Poem by Joanne Z. Tan, founder and CEO, 10+ Visual Branding, 10+ Super Brand, a/k/a Joanne Tan Visual Branding, Photographic artist, poet, Poem And Art Studio, "Did Berlin Kill You, Anthony Bourdain?"

Did Berlin Kill You, Anthony Bourdain?

posted in Poems by Joanne Tan

Did Berlin Kill You, Anthony Bourdain?


Did Berlin kill you,

Anthony Bourdain?

Your last stop,

the dark side,

the self-mutilating pains and sufferings

captured by the photographer

whom you too kindly described

as non judgemental,

yet whose attention celebrated the evil.


Did it get to you too deep?

So deep and personal

that you could not shake if off,

and just carry on, as normal?


Your sensitive soul,

inclined to self-blaming;

Your acute sense of justice,

after seeing too much,

the bloody, the gory, the silent screaming,

the twisted howling,

the uninhibited exhibition

of craze, thirst, Dante’s infernal…


And the compounding of all demons

from your past, 

namable, unnamable…


You simply could not go on

as usual?


If I could just shake you, shout at you,

“Wake up!  Wake up! It was just a dream!”

But it was not.

You have seen evil. You have known evil.


But there IS salvation, Anthony Bourdain,

There is the ultimate redemption, my friend,

my passionate, compassionate, curious, authentic,

poetic, genuine, unpretentious, complex, endearing friend,

Don’t you know?


There is only so far you can go,

so much you can see,

so long you can be.


For however zealous you used to feel

about people, culture, food, travel,

however talented you told their stories,

you never could tolerate

the mere thought of covering up human suffering.

And you came to the end of your power

and capacity

to carry on

as if nothing happened.


You gave it all:

not entertainment

not reporting without engaging

not one facet but everything.

You exposed your soul, your heart, your thin body,

and I wondered sometimes,

how you stayed so thin with so much devouring.

You felt that you could no longer laugh,

dine and wine

as usual.


It got you.


If only

I could shake you, and yell at you,

“Anthony Bourdain,

please don’t feel so deeply,

so intimately,

so compassionately;

Just stay superficial,

just pretend that you didn’t see anything at all,

just continue…”


How could you?

How could you not?


You could only honor your authenticity,

you could only live,

by not going on

any more.


I was so mad at you,

at what I first thought

as a selfish way to go.

“How could you do this to us?

You betrayed my trust!

I thought you were truly life loving,

and congenial;

How could you just checked out of life

in this fashion,

this cruel to yourself?

Whatever darkness you could not endure?”


Now I seem to get it,

or what I want to believe:

To you,

Either you could do something

to injustice, emptiness, indifference,

or be consumed

by the very darkness you struggle to fight,

in helplessness, what you thought.

To you,

It  is unthinkable

to go on with your child-like curiosity

once your soaked yourself

In evil.


Your way of leaving us

punched a hole in our innocence.

Yet I thank you

for your light,

your love,

your passion;

For being exactly you.


©  Joanne Tan,  6/11/18 All rights reserved.