BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

BACK IN TUEBINGEN IN NOVEMBER FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

5.4.12

SKULLHEAD





Oh, how soon
Beauty and form disappear.
You shine with your cheeks
Just like milk and purple shine.
Alas, the roses are withering.
(Wilhelm Hauff)

An aging, independent scholar disturbed my musings - a dessicated, lonely and embittered bachelor known as ‘skullhead’. For years he has been living all alone. He injected his bitter mockery into the elegy I had just begun and walked around those paths with me for a whole hour, talking and grumbling. It was a strange thing to watch: he couldn't help making bitter and angry jokes, yet he needed so badly to talk about himself and be sociable that he thrust himself upon me in a manner I found almost moving.
(Hermann Hesse, letter from Tuebingen 2/10/1898)

I clocked him
again 
yesterday,
a long and lonely Sunday,
falling out of the Boulanger
with the moon in his top pocket.
He’d had a schnapps too many
and it showed
on his slobbering tongue.
He was hanging round 
nooks and crannies,
last year’s stubble
stuck
on his crazed cranium.
He could have been Hermann Hesse
but he found himself 
in a rut,
got his heart broke too often
got his bones frozen
too many times,
embittered,
brittle as old crumbs.
But his eyes
gleamed
with knowledge
and foreboding,
his wiseness
bothered people
in their aimlessness:
folk growing kids
to make themselves feel useful.
Skullhead knew different,
he knew that the Neckar
was full of piss,
that the trees on the Platanenallee
had brains
and feelings,
that the sky screamed
and churches were awash 
with shit.
Young girls and boys
basking by the Cafe Piccolo Sole d’Oro,
eyes playing
with sunlight,
flinched
when they saw him.
They might just end up like him,
brilliant and unloved,
stuck in a town called Tuebingen,
shoelaces trailing 
down Hafengasse,
branches creaking,
river murmuring,
footsteps in the memory,
fallen leaves.
That 
and the dull thud 
of spiritless music
everywhere,
no God,
no hope.
Only Skullhead
to remind us
that we’re going nowhere
but the graveyard,
like Hoelderlin
without the poetry.
KEITH ARMSTRONG


the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur