MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 95-106 – Austria to Czech Republic to Germany.

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.

Enjoy!

David McWane

*

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

Everyone’s favorite

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

Castles

Windmills

Endless stone walls

Shingled roofs – red and orange

Patina church towers

Sheep trotting together

Baby sheep running to keep up

And

Set on the tallest hill

A statue of an angel

Pointing to the sky

 

*

 

Czech Republic

 

*

 

            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,

he hesitated.

1, 2, 3,

splash!

His face burned with the green flames.

He screamed.

Everyone laughed.

‘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,”

Michael reported.

But I was unable to comment,

I just couldn’t stop looking

at all the long

Czech girls

leaning,

looking,

and lusting

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.

*

Germany

*

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.”

 


Burn Me

  

For too long

has water

been only

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,

still steaming

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

of myself.

Once the water strikes

the scalding makes me smile.

I steam.

I had forgotten how

muscles relax, I had forgotten

what pleasure felt like.

For too long

there has only been focus,

determination,

struggle and pain

and

for too long

for me

has water

been only

rain

and

sweat

 

Over Hanover

 

I get a wave of excitement

to look outside my window

for a poem

in Hanover,

because I am in Germany

and anything could look

beautiful

or

terrible,

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

bunk house,

as I drink through this carton of bottled beer,

by the light of two candles.

The men are playing cards,

laughing and talking

about women

and the

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.

Germany

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?”

“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

Perverse beauty

The precocious love of—

Junked little girls sitting quietly

On the #57 bus

It’s last stop at – ‘Desperation’

Upon exit

BAM!

The fast hard life

No fear

No reason for fear

When all of instinct’s adrenaline has been used on

Daily nightmares

‘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

Trained humility

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

Eyes

And

Nostrils

Despondency of childhood innocence

Replaced with Man’s pitiless traditional

Handbook for women

His inimical greed

Somber women

Surviving

Soulless

Dead and walking

The whore

 

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

and completely

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,

turned

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.”

 

Yes,

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.”

*

Fin

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.

Take care,

David McWane

*

Bonus Poem 1 of 2

*

Don’t Visit The Graveyard When It Rains, When It Pours

The Gravedigger

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.

Rain pours,

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 1
(click above for audio poem) 

Smoking Her Chalk
 

Seventh grade Social Studies class was my favorite

There was a seating chart

I was in the front

Dead middle

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?

To me?

Years later I was told

Her husband died from a heart attack

I leaned against my apartment’s door frame

To remember

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.

 

*

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 86-94 – Italy, Slovenia & Austria

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories are spent traveling through Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

* 

Italy 

*

            Us men were led through the club, filled with silhouettes that lined the walls, which, when the moon outside was not covered by the passing clouds or when they pulled long drags from their glowing rolled cigarettes, these young men and women were briefly illuminated, showing sharp eyes, sharp eyebrows, sharp cheeks and angry glares.  We were then taken out the back door, past the crates of empty beer bottled and over flowing cans of trash, through a metal scrap yard; us all trying not to trip on the unseen and fall hand-first on something sharp.  The only light came from two men cutting a car apart with powerful saws; their orange, yellow, white and red sparks cascading skyward, yet it was best not to look directly at them because you’d become blinded once they stopped.  So us men kept our eyes forward, using the angles of the dancing shadows to determine where to walk.  Past the metal junk yard, through the damaged cars, up a rickety narrow wooden staircase, up two flights into an empty storage building – also dark with only the light of the sparks dully projecting blue light in from the broken windows – down a puddle lined hallway, up two cold stone staircases to the top floor where our unspeaking, un-named leader pointed to a door that needed to be slid open with the strength of two men.  The room was the size of a basketball court, with a black cement floor, black walls with ten foot high broken windows and a ceiling too dark to see.  Nine thin, urine stained mattresses lined the floor and a couple of empty 32oz beer bottles, cigarette filters and decaying orange rinds lay scattered about.

The Italian promoter turned to me.

“Ze accommodations, is good?”

I glanced over my right shoulder to him.

“Yes, thank you, the accommodations are good.”

Then I dropped my bag claiming a mattress.  The men followed suit.

                                                                        *

“oh what a lovely place don’t you think?”

  

…”so now, the off-work dancer is about to throw up

my actor friend tending to her

and it’s freezing inside this

junk room

this makeshift squat

and there’s a jet engine looking heater

on the floor

in front of us

screaming and rumbling, shooting out a

blue and green flame

but its doing nothing for heat

outside, I can hear the fight escalating

I scrape the frost off the window with my nails

and through the scrapes

I can see

the mayhem shifting

swaying

and then the fight breaks out

all over the street

long blows that start way behind the back

and come down like a catapult

 

you see, the local boys didn’t like the price of the show

it worked out to be a little less than a dollar a ticket

 

about twenty of them

going at it

SMACK!

WAP!

CRUNCH!

man, I tell yah

it was a sight

and we had only been there

for a little more than an hour”

 

about then, I realized the effect my story was having

this was not the type of party

to answer questions honestly

so I looked down,

and with my toe

played with a fallen napkin

with an hors d’oeurve toothpick stuck to it

and said,

“yes, I’ve been to Italy before, it’s quite lovely

don’t you think?”

*

One of the men was sick.  He ignored it for four days, we ignored it for six.  But now, he couldn’t move that well, could only grab his stomach, moan and sweat.  Having a man in this state at a border crossing is a problem.  We didn’t speak of it or give him advice as we pulled up to the border patrol man, we assumed he knew the score.  He washed his face with the moisture collecting on the Sprinter’s windows and sat up straight; knocked his shoulders back, cracked his neck, stretched his chin.  We didn’t have any trouble with the guard, he was excited that we were musicians from America, so he chatted us up longer than my friend deserved.

Passports handed off, laughs and small talk, passports handed back, more laughs, more small talk.  Before waving us on, we handed the young guard a recording of our music; he was overjoyed, so we gave him two.

“One for a lady,” I said.

“Yes, one for a lady, yah,” the young guard laughed back and lifted the records in one hand as the final wave to move on was given.

The sick man let out a moan, slouched back down and said, “Fuck that guy, what’s, he wanna come with us or fucking somethin’?”  And we all laughed at his pain.

*

Slovenia 

                                                                        *

When we got to Slovenia we were pleased the mud was frozen.  We were sick of mud.  It rained hard icing sleet, not quiet hail, mixed with snow.  The icy sleet bounced off us or got absorbed in our clothes.  And the snow gathered on our shoulders.  We stood outside a crumbling brick building.  We knew it was the venue, because it was the only heavily spray painted building on the block.

The tired squat in Slovenia in which we were to perform was the coldest on the excursion.  All the windows of the burned brick building were broken.  The snow blew in and collected.  People huddled and smoked close at the edge of the room and in the center near what looked to be a flying saucer’s engine nailed to a metal mount.  It blew out fierce blue flames to warm the room, yet you could only get warmth if you stood in front of the flames and that was too hot and too dangerous.  This heater acted more as a bringer of angry sound that you had to shout over.  It was no bringer of any sort of heat.

Three huddled girls with knotted hair, dressed in thick layers, smoking rolled cigarettes, understood that our friend lying in the Sprinter outside needed help.  We gave him to them.  The squat girls put him in a small blue car and drove him away.  We later found out that they took good care of him.  They brought him to a hospital where an English speaking doctor told our man he had bronchitis.   The girl brought our man to their home where they allowed him a hot shower, wrapped him in blankets and laid him down on a soft couch with hot soup.  He watched Bugs Bunny cartoons.  Then he slept.  We learned later that he was much sicker than any of us men could have helped.  The girls saved him.

Us men were given a crate of beer and told where our corner of the room was, if we wanted to sit or huddle like the other groups.  Drinking close for warmth we stopped our conversation about the flying-saucer-engine-heater and about if we were to see our friend again to stare blankly, silently at four men and two women who entered the squat dressed like the three musketeers.  They had black hats with enormous rims, the circumferences of which passed their shoulders, they wore black suspenders and frilly, white colored shirts.  They were drinkers.  They were loud.  They were fun.

We learned through broken conversation, huddled close with them, that they were rouge German carpenters that walked the world in search of things to fix.  The leader, or simply the loudest, told me, “We see windmill, it’s not so good, we say to owner, ‘we fix, you pay or feed, take us in for sleep.’  We circle windmill, tell him, ‘It will take one month, fix good,’ he agrees.  We stay, food, sleep.  We move on.”

“How long have you been traveling?” I asked.  And they all whispered the translation and answered.

“Six months.”

“Four.”

“Two years.”

“Year and many more months.”

“Two years.”

“Two, yes, two.”

We liked the rogue carpenters and they liked us.  When we played music they danced together and screamed and prost’ed us.   For me the night was large beers, icy snow collecting everywhere, shivers, big black hats and overalls and blue fire.

The people of Slovenia were thicker than us; the cold seemed not to disturb them as it disturbed us.  Everyone kept their joy alive in this room of pain, because there was no other choice.  Yet, it was a night to die.

                                                                        *

a way out

 

gutter girls laughing

cackling

big teeth showing

swollen gums bursting

eyes scanning

looking for boys to kiss

broken windows poofing in light snow

would look beautiful

if it was a movie

if it was a stage show

if it was movie foam

but, like death to me in a trash squat in Slovenia

I rise up from the broken-wooden, folding cot that I lay on

with torn, army green fabric

my spindly body shaking wildly

back bones, shoulders and ribs shaking wildly

the aggressive cold

‘wait, couldn’t I die tonight?’

I thought, as I noticed the

lusty

moving

shadows

around me

crone’s eyes widen for play at me

I approached these hellcats feeding

with a snatch and a glare

I grab their bottle

absinth doesn’t taste very good

when chugging it in desperation

but it’s your only way out

     *

Zombies of Ljluljana Slovenia

 

 

Zombies, of Ljluljana Slovenia

Everywhere, cunning and organized

Skilled, baleful men

During daylight hours, their eyes prey vehemently on

The lost

The confused

The easy feed

Night eyes beset the machines

The unguarded, cars and trucks 

Left helpless

Hopes of interior feeding on hawkable possessions

Or the vehicle itself, for those who can

Take the machine whole

Teams of instinct led men

The assailants stalk in shadows

Eyes calculating

The human predator

*

            At 7:30AM I woke with a headache, worms in my stomach, and a light layer of snow powdered atop me.  All of us men were now broken.  There is no happiness.  There are only eyes that glare the same way and transcend understanding.  The promoter of the show had dropped off bread and some bricks of cheese for us in the night.  We made our way outside, leaned or sat on the old burnt, crumbling, spray painted brick walls and passed the bread and cheese around.  The only drink was beer.

We were body battered men, but only because of the hard cold nights and increasing health problems.  We still had our minds and we still knew as a group that we were one.  We spoke of things that made no matter.

“Does anyone have any thread and a needle?  I have to sew my shirt up.”

“I do; I’ll get it later.”

“Thanks”

“Bread?”

“Yeah.”

“How far is Austria, Dale?”

“’S not bad.  S’not bad, I’d say a couple hours from whenever he gets back.”

“I’m sick of cheese.”

“I’m sick of cheese.”

“That stuff there is all right.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah put that shit on it, that there and um, that spread Dale brought from England on the bread.”

“Yeah s’good idea.”

“Dale can I have the keys.”

“Cheers.”

“Cheers.”

“Anyone got a knife?”

“No.”

“No.”

“I got this, just clean it.”

“Thanks.”

“Grab the bottle of wine behind Dale’s seat.”

“Okay.”

“Oi, here he is then.  That’s the same car.  Look, he’s smiling.  What a wanker.  Brilliant, let’s fuck off.”

Our sick friend was returned to us.

*

Austria

*

Together

 

Tired Cows lie

His chin rests

  On hers

*

Squats are abandoned buildings that ‘squatters’, squat in.  We don’t have many here in the States, but I believe they are on their way.  In England and Europe, many buildings have been bombed in the wars and many of the owners bombed with them.  ‘Squatters Rights’ say, that if you live in, what seems to be, an abandoned building long enough, then you can become the new owner.  Thus, a committed, broke, crusty punk, can in five to ten years, own a multi million dollar property.  Not bad, huh?  Us men have stayed in an assortment of squats, from the very cool, very dirty and very dark, to the punk rock posh.

The Arena in Vienna, Austria, used to be a slaughter house.  It has a massive brick wall around its five building property and an enormous slaughter house chimney.  But, now it is owned by squatters.  The Arena has three massive concert halls, one smaller one, and a wide open outdoor stage, merchandise areas for all of them, concession stands, a bar with a small stage inside, a bunk house that sleeps over twenty – with laundry and clean pillows and towels and showers, a mess hall and kitchen and most important, chefs, sound engineers, lighting people, in-house promoters and more.  It is the best, properly working squat I have ever visited.  I think about how I cannot wait to get back there, choose my bunch, do my laundry, have shower and down many bottled beer outside the Arena’s bar, as I look out the windows of the Sprinter, recognizing the Vienna streets that lead there.

*

“Wait.”

“Yeah wait a minute.”

“What’s going on here?”

“What is this?”

“I love this, whatever it is.”

“Why does everyone have wine?” I asked standing outside the St. Stephens Cathedral where Mozart used to perform, watching a plethora of different businessmen and women walking over to little stands set up all down the street, being served small cups of hot wine.  All of them conversing softly to one another, wearing long trench coats, bundled and pleased, with open friendly smiles and red noses and cheeks, enjoying this moment of the sun dipping away, leaving us her scraps of orange, purple and pink to illuminate the young pretty ladies faces and give a glow behind the cathedral, shops and homes on the hill.  One of the wine stands played a music box that was loud enough for everyone to quietly enjoy.  It assured the magical moment.

The woman looked lovely with snow falling on them, sniffing their wine, smiling big to each other.  Even the older women in their forties and fifties had slender bodies and youthful honest smiles.  They had secret knowing, closed mouth smiles.  They were sexy.

“Oh, right, yah, I had completely forgot.  ‘S brilliant isn’t it.  ‘S way to live, yah?  See, at five O’clock, yah, all the workers come out after they finished up their work day and have a nice proper glass of warm wine in the zentrum for a relaxed chat before going home.  ‘S fucking brilliant isn’t it?  Really.  ‘S legend.  S’way…to…do it.” Dale said lighting a rolled cigarette and smiling in every direction he could look.

“It is brilliant,” I said as we shuffled in line, smiling toward the young pretty ladies in front of us, sorting our coinage in our cupped hands, ready for a cup ourselves.  All with closed mouth smiles.

  *

There Is Still More Soup

When a person is lacking proper love,

or is denied it entirely,

the soul is sore.

And if it isn’t healed soon,

it will keloid in time.

I thought about that,

all through the night and then

on through the next day.

We were traveling south

to Graz from Vienna.

The men and I

were bundled – hats and gloves,

scarves and long underwear,

shaking ribs and numb toes,

inside a small Sprinter.

The tires spun and spat

trying to grip traction,

but our vessel was clumsy and heavy,

knocking us up and down,

sliding us all around the mountain’s

ice covered turns.

These mountains were steeper

than your teeth.

The radio was off for concentration.

We all spoke under scarves –

‘women’ was the main topic

for about two hours

but ‘what if you had money’

transcended from it and

lasted the longest.

After it got quiet,

half the men slept,

with their thoughts of women

and money simmering on their back burners.

I stared through the ice covered window.

It was then that I decided to not start back up

a relationship with a woman back home.

We had gone our separate ways months before the journey.

She had written me before I left the States

about how she wanted to rekindle what we had

and start again. 

There is something very wrong

and sore to the soul

about a person who is lacking proper love.

She had just kept me around for comfort;

I was a pet.

Dale rounded a sharp turn with no guard rail

the wheels buckled, locked, and slid.

The men woke and braced themselves.

 

Once settled on the road again

I thought about the night before

at the Arena in Vienna,

I found myself outside the Arena’s bar

inside a squat’s complex,

that used to be a slaughter house.

It began to lightly snow.

Different people

from all around the world

moved in the shadows

around us.

I was talking with

a beautiful gypsy girl

who plays the cymbals in a gypsy band.

The gypsy girl

rubbed her man’s back

and gave him little kisses

every so often, while we all spoke.

It was proper love.

Eventually, they retired to whispers,

and joined the shadows.

I took two quarts of beer

and found some dirty light,

coming from a dirty street lamp.

I had twenty odd pages left to re-reading

The Sun Also Rises,

I preferred to escape in Brett’s problems of love

rather then pulling out my thoughts

and facing my own.

And as I sat with

my two quarts,

my book,

my dirty yellow street light,

my scarf over my mouth and

my chair kicked back too far,

I slowly finished the last pages – for the second time.

My friends shouted to me from an upper window,

that the squat was being locked up

and there was still some warm soup left.

Once inside,

I slammed the door closed.

Hard.

It reverberated through the old slaughter house hallways.

Brushing the snow off myself,

I looked

through the small window of the door,

at the white walls of the complex,

at the snow collecting on the windowsills,

the small German homes covered in newly dusted snow,

and on the far off football bleachers past them,

and the children’s park – the slide, the seesaw and the jungle gym,

and on white hills beyond them

and the

wicked trees,

barbed wire and

black birds.

But there is no sense in moaning.

A moaning man is a spoiled man.

And there is no sense in

moaning about the lack

of a woman’s love.

Many men daydream of their escapes

from their hard woman.

I thought this looking out that window,

brushing the snow off, zippering up

my jacket a little tighter

as the man came

to lock up the slaughter house door.

There is no need to moan

when you are well and strong,

when faithful friends are checking in with you

to make sure you are in from the cold

and have a chance

for a second helping of

warm soup.

*

Fin

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.

Take care,

David McWane

*

Bonus Poem 1 of 2

Steps
(click above for audio poem)

steps

focus is more than just a facial expression

I was drunk and soaked in warm sweat

staring at my pile of belongings

stacked across the room

just slouched against the wall

with my wet hands

between

my wet legs

I recoil my toes and my socks squish the sweat

to the top of my toe nails

sitting up, my right cheek peels off the wet wall

the heat from the crowd

made the small back room

of this New Hampshire night club’s ceiling

sweat

my two suitcases dance before me

from my heavy drunk

I must move toward my pile of belongings, I thought

I must get my boots on and these sneakers off

I must put on a dry shirt,

then find my under jacket and alpha jacket,

and then lift the suitcases and

find the others

it was an equilibrium tug of war

but I had accomplished all of it

what is waiting outside is sharp and strong

winter in New England is but

Death’s hand raised

slightly above us

once I stepped outside, I would catch the flu

I knew this

I was too wet and winter is too cruel

weak from drinking and not eating

winter will win me

I am careless

I will be sick tomorrow

and I will not be able to afford any kind of medicine

so I will be sick for 8 days

ready to leave

wet

drunk

with different shirts bunched and buttoned wrong

I stand holding two small suitcases

one of which was my father’s when he was my age

for a moment I wonder if he was ever drunk like me

like this

but then forgot the thought

as I swagger out the door to meet up with

my fiendish friends

out the doorway, winter’s bit, bites

and my body is struck

with the awakening panic of the

New England cold

I think of my friend in California and his question

“yes, the coasts are different”, I answer him quietly

with the muttering of a drunk

as my puffy white words rise

floating past Death

and up to the stars

*

Bonus Poem 2 of 2

Money In The Toilet
(click above for audio poem) 

money in the toilet

 

who do they think they are?

to fill the urinal with coins,

when there are at least 3 homeless men outside

do these men of money

demand that those in need must be humiliated

before they are given a pocketful of change?

I didn’t like it

I wouldn’t have it

I dove my hand into the urinal and took all the coins out

washed them in the sink

then dried them with folded paper towels

on my way out of the bar

I handed the coinage to three homeless men

who looked to be in their upper fifties

the men were much appreciative

they smiled lovingly and called me ‘brother’

as I walked on home over the Longfellow Bridge feeling my drunk

I listened to a crew boat coasting lightly

atop the Charles River

and felt the warm breeze that Boston summers release

in my thoughts, I envisioned the men who had tossed the coins in the toilet

and as I looked to where the lamp light of high buildings reflected on the

ripples of the rower’s small wakes

I thought of mean men of money

I thought,

“You little bastards”

*

‘Steps’ and ‘Money In The Toilet’ 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.

 

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 77-85 – Deep inside Switzerland

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories are spent with pimps and whores of Switzerland.

Enjoy,

David McWane

*

Switzerland

*

            The brakes weren’t completely working, which means – they didn’t work.  They slowed the Sprinter down a bit, down to about 25mph, but the turns high up on this Swiss Mountaintop motorway are sharp.  And a sharp one came upon us.

We talked calmly.

“Dale?”

“I got it.”

“Whoa brake, brake.”

“Whoa-o brake Dale!”

“I am, I am, the brakes are rubbish!”

We could hear him pressing down to the floor and could see the edge of the cliff coming.  We all braced.

“I think this is it guys”, I said.

And the men winced at the truth.

Dale pulled the wheel hard to the left, pressed hard on the brakes and pulled the emergency brake.  The Sprinter skidded, turned and pushed into the guard rail bending it.  Over the windshield was only a drop.  Then rocks.  We all leaned back.  Dale put the Sprinter in reverse and gave it some gas.  First nothing, then a little more gas, a slight turn of the wheel and we got traction and pulled back onto the motorway.

“Bloody hell, I really thought that was it guys”, Dale said as we picked up speed.  And when we all started breathing again he said, “Gotta get the brakes checked.  They’re rubbish.”

  *

Too many waterfalls to pass up.  Too many lakes of blue to dismiss.  We pulled the Sprinter over to a lake high up on the Swiss alps where waterfalls plunged and where moving fog over the still water made you feel as if you were in Sleepy Hollow.  As some of the men smoked and some of the men pulled their pants up to wade, one of the men and myself, stripped down and dove into the water.  For too many drives have these waters  seemed out of reach.  Too many thoughts of mine, saw me splashing and laughing.  Too many chances missed.

The water was cold, heart stopping cold.  I swam out, dove under and swam down, then looked up.  It was dark around me, cold around me, but above was shimmering light.  I dove lower to see more dancing light.  My heart held it’s breath, he was weary of the idea, but my eyes won the vote.  My body glowed like a new angle in space.  I dove lower and my heart said, “No!  Too far.  I’m cold.”  We all, all that makes me, respected that.  Still glowing, I swam up to the dancing light.

When I came to the top, I looked all around at the mountains, waterfalls and distant castles, breathed a freezing mans breath and swam back to the men, before my appendages became to numb to use, before my heart stopped.

                                                                        *

Flash Go, Flash Go

 

Driving to

Chur, Switzerland,

I try to do some writing

in my cramped seat.

I hadn’t been doing that much in Switzerland,

so that day was the day

to get the old

purrin’ motor going again.

But Switzerland’s motorways

are full of dimly lit tunnels,

going under its mountains.

Ten seconds of light

to five minutes underground.

And over again.

I tried to write

even when we went into

the tunnel but,

I became

frustrated with the blackness

of my page.

I’d try and write what I could

during the flashes of yellow light

in the tunnel,

but it was just too hard.

  

 

Flash go, flash go!

 

 

One flash

could get two words down,

no more.

When I saw how

insane the page

was becoming,

I finally stopped trying

And put my book down,

put the pen in my pocket,

grabbed some food and drink

from under my seat,

chatted a friend up

and thought

‘The light at the end of the tunnel

will eventually come

and all these words with it.’

 

Warm Rooftops, Distant Snow, Future Wine, Olive Oil For Sale & The Tanning Prostitutes

 

My room was on the top floor,

so all of the men went up there

to have their smoke.

The windows were opened

we sat on the beds,

and talked about the finances

of our trip,

and of the condition

of our Sprinter.

The sun was coming in through

the open windows

and it’s heat was so pleasing to us,

that it led us all

to crawl out the windows.

We first found

a

small,

rusty ladder.

It led us to the

hotel’s warm rooftop.

The smell of our meal being prepared

in the bottom floor kitchen

came with each passing breeze.

We were all hungry

and Michael, the owner,

always fed us well here.

I knew that there would be

many bottles of  wine

on the table,

so there were great things

in our future.

The shingles we sat on

were red and curved.

Distant church bells rang the hour

from the north and the east

and someone far off was using a chain saw;

it buzzed.

The summits of the Swiss Alps

were covered in snow,

but their bodies were not.

The gondola was still.

Sunlight reflected

on everything shiny

and we had a bird’s eye view

of the small village

from the steaming rooftop.

Men walked with their jackets neatly hung

over their shoulders,

merchants sold homemade olive oil

and olive paste out of carts,

a cat crossed the street hesitantly and slowly,

then dashed,

one of the prostitutes

sunning herself atop a lower rooftop

was finished

and went back inside

and you could see her tan naked body

through the open shutter

making lunch,

as the other

two prostitutes

continued tanning,

repositioning their

long shiny legs

and began looking up at us men,

sitting above them,

breathing the

afternoon pleasantries,

smoking

on the roof top.

Then they waved.

 

  *

 

Michael always treats us well.  He’s a kind gentleman, who wants you to feel well, feel safe and enjoy life with him.  He likes food, big dinners, wine, and beer, laughter, music, dancing, and singing, likes slapping your back and pulling you close, likes women, sex, orgies, and men, likes it when the Englishmen pee into bar mugs and have each other drink it down, likes razzing them up until they have unmentionables in different mouths at the bar, just for laughs, just for the razz of it all,  just so us Americans cringe.  His new Brazilian girlfriend, I forget her name so we’ll use Michael’s #1 Girl for it, is sugary fire, with big red lips, slow winks, long strokes on your back, arms and jaw, and she is always inching over to sit or stand closer and even closer to me.  After the two hour sweaty concert and forty-five minute encore, at the Safari Beat Club, in Chur, Switzerland, after the Englishmen were done drinking each other’s pee from mugs, after the fourth round of 32oz mugs of frothy beer, after Michael’s #1 Girl was called back to Michael’s lap, and after the local smoke was put back in it’s cage, we walked to the street – Michael, Michael’s #1 Girl, seven Englishmen, a few Lovers of the Sound, the one Brit – Dale and us seven Modern American Gypsies, through the narrow stone alleyways lined with stone buildings that were almost kissing, down the midnight street, over the arched bridge with the agitated water beneath, and far off gondolas swinging back and forth in the distance, lining the snow covered summits that succeeded with all their might to pierce the stream brook clouds above, reaching for the white belly moon that giggled it’s wavering tummy down at them teasing.

The bar was boring to me.  All my men spoke with the Englishmen and I was tired of travel stories.  And tonight, I wanted nothing to do with getting chatted up at the bar only to make a forgotten friend.  Michael and Michael’s #1 Girl can smell this feeling on a man like the cat that catches, in the blackest of nights, its most elusive hidden prey.

“Do you want to move on then, David?” Michael asked.

“You’re bored,” said Michael’s #1 Girl factually as she crushed her fresh cigarette down.

“Come.”  Michael tossed money down and the three of us were back under the teasing moon.  We took the road that led back to the hotel that Michael owned, the one us men were staying at, but took a small walkway down to the left and under a sidewalk buttress, to a light that illuminated a steel door that had a steel slider for the inner doorman’s eyes.

 

Knock-Knock-Knock.

 

Slide-Eyes-Slam

 

The door opened.

 

Inside looked like a 1960’s go-go club or a posh beatnick poetry pad.  Every man had a cat.  The cats clawed at the men’s chests and wiggled and squirmed from the sausage finger hands under their necks.  Every man had his own table, own dirty red velvet horseshoe couch, own champagne bottles and glasses, own dangling lamp shade that shook and twirled light diamonds on the floor, on the tables, the cats hair, backs, and legs and you could see them on the cat’s hungry faces when they turned, looking over their shoulders to catch a glimpse of why Marcus behind the bar had just erupted in joy.

“MICHAEL MICHAEL, COME, COME, SIT, SIT, AH-HA, YES!”

Marcus was eight men in one.  Seven feet tall, powerful, strong eyes with stronger eye brows, he had a full groomed black beard, an earthquake voice, when you spoke he looked for lies, when you spoke he waited for you to say something, anything that could make him boom out with laughter.  He could take your head off with a punch; eat you for lunch.  Simply, Marcus is Bluto from the cartoon Popeye incarnate.

We attacked the bar.  Marcus slung beer after beer at us.  He loved that I was American, never made a topic about it, but you could tell it gave him joy.  He smiled when I spoke and roared when I was done, the hellcats feeding would walk by and give me looks of pleasure, they were curious of the man from America that could tune and bow his own song on their boss’s strings.

Marcus tended bar, beside him was a man that kept a sideway eye on the room, but also enjoyed the company as well.  He smoked his cigarettes close to his face and closed his eyes when he smiled with closed lips.  At the bar was Michael, Michael’s #1 Girl, two local men on either side of us and me.  The locals had kind eyes and defeated posture.  Their cigarettes hung over their beers and they drank down their malt like it was the only medicine that could keep them breathing.

“Will you have a woman?” Marcus boomed as he crashed me down a beer, spilling an inch of it.

“A woman?” I asked.

“You understand this place?” Michael’s #1 Girl said. “I tell you,” Michael’s #1 Girl repositioned, with the excitement a little girl has when she’s allowed to explain game rules to a group. “This is how it works, you buy a bottle of champagne from Marcus, 100 euros, and that gets you a room with girl,” she motioned to the girls against the wall watching us and to some of the ones with Johnnies peaking.  “That, um, how do you say, awe, that buys you, rent, no, no, reserves you room.  Is your room.”  She points to an elevator I had not noticed in the back.  “You go up, second floor.  Yes?”

“Yes, second floor is where all the women stay,” Marcus took the conversation.  “You work out a price with the girl, you probably nothing, you probably fine, bet the girls charge you nothing.  You’re American.  Young.  Good looking boy.  Buy a bottle, go, have a woman, choose, very nice.”  Everyone smiled, nodded and looked back and fourth at me and the cats.

“No, I’m fine, I like hanging out with you all.”  I didn’t want these woman, I liked where I was.  I liked Marcus, Michael, Michael’s #1 Girl, even the men I didn’t know with us.  I didn’t want to meet anyone, talk about the States, talk about me, ask about them.  I wanted to joke, laugh, spit and get drunk with those who wanted the same.

We drank on.  It was now about 4:30AM and most of the cats had brought their prey to their dens.  We were all pretty tight by now.  The local smoke was let out of its cage once again and Marcus opened one of the bottles of champagne, handed it to the man beside him to open and pour, and then lined up the glasses with his enormous plump hands for us all.

“I buy you bottle.  It’s on me, my pleasure, on me.  Take-take-take a girl, maybe she charge you, maybe she not.” Marcus turns to the locals hunched and smoking.  “I don’t think they charge him.  Good looking boy, American, musician…”  Marcus turned to me.  “They won’t charge.  If they do, you can probably convince them not to.  Barter.  But they might and if they do, you have to pay, I only will buy bottle, one-hundred euros, you must pay the girl, maybe twenty-five euros, maybe fifty, depends, depends.  I say free, yah free, American-musician, good looking boy.  No charge.”

“No, no, I’m good.  I like you guys, I’m good.  Thank you very, very much though Marcus, very appreciative.”

“I used to work here,” Michael’s #1 Girl said.  “The girls, they rent the room, usually stay for  month, maybe many months, then move on.  Sometimes a girl will stay for a year, but usually a month, Russian, Czech, German, Brazilian, come, go, then moves on to another place like the same.”

It was now 6:00AM and all the left over hell cats had headed up to the second floor hungry, to their rooms, to nap, with their paws tucked in and their tails wrapped tightly.  The seven of us decided to walk down to get fresh coffee at a shop.

The light struck us as if an agitated god took a slice of us with his razor blade.  Our faces were clay gray.  Children watched our Zombie walk and listened to our demon cackles as we stood in line.  The lot of us sorted our hair and fixed our shirts to seem sober, to seem like the ‘normals’.  We drank our coffee and breathed deep as if we were better men, men with direction, responsibilities, men who were heading off to work, because society needed our wisdom.  Then we head back for some more beer.

At 8:00AM the unnamed men headed home and at 9:30AM Michael and Michael’s #1 Girl did as well.  I had to meet up with the Modern American Gypsies at noon, so I decided to press through.  Marcus was a charming man and I was young enough and dumb enough to trust a man who’s weapon in life is charm.

“Come we go to the second floor.  I show you where the girls sleep, their kitchen, television room, come.”  We walked to the elevator.

“I don’t know.  Marcus, what if you get weird, I can’t take you.  What if, no let’s stay down here.”  Marcus erupted in laughter.

“I no get weird, come, it’s nice, see where the girls sleep, nice kitchen, nice television.   I show you my place.  All very nice.”

“You sure?  You won’t get weird?  Promise?   Marcus, you promise?”

“You think I’m dangerous, yes, with you, no, I have two sons, two sons, like you, come.  We open wine.  My shift ends at noon, new bigger man comes, then I go home to wife, two sons.  David relax, I like you.  You relax.  It is okay.  Come.”

The elevator door opened and we stepped inside.

“Okay, see here, this is the kitchen area, see very nice.  Cupboards, each girl gets  own cupboards.  Food, see, food in here, ice box, refrigerator, keep cool, fruit, cheese, many cheeses there, all things, see all their food in here.  See very nice.

And it was very nice.  Clean counters, not a dish in the sink, cupboards organized, stocked fridge, an ice box, colorful flower designed plates with matching cups and a full wine rack.  We walked down a small hallway to a big common area.

“Come, see here.  This here, see this is very nice.  Television, this radio, music, girls play music, dance, make party, many couches, sit, lay, talk, watch movies, very nice.”

And it was.  The couches, television, stereo system were all posh, very new and clean.  We moved on to a long hallway with multiple doors lining it.

“This is girls’ rooms, I’d like to show you inside, but they sleep now.  If you still want girl, you can have, but I don’t like to wake dem up, I don’t so much like to do that.  I wake dem up for you though, if you want girl.  You want?”

“No thanks.”

“Yes, I don’t like to wake dem. “ Marcus made a face of discontent and then brought me to a room with opened bay windows, two large plush crimson chairs, gold framed paintings and a bar that looked from a 1960’s spy movie.  Marcus took himself behind the bar, found a bottle of wine, popped it open, grabbed two glasses and a cigar box.  He motioned for me to sit.

It was now 10:00AM and Marcus and I talked about our families.  He told me about his two sons and how much he loves them, about his wife that he is still so much in love with and about his nice home just past the town over the gondola lined mountain where he has a nice spot of land, nothing too big, but a nice size.  He grew up in South America, in the sewers, whore houses, surrounded by boiling drugs, hungry canines and stained blades.

“You must be careful, David,” he told me.  He held up his shirt to show his massive hairy belly.  “You see these?”  There were four thick and long scars – slashes.

“Damn how’d you earn those?” I said and he laughed.

“I was in cantina, went to take shit.  I sit there, den, BOOM!  The door flies open, breaks off, err…breaks…off…hinge – hinges.  Explode.”  Marcus moved forward in his chair, spoke a few decibels softer and used his cigar to make sure I heard his next point.  “You see, da man, he come and he follow me to stall area.  He waits, very smart, very smart, but, no way to kill a man, honor best legacy for man.”  Marcus sat back, took a long powerful drag from his cigar, finished his glass of wine and topped us both off.

“This man, BOOM!  He comes at me with knife, get me here and here, I leap up, pants here around ankles, I leap up, spin him around, rrraw.  Get him by neck.  He slashes behind, get me here, here.  I grab knife, rip it out of his hands.  I grab knife and I kill that man – leave him there, in the stall, with my shit.  You see, this man has no honor, so he dies with no honor.  He dies with my shit.”

“What did you do, where did you go?”

“I left, went home.  No one come after me, not for a man like him.  They no care.”

We drank on.

“You have a good family David?”

“Yeah, two sisters, older.”

“I can tell, I can tell.  Good mother, good father, you can see this.  That is very nice, me, I don’t want no daughter, no – too tough.  Crazy.  You fight?”

“I’ve fought.  I’m fine, I’m not big, but I get into it more.”

“Yes, important, that’s who wins fight.  Know how to disarm knife, gun?”

“No, I mean…no.”

Marcus leaps up, grabs another bottle from behind the bar, pops it and says,

“Come, up-up, I teach you, come, we go to roof, I show you.  Easy, but need to know.  Important.  You see.”

At 11:00AM I stood in front of Marcus.  He held a branch that he had ripped off the top of a tree that blew its leaves onto the roof.  Sunning chairs lay beside us and all around us birds flirted, teased and sang to one another.  I squinted from the flashing reflecting sun and swayed, holding my full glass of punch drunk wine.  I set the glass down, for I could see Marcus was getting into character.  He crouched, shuffled his appendages and cleaned out his nostrils blowing them out one at a time.

“Okay, I come at you like this.”

For an hour, Marcus and I sparred, took turns attacking with our branch-knife, put each other in head locks, sleeper holds and choke holds and went over the best blows to the face, neck, eyes and ears to make your opponent dazed, so you could finish him off or flee.

“Good, good, David.”  Marcus told me as we both sat on the sunning chairs.  “I had nice night with you my new friend.”

“I did too, Marcus, thanks for the lessons.”

“No problem for me, very important to know.  A man must know these things.”

It was now noon, and I could see the men coming out of the hotel.  They loaded their bags into the Sprinter and stood around with smokes.  We could hear Marcus’s replacement unlocking the front door and cleaning up the bar.

“Okay, I must talk to the man downstairs and get home.”

“Yeah, that’s my men there.”

Marcus and I had a hug on the roof and shook hands back at the front door.

“Take care friend, David.”

“Take care friend, Marcus.”

                                                                        *

pimps & whores


pimps and whores are friendlier than your brother, sister, uncle, or teacher

but watch out

                                                                        *

I slept all the way to Italy, only to awaken once by one of the men poking me.

“What?” I said.

“Just checking to see if you’re alive.”

*

Fin

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.

Take care,

David McWane

*

Bonus poem 1 of 2

*

a drainpipe in new orleans

my laughter was evil

and my grin had ideas

I was at my meanest then

we were on the second floor

of a rotting house

that slowly sunk into magazine street

located in a rotting town in New Orleans

I was being loud,

everyone was being loud

we were young and

our parties were true celebrations

they were

our prison break

from

our parents’ homes

we drank like rats eat garbage

 

I turned to the sound of

girls giggling

noticed out the open window,

another party

in the neighbor’s second floor open window

so I climbed out of the

sinking heavy house

crouched on the window’s ledge

and estimated the distance

to the neighbors

 

the sound of cars in the street whizzing by

and the screams from the drunks

on the street fed fires in my mind,

that mixed with the

wet sweat breeze

and the sound of

people screaming,

“you’re gonna fall”

was almost sobering

but not enough,

because I

was at my meanest then

 

I leaped out and into an open window

the neighbor’s party was startled,

but soon erupted in cheers

almost asleep from drunk comfort

I realized I had made the jump

and was now inside

soon after

everyone started jumping

back and fourth through the window

they all loved it

and let out their approving war cries

everyone began mingling

this girl sitting on a couch

stroking her

passed-out boyfriend’s hair

asked me to go into a closet with her,

for a little ohh la la

her boyfriend was out cold,

but a mammoth of a lug

and there’s no way

I was gonna let some twit

set two men up for a fight

I said, ‘no ms.’

 

the adrenaline from the window leap

was starting to fade

and she wasn’t the one

to boost it back up

my calculating eyes and

cheshire grin

was working

on a new idea

 

I put my head out the window again

and breathed deep

New Orleans’ slutty air

in the distance girls screamed wicked shrieks of pleasure

and gave the drooling men

a look at their breasts

but it wasn’t mardi gras

plastic beads in trade for a quick visual pleasure

– the genies of the valueless man

that’s when

I noticed the drainpipe

it went up the house,

past the third floor

to the roof

the shadows of people inside and above

strobed the window

I climbed out

got my grip on the pipe

and listened to the girl talking

to her recovering boyfriend,

“that kid is sick, he tried to kiss me while you were passed out”

I smiled, peeked in, caught her eyes

and as my eyebrows deviled,

I gave her a wink

‘good for her’ I thought

and ‘good for him

there was

no scuffle’

I mean, he was bigger than me,

but

I was at my meanest then

 

outside was the calm,

that must be similar

to when you slip away

from the demons in hell

and there is that brief moment

when you can

listen to the screams

without being part of them

 

both hands on the drainpipe

fingers giving extra grip,

because of the voice of

my father in my head saying

“what the hell are you doing?

be god damn careful you idiot

the last thing your mother needs

is for me to tell her you fell

climbing a drainpipe”

 

I began to climb and

my adrenalin was back

but New Orleans is a cheap town

the drainpipe screws pulled

and the pipe disconnected from the house

I pinched the top of the window frame

and pulled myself and the pipe back

toward the sears siding

 

 

I decided to pause

and slow my climb

best to do dumb things

slowly

 

I looked around me

and saw my shadow

cast long on the street

creeping up the house,

like a gremlin that steals babies in the night

I tilted my head back

and listened to

the symphony of my

wild days

playing inside me

and began my assent again

but the drunk mind wanders

and the tightness of my grip loosened

I slipped and slid down two feet

fast

my palms caught on the drainpipes brace

opening up impressive gashes in my palms

the blood ran warm down my arms

and dripped steady onto my shirt

in the style of a 1980’s after school art program’s

splatter paint design

 

I was shocked,

but I am stubborn

and can’t be beaten

there was nothing else to do

but keep going

one hand over the other,

I was almost to the third floor window

I decided

I would go through this window and not to the rooftop

the look of the blood was making my stomach wince

and I wanted a beer

I wiped the sweat from my forehead with my right hand

a poor choice – the blood smeared

all across my face

and onto my lips

the salt made my stomach churn even more

and my grin came back

I began to sober up a bit

I laugh at myself
‘what the hell am I doing I thought,

I’m a god damn idiot’

 

finally I reached the third floor window

it was left a couple inches open

and the glass was covered in condensation

I realized it was the bathroom window

and someone was taking a

shower

propping myself up in a more sturdy

position on the pipe

I wiped the sweat from my face, giving it a

new coat of blood

and wiped the moisture from the wet window,

smearing it in

blood calligraphy

I pushed the window up, and now

had my ribs on the window sill

 

in the shower

two long girls

were kissing,

and rubbing their hands

all over each other’s bodies

they stood beautifully naked

in the cool water

with one arm still gripped on the drain pipe

dripping blood

on the honda accord beneath me

and my bloody face

dripping and drying from the spray breeze

the shower gave

I dipped my head back again

arching my back

my hair hanging wet,

smelling the blood mixed with

feminine soap

with an upside down gaze

I found the red moon

and smiled at it

my long shadow, shaped

like a growling gremlin

I was at my meanest then

Bonus Poem 2 of 2 & Audio Poem

The Last Walk
(click above for audio poem)

the last walk

 

the old dog wasn’t sure what was wrong

but he knew it was to come to an end

he made one last walk through the house

and stopped at everyone

for a rub

he’d wished the old man was home

he loved him most

but he wasn’t

the old dog

scratched at the screen door

one last time

Sarah lovingly opened it

“there you go, Murf”

he relished her voice

and all her touches

outside

he found the spot

under the pine

where the grass bowls

where he can see the old man’s car approach

he perched his head on top of his paws

and looked toward the road

and thought about the old man

and drifted away

 *

‘a drainpipe in New Orleans’ is from the book Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary and ‘the last walk’ is from the book The Gypsy Mile. Both books can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

the last walk‘ audio poem is from The Gypsy Mile reading, which can be found at CDBaby.com.

 *

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 64-76 – Across France

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories will take us across France.

Enjoy,

David McWane

*

France

*

Botafar

To get from Krefeld, Germany, to Paris, France, we drove on A7 to E40 in a small white Sprinter through Belgium, passing small villages packed with small white houses with red clay curved tiled roof tops and continued up and down it’s damp hilly landscape, passing crumbled castles set high atop unreachable cliffs, then on through to A2, where the land looked like an endless bed sheet in the wind, then connected to A1, where you could look down from the road onto ancient churches centering small villages and adding grandeur to the farmlets and their fields of bound wheat, to finally connect with A3 and reach Paris by mid day.  The windows were wet.

Most of us men still had the unfortunate remembrances of our lousy drunk from the night before.  We tried to sleep it off in the hopes of properly starting the process over again by morning, but the Sprinter we drove was packed uncomfortably tight.  There was no way any of us could fall asleep, our heads bouncing against the glass and our legs  twisted in our bags and instruments.

I gave up sleep and stared out onto the yellow fields of rape seed.  It was warm, raining, but warm.  And the windows left down let in the warm air and light rain, allowing everything inside the Sprinter to float and dance.  It was slow motion; it was what I imagined magic would look like.  The sun reflected on everything it could reach, softly and kindly blinding us.  We talked quietly about Paris.  We talked quietly about women.  Germany had made us slow and lethargic, but with each mile we gained on France we became more alive.  My friend talked excitedly about how he was going to meet a Danish girl he had met four years prior and had been writing every week since.  I was happy for him.  He needs a woman even more than me.

Five out of the eight of us men decided we wanted to court a good woman sooner than later during that conversation.  Too many scorpion kisses that taste like bitter warnings had touched our lips.  Now is the time to stop looking for a flower in the dry forest with a torch.  In that moment, in the van of dancing napkins and loose paper, with warm rain on my face, I had turned a chapter in my life – ‘Bring me miles, bring me Paris and awaken me so that I can find what it is all men search for, so I can find – her.’

We take a moment in Belgium to stretch and air out our clothes at a petrol station.  Rain clouds hover over muddy grass fields where cows sleep together bowling the earth down.  Mist whirls and wets our coats black and makes them slick, as we enter the station and stand around a high table discussing karma over hot tea and biscuits.

There were times that us men held our breaths too long for happiness to find us.  But now we have all become the creators of it, giving it to each other and allowing us all to relax in laughter whenever there is a free moment.

 

We drive on.

 

Entering Paris we pass a small café where young people laugh and flirt, then continue on to where the business people and shop workers are just starting their walks home.  We all sit up straight, try to comb our hair with our dirty fingers and begin showing off what little French we know as we take a right onto the Quai Mauriac, a road named after Francis Mouriac, a French writer from the 1800s.  Just before reaching the Bibliotecha National France we take a dipping right onto a small road parallel to the river called La Seine, to the Quai where the boat Botafar is docked.

Tonight we are to do seven interviews and a concert in the bowels of the boat.  It is nice to be back in Paris.  It is nice to hope for a woman.  I worry about my health this day and my life, and I wonder if I still know how to flirt.

Us men all work together well after twelve years of travel.  We unpack the bags, the beer and wine, the instruments, our album recordings, the spare tire and all the trinkets — stickers, patches and pins — we have to sell.  I call us – the Modern American Gypsies to the men.  And the men like that.

It was a big day for France that day.  Not only was it the national holiday, ‘The Eighth of May’, the day La Revolution freed France from German occupation back in WWII, but it is a very important election day.  Francois Mitterrand, after fourteen years of rule, is to step down as president of France.  A Nicolas Sarkozy was the suspected new president, but it is not to be official until the votes are counted and that was to be in a couple of hours.  France felt like it was waiting to sneeze.  Our French friends from Metz and Nancy who are also playing with us at the Botafar came up to us and we greeted them with strong overcoat clenching hugs.  Yet our friends from France had to excuse themselves to talk with loved ones on phones about the election.  I am told by my friends Seb and Yul that they are all fearful that Sarkozy would win the election, for they disagreed with all he says.  These were global times of questionable leaders.

As I take a minute to drink a warm German beer by the edge of the water, away from the happenings, I think it all to be lovely…a few boats bumping against the docks, their ropes pulling tight and then easing again, the smell and sound of the water, young Lovers of the Sound hovering, smiling and waving, beer and smoke, bread and cheese, wine and winks, a day you could sit and someone curious would chat you up into a new lasting friendship.  A good day.  A safe day.

Nadia, a ripe girl with long brown hair, sleepy eyes and a closed mouth smile, works the door, taking your money and handing you a ripped ticket.  Her nose is in piles of books and folders.  She is studying for her exams scheduled early the next day, she tells me, sighing often, longing to join in the day.

Down in the belly of the boat the concert is mad.  People sway the boat back and forth, left and right until water splashes the portholes and it is impossible not to stagger about.  Instruments crash, amplifiers topple over, I, with others jump into the crowd and swim on them while we all float and bounce under the water line.  The ceiling drips.  Lovers of our Sound hang on pipes and stand against the walls that are slick with sweat.  Lovers of the Sound reach and pull at the microphone making me drown in a sea of believers.  Lovers of the Sound cheer and I cheer.  Lovers of the Sound scream and I scream.

When it is over, the outside dock is filled with us all.  I sit with friends on a thick rope fence; the water behind us.   Red wine is poured in small cups and handed about.  I breath in the laughter and stretch my shoulders and neck back.  It’s smell is sweet.  With my eyes closed, I still see the pretty smiles and wonderful eyes of  kind men and beautiful women all around.  I exhale.  Open my eyes.  And join back in moment.  A young man makes his way to me, moving with intent, he speaks to me kindly in French, knowing I do not understand.  My friend Yul translates after the young man hugs me and takes a photograph, Yul relays that “he says you helped him.”  We drink and smoke like men do when they are truly happy, I admit, that I bit into this night with the need of flavor and now the juices of it run down my chin and I would have kissed any girl who kept me a stare, a wink or a smile.

Our English friends who had played a show the night before arrive on foot and tell us we are all going to a new place for more cheer.  I greet and catch up with a good friend named Neil, a trumpet player with a colorful mind.  We begin to walk together, the Englishmen, our French friends, the Lovers of the Sound that want more and us Modern American Gypsies.  I spend most of the walk with my arm around Seb.  His election was lost.  And while the people of my country are coming together with the hope and hearsay of a new leader that will pull us out from darkness, his hope has only now eclipsed.

As it grew late, young ladies, with luscious lips, roll and lick cigarettes tight, as they laugh and lightly bat their long lashes, looking over as they light them.  I was proud to take Bebette on my other arm; she is undoubtedly the kindest of them all.

All forty of us walk down La Seine where the moon dripped milk on the canal’s wavering waves, back up to Quai Mauriac, where I have now lost my direction, to finally end up on Rue de Chateaudun passing the Syphax Café where I had drunk once before, moving still atop the stone streets, along narrow walkways, the Ligne twelve passing us with a roar, all forty of us singing, swaggering, some kissing, wrestling, some happy in their silent smile and all the while I had Bebette’s hand in mine and my arm over Seb telling him the election would be alright and to hell with Sarkozy.

                                                                        *

A Gypsy Girl

Without eye contact,

a gypsy girl stood

in front of me.

Stopping me

on my directionless,

April walk

in Paris.

My red Converse sneakers

and

white t-shirt,

gave away that I

was an American.

The gypsy places

a small card two inches

from my

nose,

still looking the other way,

she grunts

for me

to read it.

My words are spoken

slowly and out loud,

I read her words,

to her.

It told me that

her father died

and

she was hungry,

it said,

‘please give money.’

I grab some coinage

and she goes for them,

with her eyes

and fingers.

But I hold on,

clasped.

I asked her,

if she would

sit

with me,

just for a moment

and talk with me

about

how my father

had died;

we could both share,

but

she did not.

And

very few

will.


Sudafed & Wine
 

I have a drink,

wine,

while my

French girl

finishes up work.

I’ve been a dud lately,

because

I have

a bad cold.

The wine I think

will make

my character

more positive

than

the illness

has made it.

And that’s

what’s

important to me,

only

her smiling,

because

of

something

silly

that

I have

said.

 

Endless Fun

  

Watching cars

cut off cars

over and over

and over again.

Simply sitting,

simply drinking,

alone,

in the empty

Paris tower

is

   fun

         too. 

 

April In Paris

 

One carousel spinning empty,

one still.

Big black umbrellas covering,

all the little people below.

 

Rain explodes

off cars.

How classic,

we all look,

 

walking as a wonderful one.

 

The dark green canal,

moves rough

from the damn wind,

and that grey sky sulking up there.

 

Everyone distasting everyone

and just waiting

for the opportunity

to express it.

 

An Alarm Sounded

  

An alarm sounded,

the

‘Everyone get the hell out, quick!’

alarm.

A man’s voice

came on the loudspeaker,

at the same moment

I finally start feeling

the lousy booze,

sitting in

the Eiffel Tower bar’s

corner table.

A Jamaican girl

barkeep

tenderly,

kindly,

in her

calming voice,

told me

“Not to worry Sir,

stay seated, jew like

another do you?”

Then gave me a refill

– no charge.

Some people

just like each other

right away.

 

Three glasses of wine

  

I sit at a small table,

on the secondfloor

of the Eiffel Tower

in the bar room.

I order three glasses of wine

from the waiter,

he explains to me,

that in France

“you order one glass,

sip it, enjoy it,

and most importantly

enjoy

       the

           moment”

I said, “that was beautiful,

but it will still be

three

       glasses

                 of

                     wine.”

 

Dark Drinks On The Canal

 

Well, what do you know?

For some reason

The barkeep

In this Paris bar

That

Floats

 

A Croatian girl

Thinks I’m

Alright

Well

That’s nice

 

I

Now have

Six friends

In Paris,

One’s

A dog

Though

 

Dark Drinks Under The Midnight Moon

 

the best part is

no one even asked her

the six of us sat at Syphax Café,

on 52 rue de Chateaudun

at a wet table

under a table umbrella,

with pretty French and Czech girls,

steaming frites and

drinks

under the midnight moon

flirting

with a sleepy Paris sky above

it was all

that makes joy

I watched the French waiter,

bring the other umbrellas down

and I can see the owner of the restaurant

through the doorway, behind the bar

corking us two bottles of red wine to go

newly rolled cigarettes are licked

while high up

dark yellow lit windows,

of fourth floor apartments,

hold young friends framed,

also drinking, talking and smoking in the night

and when I put my feet up on a wet chair to sit back

the Paris sky yawned

telling us it was getting late for her

one of the girls from Prague

bursts out

“the only place you can get a hooker there,

         would cost you thirty Euros

      just to get in the room!

     and that doesn’t even get you a girl…

                                           she paused

 …and that’s shit”


Locked In The Louvre

 

I want to be locked in the Louvre

With twelve cases of wine

Have us a drink by the sarcophagis

And nap by the Stele of King Marduk-Zakir-Shumi

 

Poke fun at the Portrait of Charles VII

King Louis XIV could be in our band

Let’s hug and squeeze Pierrot

And tell him he looks smashing in drab tan

 

We’ll pretend to eat Grapes and Pomegranates

And avoid dining near the Skate

We’ll tell scary stories under the Tree of the Crows

And at the tomb of Philippe Pot The Great

 

You could wear the Bird Mask

And I the Fish Mask

Then try and pour wine

Into an ancient Egyptian flask

 

Make love to you by The Bolt

And hold you like Mercury did Psche

Or like the Lub People: Headrest

‘Cause I love you and you me

 

Clean Jesus’s cut rib

On each and every piece

Paint over the nail holes

So poor Jesus can sleep

 

I want you to cast a pose like Diana the Huntress

And I’ll be your dog

We’ll shoot arrows out the windows

And laugh like snorting hogs

 

Is not Gabrilelle d’Estrees

And One of Her Sisters

Not fun kinky paintings, and say

Who’s that knitting behind her

 

You’ll joke you are Magdalen

With the Night Light

With my head on your lap

We’ll both feel quite right

 

Midnight we’ll play cards

With Georges de La Tour

And let him cheat as he would

We’ll cast our eyes to the floor

 

We could bathe with The Bather

And have Morning Coffee with Boucher

While the paintings all whisper

“Go on boy, just smooch her”

 

I want to be locked in the Louvre

With twelve cases of wine

You’d be the most beautiful piece of art

Just you, the love of mine

  

Kittens & Chickens

 

The bender started as soon as I hit Paris.

I had been drunk for forty-eight hours

and us men were now making our way

To Metz and then by morning

moving along to Switzerland.

 

But for now

we bounce in a small Sprinter

and we’re pulling off the motor way

to Nancey, France

for a roadside petrol stop

to fuel up and stretch.

 

In the shop

I move through an aisle with silly authority,

bumping about

swaying this way

and that

with a wide eyed smile.

 

I grab two bottles

of red wine

– Vind Pays de la Meuse,

a liter of water,

and this pad of paper

that I’m writing on now. 

 

The pad has

a grey kitten on the cover,

lying on blue

heart-shaped candies

and it says,

“I Love You” in English.

 

I spin my smile about the shop,

find the cash register

and the French woman attending it.

I tell her, “Could you wrap me up one of those chickens?”

“Poulet,” I repeated with a point.

It was then that I realized I had no money.

 

I dropped my Bank Of America card down – Visa

and the woman spoke fast, harsh French

at me.

Then she unwrapped the chicken

and put it back

under the heat lamp again

and then looked square at me.

 

My

stomach

twisted

from

primal

hunger

 

I concluded

that the chicken

could only be

paid in cash

and that

dropped my smile.

 

I stood sad, with a drunk’s pout

staring at the steaming chicken under glass.

Yet my smile lifted once again

as I thought,

you can charge wine, water, and a kitten

but you just can’t charge a chicken.


Muddy Sneakers

  

Standing with my hands out

making kissy sounds,

ignored by

the black and white

milk cows

of Nancy,

I take in the smell of

April’s French rain.

 *

            The rain struck the Sprinter’s roof top like bullets.  Relentless and furious.  It was the loudest sound surrounding us, making it hard to speak over, until the front right tire exploded.

 

BOOM!

 

All nine of us men got out of the van, because if one is to be wet, we shall all be wet.  Dale facilitated simple jobs and messy ones.  My knees pressed deep into the mud and my hand sank in two inches deep, making it look like I had one hoof, as I crouched near Dale holding the flashlight for him to see.  Some of the wing nuts cooperated while others became traitors.  After some time, many ideas, and mercy from fate, we got the spare tire on and were tightening her up.  The rain had abused us, the thunder jolted us, the lightening disturbed us.  The mud puddles became small streams and the rain picked up even heavier, it made you drink it down if you spoke.  That’s when Dale got the call.  He excused himself and jumped in the van.  By the time we had finished the job and the spare was sorted and we finished putting the tools away, Dale was finished with his call.

His girlfriend of five years had phoned him to let him know she was done with him and that she was packing his stuff and bringing it to one of his mate’s houses and for Dale not to come home.

Dale hollered to us over the thunder as the rain fell into his mouth and we all sank into the streaming mud.  “Apparently she was waiting for me to leave, so she could have it easy moving me out.  Met another bloke, she said.”

There was a problem with the spare, so we wouldn’t be able to get to the E-Tap by midnight; we would have to find a garage.  Dale knew of a petrol station off the motorway that was open around the clock.  Because the men weren’t mechanics, we all worked on the tire together; yet Dale submerged himself in the work the most to keep from thinking.

By the time we were back on the road we still had two and a half hours to go; Dale had been driving since 8:30AM that morning.  His face color was grey.  Expressionless.  Tired eyes.  Melancholy.  As men look when they are working out confused looped thoughts.

When we got to the E-Tap there were some problems with checking into the mechanical entrance way.  We stood outside hunched over our bag in the rain hoping the problem would sort before all our clothes were drenched.  It didn’t.  Once inside we all undressed in silence; there was no humor in anyone.  We had three small rooms, each only the size for three men standing, not moving, at once.  I remembered I had one last German 22 oz bottle of beer in the Sprinter and also something Dale had told me the night before.  I headed back out into the rain to fetch it.

I knocked on room 17, Dale’s room.

“Right?” Dale said answering.

I pushed the beer into his hand and said, “Isn’t it your birthday today?”

“Cheers mate, yes it is,” he said and gripped the bottle.

Broken Down

                                                            

Women know what is wrong with women,

but not what is wrong with themselves.

And men don’t have any thoughts like that of any kind. 

A man’s job rather

is to understand a woman

and support her when she is broken

and she is down,

while a woman fights her thoughts

of leaving her man

when he is broken

when he is down.

*

Fin

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.

Take care,

David McWane

 

*

Bonus poem 1 of 2

*

oh when the saints come marching in

 

the baseball game gets out

the sox won

and all the drunk suburbans,

dance down newbury street

the drunk girls do their famous,

‘whooooo’ scream

with marlboro light cigarettes in their left hand and

bud light beer cans in the other

the boys smash rearview mirrors of parked cars

and there’s a scuffle outside daisy buchanan’s

a drunk boy pisses in my alley

as his friend tells him his puke was ‘a false alarm’

in the distance the laugher of a drunk woman in her forties

takes the center stage of sound

and I sip my whisky

with both my cats, sitting on either side of me like living gargoyles

I look up at the prudential sky scraper and notice the only cloud,

small and red moving quickly and separating, like

god was spreading it on the toast of the sky

then a young man is thrown out of a bar

he’s held back by two friends

as he screams in drunken rage

“I fucking went to war for this country,

I went to fucking Iraq for you sons of bitches

and I can’t have a fucking beer

this is bullshit

this is fucking bullshit,

IT’S BULLSHIT

BULLSHIT!”

he screamed

to all of

Boston

 

*

Bonus poem 2 of 2

*

you’re an animal

 

you’re an animal, it’s not your fault

things make you mad

your mood shifts

and then

you begin to hate

 

the people at the baseball game smiling – piss you off

the couples walking and laughing – make you sick

your brow is low

and your muscles are tight

eyes dash scanning for starved, fevered sights

to hate upon

 

you don’t want to join them

you don’t want to feel better

you don’t want to dance

you don’t want anything other then to exist in this world by

your God damned schematics

 

you’re an animal, it’s not your fault

so

lick your canines

and growl at me

*

‘oh when the saints come marching in’ & ‘you’re an animal’ are from the book Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

 *

MODERN AMERICAN GYPSY: BY DAVID MCWANE PAGES 51-63 — Deeper Inside GERMANY

Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories will take you deeper into Germany: Wermelskirchen, Erfurt, Oberahaussen, Munich and even deeper. 

Enjoy,

David McWane

 *

            “Erfurt is one of the few cities in Germany that wasn’t bombed in the war,” Dale tells us as he pulls into the zentrum.  “It’s right on mate, love this place, just beautiful, you’ll bloody love it mate, I mean, check…it…out.”  We parked, exited the Sprinter stretching crippled legs, looked up at the distant castle that is dully lit yellow and at the enormous Ferris wheel rotating in front of it.  Light from the fairy tale city held with ease the darkness of the night above it.  Things were quiet.  Calm.  Things were working out.  Pleasant.  The clouds were thin, they looked as if they came from someone’s God, simply smoking above us all.  The city sang without sound, a music box version of The Nutcracker and as we walked, violins and cellos played from the  distant candle-lit windows of the students from the local music academy.  We stepped aside, elegantly alarmed by the sound of a warning chime from a biking student, with her instruments strapped to her back and I looked up at all the shops that were painted with the detail an American boy has with his first battle ship model.  Two dogs stood intermingled with three birds all taking turns pulling bread, wurst and fixings out of a discarded bag, each interested in what treasure the last could find.  Two young lovers sat on a bench smiling at the feast, her legs draped over his.  Flowers grew out of the street cracks that cars seldom traveled on.  And the town drunk spoke to us in German as he scratched his dirty yellow beard, winked, mumbled with a smile and raised his bottle to us.  We headed down a narrow street where an old man was finishing up a kiss with his lover with long gray hair pulled back, reaching her hips, not wrapped, flowing and then broke another piece of the chocolate bar off and fed it to her with laugher.  The late night garbage man paused changing the bag of a sidewalk rubbish bin and smiled, blinking slowly at the young men playing what seemed to be an old traditional ballad with two violins and a cello.  Three young girls handed us fliers and giggled at their bravery; the fliers seemed to be for a woman’s hair salon, but we weren’t sure.  We turned to where the distant laughs and cheers came from and where everyone was walking back with cups of beer.   I smelled food, but couldn’t comprehend what it was.  Searching around, I saw a young girl on her father’s shoulders, set her first sight on the Ferris wheel and let out a wonder-filled sigh that made her mother and father look at one another adoringly.  We found the beer stand and spoke without understanding to the booming man behind the counter and stood sipping, quiet so as not to disturb all that was around us.

*

            Frankfurt seemed to have the most mischievous Germans thus far.  Not doing bad because they didn’t know better, but doing bad knowing they were doing it.  The venue was like a cave, down some stone steps were stone walls and floor, candles that were nearly burned out and television sets left on in dark rooms playing only static without sound.

We congregated in the room that had the food set out.  No one stood on the floor.  We all danced on tables and chairs, couches and foot stools.  The food was stomped to the floor, plates broken and soon to be broken and all our shoes were covered with mash.  A German boy dressed in heavy layers of different blues manned the lights and crouched.  In the center of the dinner table was an English friend, Chas, manning the stereo.  When the lights went out, the music stopped.  Everyone cheered.  When the lights came back on the stereo was back and everyone cheered.  The music blasted ragga-tone, the one basement window let in moonlight from above, people slipped, almost falling from the tables while others straightened them by pulling belts or cupping hips and brought them closer in dance, lights off, music off, lights on, music on, boys and girls, women and men, hair whipped around, casting shadows as if we were tree limbs blowing from a storm, lights off, music off, lights on, music on, and no one knew one another; but bottled beer had made us friends, and everyone laughed with eye contact and every American wanted a German girl and every German girl wanted their American.

*

            The sky above the festival in Munich looked as if a young girl had applied make up to it.  The zentrum was blocked off for us to perform on a massive stage.  People filled the sunny street with children and beer.  I stood on stage, looking about, recognizing the buildings from classroom text books and WWII footage, of roof tops that flew dominating swastika flags.  The sides of these same buildings draped also with, the Nazi eagle and Iron Cross.  Now, nothing red bunts these buildings and only a few small indistinctive flags flap.

The sun reflected on the crowd making their skin tight and their eyes slits.  The joy of the people of Munich sailed atop this day on the rapids of the flowing foamy beer, poured to them from small stands by pleased plump men.  Young kids wiggled around the base of the stage to get a peak at the American musicians and froze, casting their heads down and their eyes up if you felt and checked on their stare.

We took the stage with no applause.  Got the young hippies dancing first, then the mothers jiggled with surprised faces at the babies they carried, holding one of their little hands and dipping them until they giggled.  The old men liked the sound enough to slightly nod their heads; old men like when bands have horns, the sound gave them something to do as they drank their beer and talked man talk.  The young girls sprang up together and danced in a circle by the third number and the boys smartened up and joined them by the fourth.  The wise elders were overjoyed clapping slowly to their own beat, while children jumped up and down with their dogs running around them, barking from all the excitement.  Teenagers found their own circle to dance, they knew the words and felt proud to be so smart.  And the promoter of the show looked relieved and finally smiled accepting his first beer of the day.

I had learned some German, pantomimed it as I butchered the foreign words into the microphone.  The crowd cheered, clapped and corrected me with spitting laughter.  A few young girls had taken to the front and gawked at their favorite musicians.  The promoter came on stage in mid song and handed everyone a beer, the crowd screamed “PROST-PROST-PROST” and I scream “DANKE-DANKE-PROST-PROST!” back.

As the mascara ran down over the sky, the cool air delicately introduced itself not to disturb the party and the shop lights switched off as the street lights came on.  We began to play softer songs and the crowd tossed on sweaters and shawls and couples moved closer to one another.  Now everyone watched with sleeves-over-hands and both hands on their drinks, that is, if you didn’t have a woman or girl to keep warm.  Young men danced by holding their women from behind and swaying back and forth, while the older couples took their opportunity to show off the more elegant times, by embracing in the center, men holding their life loves assertively, spotlighted with love, executing light spins, dips with a kiss.  One of the men and I enjoyed pointing out all those who kissed while we performed to one another and there were many for us to smile over.  But it is not our job to leave people calm on a Friday night, so we brought the music up again and the celebration resumed.

                                                                        *

All That Are In Love

I sat with some friends

The day after a festival

In Munich, Germany

At a small outdoor café

In the zentrum

Bottled beers

Coffee cups with saucers

And ash trays

Scattered the table

The sun had now set

But its warmth lingered

It was a Saturday

People everywhere were walking around

It had been an honest day

Everyone looked joyful

Our plan was to just

Sit, drink

And love what our eyes see

 

When you have the pleasure

To sit at an outdoor table

In a country

That’s not your own

And you do not understand

What the people are saying

You get a greater sense

Of who they are

By just

Watching them

And they’re mannerisms

You also get a sense

Of how silly

We all are

How incredibly silly

We all look

Our humanity

In 2007

 

I first noticed

The businessmen

Walking fast,

Dressed expensively

And on their cellular phones

 

The punks were loud,

Drinking cans of beer

And poking fun

At the businessmen

 

The disco-techers

And playboys

With their heads held high

Had beautiful young ladies

On their arms

And I giggled at a couple of the boys’

Sequined dress

Sparkling ball caps and jeans

Reflecting light

From the

Street lamps

They were proud young men

And with the beauty that they held on their arms

They had reason to be

 

Munich’s women looked beautiful,

They too

Had their

Heads

Held high

And their catwalks in heels

Were well displayed

 

When you sit on the outside of society,

Especially somewhere

Foreign,

Where the language

Is not understandable

This game of life

Looks fun; an innocent  razz on us all…

 

…it seems to me

Sitting comfortably

Smiling obviously

With low lids

At this table

With bottled beer

Coffees

And ash trays

In Munich,

Germany

Where the city light it low

 

The only ones

I feel

We all can understand,

Feel connected with,

Sense their wisdom,

And see peace within

Are the old

The elderly

They who move slowly

And give you nice nods

If you present them with one

As they pass by

With their slow aches

Men still holding their now matured girls

 

And the only others

That your body relaxes with,

Feels light from

Simply viewing

And sees true peace within

Are the couples

In love,

Arm and arm

Excited,

Kissing,

And laughing

All these women and girls

Grinning without knowing it

Hanging on arms

Of men and boys

They love

 

Us sitting here

Us viewing

Don’t understand

What he is saying to her

But you know

It’s wonderful

And it makes her laugh

And it makes the magic

And Saturday night begins

On the warm

Festival streets

Of Munich in 2007

 

So, when

You have the pleasure

To sit at an outdoor table

In any country

Throughout this world

When you do not understand the language

Looking for those with the magic

You will find

And it is true

It is simply

The wisdom of our elders

And

All that are in love 

*

            Us men woke up in a room full of beds lined up like a WWII hospital.  All our clean white sheets flapped from the slightly opened bay window.  The room was crisp.  We took turns shaving at a sink with a mirror in the corner of the room, broke bread and ate it with cheese and sliced meat.  We made coffee and repacked our bags to find cleaner clothes, then we combed our hair and headed to Dachau.

                                                                        *

 Threshold Of Constant Compassion

Vol. 1.

The Barbwire Woman

Her body was twisted

All through out and inside

The barbwire

In a way

That a body

Should not be positioned

She was tall,

Naked

With red-brown curls

She was

A beautiful woman

Her last desperate act

Was to jump

Over a deep trench

To land

In a

Web of razor wire

Once caught

In its

Blades

The tower guard

Unloaded his rifle

Into her

But this is what she wanted

Not to escape

But to die

It was too painful for her there

I think about

How later

Another prisoner

Must have had

To take her

Out of the wire

But how,

How could they

She was so

Twisted

And

Wrapped

In it

I wonder that prisoner’s story

I wonder his or her thoughts

I looked at this photo

Of the young woman

Sewn into razors

And I think

About

Her pain

Her troubles

And I think

About

All the problems

The women

I have dated

Have outlined to me

Passing back and forth

In their apartments

Side to side

Side to side

With wine

Finishing the bottle

Swearing

Smoking

Feeling hopeless

Crying endlessly to me 

Threshold Of Constant Compassion

Vol. 2.

Feel Bad For Me

It is our instinct

To want others

To know our pains

To feel for us and

Tell us,

“You have it the worst”

Yet, as I stood

In Dachau

A concentration camp

In Munich, Germany

Staring into

The

Vents

That led

To the gas chambers

After being told

That it was actually

Jewish prisoners

Who were forced

To shovel the poison

Into the vents

Into the showers

That killed innocent

Men

   Women

       And children

I thought of what

That must

Have been like for them

What it sounded like

And how much

Their hands shook

And then

I felt

Embarrassed

That in a couple of days

Something small would happen

To my life

     And I would think

     It’d be so tragic

That the

World should

Feel bad for me

Oberahaussen in May

Trees sway heavily,

like bowing ships;

Oberahaussen in May.

The shower room door leads outside

to the yellow flowers

and distant hills,

where there

is a small village

with tiny colorful houses

and a humble church.

I keep this shower room door

open

by propping my guitar

against it.

I shower

under warm water

and reach

for a bar of soap,

placed up high on a stone.

I wash,

as I look at a cow

and a dog

sniff noses

a couple feet away.

I clean myself

thoroughly,

slowly. 

It is

my first shower

on this long

excursion

across

Europe. 

Failure 

We exchange glances of failure,

the eight of us men

sitting on a chained

picnic table,

covered in

beads of water,

that now have

dampened our bottoms

so that

they print wet heart shapes

on the wood,

when we rise to pace.

The air sprits us,

as if

an under the weather cat

was continuously

sneezing on us.

We all look beaten.

Angry.

We have just finished driving

eight hours

to a town called

Krefeld, Germany,

to play at Kulturrampe.

The joint is the size

of a 22 year old’s

first New York apartment.

Small.

Just after loading the gear

we sit outside,

wet,

getting wetter.

The Kulturrampe is tucked

behind a gas station,

surrounded by

loading docks,

where men are busy working.

Earlier,

the workers

leaned against the loading doors smoking,

watching us load our gear,

but now we watch them work.

They load up

different size trucks

that roll in

and roll out.

And we sit,

and we smoke

and we look mean.

Sluggishly, I point to an old

German mini bus

that looks like it might still run.

“Check that out; that’d be alright to spin about.”

No one cares, not even me.

The wind whips the notebook

I write in,

annoying me

and the spray rain smears the ink.

The rhythm section of our group

slowly rises,

and begins

putting their gear

onto the 10’ by 10’ stage.

The horns section

goes inside as well,

to put valve oil

on their horns

and the group of them begin warming up

by playing

old jazz standards.

Moonlight in Vermont,

being my favorite from their warm-ups.

I sit, pulling from a flask

that I filled earlier that day

thinking,

‘no one visits this spot,

and no one will come to this place tonight.’

Then Dale,

nice Dale

joins me,

takes a pull of the flask

and together we sit

and watch the promoter drive up

and hop happily out of his car.

He’s got a dirty

Liverpool football jersey on.

He flashes us

a stupid smile

and begins

to chat up

the foul smelling owner

of Kulturrampe.

A mysterious kid

who works at the club,

sweeping it up

continuously goes

in and out

of the dark back rooms

smoking a cigarette he just rolled.

He gives us bad looks;

it’s because

we’re Americans.

Then another slap happy,

young and green to the world kid

walks in.

He’s all smiles,

holding a big German beer

he just opened.

The boy looks as if he’s in love.

One after another,

my guys come back outside

and sit by me

and Dale,

and ask for pulls

of my

lousy liquor.

We are all ready

to get heavy into

whatever we can get.

I shake the flask,

take a pull,

hand it to Dale

who shakes it,

takes a pull

and passes it along.

I sit

and picture

the few people in their homes

getting ready for the show tonight

not knowing

it’s already

a

failure.

 

Last two at the low-lit bar.  A squat bar.  Bar keeper wiping the tables down.  And the jukebox playing my favorite record.  A real record.

“David.”

“Arend.  You American?”

“Ya.  Outta Boston.  Top right.  We’re the good guys.”

“Boston.  Yah.  Never been to Boston.  I went to New York City.  Young.”

“S’close.”

“Your buildings.”

“Yup.”

“That was no good.”

“It’s too bad for angry men.”

“Yah.  S’shit.  You’ll get ‘em.”

“I believe so.”

“You ever, you ever been to Denmark?”

“No, no.  I know some musicians from Denmark.”

“Ah.  I am from Denmark.  Demark is the best.  Said to be…happiest country on planet.”

“Nice.  That works.”

“Yah.  The most beautiful women in Denmark.  Most, mm, beautiful.  Best in the world.  Best cheese.  Happy place, very happy.  Good smoke.  Great beer.  Great buildings you know, land, landscapes.”

“I’m actually going in a month or so.”

“YOU ARE?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Most beautiful women in world.  So beautiful.  You will see.  You will agree.  Great cheese.  Best cheese.  Best beer.  Yes, yes.  You will love Denmark.  My home.”

*

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  below.

Take care,

David McWane

*

Bonus poem 1 of 3

*

Death Poems 

The Japanese culture

has a tradition called,

Death Poems.

When it’s time

to leave this world,

you write down what

fills your heart.

It can be anything.

But often is,

what matters most to – you.

These Death Poems

paint one’s soul.

Beautifully

short words of imagery,

 

words of sweet smells,

like honey

being mixed into a steaming hot tea,

 

words of beautiful sights,

like pink and purple petals

whirling about in the breeze,

 

words of soft touches,

strong friendships

anything that matters most to – you

 

and of course many are

descriptions of lovers

forever held close to one’s heart.

 

We have wills.

*

Bonus poem 2 of 3

*

On The Rapes Of God

She was raped.

If God wanted to help her, yet had not the power to do so, he is not God.

If he could have helped her, but did not want to, that makes him evil.

If he could not help and neither wanted this too makes him evil and also not God,

If he wanted to help her and had the power to do so and is truly our father and us his children,

then why was she raped?

*

Bonus Poem 3 of 3

*

I’m Beautiful 

There are Japanese monks

who know precisely

when

death

is upon them.

They travel to a place of choice,

sit with their

legs crossed,

backs straight,

and write their death poem.

They then speak their last words;

absorb their death,

put out the light of this world,

light the lamp of the next

and journey on.

 

I prefer to choke

on my breathing tube,

tearing in a cubical; with purple curtains,

separated from another nameless dying man

lying on my bed sores,

atop my excrement,

alone,

with doctors I do not know,

crying more on the inside

than my tears can paint.

*

Death Poems, On The Rapes Of God and I’m Beautiful are from the book Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary which can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/

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.