Poetry: Selections From Hans Joseph Fellmann

Bad Onion

My roommate is an odd one.                  
He comes in late,                           
Stinking of cheese and feet,                
Cheap cologne and sausage,                  
Says ciao in that creepy way                
With too many front teeth.                  
He wears dinner jackets to clubs,           
Flip-flops to work,                         
And glasses                                 
Even though he doesn't need to.             
He rocks when he talks                      
And cheats strangers without flinching      
An affable chap.                            
But like a bad onion, he's                  
Sweet then sour,                            
Sweet then sour.                            
Sometimes I want to shank him in the belly. 
Sometimes I want to thank him for the jelly.
I even get the feeling                      
He's a queer.                               
But just when this reaches its peak         
He brings home a 300-pound gypsy whore      
And fucks her in the bathroom.              
I can't stand the guy                       
I can't                                      
Especially when he leaves his unwashed dishes
Stacked in the sink                          
Like a porcelain shipwreck.                  
I've come close to killing him               
A time or two                                
But then he gives me a slice of bacon        
Or a restaurant tip                          
And things are okay                          
Again, for a bit.

Crooked Legs and Filthy Veins

Those pin-headed stiffs                     
With clean systems                          
And soft steps.                             
I'll never understand                       
People who don’t                              
Drink. Never will they                        
Know the joy of crooked legs and filthy veins.
Of screaming at the moon                      
With a bottle in one hand                     
And the other balled into a fist.             
Of fucking a stranger                         
Down the neck                                 
With a purple                                 
Of busting the teeth                          
From an asshole's gums                        
With the butt of a shot-glass.                
Of watching the steam rise                    
From their piss as it splatters               
Against a cop car.                            
Those withering teetotalers,                  
Those deflated saps,                          
Never will they taste the sweetness           
Of lewd songs at 4 a.m.,
Of wine-drenched scrambled eggs
Chewed under
Bloodshot eyes

Mother Cabrini

It was raining when
My mother and I drove
Into the Walmart parking lot,
Plastic wreaths sagged
From the streetlamps
And dead Christmas trees
Were heaped in front of the dumpsters
Like the skeletons of burned witches.
I read the last line of a poem entitled
“Christmas Eve” by Anne Sexton,
Then I closed the book and looked at my mother,
“Well,” I said, “What did ya think?”
She swerved into a spot and clicked off the engine,
“I liked it,” she sighed. “But it was really depressing.”
“Yeah, but her words are fucking gorgeous,” I replied.
“I mean, she was able to take all the depression in her life
And turn it into beauty. She even did it in death.”
“What do you mean?” my mother asked.
“I mean, when she decided to off herself at forty-five,
She didn’t just put a gun to her head and pull the trigger.
She got piss drunk, put on her dead mother’s fur coat,
Poured herself one last glass of vodka, ran a hose from
The tailpipe of her car to the driver’s side window, got in,
Cranked the engine, downed the vodka, and went out like a G.”
I was screaming with my fists in the air. My mother gasped.
“That’s terrible,” she cried.
“No, it’s brilliant,” I retorted.

A man in a white minivan
Pulled into the space in front of us,
He got out, went around to the back
And opened the trunk. He reached in
And pulled out a long sad Christmas tree,
Its branches were twisted in every direction
Like the broken arms of orphans seeking alms
And little bits of tinsel glinted from their tips like change,
He dragged it across the parking lot,
Its twigs scratching on the asphalt,
When he arrived at the dumpsters,
He lined the tree up with its dead relatives
And yanked it into the pile,
As he walked away, he took a call on his cellphone,
I looked over at my mother,
“Most people go out like that tree,” I remarked.
She crinkled her eyebrows and shook her head,
“Not if they’re loved,” she said. 

Free Bird

Nobody does it right, nobody even             
comes close                                   
Everyone fucks it up, everyone tears the heart
from another's chest                          
And dropkicks it                              
Into the dumpster,                            
It is the way of things,                      
And it will always be                         
The way of things                             
Even when our cars fly                        
And our buildings float                       
And our brains are small humming computers    
Love, my friend, knows no rule                
And the man who tries to trap it              
With wires                                    
Or money                                      
Or time                                       
Or anger                                      
Is the world's greatest fool.

Hans Joseph Fellmann is a writer and English teacher from Livermore, California. He has visited over eighty countries and lived in Spain, Turkmenistan, and the Czech Republic. A graduate of the University of California at San Diego, his articles and short stories have appeared in the UCSD GuardianThe San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Prague Revue. He has published two novels: Chuck Life’s a Trip, based on a life-changing journey he took around the world with his childhood buddies in 2006, and Saving Jahan, which is anchored by his wild experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central Asia. His latest book, The Heart That Beatsis a collection of confessional poems based on his life as a writer in Prague.