Rainer Werner Fassbinder: A Poem by Ariana Reines

I am so lazy

All I want to do is look good and write poems

And all I get to do is write poems because my time has not yet come to
look good. Sometimes

I stand up and sit down thinking about my poems

Truly they are so excellent that I should be famous

And someday too I should look good enough to stand alongside them

Maybe this will happen someday

But not today

However even better than this would be

The destruction of the system that causes

Me to fantasize in such an idiotic way. Should I destroy myself or try

To attain the heights within this system first

And then destroy myself after I have become sanctified

By what is to be despised here?

As I write you I am listening to NEU! What I am trying to say is

In the middle of the night last night I tried to watch a movie

By Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Not a movie but rather the first episode of a miniseries,

I am sure you know it, Berlin Alexanderplatz.

You see, this week I am taking care of the vegetable garden

Of two friends who are intellectuals. The Berlin

Alexanderplatz DVDs are owned by them. Once I badly wanted

An older man, loutish but refined, and I remember clearly his red

Mouth saying the word FASSBINDER

While he held his young son in his arms. NEU! is very sexy music.

Have you ever listened to it? I learned about NEU! very late, like two
months ago?

From a boy I was fucking until last week, though perhaps I will see him again. You see,

Although my looks are melancholic and owlish I remain culturally

Retarded and all the powerful things that have been done, even thirty years ago, only come

To me peevishly, occasionally, through the people who condescend

To share their time and superior knowledge with me. I guess

I do possess a sensibility that could not be called deaf to culture

But my narcissism has become so exhaustive that it takes up almost

All my time. There was a time

Five or six years ago that I would meet people who would say Ariana,

Have you seen The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant? No, I would say, I haven’t,

I really should though, I wish I was a cinephile! I should stop reading Medieval

Poetry, because after all I cannot stay safe and uninfected just

By hiding in things so very old. People who watch movies are such dreamers,

I would say, and I want to be one, a dreamer, and feed myself with stronger stuff

Than the things I feel safe in because nobody living is there.

I should dream in other ways, more ambitious ways, and could if I were

A person who watches movies. But at that time it took equipment

And patience, more of both than it takes now. Actually some years ago I finally watched like half

Of The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. It made me uncomfortable

About being female. But anyway

Last night I tried to watch Episode One

Of the revolutionary filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz

Based on the novel by Alfred Dolbin to which, incidentally,

My writing has been compared, and five times I watched

The establishing shot of the man walking along walls in bright sunlight only to find

That when the first words in the episode were spoken, I think by a soldier,

The subtitles were not on, and every time I thought I had turned them on

It turned out they were not on, and I tried again and again,

Becoming serener and serener as the night wore on, serener because more

And more resigned, and I watched

The sun fall on the cracks in the man’s face as he walked down the street

Until the moment something in German was said, and the dread

That had woken me up and caused me to want so badly to see a movie slowly

Ebbed and was replaced with the dread

That fills that establishing shot of the film, the man with his face

Moving in clots of light along walls that move past, different versions of white.

Finally I had to accept that the subtitles were not going to go on

And feeling tormented that I am neither a famous poet nor a woman whose looks resemble

The vapidity of her aspirations, my thoughts turned to a man

I loved once, a German whose name was Rainer, and who, when I
asked him one night

What his middle name was, said “Maria” in the most insulting tone

Of voice you can imagine, for Rainer knew that I was fanciful

And though to know Fassbinder begged a sophistication different

From the one I had then developed as insulation against

The cruel and elegant persons of my age, Rilke

Was something that I knew and that my breathlessness and overt

And beating heart also knew well. Oh Well. Maybe someday I will learn what it meant in the Seventies

To be a revolutionary. These ideas are important

To the culturally successful people who maintain

That this system must be overthrown and what I accept

As the clearly suicidal mass, which to participate in it

Means to agree to it

Ought not to be accepted. I should

Simply try to succeed while not accepting, though I hate to try

At all. I should

Become the ally of cultural critics who at certain periods

Of the night too become romantic, and I think I even will,

As soon as I can overcome the fantasy

That my dreams might become sweet

Again, and fragrant, neither oppressively

Narrow scenes in which I dominate the culture

As both hero and heroine, a sacrificer melted down

To become the very ore of beauty that makes worlds, nor

The inheritrix of products

Delivered in the form of somebody else’s

Secrets, bequeathed in films, in books, in cuts of clothing

That to attain the truth they point to

I have no choice but to pass through

And agree to them, their canniness

And history, its limits, and the obsessions

(Which are not mine) legitimated by them

For having passed.

By permission of fence books and the author, and available via Emily Books.