(Babylon-Berlin 1929)

In a trash-strewn
common courtyard
chitlins slosh round cracked white bowls
near a pail of blood whose level
slowly rises. Chained hounds
slaver for scraps.

Mostly it rains:
beneath black umbrellas
surging in somber rhythms
dark fluids slick cobblestones
of foggy lanes, the vast flat plain
called Alexanderplatz.

Nothing is what
it seems. Our feisty girl detective
whores by night.
She’s not her sister’s sister.
The wraithlike therapist
may (or may not)

be our haunted
hero’s lost brother.
A phantom fortune is (then is not)
painted coal. Undergrounds
sprout cellars, arrogant
puppeteers new strings.

Corruption coils
through sleek salons
like whiffs of spoiled meat
while crowds break into
manic dance. What’s real?
Who is mad?

Meanwhile the
Crash of all things
civil looms.
One need not linger
to see the baleful signal
blinking towards
our back-lit troubled days.