In Germany on June 16, 2009 at 12:00 am


Heinrich wheezes laughter

through his kringle beard,

but his joke is still an icicle:

You know the thing about Hitler,

he says. He just wanted

to be famous.


He butts my pint-glass,

a toast to nothing—

and scoffs a sentiment

half a century old:

During the War,

we wished the Allies

would bomb the Altstadt.

The Old City was only gypsies

and bad plumbing.


Picture him a boy,

in spats and lederhosen,

watching airborne hives

float slow above the hinterland

scattering bombs

as nilly as a fist of seeds.

Spindly Heinrich,

fed from cans

and sips of milk,

his marrow jiggling

while bedrock quaked

beneath his two left feet.


With time, young Heinrich

grew a paunch,

and the airplanes carried him—

time zones slid below,

and palm-trees won his pulse.

In Colombia, he says, the women

are the most beautiful in the world.

His eyes well up with dancing,

merengue stops up his ears,

and Heinrich’s gone,

to Bogotà,

a hemisphere away

from famous men

and gypsy flats

and all those rusty pipes.


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