Dear Diane

I was hitchhiking my way through Europe between January and June 2006, sleeping in parks, at gas stations, handicap toilets, under bridges or in squatted houses where squatters were friendly enough to let me crash (which they almost always were). It was in one of those squats that I met Pneumonia (I know her real name and city off course, but as she said, she never showed her poems to humans before and she would like to stay anonymous).

Biologically Pneumonia was born a man. But inside she was always female. She has been living as a full-time woman for five years now. She is 26. When I say full-time I’m not really telling the truth. Cause deep inside, she is neither man nor woman, she told me, but bird. She lives some of the time now as a bird. She explained to me, how her womanhood was like a cocoon in which she could grow as a bird.

On good days, she told me, she felt she could fly when biking through the city, she felt she was tending her feathers when putting on make-up, she thought of eggs hatching when having sex. She sold her body to pay for the operations and hormones she needed. Although drinking heavily she was very quiet. She was a sad, sad person.

I was crashing in the squat where she lived. Weird, old house. Strange mix of queer punks of all sorts, some other squatters (ravers, mostly), crusty macho punks and the usual dogs. She got along with all of them it seemed. They didn’t seem to bother very much about her rather serious gender issues. I was passing through Germany on my way to France so I wasn’t planning on staying very long. This was the end of february and it was fucking cold. I had this poetry zine with me that I was reading, and I forgot it on the kitchen table one evening. It was called Songs for Pneumonia and it had a poem called Song of Birds in it. When I came into the kitchen the next morning, Pneumonia was sitting with that zine between her long, painted fingernails, sobbing big mascara tears into the paper. She was quite a character. Her hair was purple and long and she used a lot of make-up, real drag queen style, but in a trashy way. She loved purple, orange and black. Together. Her clothes looked as if it had once been really expensive dinner party dresses, but it was torn and dirty from living in a squat among crusties and dogs too long, walking the streets at night with no-good intentions and being piss drunk most of the time.

She was reading the Song of Birds and it had touched her so deeply that it made me feel guilty about forgetting the zine there the night before. For a really long time she just sat there crying. She didn’t want me to comfort her. She never really let anyone very close to her, except for money. After some time she opened up and started talking to me. She even invited me into her room.

We went into her room. It had little altars everywhere with the loveliest pictures of birds, flying on a blue background, nesting, tending their feathers or looking out at the viewer with a loving eye. Seeds lay as sacrifices on little tables amongst incense, small bells, flutes and stones in all shapes and colors. One wall was almost entirely covered in feathers, mostly from pigeons, arranged in the most insanely beautiful pattern, with pearls woven in between them. All her furniture was wooden and her bed was covered in straws and branches so it looked and felt more like a nest. She had a big full-size mirror, lots of clothes scattered everywhere and loads of make-up and candles. She sat smoking while she told me her story.

I ended up sitting three days in her room, mostly just listening and observing. I don’t think she ever felt loved before. It seemed it was the first time ever that she opened herself to anyone. On the day of my departure she handed me an envelope. She told me never to tell anyone who she was, never to mention her name or city to anyone, but to just call her Pneumonia after the character in that zine. But that she would be happy and flattered if I would tell her story and use the poems in the envelope. She never let me take a photograph of her. I regret it to this day. She also gave me an email-address, but all my mails come back to me with a message that the address wasn’t found.

John Krimi
Copenhagen, September 2006

Bird

When I am bird
When I am bird I carry light green leaves in my beak, over rooftops and fields. Build nests in barns and trees. Carry white tulips on special days.

When I am a bird my beak will never give head for money. I will find seeds and insects for free.

When I am bird I can sit whole day on rooftop. Look with black eye, onyx pearly beads. Necklace in beak. Talons tightly gripping red porcelain.

Fan my face with wing. I am bird. I am so, so bird. I am almost not there.

My seeds will be my seeds. Forever. Grow to trees and flowers. Eggs, kids and brave woman.

Oh, I am so happy when I think about it!

Bird

A new Mayflower
I had dreams of real horror, turnings of stomach, finger sized and melodious. Metal on lips, eyelids that never close. Never want to hear white music again. A voodoo doll on grey scaled grids. Surf music drives me mad.

A new world. A new Mayflower. New old cultures to learn from (and not destroy). Nature kingdoms of purity. With black chests scarred in ancient patterns. Some have walkabouts and rituals yet to come, chests young and smooth, children still.

A new Mayflower.

Please.

Bird

My fingers for a wing
All my fingers for a wing. Granted I can trade my toes for another. I trade these cracked lips for yellowish lips as hard as bone. This rancid voice for a single tone of beauty in spring. Down through skies of golden moist. I tremble inside as the margarine-colored butterfly presses its silvery chest against mine.

These eyes are rotten cavities, made up green and yellow, this mouth a toothless, flaming rectum. I will trade this face for anything: a stone, a stiletto, a cock ring. Watch my cunt, fill with eggs, big as little children’s fists.

New feathers for old hags. Glass shoes for pointy claws, beads and color for grayish skin. Voice of a man, impossible Inuit language. A new mayflower. The feather boa, friend and killer. I envy your beauty, whore with layers of make-up, tiny lips that mumble of pain and change.

I will leave this nest for a better one. Woman, give me wings. I take off in a clouded night. The moon is full and all the clouds are like silver. I’m a new bird now.

Let’s trade. Let’s dance. I am a new bird now.

bird

Birds that sing of birds that sing
I touch myself and start crying. I can never escape this revolting body. Manhood is brutal. Every careless erection is like a rape, mocking the woman in me. My hairy face is an endless fight, receiving hairlines, giving space for feathers. Drawing with a pen, I start from my eyebrows.

I don’t want teeth. I want a tiny tongue with seductive words into ears of princes. I trade stubbles for eyelashes. Peace in the streets now, but war inside. Ugly eyes cry burning tears. The echo of bulldozers, painted nails.

The hairs are all lined up next to each other, like soldiers on my skin, armed for battle, marching nowhere. I am nailed to the ground by this colossus of a body. Sister swan, father eagle, don’t abandon me. If you leave me, take me with you. As sister, as daughter, as egg.

Beautiful bird, press your elegant beak to my awful lips.

Bird

On good days
On good days when shaving my bosom I dream of nurturing feathers. On good days when touching myself I dream of eggs, hatching. On good days biking in the sunshine by the waterfront I dream I fly above the houses, my long hair blows into the face of a boy, passing by. He looks at me and smiles.

I lay my eggs in his thoughts, my chicks will peep in his nest tonight. On good days I am a real woman, a cocoon in which my bird can breathe and grow.

Start love. Stop la-la-la. Love, Laila. See my tan inside. Get behind me, worms.

The tiny sound your wings make, when they touch. Oh, Jonas, bird boy, my love, your voice is like a leaf unfolding in spring, airy and soft is your kiss. With you I have wings.

Bird

Don’t cry for me, oh, birds of the night
Don’t cry for me, oh birds of the night.
Don’t save your seeds for me.
Fly on south, impatient ones.
Don’t wait for me. I can’t leave.

Black birds, eagles and friends of hyenas,
Hold my talons in these cold, lonely days.
They call themselves brothers and friends
But they are hunters and I am their prey.

I fall through the window and break on the ground.
My little skull cracks on the stairs.
A bird flies out and follows you now.
Then I will join you. No one will care.

Peace on earth, a war inside.
Burning tears from ugly eyes.
Painted nails can cut through chests
But never grow feathers where once was flesh.