking warm bottled German beer and waiting for the ambulance to arrive.  Everyone was amazed at the glass.  One of my men grabbed the glass from me and told the bleeding man to look.  When he did, he raised the glass to his lips and drank down two big gulps.  Blood mustache.  The fading man gave a look I had never seen before.  It was – ‘Please stop drinking my blood; you have no right.’

The ambulance took the man off.  An hour later we got word he was alright – stitches.   I slept well that night, occasionally awoken to the sound of our blood drinker puking in the bathroom.  He puked painfully all night.  He doesn’t like it when I tell the story.  He’s a vegetarian.

                                                                        * 

A Pause In Germany

There is something hopeful

about

the small view

through the shower window

and the sound of the hidden birds beyond it.

 

About The Author 

Eating alone,

I pause,

I worry,

I only have half a page left

of my book

and from there

it will be back

to all the problems

I have in this world.

“Downstairs

we came out

through the

first floor dining

room to the street” – I read.

I then take a big bite of a

cheese macaroni dish

I was served at the club’s bar.

Then, a bite of the salad,

a sip of the cool Coke-a-Cola,

which is in a nice tall glass bottle,

and then I re-read the sentence

and move on.

And as my anxiety increases,

because my stay inside this book

is coming to an end

 

I read,

“I tipped him,

told the driver where to drive,

       and got in beside Brett.”

I paused

and ordered another coffee.

The nice young waitress

brings me a bowl of sugar

and carafe of cream.

I make my coffee as if

I am

Gigi herself

being tested on her manners,

before her important

performance date.

I watch how the cream disappears

sinking under the foam,

unlike American coffee

where the cream

puts on quite a show

when poured.

Then I start reading again,

“Downstairs we came out

through the first floor dining room

to the street.”

So close

to being done

with a book

I’ve held for two weeks. 

Then Brett said,

“We could have had

such a dammed good time together”

My sadness hits, this is the last bit of words,

my goodbyes are ready,

my own life’s cloud rolls in raining.

“Yes” I said,

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

 The End

 

And I’m left alone,

with food and drink

and the distant cheer

of the Englishmen

playing foosball,

and the sound

of a friend

overdramatically

telling the Frenchmen,

who are entering the dining room

about last night’s debauchery.

I sit at the bar

with no more pages left

to read.

My world is now back

and is again in charge of me,

I think as I turn the last page,

 

‘About The Author’

 

Ahh, an escape door,

I will read this bit

twice.

*

Fin

Thanks for reading! I will post 10 more pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

And check out the bonus Poems & Audio Poems below.

Take care,

David McWane

Bonus Poem 1 of 2

It’d Be Easier If She Was Cold, But She Wasn’t
(click above for audio poem)

It’d Be Easier If She Was Cold, But She Wasn’t

 She made a jester of indifference,

Shrugged her shoulders

And remained quiet for some time

She couldn’t get over it, but she could avoid it

She had to rip off a piece of her soul,

So her body wouldn’t bleed

She had the feeling this was the last time

They would talk

 

He was learning through conversation,

From people he just met

What a challenge for her

He always said enough to make an impression though

He spoke, but his words didn’t match

How she wanted him to feel

He has a serious drawback

 

“Stay inside my chest”, she said quietly

But he didn’t understand

Separation brings on an impressive sickness

It’d be easier if she was cold, but she wasn’t

Bonus Poem 2 of 2

Alex
(Click above for audio poem)

Alex

She wanted him back

It was two hours she lay on the the floor sobbing

Pain

Nausea

New sounds strained out

Her head pounded so fiercely

You could actually see her forehead contract with each Wave of ache

Her arms and hands tingled from the overexertion

Her body was going through

She wanted him back

 

When she stood and cleaned up, he still was not hers

After the first week of friends and lousy drinks,

He still was not hers

A year of the new cold, quiet life

And still, he was not hers

She never stopped thinking about him

And his coming back to her

 

The stink of new lovers toughened her

Brief affairs made her lose much of her playfulness

It was five years now

She wanted him back

 

She became a fun, witty woman to be around

Seldom, but still, were the nights of sobbing on the floor

She knew not where they came from

The ‘Pain’, as she called it, came whenever it chose

 

She knew not love anymore

Yet would tear with control when love was on display

If you asked her, she’d say, ‘No’

But she wanted him back

 

Seven years, a well hidden emotion

She caught up with him in California

An unfamiliar joy filled her

An awakening light came upon her

Warming her

She displayed a constant smile

He was wonderful

 

The night moved fast, it was an excited group

When she looked at him, the ‘Pain’ would come

She enjoyed the pain when he was around

Though she would feel so weak from them both later

But it was seven years now

A long time

 

Exhausted, she thought, “I don’t need this shit”

She wasn’t a little girl anymore

And she could feel that

She played with the idea that—

She didn’t want him anymore

 

‘If I see him, and it goes bad, that is bad’, she thought

‘If I see him, and it goes well, that is bad too’, she Realized

‘He’s cruel to me in that way’,

And there was no tearing

*

 

‘It’d Be Easier If She Was Cold, But She Wasn’t’ & ‘Alex’ are from the book ‘The Gypsy Mile’ which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/ And the audio poems are from ‘The Gypsy Mile Reading’ found below are CDBaby.com.

 

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