The German Hotel
by Charles Bukowski
the German hotel was very strange and expensive and had
double doors to the rooms, very thick doors, and it over—
looked the park and the vasser tern and in the mornings
it was usually too late for breakfast and the maids
would be everywhere changing sheets and bringing in
towels, but you never saw any hotel guests, only the
maids and the desk man and the day desk man was all
right because we were sober during the day but we had
trouble with the night man who was some sort of snob
and not very good with getting the corkscrews and ice
and wine glasses up to us and he was always phoning to
say the other guests objected to our noise.
what other guests?
I always told him that everything was very quiet,
nothing was going on, that somebody must be crazy, so
will you please stop ringing?
but he kept ringing, he became almost like a
companion to us through the night.
but the day man was very nice, he always had little
messages of importance that either meant money, or a
good friend coming to see us, or both.
we stayed at the hotel twice during our trip to
Europe and each time we checked out the day clerk
bowed ever so slightly, he was tall and well-dressed
and pleasant and he said each time: “it was nice to
have you with us. please come here again if you return.”
“thank you,” we said, “thank you.”
it’s our favorite hotel and if I ever get rich I am
going to buy it and fire the night clerk and there will
be enough ice cubes and corkscrews for everybody.
NOTE: Charles Bukowski wrote “The German Hotel” in 1979, the year following his first trip to his birthplace, Andernach, Germany. The poem appeared in Wormwood Review, No. 81, 1981.
PHOTO: Andernach, Germany. Photo by Yakari-Travel.
NOTE: Andernach is a town with a current population of about 30,000 in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Located on the banks of the Rhine River, it is one of the oldest towns in Germany, tracing its origins to a Roman settlement in 12 B.C.
PHOTO: Birthplace of Charles Bukowski, Aktienstraße 12, 56626 Andernach, Germany. Photo by Smalltown Boy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Quintessential Los Angeles poet and novelist Charles Bukowski was born on August 16, 1920 in Andernach, Germany, where his parents met a few years before. Bukowski’s German-American father Henry was a sergeant in the United States Army serving in Germany after the country’s 1918 defeat during WWI. Henry had an affair with Katharina Fett, a German friend’s sister, and she became pregnant. Charles Bukowski claimed to have been born out of wedlock, but Andernach marital records show that his parents married one month before his birth. On April 23, 1923, the family sailed from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Baltimore, Maryland, where they settled. In 1930 the family moved to Los Angeles, where Bukowski lived most of his life. He died of leukemia in the Los Angeles community of San Pedro on March 9, 1994.