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Poetry Magnum Opus

Westbahnhof, Wien


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This station of memories* and former times

seems strangely diminished, reduced,

made smaller in a way, I don't know how;

outside in the hot and baking squares,

the clang of trams, the rush of the traffic,

a statue of the rascally old Mayor, Karl Lueger,

"I decide who iss a Chew," he famously said,

just before Hitler moved on to Munich

and old Austria-Hungary went to hell.


I stop for beer and directions: Kennen Sie Mittelgasse?

Na, geh' drei Strassen entlang und gerade links.

Thank the Lord I left the suitcase behind,

that heavy old bugger, the bane of my life,

now sulking (I should hope) in its Bahnhof locker;

and so with hopeful stride, a spring in my step,

I make my way to the Strawberry Hostel

and run smack into a vision of beauty.

Hallo, mein Herr ... you haff a reservation?


Anna. Anna is -- my God! -- something else,

twenty-three at a stretch, she looks seventeen,

with red, no SCARLET hair, pure marble skin,

a ring in her nose and impish dancing eyes.

Willkommen in Wien, says she. Welcome, indeed!

This town is starting to look better already.

In a twinkle I've popped back out on the streets,

sussed out the transport system, soon a rattling ride

carries me under the shadows of dear old "Steffl".


There's something in the air in this relaxed old city,

an injection, a puff of air beneath your heart,

and you start smiling, you do, as you walk along,

feeling light in your mind, a perambulating fool.

Jeez, this is so much better than Amsterdam,

less rackety, less contingent, less faintly menacing,

a sort of soft and smiling granny among cities;

soon enough you begin to meet the denizens,

make brief and friendly intense connections.


Half drunk, well fed, and at peace with the world,

I jump on an evening tram that is heading off somewhere

and meet young Dolores, she's in a bit of a panic,

a medical intern, she needs to find some assigned hotel

and the morning ticket for her flight back to Mexico.

She is lost in the night and her German deserts her

among the wary side-glances, the stiff Viennese.

Sir Galahad (belch ... oops) takes her on his arm

and with his lately-discovered excellent German

guides her through a labyrinth to her "home".


She kisses me

chastely, with girlish gratitude.

Men, I reflect,

have occasional uses.


Back at the Strawberry Hostel

I sit up half the night

with Bob or Bill from Wisconsin,

a professor with sins on his conscience,

and we exchange the stories of our lives

for once not heavily edited

over four or five bottles of Heuriger

there in the silent lamp-lit garden:

we will never see each other again.


These are the things, these are the things

I love about random travel.



1. This is a diary of sorts about a previous visit to Vienna which incorporates an even earlier visit remembered. The Westbahnhof features: it used to be one of the worst hangouts for drunks in Europe. Not that I'd know anything about that. You don't have to read the whole thing. Go for the italics, the account of the earlier visit. http://dublinerinjapan.blogspot.com/2004/0...express-iv.html


2. "Steffl" is the affectionate name given to Stefansdom or Saint Stephen's, the large cathedral at the very heart and centre of Vienna. It's a bit like calling the place Steve or Stevie's.


3. Heuriger are the newly pressed wines from the vineyards surrounding the city, particularly the village of Grinzing which is as far as the Turks got in their 1683 invasion. These white wines are light and refreshing and can make you remarkably articulate without the price of a hangover the next morning.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Ah, Brendan, this poem makes me envious of the trip, the experiences, glad to have lived it in a work of art! I'm loving this "travel diaries" series. The footnotes are always appreciated, too.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Hi Brendan, I have to agree with Tony, this travelog is a great way to see the world. Well not as great as actually being there but a whole lot cheeper. ~~smile~~


And I love your blog... I am glad you included the link. At first I read the current blog then a few random selections, then I decided to start from the beginning. I just finished June 2004 and plan to take my time and read right through to today or whatever day is the most current when I am finished. It is so interesting. The article on the Celts caught my attention, yes most people associate the Celts with Ireland but the Scots and the Welsh have the same Celtic ancestory... I can't trace any of my family back to Ireland but I have traced my roots back to the Mac Laren clan of Scotland by way of Cornwall and Australia on my Dad's side and to Wales on my Mom's side so I too am interested in learning more about the Celts. It is not as easy tracing family when they are scattered to the wind. Anyway I am enjoying reading your articles and some of the wonderful poetry you include both yours and the others you share. Thanks for this treasure.



~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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twenty-three at a stretch, she looks seventeen,

with red, no SCARLET hair, pure marble skin,

a ring in her nose and impish dancing eyes.


Wonderful expressed. I agree with others Brendan. This poem cycle is amazing, and will remain deep in memory and especially to you who lived all of this.


Thank you for sharing this exciting work.



The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia



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