Tuesday, June 28, 2005

188. Five Haiku


a sudden earthquake --
all around the ground trembles
we have lost the war
your half-moon glasses
made you look ridiculous
until I wed you
drunk under blossoms
the boss thought you were funny
but not so today
these days older frogs
refuse to jump into ponds
the master is gone
scissors paper stone --
all circular arguments
bedazzle our minds

Thursday, June 23, 2005

187. Letter to NaGopaleen

I was just thinking about you these last couple of days, wondering
what the hell you were up to, and why I hadn't heard from you. I was
also thinking of dropping you a line to complain that you hadn't
dropped me a line. How's that for logic?

Yes, I know, the poetry is a bit thick on the ground these times. I'm
going through one of my rather embarrassing "fertile" periods when
they knock you on the side of the head and insist to be written. You
go with it (believe me) because you can easily hit a dry spell that
will last five years.

Redbreast? O God, don't be talking. I was in Westport in the County
Mayo back in what? 1987? with a load of German friends who had come
over for the first time. The B&B was miles away and I had stayed in
the town for the music after the Germans had thrown in the towel (a
bit of the ethnic Irish goes a long way). I was sort of aiming myself
from lamppost to lamppost to the west of the town - or was it south? God knows - by the railway bridge, anyway, when the soft welcoming lights of a public house rose up before me. I went in, as any sensible man would
do in similar circumstances. Sure, a restoring pint will do me no harm.

Wasn't I after meeting the Devil himself at the bar? He was dressed up
that evening as a local farmer and he said, "Young fella (I was 18
years younger than I am now), can I offer you a drop of whiskey?" That
was my introduction to Redbreast. You can only buy it in the West and
in certain shops in Dublin. You'll never see it in a Dublin pub, for
example. God, it was pure gorgeous stuff. I've been addicted ever
since but do you think I can find it??? If you have a source, let me


We're just back from the USA in general and New York in particular. We
went over for Siobhan's high school graduation (that was in
Pennsylvania). Tens of thousands of dollars later, she's out with a
diploma and speaks English!!! Can't be all bad. New York was exactly
what I needed. I'm no great fan of America but New York was pure
brilliant. I met dozens and dozens of people (a good half of them from
Leitrim and Donegal) and talked to them all. Check out the
"Broadway/103rd Street" poem: the wee fella wrote itself -- that's
just the way it was. It's on an Internet poetry forum with a few score hits and yesterday some guy (from Leitrim, no surprises there) wrote to say he lives on 104th Street and it was spot on. I refrained from asking what kind of a life he was leading, exactly, but it's always nice to hear from the fans. Sharon might not be that happy, though: might have to find another bar when I go back.

I'm really pissed off being back in Japan because the skoodle is
pouring on the shite-work (I have to set up the exam schedules for 50
teachers and 20 courses with everyone asking for favours and
exemptions. It's a mine-field, quite apart from the fact I've never
had to do this before. I have enough trouble preparing my own exams in
time). They just pour the shit on you, now that our full-timers are
down from 50 to about 33. The administrative side is gobbling up our
teaching prep like runaway weeds. I hate it. The paperwork is beyond
ridiculous. Don't get me started. It is becoming more and more
impossible to function in the job I signed up for -- and,
incidentally, love -- which is to get the little light bulbs lit on
top of their heads. Have you ever noticed how the Japanese create
endless, useless (and very boring) tasks to fill in time under the
illusion that this is "work"? They are driving me insane. Well,
insaner. I used to be quite relaxed and normal. It's got to the point
I dread going into the kip, not because of the students, but because
of the deranged adults.

Enough of that.

Okey-do. Is this long enough for you? A dacent reply, would you be
thinking? Mind yourself, Myler, and stay away from them young hussies
flingin themselves about. Fat chance you'd have down in Nara, come to
think of it.

Go n'eiri an t'adh leat,
Is Mise

Monday, June 20, 2005

186. Broadway/103rd Street

West Side Highway
sparkling water
Jersey Palisades
34th Street
42nd Street
57th Street
USS Intrepid
96th Street
125th Street exit

Malibu Hotel
Broadway, between
102nd and 103rd
a bit of a dump
who cares?
just a place
to shower and sleep

Petland Discounts
El Taller Latino Americano
Rite Aid
West 104th Street
Ben and Jerry's
Hot & Crusty
Juanito Unisex
Super Discount
Eden Cafe Bar
a couple more
turn right
West 105th Street
Silver Moon Bakery
The Abbey Pub

tell Sharon that old joke
downstairs in the Abbey
how can you tell
if an Irish guy is queer?
he prefers women
to drink: she barks
with laughter, stops,
stares grimly into space:
her last two lovers
were Brian O'Callaghan
and Aidan McCullough;
oops, put my foot
in it again

Jeff from Drogheda
takes me to
a "real" Irish pub
near Mama Mexico
full of black people
like Louis and Troy
and Ali
from Ethiopia
who spent eight
and a half years
in jail
and never wants
to see his country
I tell him
how the Irish
are the blacks of Europe
inured to
of oppression
and repeatedly
and intentionally
and joyously
and continuously
to foreign masters --
a pox upon them!

Ali views me
over his spectacles
as if, somehow,
I had
from under
a disguised
hidden beneath
his trusting
neatly shod

Say it long and say it loud
Oi'm black and Oi'm proud!

The pints unbidden
line up on the bar
and a series of toasts
to Martin Mac Luther O'King;
young smoky-eyed
Alison, behind the bar
is half-Scottish
and doesn't think
she's really
all that black
but slides me a free pint
for the thought
that's in it.

Streeling home
under unseen stars
under a slightly
orange sky, attended
by the whoops
of police and ambulance
sirens, the constant
rush and roar
of never-ending traffic.

New York, New York
is a wunnerful town
the Bronx is up
and the Battery's down

My batteries
were low and slow
in the morning
as we hurtled
the belly of the beast
to 86th Street,
a stroll through the park
and the discovery
that the Metropolitan
is closed on Mondays:
a memory flash,
the Happy Mondays -
where are they now?
(shattered & shivering
in Manchester)

Take your Metrocard
and stick
it in: the buses
and the subways
love it, can't get
enough of it,

St Patrick's Cathedral
built by the pennies
of the Famine Irish, a soaring
neo-Gothic testament
to tribal values and bad taste;
embarrassingly huge,
bombastic, imitative,
empty; soon afterwards,
MoMA down the road
wanted twenty dollars
to view their paintings
so I laughed
and walked away
having stood in line
for twenty minutes:
in such small incidents
a lifetime of conviction
finds instant expression

Penn Station
(Joe Louis Plaza),
squinting upwards
at the carved inscription
on the Post
Office Building:
neither snow
nor rain
nor heat
nor gloom of night
stay these couriers
from the swift completion
of their appointed rounds

the perfect meal
is one click away

Tir na nOg
(Land of the Ever Young)
Irish Bar and Grill
Donal and Pronsias
from Donegal: Tony Jackson
the Leitrim Dandy
still working the door;
my fifth, or is it
sixth or seventh
visit since
the innocent, pre 9-11
summer of 2001?

Ground Zero:
a gaping hole
in the heart of the city
an ominous absence
like a missing tooth
like an amputated leg
a constant sad reminder
of all the things
that have gone wrong
and continue
to go wrong
since that lazy
indolent summer
of the missing intern
and shark attacks.

Later, on 42nd Street
(we get around)
the yellow cabs
avoid collisions
with insolent
arrogant ease
accelerating around
the very empty
US Army Recruiting Center
and the signs
that say

On the house,
says lumbering David,
known as Buffo
(Big Ugly Fecker From Offaly)
in the Blarney Stone
near Nassau and Fulton;
we're a few steps uptown
from the SWAT teams
and assault weapons
on Wall Street
where the business
of America
is business.

Crash, rattle
and bang
on the C train
to 34th Street
then transfer
to the Uptown No. 1
"Boy, oh, boy"
say the headlines
Michael Jackson
beats the rap


(Just click on the photos to expand them. Click on the Back Button to return to the text.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

185. Unter die Wellen bleibt bei Dir Mein Herz*

Frau Elena Proschkow, 88, remembers her first husband, her abiding true love, Kapitan zur See Hans-Christian Meier, commander of the submarine U-263, lost at sea on November 9, 1942.


O Christian
how it all comes back --
I can see you now
so young, so eager,
in your tailored uniform,
your dark eyes gleaming,
your shy lovely smile,
and the proud glances of your father,
the apprehensive eyes of your mother,
and, there, both laughing and fearful,
little me, three months pregnant
with Johann, our firstborn,
the son you would never see.
Life can be so cruel.

I weep to remember;
I can see it all so clearly
even now, after sixty-four long years,
like a photograph, like an image
burned into my brain;
you, my darling husband,
you, the best of all men,
on the night before you went to sea
for the last time, never, never
to return to the warm bed of love.

We had been married only two years
and your parents had made
some initial old-fashioned fuss,
but you, my dear, had insisted politely,
with the hidden steel of a German officer
(I think they were a little afraid of you)
and I loved you all the more for that.
You made me so happy.

Your father had an eye for a pretty girl
(yes, you smiled when you told me!)
and your mother soon capitulated
when she saw how much I loved you.
O Christian, Christian,
in those early days, we were
so happy together, so proud!

The degenerate filthy French
had been soundly trounced,
and the treacherous arrogant English
were left snarling on their island,
and the new Germany, under Adolf Hitler
was rightly triumphant!

The shame and the stain
of the First War had been erased
(in which my father fell, as you know)
and the German nation, reborn,
was holding a lamp to the world:
Kraft durch Freude, Strength through Joy,
a bulwark against godless communism,
a shining example of truth.

Do you remember, my darling,
the day we first met?
You were a young lieutenant
and I was with the BDM
(I was a leader, you never knew that)
and we were lost in the crowds
the celebrating thousands
cheering for Goering and Der Fuehrer
after the fall of France:
such a day of national pride!

I was pushed this way and that,
lost one of my shoes, such enthusiasm,
and you, my dark-eyed knight
came to my rescue, plucked me forth
from the surging multitudes,
and carried me off for coffee and cakes
at the Adlon Hotel. Such class!
I fell in love immediately.

The courtship was exciting,
but correct and approved,
and we were married within six months
after the usual blood tests
and racial examinations;
I thought my heart would burst
with sheer joy. O my darling!

The War continued for some reason
although everyone knew
we had already won. The British
behaved very badly, in my opinion,
but you fought like a lion, naturally,
gaining a Knight's Cross (First Class!!)
and well-deserved promotion.
Then came your first command.

When you were at sea
I used to pray for you.
In one corner of my little room
(we had to move to your parents
when the cowardly bombing began)
I had a picture of the Sacred Heart,
and in another, the divine Fuehrer,
and with my arms outstretched,
I prayed to both of our saviours.

Keep my Christian safe!

Such joy when you returned,
I would rush headlong to the docks
(along with your mother and father,
now my dear friends, lovingly united
in our adoration for YOU, dear Christian)
and you would hold me in your strong arms,
there in full view of your crew,
lustily cheering and smiling,
waving their caps, whistling:
O how they loved you!

But never as much as me.

In June came the attack on Russia.
We were surprised, but realised
these swine were the real enemy,
the Bolshevik dagger at the throat
of western civilisation: the foul
English, blind to decency and reason,
continued their useless resistance,
and you, my dear, punished them
remorselessly. Your name was respected.
I was proud to be your wife.

I noticed how haggard
you had become; with each
successive homecoming from a patrol
you became more withdrawn, less
enthusiastic for the dream of Greater Germany.
Naturally, I restored your patriotism,
even when you were snappish and surly,
but I was a bit taken aback, darling,
when you removed the portrait of the Fuehrer,
and once (almost) I had the feeling
you were about to strike me:
silly, silly -- my imagination.

America (I mean, really!)
came into the war, and the bombing
became much much worse.
They are such hateful, despicable
opportunists, everybody knows that,
bought off by the British and the Jews;
they are in this war for money, nothing else.
Can't they understand anything?
The Bolshevik hordes want to destroy Europe.
Only Germany can prevent disaster.

Strange news is coming from the East
which I can't believe: the BBC
is spreading vile propaganda
about German actions in Russia.
These people will say anything.
They also say that the Jews,
having been removed for their own safety,
are being eliminated. Nonsense.
Our enemies will go to any length.

I worry about darling Christian .....
At this point Frau Proschkow broke down and was unable to continue. The news of her husband's death shortly after the birth of their first child is something she still cannot discuss. There is evidence that Frau Proschkow entered into a liaison with an American sergeant after the conclusion of hostilities and was thus provided with food and also cigarettes and nylons which she was able to trade on the black market. Charitably, one must assume that this was done to protect her young son Johann although this relationship seems to have led to an unhealable breach with her late husband's parents. In 1955 she married a prosperous factory owner named Werner Proschkow with whom she appears to have lived amicably until the death of Herr Proschkow in 1970. Johann Meier-Proschkow is now a senior executive with Siemens in Munich. Frau Proschkow lives alone in an apartment in Berlin surrounded by photographs and memoribilia of the early 1940s, most prominent of which are citations from the BDM and two large studio photographs of her first husband in naval uniform. He looks remarkably young.
Notes: Title * Under the waves stays with you my heart (My heart lies with you under the ocean waves)
BDM- Bund Deutscher Maedel - female equivalent of the Hitler Youth.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

184. the goat walks

You wonder
why all these
low-ranking individuals,
caught on camera,
end up in jail
while the people
who set them up,
encouraged them,
move on
to higher command.

Oops! There goes
Lynddie England.

Bad apples
in an


That's the way
we deal

As if
Gitmo and Abu Ghraib
weren't enough,
now we have
Amnesty bloody
out of turn.

bleeding hearts, these
non-team players
make you
want to
some new laws
that will
shut them up

The country
half-formed idiots
from inner cities,
from trailer parks
in godforsaken
and other places
of bitter

in order
to have someone
to throw
in jail
when things
go wrong.

An anthropo
tight-wired social
makes sense
when you follow
the money.

Monday, June 06, 2005

183. Daddy's War

In a little cafe
just off the Boul 'Mich
I talked to Herr Springer;
that was Paris '37.
Springer was a classic,
shaven head and pebble spectacles,
passing me money in a grubby
envelope, not much, just enough;
my job was to supply
the Germans with information.
Well, there was no problem there,
I was working for the British and the French,
so whatever they told me
I simply passed on.
But the one thing I didn't like
is that they asked me
to surrender Springer's payments.
What for? Come on, chaps,
I'm a free-lance operator
and this cash comes in very handy:
it's not as though our own crowd
were forthcoming, believe me,
dollops of petty cash, dredged
up from the depths and signed for.
They made you feel like a pimp.

They treated me like shit.

So I lied about the payments
and decided, in anger,
to give Springer some real information
and get a bump in income.

We were nearly at war, of course,
and I was solid, patriotic.
But life was expensive, and those
people in Military Intelligence
were prancing about, looking down
their noses: God rot your grandmother.
And it's just not right,
I wasn't ALLOWED to keep
that extra bit of cash, understand?
So that started to work on me
and I began telling Springer
what was true and what was not.

My payments went up.
The Germans (being German)
demanded receipts, but we
worked out a system of double entries,
one real, one for my controllers.
With a regular income
I decided to get married to Beryl
the landlady's daughter
whose large thrusting tits
drove me insane
even though her father never liked me,
one-eyed, one -legged,
a walking reminder
of the War to end all Wars:
sorry about you, chum,
before my time.

September '39, war, a serious
drop in income. MI cast me loose
but the Germans didn't: as a
married man I had to listen.
Stands to reason.
The daytime job in sales
wasn't going so well,
and we had the house to pay for,
not to mention the furniture,
plus the new car, all on the HP,
and there was a child on the way.

Your family comes first, am I right?

I didn't care much for the bombs
but Springer promised
they'd avoid my house (haha!)
so we were still in touch
through a newsagent's window
in Notting Hill. I had to decide
if what I was doing was wrong
or just necessary.

The child was a girl, Mandy,
and this was my small little family,
the first touch of warmth and love
in my sad solitary life: nothing,
nothing could be more important.

It was November '43
when they came; the neighbours,
previously friendly, threw stones.
I was taken to Parkhurst,
remanded, the solicitor
viewed me like a piece of dirt.

We were a nation at war.

Now it appears they will hang me.
Dear sweet Mandy!