“Zeh was a pharmacist”

By Gottfried Benn Gottfried Benn Read the Q & A
Zeh was a pharmacist,
or claimed to be,
times were tranquil, people didn’t ask too many questions,
but when a new broom came along, it was duly “established that” etc.
and it all contributed to his downfall.

Zeh was an incomparable magician
shelves full of powders and tinctures
not that he had to sell them to you
you were persuaded of their efficacy
in advance.

Zeh had mixed up a slimming-cure
called Zeean that you hardly even needed to take
it worked in your pocket
you straightaway started to reduce.
He had stuck that preparation
       in one of the pharmacy windows.

Among other things you could see there
herbal teas, pestles and mortars, chatty tips
for di- and nocturnal events of an untoward nature
all of it defying description—
unrivaled in their suggestiveness
from a psychosomatic point of view

his like would never be found again
children (not likely!) desunt,
long since turfed out of his grave.

Source: Poetry (November 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2009

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