Enjoy the Silence, This Is How It Feels, Sadness (Part I)
these were the songs the radio played all night long.
What Time Is Love? was the question on everyone’s tongue.
Dancing in the dark near the Pagoda,
smoking gold B&H, drinking cheap lager,
feeling like The Cure’s Disintegration.
Everyone was Doin’ the Do with Betty Boo,
while I was Falling with Julee Cruise.
Mom had left over an orchid and dad didn’t care, didn’t say a word.
I was Edward Scissorhands and Sailor—alone and Wild at Heart—and nobody knew it.
It was the year Tim Berners-Lee created the internet and Nelson Mandela got free,
Mr. Bean made us laugh as Yugoslavia collapsed.
October spawned a monster in the shape of this child.
I walked home in the rain at night
past National Front graffiti and swastikas on Kings Road.
Near the place I told Sofia that summer I loved her,
but she just smiled and said, ‘let’s watch Cinema Paradiso instead.’
A reunified Germany danced to David Hasselhoff;
the World Cup in Italy, love had the World in Motion,
but I could only watch. Gazing at Water Lilies at the Royal Academy,
drinking ale in Piccadilly. Pretending to be someone I wasn’t,
because being someone I was hurt too much. A winter of drink and paracetamol—
Happy Xmas (War is Over). This was 1990, the year I boarded the Narrenschiff. 1
Twenty-seven years seasick and drifting, peering through a porthole,
waiting to be motionless, waiting for the harbour.
1. Das Narrenschiff (or The Ship of Fools) is a 15th century satirical poem by Sebastian Brant. According to French thinker, Michel Foucault in his book Madness and Civilization, The Ship of Fools became a symbol of society’s power and suppression. After the disappearance of leprosy, mental illness took over as the disease to be feared. Towns would round-up their mad and set these lost souls onto a ‘ship of fools’ to sail on the oceans away from society’s gaze.
Image: Oskar Laske, Das Narrenschiff, 1923