January‘s theme for Voices of Berlin is How I Stay Alive.


Zeke, USA

“So basically, I’m a terribly ill man and I was in Berlin for about 6 months but the thing is, I was so devastatingly ill and I had no access to healthcare and then I waited about 4 more months. I was almost dead. You are supposed to have a certain amount of haemoglobin in your blood, about 14 and… I had 6. Really dangerous. So I packed my bag, I got on the aeroplane and I showed up in America, showed up at a hospital and just… fell.

I spent the next somewhat 10 months trying to figure out how to make myself healthy again. I found little tricks, little things to do and really nothing helped. Eventually, I got put on a medicine, they thought I was doing really good and I applied for school in Berlin. I thought: Well, fuck it I’m gonna go, become a student, it’ll be great but about two days before I left I got told that I couldn’t get into the university but, you know, fuck it, I’ll just go and figure it out. Which is realllyyyy irresponsible but I just stocked up on a bunch of medicine and just thought to myself I have six months to figure it out before I will probably be deathly ill again. I got here and within one week I was sick again, the medicine didn’t even work and I was like fuck, what am I going to do?

So I thought I was going to die, so I went to Rome… to die. Specifically to die.  I just thought… I’ll die in a hostel in Rome. On the plane ride there, I remembered an old medicine, just in a dream, I fell asleep and woke up and was like I KNOW! I got to Rome, I went to a pharmacy and they don’t have rules there about doctors and shit. So I went in and asked for a bunch-of-this and they were like sure! I started taking it and now I’m doing pretty good. I still don’t have health insurance or anything but I just convinced this doctor to write me prescriptions. And… that’s how I stay alive.”

How I Stay Alive - January's edition of Voices of Berlin for Berlin Untelevised


Voices of Berlin is Berlin Untelevised‘s monthly Lives project. This project is to show the connection behind real lives within this both crazy and wonderful city by asking it’s many residents one question or theme a month. Our ultimate goal is to curate a collection of accounts on many topics, ending each month with an abstract poem created through that month’s selection of responses and, thus, transform Berlin into a poet.

Read Zeke’s contribution to this month’s Voices of Berlin poem and its collection of other Berliner accounts in January’s How I Stay Alive in the first week of February. If you’re a Berliner, find out how to add a contribution by emailing the editor of Lives lorathepoet(@)gmail.com.