Amos Weisz

Non Juan

opening of Section 1

I need no hero, character is all
a myth, as Guardian leader, woman's page,
and Thursday supplement would seem to bawl
out in my absence; not that when I rage
against my friend, Platonic, sure, whose soul
remains marooned on the top etage,
since we're trilingual, up in Reinickendorf,
and steeped with rancour at her idle love,

I'm any convinced, but there's the argument
ad hominem, if one be found, beside
her bike, the true Platonic, never meant
to controvert the critic's poised backside,
and though its owner be from heaven sent,
the pressure of our age bids me elide
the salt of praise and curses, loves and hates,
from cabbage softly boiled for modern tastes.

Why Germany? The answer's plain as Kraut
or Kohl served up with Bratwurst, Senf, and mash,
in which your Burgher dips his sainted snout
and follows through with Royal corned beef hash
to finish with stewed apple like the grout
between two fresh-laid bathroom tiles; the cash
outlay is worth it, let me recommend
a handworker, and chocolate-umber blend.

Paul Sartre thought the Germans quite as soft
as Apfelhoernchen — this before the war —
Psst — please don't mention — ve hef heard enoff
of zis, it's not my fault, my parents were,
it's true, quite Nazi, but they always loff
ze Charleston, and zat fellow Feydman play
so byoodiful, it make your eyeballs glaze.

Confession time — I uttered those last lines
in stage-jew accents; shades of Tom and Pound
and all the other dogs of Fascist times
who barked to shield the ermine-trimmed white hound
of Italy or Deutschland; other climes
had bred them than the sacred killing-ground
they thought elect; and if I love their verse
can I think all their discontent much worse?

A heavy matter — Mensch — let's now return
to where our hero — sorry, bicycle,
is resting on one limb of — what — not iron
but chrome; on either wheel a ventricle
of threaded steel projects from dimpled rim
toward the axle; though the icicle
to hang before the moon won't form for weeks
outside her bedroom, pale as prodigious leeks

grown for a prize in Wales, the outlook's grey,
and mixing with Teutonic anomie
the kiosk's pinkish pastel, clasps the day-
break's Prinzip Hoffnung in its leaden twee-
zers — please excuse the rash of hyphena-
tion, Thomas Stearns I know thought such deba-
sing of the drill of verse no sign of health;
without such abuse, Lawks, I'd be bored to death.

A theme, then, is the weapon I require,
since Gorby went out with the soiled old clothes
of yesteryear; and much as I admire
the heroic antihero, in my toes
I feel the creeping army of the dire
predicted hordes of vengeance-seekers, droves
whose papi taught them "hate the loathsome Croat
who killed my pa" — mutandis, too, the Croat.

But that's not quite the theme; let's make it per-
sonal, yours truly is the flawed offspring
of Jew, Hungarian, rather heterodox,
with Lutheran actrice, who used to sing
for supper; now she cooks up chicken lox
when she remembers what this tribal thing
our elective faith is; Lord, it's more than I'm
disposed to, as I scoop the allotted time

in Berlin, on a dwindling remittance
from my late father, pushing up some weed
of Bushey cemetery; such a pittance
agents, profs, accountants with a meed
of self-respect would never grant their sons
who spit on the family grave, not knowing which
their patrimony — Teutonic, Yid — the glitch

was in the seed that fertilised the lap
of Mitteleuropa; "yoghurt with right-hand-
ed lactic acid"'s written on the nap
of my refrigerated carton; band
together, tropes of power: in the sap
that I corrupt the green point will turn grey,
and I will live to moulder one more day.

Enough — yes, quite enough — this complex theme
demands the fissiparous treatment — she
who last appeared as pitied crone in dream
of less than middling woman, across the Spree
or Acheron extends, my God, inversion,
hands of friendship; Zuneigung we say,
a favoured word in these parts, like the cloud
dispersed about the moon, the lunar shroud.

Her story, then — no, mine — no, Non Juan's
(the bicycle's) — the bells of Bethnal Green
rang out one winter morning — Capricorn,
des Exils Koenigreich, reclaimed a ween
under a moon in Cancer, whose white horn
of plenty gave a low masonic sheen
to ghosts who stravaged up the Roman Road
(while thinning down the shadows of the undead).

There Non Juan was born — his dear mama
refused the doc's barbiturate of mercy
proffered; Spanish as that rock, Gibraltar,
Molly (who'd a weakness for the versi-
fiers) named him 'Juan', sans holy water;
but pa, a Jew from Temesvarsy-versy
unto his dismal end, christened his son
after admired de Gaulle's last word — 'Non'.