Mark Terrill



I’m walking down the pedestrian-congested Bahrenfelder Strasse in Hamburg just passing the Fabrik where I’ve seen John Cale, Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Mekons & so many other concerts over the last 30 years & then on past the big organic food supermarket swarming with all those super-hip politically correct couples paying horrendous prices for a bunch of grapes flown in from South Africa by a jet spewing its noxious exhaust all across the skies & just as I’m abreast of that big brick office complex housing all the medical practices a ground-floor door swings open & I see this young couple coming out maybe in their early twenties if even that—looking smart & hip & handsome & well-to-do but not particularly snobby or uptight & maybe even somewhat sympathetic—& suddenly I notice that the girl’s face is twisted into this contorted expression of sorrow & grief with tears running down her cheeks & the guy has his arm around her in this very possessive yet comforting way while biting his lower lip in a measured grimace of sheer determination obviously confronted with a whole new kind of challenge & in the very moment that they pass me by going in the other direction I turn & glance at the sign on the brick wall next to the door & see that they’ve just left the office of some gynecologist & immediately I’m speculating as to the source of all that grief & sorrow realizing that whatever it is it must be pretty serious maybe even major & while still walking I glance back & see the couple stopping on the sidewalk impervious to the throngs of passing pedestrians & the guy throwing both his arms around the girl in this big heartfelt real-deal embrace meant to palliate & assuage whatever can be palliated & assuaged by such a gesture in such a moment & I can see by the girl’s body English & overall composure that the well meant intention of his gesture is coming through loud & clear & I can feel my own lagging faith in mankind getting this sudden boost like a big shot of vitamin B complex for the soul & I can feel the iron grip of cynicism in which my psyche usually finds itself starting to loosen up & I know that those two kids are going to make it & pull through & get beyond it all whatever it may be & who knows maybe we’re all going to make it & pull through & get beyond it all but certainly not without the help of someone else who really & truly gives a shit someone determined not to get turned around by the vagaries & exigencies of human existence someone prepared to take the extra effort to try to turn those very vagaries & exigencies around & send them back to wherever they might have come from even if it’s only one single fleeting gesture among all the others on the teeming Bahrenfelder Strasse in Hamburg.


MARK TERRILL is a native Californian and ex-merchant seaman living in Germany since 1984, working as a shipyard welder, road manager for rock bands, cook and postal worker. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, prose poems, memoir, and translations, most recently Diamonds & Sapience (Dark Style, 2017), and Competitive Decadence (New Feral Press, 2017). He holds no diplomas or degrees whatsoever.


Read more by Mark Terrill:

Poems in B O D Y
A translation of Rolf Dieter Brinkmann’s “Some Very Popular Songs
A poem in The Diagram
Prose poems in The Brooklyn Rail
Remembering Paul Bowles in Empty Mirror