Honika, or the Politics of Warmth


[Narrative poem based on true story of a Nazi skinhead Horst who changed to a Left Party Monika, which I found in the German magazine Der Spiegel No. 15 in 2011. Maybe even of use in the context of the resurgent populist and extreme right in many countries, looking at human interiors not just exteriors…]


It’s glam rock at the cusp of punk
when Horst’s born in a German village
to parents who split like a band
soon as he pops. Mum’s on tranx.

Fostered at three to a dad who loves
the cane. Horst burns down
the ugly living room curtains
to get a better view of the fields

breathing their fake canola sun far
as the eye can see. Ten years later
it’s back with mum, now clean &
Catholic, a stepdad budgie breeder

& drunk who belts the shit out
of mum who belts him back to
the tune of Horst pulling the pillow
over his ears between walls happy

with Metallica, Madonna, Queen.
The budgies die. The first stubble
finds Horst unhappy with this
sudden roughing up of face & pubes.

No friends, he’s the perfect victim
for the schoolyard pack & never
fights back. Just closes his eyes till
he hears an alpha voice growling

lay off, & Horst looks up to see four
mirror Doc Martins under two skins.
No more bullying, now he’s got
friends, beers in pubs, pamphlets

& joins the Nazis for the warmth.
Hands out flyers, marches, nods
along to their ‘migrants out !’ & ‘hate
the queers !’, though that hurts.

His soul squirms in his body
like a left hand in a right glove.
Secretly meets men, wants boobs,
a pussy, but doesn’t tell mum.

When she dies he’s in hell, life
an ugly fucking sculpture
he wants to smash. He leaves
his skinhead family, then his body

to the clever knife till abracadabra
she’s: Monika, & loves her boobs.
On the dole, she’s drawn to bolshies,
justice, more pamphlets, pubs.

She joins. It’s the warm feeling,
like a family she says. A candidate
for The Left, she gets 2%, heckling
she’s mad, a fat swastika on her door.

She fears the Nazis might do more.
Now she’s leaving for Berlin. Maybe
slough all over again in some warm
village big cold cities can still contain.


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on January 16, 2017.

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