Kölle Alaaf! I miss the echo in the streets,
the crowds on Rudolfplatz and Neumarkt,
the oompa pa of familiar Fastelovend songs
and cries of ‘Kamelle!’ as sweets hailed down.
You helped me dress up as a clown.
I drank cold Kölsch, ate salty Pommes mit Mayonnais’.
You taught me the words to ‘Mer losse d’r Dom en Kölle’
so I could sing along wth Bläck Fööss in the rain.
Et hätt noch immer jot jejange,
I was never arrested, never so drunk,
lost in a haze of hops and greasepaint
that I’d forget. I never forgot. I just moved away,
moved on to bodhráns and Guinness,
the Notting Hill carnival, November fireworks,
and motherhood. But around this time of year,
I still shout out Kölle Alaaf! and hope you’ll hear.
Kim M. Russell, March 2017
My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Mardis Gras Mambo
Amaya is our host and she tells us about a wedding in New Orleans that inspired this week’s Poetics, in which she reminds us of one of the oldest and most notorious traditions of Mardi Gras. She says that ‘Fat Tuesday’ isn’t just the one raucous, titillating day before solemn, reverent Ash Wednesday but it’s actually a whole season, commencing on the Feast day of the Epiphany on January 6.
Amaya has given us inspiration with a poem by Susan B. Anthony Somers-Willet and a haiku by Alan Summers. This time last year, I wrote about carnival in Venice. As I’ve been away and am trying to catch up with everything, I’m sharing a poem I wrote and posted in March 2017, with a glossary to help with the language.
Kölsch refers to both Cologne dialect and beer brewed in Cologne
Kölle Alaaf! = Hooray for Cologne! (a rough translation)
Rudolfplatz is an area of the city I lived in and Neumarkt is a market place in the centre of Cologne, surrounded by shops, stores, trams and the general hubbub of city life.
Fastelovend = evening of fasting, a Catholic tradition
Kamelle = sweets, toffees mainly, that are thrown into the crowd by members of the carnival parade
Pommes mit Mayonnais’ = chips (fries) with mayonnaise
Bläck Fööss (‘Bare Foot’) are a ‘rock’ band that writes original songs in dialect, for example, ‘Mer losse d’r Dom en Kölle’, a well-known carnival song which means: We’re leaving/keeping the cathedral in Cologne.
Et hätt noch immer jot jejange – it always turned out well.