Each day a new section of David McWane’s Modern American Gypsy will be posted. Todays stories start in Austria, then the Czech Republic, to finally Germany.
Austria to Czech Republic
Little villages sit in the dips of the green hills of Melk, Austria
I look to my left
Out the window
Driving through Austria
On my way to Bruno, Czech Republic
I want to write about how beautiful the countryside is
But you don’t care to read about that
So I won’t
Instead I will tell you about
Something readers do find interesting
The sadness of people
The man sitting front right is depressed
With his head on the window
He is loveless and has stopped caring for himself
The driver is an Englishman
And he is tired
It is his 2005 Sprinter he mans and we ride in
He feels as if he has nothing, other than the adventure he is on now
But that keeps him going
He holds a face that reads hope
But he must still work through some thoughts before his full glow returns
The man far right in the middle row is full of anger
And is biding his time to voice it
His emotions torture his wisdom
I hope one day he will accept life for what it is and what he can make
Possible in it, if he just comforts his own angry thoughts
And stops wondering why the world is not following his angry logic
I hope he finds this before he dies
To his left is a man full of self doubt and pain
He was brought up weak
And what he hates most is that he knows he’s weak
But he is a good man
Kind and funny
To his left is a man who has no responsibilities,
So he is very happy
He is a simple man and easily amused
Runs away from things that do not make him happy
He will need a woman to help him understand the serious parts of life
In the last row, far right – this man is also very happy
He feels lucky
It is his first time out of New England
He is fresh, a green man
Loves women more than anything else
And the women love him
He will also need a strong woman to help him understand the serious parts of life
In the back, another man is sleeping atop the luggage,
He is hung over, but content
He is a man of simple needs
And his greatest need is to be drunk
He will do okay if he sobers up
For he is the smartest of us all when not wet
And I am the odd one
A man who has lost control of his imagination,
Like a full bender, spinning without a top
Some people like me
Some people dislike me
Not many know me and I like it that way
I’ll need a woman
Before my image of them fades
Before too many of them wrong me and I give up on them
We are a group of men
And we work well together
It is inside a dark week that we travel though today
And our souls are low
And our thoughts are dreadful
But outside our windows
Are bright yellow fields of rape seed squared off perfectly
Into lush family gardens
And the little villages sits cozy in the dips of the green hills
Melk, Austria gives
Endless stone walls
Shingled roofs – red and orange
Patina church towers
Sheep trotting together
Baby sheep running to keep up
Set on the tallest hill
A statue of an angel
Pointing to the sky
Many people speak of how beautiful the Czech Republic is and they are right. But when you have as many prostitutes as they do, it becomes silly to me that one would say how yummy a sundae is and not point out the cock roach crawling on the whipped cream.
When driving into Czech Republic, you must take one long road that has woodlands to the left and right. It’s not the type of place where you’d think a stiletto heeled blonde in a red frilly mini skirt and a light blue elastic tube top would emerge from, smoking a cigarette and waving you to stop by shaking her tush and breasts. However, these women do exist here and they are not Big Foot’s harem. The ladies of the woods emerge from little huts or lean-tos, deep in the woods and stand on the sides of the road for men and boys that simply cannot wait any longer for a kiss. Thinking about it, this system does seem more organic than the dark streets of Detroit. And the choices in these woodlands seem better than the classic man on man action showcased in the film Deliverance.
So all and all, seeing the bright frilly skirts, tinny tops, red heels, big hair and souped up breasts, waving and shaking their delicates as you drive by on this woodland stretch of road heading into Prague, is as odd as seeing a bird while scuba diving or an octopus while sky diving. But without them, we wouldn’t have them and what a visual gift they provide. And without that visual, we would have this. And without this you wouldn’t be squinting with that perplexed look, saying, “Is this even true?”
Dale said, “The Devil lives on this bridge.”
“What d’ya mean, the ‘Devil lives on this bridge’?” I asked.
“Take a look, go on, be careful yah, he’s ugly.” Then Dale takes a long drag with eye contact and holds his breath as he says, “Can’t take his photo though, he’ll hold a mirror up to you. Show yah the real devil.” Then Dale laughed. “‘S a real sight, man, ‘s a real sight.”
And what do you know, at the end of the bridge was the Devil. Crouching, shirtless, manic, pierced and barefoot. He painted himself with chalk on brown paper. Two blue horns came from his head, tattered brown pants, not many teeth, but a big Cheshire smile. He hissed, spit, grunted and growled, crouched, crawled and scowled. I raised a camera to him and he dove down covering his face, emerging with a mirror pointed at me. Then he put it down and crawled back to his painting of himself, grunting and spitting.
The devil is uglier than they led you to believe.
When the sun goes down, the girls wake up, and when girls wake up they need money if they’re gonna score. We walked through the wandering prostitutes to meet up with a friend of mine from my hometown that now lives in Czech Republic. Two young working girls stood dipping French fries in KFC mashed potatoes. With gravy teeth they try and chat us up. Us men acknowledge the young working girls with a smile and a touch to the brims of our fedoras, yet we walk on.
“Most of the porn girls are just uneducated, with Daddy issues. And they’re all on some sort of drug,” said my friend that now worked in the Czech porn industry. “They mostly live in Bruno, all the famous ones, you’ll probably see some there while out drinking. My girl’s from there.”
“Does she do porn?” I ask.
“Yeah, but she only does girls since we started seeing each other,” he says.
After many drinks, one of my men and I walked over to The Devil’s Bridge. That’s not what it’s called, but that’s what we call it. But we got a little lost, so we decided to ask a young lady walking toward us for directions.
“Excuse me, do you happen to know where…”
“No, only one at a time,” she interrupted, “not both, no group suck ‘n’ fuck.”
Green Fire, Nazi’s & All The Beautiful Girls
We were lighting our third
flaming shot of Absinth.
My friend was nervous about tossing the green fire back
and by being nervous,
1, 2, 3,
His face burned with the green flames.
‘Silly American’, was the general thought.
After he was put out,
the smell of
burned nose hairs took to the bar.
It was 1:50AM;
Bruno, Czech Republic.
Ivan, the club owner, continued about how it was
May 1st – Nazi Demonstration Day.
“Five-hundred people plus had participated in this demonstration,”
But I was unable to comment,
I just couldn’t stop looking
at all the long
at the bar.
Czech Republic To Germany
Now is the time for silence. The drives are quiet. Down time on tour is a delicate time. A man must give another man space if he is to expect his own to be honored. So if one is smart and has control of their thoughts from their brain to their mouths then, now is the time for silence.
Each one of us knows deep down, that every man is a ticking time bomb. Now is the time to talk low, now is the time to play cards, Pierdro for us, now is the time to buy or bring back from the Sprinter a beer for your friend who sits alone, now is the time to ask questions about each other’s lives and not talk about your own, now is the time for old jokes and old stories of better times, now is the time for silence. Now is the time too keep your mouth shut about the little this is and that’s that are getting under your skin, boiling up and making you crazy. For if one man voices the short comings of another man then – BOOM!
Now is the time for silence.
Berlin. Cold Berlin. Stormy Berlin. Drunk, dark and a snow covered latched door in Berlin. An old key in Berlin. Lead by Simon is Berlin. An empty church in Berlin. A newly constructed bunk house in Berlin. Fresh sheets in Berlin. Touring German musicians also being put up in Berlin. Handshakes in Berlin. Smiles in Berlin. A long table in Berlin. Crates of beer in Berlin. “What’s this?” in Berlin. A hookah in Berlin. Late hours in Berlin. A switchblade gift in Berlin. A “Thank you,” in Berlin. Thunder in Berlin. Lightning in Berlin. Going outside in the night to look at Berlin. A simple church, sitting on a small hill, caught in a snowstorm, with agitated clouds sending webbed lightning across the sky, flashing briefly, illuminating huddled men in Berlin. Everyone around the heater in Berlin. The last of the wine in Berlin. Everyone up to the bunkhouse in Berlin. Cloths hung to dry in Berlin. Warm in Berlin. Stormy outside in Berlin. Lights out in Berlin.
By noon we had left the Church. We figured out how to get to the Berlin Wall by just moving forward and detailing our direction as we moved. Most of The Wall has been taken down; Germans are not proud of it. It isn’t a statue. Yet some of The Wall still stands. Remembrance to reinforce practical wisdom.
Everyone was in top mood this day. No-need laughter was let out in abundance. Being silly and acting the fool was on everyone’s front burner. The morning coffee had done well. And catching up on sleep wrapped in clean sheets didn’t hurt either. Cameras out. Smiles on. “Use up your film mates; we’ll get more, we’ll get more.” Snap, flash, snap, flash and “Could you take one of me here?”.
“Wow,” we all cadenced while we tried to see who could jump and touch the highest point on The Wall. Dale gave us an impressive history lesson that in 10 minutes painted more than my 8th grade Social Studies class could all year.
I found an American flag spray painted on The Wall, bent down along it and pocketed a couple pieces of The Wall for my father and future son. Black lines on the spray painted flag looked to me like an image from one of my past poems titled, Running With Your Arms Out. So I positioned myself at the base of the lines, to have it look like my cast shadow had his arms out. And when I looked up to where the sun was being covered by the fast moving bruised colored clouds and from where the new rain derived I heard – ‘snap-snap’ and…
…“Brilliant mate, you’re gonna love that one.”
For too long
rain and sweat for me.
Shivering in complete darkness
I step inside the squat’s shower.
The cement is slimy and cold.
I feel around the blackness with closed eyes,
I find a bar of soap,
I find the water lever and twist it.
Water blasts out,
from the man before me.
The city of Gottingen in East Germany
is too dark and too cold tonight.
And my body feels as if
it is just a starving ghost
Once the water strikes
the scalding makes me smile.
I had forgotten how
muscles relax, I had forgotten
what pleasure felt like.
For too long
there has only been focus,
struggle and pain
for too long
I get a wave of excitement
to look outside my window
for a poem
because I am in Germany
and anything could look
and a spark could happen
and a poem could be born.
Today, I feel lucky to not be in New England.
A boy like me could never afford a trip
to Europe and I take a moment
to remind myself that.
I will look out the
window of the
as I drink through this carton of bottled beer,
by the light of two candles.
The men are playing cards,
laughing and talking
electronics of proper amplifiers
and guitar pick ups.
I look out and think
how lucky I am,
‘How am I so far away?
How am I in Germany and not America?
Am I doing something right?’ I think.
I finish a beer and pop open the Belgium beer stashed
in my back pocket as I lift the window fully open
and sit in the windowsill, three stories up
with my legs dangling.
I think about how
boring America is.
I slide the blue velvet curtain over
So I can sit sideways in the window frame.
I look out in search of the spark,
in search of a poem,
in search of the young eye,
that eye that finds
what the adults miss.
I look and look.
And drink and drink.
And look and drink and then,
I bring my brow down and really look,
while I take a long swig of my bottled beer,
but there is nothing,
nothing special for me.
Only a red car,
with a street light above it
and trees blowing slightly,
from the gusts from the east
and a dog barking
from somewhere in the fog,
and the distant sound of harsh girls
that I had met hours before giggling.
I put the pen down.
I put the paper away.
I open a new beer
and turn to the men talking
to engage them and
get in the card game.
is boring too.
Us men decided to go into a peepshow. We needed a cheap laugh. And not one of us had ever seen one before – only in movies. We waved to the man at the counter, walked down a narrow, dully lit red hallway, stepped inside small booths, and each put coinage into slots that make the metal window slides go up. Sure thing, there was a woman taking off her delicates, dancing a bit and kissing at all the tinted windows.
We all smiled on our way out, laughed and asked each other what kind of lousy booze we would like to go find. As we crossed the street we noticed one of us was already there, kicking dirt and looking sullen.
“What’s goin’ around, yah?’ I asked.
“Didn’t you go into the peep thing?” another man blurted.
“I saw yah go in. I saw him go in.”
“Yeah I went in, but I guess I read my door wrong. I put my coinage in and then, the um, the window started to raise.” He kept on while his hands we’re in his pockets and he looked down at a glass Coca-Cola bottle he was kicking along and spinning around with his toe.
“Yeah, so I saw the girl’s shoes, heels I mean, and the window went up and I saw the legs, with the pantyhose and the window went up and then the tush, but when she turned around…” He looked up to see all of our eyes wide and our mouths covered with our palms. “It was a naked fella.”
Not one of us men didn’t have to go to one knee, keel over, gasping from laughing on the side walk of Hamburg. He laughed too, but he still wasn’t too happy about it. Yet it was a good cheap laugh and perfect timing for us all.
I like zombie movies. People would tell you I love zombie movies – I just think I like them quite a lot more than others. And Hamburg, Germany has as many prostitutes as the pinch point in a zombie screenplay has hungry zombies. The venue we were performing at was four blocks from the zentrum, a fifteen minute walk. But, it would take us an hour fighting off the zombie prostitutes of Hamburg, Germany.
The ladies are only allowed to stand in a circle the size of a Hollywood star in Los Angeles. If they leave that area and step into another girl’s area, they would be in a lot of trouble, cat fight trouble, because they would be in another lady’s rightful work area. And I believe they rent these small areas to stand as well. These zombies would grab your shirt, pull you close, grab your hand, pull you close, grab the back of your neck, belt or even your unmentionables, just to keep you close. At first they act as sweet as a school girl with a big crush on you, or a playboy bunny hot for her billionaire. But if you step outside their area, they become mean and vengeful. “Go fuck each other, gay boyz! I bet youz big gay boyz for each other! Go sucky, sucky each other gay boyz. FUCK YOUZ GAYZ…GAY BOYZ!”
Some girls are allowed to walk free, but they were careful not to walk into a stationary prostitute’s area. Pushing, yelling and grabbing was the lawful right of these ladies.
Grab, flirt, whisper, pull, kiss, touch, caress, tug, tug harder – insult. SCREAM! The ladies were fishing and the men were their dead fish in their dirty sea. Some are young, some are old, some cover drug sores with thick make up, some would handle you right there, some you take back to a designated pimp house, some you could take behind a dumpster. Most of them seemed German or Russian, but as an American, my nose does not smell accents as well as Europeans.
We began to take the long way back to the club, because, like zombie movies, these zombie prostitutes were too dead, too hungry and there were just too many of them to come out alive.
Zombies of Hammburg Germany
Zombies, of Hammburg Germany
Everywhere, the female allure
The precocious love of—
Junked little girls sitting quietly
On the #57 bus
It’s last stop at – ‘Desperation’
The fast hard life
No reason for fear
When all of instinct’s adrenaline has been used on
‘Love’ becomes a word of betrayal and swindling
A listless emotion becomes a commodity
Now, incorrigible for daytime society
Trapped, standing in designated working areas
Two feet by two feet concrete square
Clawing at passers by
The pulsating vein, a different syncopated heartbeat
Humanity’s own living meat feast
Carrion skin, dying under—
Caked make up cracking, from—
Coarse sores protruding—
Like a snow covered volcano
Pungent perfumed burning
Despondency of childhood innocence
Replaced with Man’s pitiless traditional
Handbook for women
His inimical greed
Dead and walking
The German Compliment
If you ask me,
Germans are alright people.
They drink to laugh,
are joyous and loud
and don’t try and talk politics
with me at 2:00AM
like those in other countries do.
However, they do one thing
that strikes me as odd.
If and when they compliment you,
they always add an insult after.
The insult is stronger
than the compliment
cancels it out.
I call it – The German Compliment.
In Munich, a blonde girl – quite pretty,
with a voice like a sexy double agent
in a James Bond film,
walks up to me confidently,
interrupting the conversation at hand, stating,
“You guys were very good,
not as good as some groups, but good.”
I said, “Thank you.”
She checked my eyes for sarcasm,
didn’t find any,
and went back to her friends.
In Goettingen, a wet drunk,
slapped my shoulder,
gave me a full body shake
and embraced me.
“Your new record is great,
track four is shit,
but it’s great.”
I said “Thank you.
Track four is my favorite,
give it another go.”
“No,” he said. It’s shit.”
the German Compliment.
It’s quite confusing when
you’re not ready for it,
but very fun,
when you are.
My favorite was from Erfurt though -
“I only liked it because I was drunk.”
said a slobbery young man.
It’s short and has a good punch.
I told him,
“Well, I’m glad you’re drunk.”
Thanks for reading! I will post 10 pages tomorrow. You can find Modern American Gypsy here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/
And check out the bonus Poems below.
Bonus Poem 1 of 2
Don’t Visit The Graveyard When It Rains, When It Pours
listens to the relatives of the dead
at funerals and burials.
He tries to get a feel for who each person was.
Then, later at night, he visits each grave,
telling the innocent they are still wonderful people.
He sings lullabies to the little children,
even tries to give everyone an update on their family,
When he can.
The Gravedigger is very patient.
The souls appreciate him greatly.
They love the old man.
God is still a bit unsure of him.
And the Devil thinks he’s a riot.
But when it rains,
when it thunders,
when the wind moves showing its teeth,
The Gravedigger visits different graves.
He visits the graves
of wicked men and wicked women.
These nights, with haunting fury,
he curses them down,
cuts them apart with his words,
screams “Murder” over them
and reminds them how they are hated.
With confidence, the Gravedigger glares at their stones,
by his side – the rain and thunder.
These are the nights that the Devil climbs up.
And crawls atop each tombstone.
He stays through the night,
drinking bottle after bottle of blood wine.
the thunder claps,
the Devil choruses the Gravedigger with laughter
once he’s lit from the wine.
Screams. Screams. And screams.
The two point jagged fingers.
The two rage murder.
And souls scream horribly back.
It is punishment.
It is horror.
It is nothing you want to see.
So visit when you will,
but the graveyard is not the place to enter,
when it rains, when it pours, when thunder claps.
Best leave it alone.
Bonus Poem / Audio Poem 2 of 2
Smoking Her Chalk
Seventh grade Social Studies class was my favorite
There was a seating chart
I was in the front
Usually I would have been discouraged by my Vulnerability
To get called on
But Mrs. Jones smoked her chalk
Like an old 1930s actress
And I liked my seat because of the up close view
It provided of her
I don’t believe Mrs. Jones knew what she was doing to Us boys
After she chalked up the black board
With dates, names and old excursions
She would sit on the front of her desk
In front of me
Toss her red hair back
Cross those thin legs
Shining wet from the school’s harsh overhead lights
Her loose shirt flipped over a bit
If it was a good day
Knees would show
Even the white lace underskirt
Would sneak out
Then Mrs. Jones would smoke her chalk
Like an old 1930s actress
She would hold one of her elbows
In the cup of the other hand
Her small piece of chalk, hanging like a cigarette in her Light fingers
She was less then 3 feet from me
What a class Miss Jones had
As we answered her questions
She would squint her eyes
Pucker her lips
And bounce the chalk against her pucker
I would stare
Didn’t she know how foxy that was to us?
Years later I was told
Her husband died from a heart attack
I leaned against my apartment’s door frame
Miss. Jones smoking her chalk like a 1930s actress
‘Maybe I could seduce her now’, I thought
Don’t Visit The Graveyard When It Rains, When It Pours’ is from the book Biting Lightening, Bloody Mary. Smoking Her Chalk is from the book The Gypsy Mile. Both books can be found here: http://www.davidmcwane.com/store/ and the audio poem is from ‘The Gypsy Mile Reading’ found below at CDBaby.com.