Poem of the Week: Beer for Two at Böckler Park, Berlin by Lucy Burnett | Poetry
Beer for two in Böckler Park, Berlin
You asked me for a love poem and I gave you a text message and a handful of imaginary paprika fries. You told me this was insufficient for the moment and I agreed. It was 3.08 pm. I wrapped a single curl around my index finger – smiled. The love thing it is the very thingness of that. You must agree! An ‘now that I have you now, I never will.’
I hold the umbrella to your sun the way you hold it against my rain: Tell me something I don’t know about you? We drink the beer confusing the order in which our books would have I liked the afternoon to turn around. If I were you and you were me – I was wondering – Could I marry you?
Böckler Park, the setting for this week’s poem, is named after trade unionist and politician Hans Böckler, and is located in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. known for its arts and counterculture scene. While by its form on the page, Beer for Two … declares a relationship to the traditional sonnet, readers can expect a lot of quietly mischievous subversion of that tradition.
The first lines confirm this angle: “You asked me for a love poem / and I gave you …” The surprise gift is summarized in a long time zeugma: “I gave you a text message and a handful of fries / imaginary paprika.” The answer is understandably dry: “You told me this was / insufficient for the moment.” The speaker’s casual consent to this judgment is another unexpected little “twist” in the dialogue. If this were a game of chess, “I accepted” might be equivalent to “check”.
As a mysterious sign of narrative significance, the presumed exact time is remembered on line five. The poem continues to illustrate a more joyous intensification. The softness of the curl now wrapped around the speaker’s finger contrasts with the spiciness of the wit (and the fries). But whose curl is it, the speaker’s or the partner’s? Cunningly, the poem does not say. The “thingness” of love is the next attractive idea, but the physical is not everything, as the developing pun shows. The love thing can also be a riddle, a commitment primed with double negative explosives: a “now that I have you now, I will never do it.” I think there is a shared joke, rather than compulsion, in the exclamation: “You must agree!”
The sesteto seems to heat up and expand like the happy afternoon. Generalization and real time are combined. The way the lovers are different and similar, completing each other through the differences that are also part of their likeness, is beautifully expressed in the metaphor of the umbrella shelter. These images, and the kind challenge, “tell me something / that I don’t know about you? “ lead to another riddle for the reader. Using the plural pronoun, the speaker appears to consider the artistic possibilities of real-life narrative from the point of view of a book, and the author is happily found guilty of “Confusing the order in which our books would have / liked the afternoon to turn”. And yet, in the poem, there is a feeling that the afternoon has been pleasant and often “changed.”
As in the octet, surprises that can produce disappointment do not shake anyone’s equanimity. The pronoun play on the last line and a bit suggests that both humor and touch are part of the reciprocity between speaker and recipient. The final question, whether it is “asked” aloud or not said, avoids closure and yet is delightfully conclusive: “If I were you and you were me – I was wondering – Could I marry you?
A love poem that is a mildly scathing interrogation of the genre, Beer for Two in Böckler Park, Berlin, sometimes echoes the Elizabethan sonnet in its verbal antics, but goes much further: it plays on puns and makes people laugh. to language by falling on itself. Among the other forms of gender stereotypes in the poem’s sights, that of a well-known “love song” from the early 20th century, which celebrates Tea for two instead of beer, it could be included.
Originally from Dumfries, Scotland, now living in Cumbria, England, Burnett combines accomplishments in many fields of activity: walker and walker, mountain leader for Sporting pride, photographer, performance artist, and more. She was appointed earlier this year as the director of the StAnza International Poetry Festival His most recent collection of poetry, and the source for this week’s poem, is Stumble into the clouds.