In 1984, I went to Germany for the first time. Not knowing much German, I became homesick quite soon and, largely bereft of companionship, settled in with my notebook and resigned myself to composing the following poems.

Thanks, Germany

I have not yet had a poem accepted
by The American Poetry Review,
but I think my staying in Germany
for a while
may change that. I feel destined to be
a great poet; bright similes are popping
into my head like popcorn.
This is how it must begin.

German Phone Booths

are always full.
People stand in line outside them
and look around as if they are not
waiting. Or sometimes one person will
look right inside the thing and then
at the people around him, expecting to see
on their faces
similar disgust with the person inside.
The one who does this is
the last in line.

I Called You

I called you long-distance
from Germany. You were
getting ready to go somewhere.
My money was running out.
I started to urinate
down my pants’ leg and had to pretend
I was still talking to you
long after you had
hung up.
I’m glad you weren’t there.

October 26th

I’m sitting beside a German
2,000 miles away
from you.

I know it’s going to ring.

It does.

It’s for somebody named Klaus,
and it’s cold.

I have a book.

October 27th

Autumn in Germany
stinks, to be blunt.
Clouds, rain, and once
a week sunshine
through the haze.
I should be in Panama, smoking
a cigar. I don’t
deserve this. I’m from Washington,


Looking out of a German window
onto the street, gray, I see a German
dog. He’s panting, trotting
in a straight line, going

Mainz, West Germany

I often walk around the city
of Mainz, West Germany, alone,
very excited about how important
I am to the people there.

Intelligent Observation #1

I have been in Germany four months
and have not made, I think,
one intelligent observation.

I Was in Germany, Just Like K

feeling secure about my
reputation and
they came for me okay
come with us they said

we walked

one of them held out his hand said
I said thank you
for what
he said you’ve won
the four-month silent poet prize
it wasn’t by choice I said
we know he said but
we have this money that has to be given
to someone
so that we can apply for more
next year oh
in that case I said thank you
yes he said and we shook
again they leaving me
holding the check
made out to


These poems originally appeared in some “newspaper” called Chicago Sheet. If you somehow manage to find this publication, please let me know. You will be deserving of some kind of Sherlock Holmes award.