The city is beautiful burning, I would stay
to watch but the dogs are anxious,
they know I am always right but are human
anyway that can’t be changed
so back into the hole I go to once again
as usual keep everything running.
They want to see me now, all of them,
but what is there to say
I was right all along
we have been betrayed
by our softness.
They want maps, gas,
tanks, embalming fluid, why not
instead why not here I give them
each a plaza named for me
here take it open a coffee-shop
cut hair sell chocolate. A few
I give squares edged with brilliants;
no one can say we don’t look our best
down here covered in cement-dust, smoke
Numberless guests have come in
to be near me; here a room
crammed with women living and dead
I won’t go into I order tea be sent.
Behind that door so many
my old comrades all mostly dead
I won’t see them either.
An orderly whispers “Stalin has put
a bomb in their heart
All the von anythings will explode!”
Does he think this alarms me
even with a black sun rising outside
and the phones barely functioning
although cleared of rubbish, carrying
only my voice, my vocal will,
Stalin is nothing to me. That should be clear.
I remember suddenly hearing he died,
yes, long dead
of course he and Rosenfeld drowned in blood
in their mad attempt to cross the ocean
circling the pure Land. The city
is burning why was I thinking
of him? That name is shit on the ground.
I continue my continuous arrival
It is really Spring in one room
authentic windows everything the mountains
are best this time of year
I walk out on the terrace the sky
is full of plumbing cultural heritage
we must one day dig it all down
after finally throttling madness
out of the world. Selling
newspapers –imagine!– next
will come the Leader dolls,
the Leader postcards, porcelains, enamel spoons
the whole village is here,
they should all disappear.
One of my numberless guests
waves a paper in the air
it can’t be the thirty-second another
rushes over do you see? it’s
just as you said you are not safe
I give him The Look anywhere I am
is safe perhaps it’s you who needs protection
Abruptly I allow myself to be taken
inside for the other numberless guests
I am furious why are these people
not already out in the sky
inspecting plumbing? I am injected
that I may continue suffering such
cowards to breathe cement.
Who here does not rejoice in this may go
but of course no one leaves,
they applaud, once more I have torn
myself open to feed them, pigs,
filthy calculating animals.
I go around table by table
lighting lamps calling for maps
to burn, all of them, the city
needs reinforcing flame
or all will be darkness.
As usual I am misunderstood,
now everyone is picking up trash.
It’s my birthday! There will be a parade
the first of an endless series every town every
stinking crossroads will burn
with torches I am Germany’s heart
we have dreamt immortally
Here already from canvas and bunting
they conjure the Kroll Opera, where
one can see things clearly. Speer is painting
a flag on the sky with a severed hand he
has a trainload Heinrich has given
me a flag it’s bleeding a piece
is missing he’s chewing it Hermann
wipes flag from his lips with a flag
a wolf leans toward me she will almost
reach me if not stopped, rubbing her belly
it’s a bomb! and drops
on an Aubusson flag giving birth
to an H, it’s broken a beautiful swastika
stillborn. I will hang them all
from it, what the world lost,
poor little black bloody
hook. Someone says it was born
out of time. They are stupefied
when I point out that obviously this is poisoning;
British agents, monsters, babykiller
terror-atrocity-bombers that have crept in
and now they’re all looking for poisoners
check the plumbing someone yells
I see smoke they are gassing us it’s their last hope
the room is rotating, flames are lining up
to sneak in like traitors. Heydrich
has only reported once since he died,
he carried white flowers.
But here he is now screaming
from his car get in! They have
always, all of them, taken me for a fool.
No, not with you. “But today is the
thirty-second just as ordered,”
he whines. I have the road removed.
He can sit down here with the rest of us
One day I will abolish names
there will only be ‘Leader’ and ‘you’.
Ah, the Philharmonik has arrived
We need more than this, much more,
and because they have not seen it,
not even Heydrich from heaven, I allow
them this once into the gleaming granite
fist of Germania. They were a crowd
but here they are dust.
Hess arrives, he has killed Churchill
through boredom. “My Leader!” he cries,
“who has ever doubted you?” You
have all doubted me but see!
Look at my hard thought!
Feel the chill of this quarried people!
More people, more men
I cannot wait for the final rally
when I drive victory like a stake
through their throats—they will cheer out blood
then, these cowards wondering about
seating and will maps be provided
with the blank program: “All white!” Joseph crows
in his fool-them-all-but-me mewling
phony man-voice. “All one thing, text
and page and people!” He seems pleased.
I look up to where I shall proclaim
all possible futures: Bormann
After the Fall I will let them all go
they can fly off like birds
greedy puppets, insects
struggling for another day on a dead planet
I have always been too kind, too indulgent
they are bringing in the cake
now, shaped like Germania
smothered in candles and craters
even my cook has abandoned me!
Most likely for Himmler. I look
in the audience he isn’t there
none of my iron knights it’s getting warm
now, they are off packing
practicing St. Louis accents, buying nylons.
I finger my Party Badge.
Who gives orders here? I shout.
The plumbing is on fire, the fire above
creeps down to the roots
of the people but no one notices.
We will burn alive! I shout
but no one moves, perhaps
taking this for an order. I leave
them downstairs forging maps
on programs with their dirty fingers
Berlin is beautiful burning
the Overture is starting
I will listen from here, watch it
in flames. From the beginning
Gods are equal to their doom.
Author’s note: It is actually a pretty fast read. I’ve never enjoyed anything more —it was like punching Hitler in the face for a week, that laughably hostile pimple. Note that he wills or imposes death on everyone he meets. Arranged so: V 1,2, Berlin, the Leader Bunker, V 3,4, the Berghof, 5,6, Kroll Opera, 7,8, Germania. An architectural tour of his life and career. The banal voice is pinched from the so-called Bormann Notes of H’s late-war table-talk. I like the frantic pace of Faustian expansion. “More, more….”