Kölsch (revisited)

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

Image result for cologne carnival clowns Pinterest
Image found on Pinterest


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 jejangeit always turned out well.

32 thoughts on “Kölsch (revisited)

    1. Thank you, Sarah, for spotting the melancholy. I always remember my German Mutti at this time of year, the woman who looked out for me when I was a teenager.


  1. Yes, Kim! All the peppered jargon made this just what I wanted to read to escape my own world for just moment (it’s been a long winter.) I can picture you singing in deutsch to the oomp pa’s of the accordion, was it? Merriment all around, and the ending is poignant, with other rich experiences under your belt, yet the simple phrase of remembrance still has a place in your heart.


    1. Thank you, Amaya. It’s all a lifetime away, although it feels like only yesterday. Sometimes I forget that I was in my late teens back then, full of life and up for anything. Now I enjoy peace and quiet, no crowds and no beer!


  2. What a great, crafted, quietly wild poem Kim — the jots of German dialect are like draughts of Rhineland wine or beerfest gold, and the abandon is as close to the edge as we see a heart and body willing to go before finding its way into the future commons of hearth and home far away. Such pungent remembrance, great work.

    Liked by 1 person

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