The wall jumpers

I shake my head. Dead days lie ahead of us at the trial.
We would wander aimlessly long after the shutters were up, unable to work or sleep. We had hardly spoken in years.
As she disappeared, after sitting with me on a pavement around Alexander Platz overnight, I must have discovered what wall jumpers felt like – who knows from what heights fallen. No shelter. No heaven. All books and papers burnt, all lines broken, all nails cut, all suspects confessed Continue reading “The wall jumpers”


Peter Fechter (1944-1962)

August 17, 1962: Peter Fechter was shot while trying to make his bid for freedom. He bled to death in agony right behind the Wall in Zimmerstraße near Checkpoint Charlie.

Walled in, death
by wall and concrete,
neither too tall, nor thick
but an empty zone
open to the appointed
West. The last jump,
the spark long since kept
lit against the spying
of the dark, Continue reading “Peter Fechter (1944-1962)”

Poem after the waste wall

Most parts of the Wall were pre-fabricated segments, originally designed for other kind of buildings. It was never seen as the wall of a house, though.

An almost invisible thread
had guided crowds for years.
Rushing out from shelters
and bunkers, they gathered
here to eavesdrop winds
and western whispers
behind the wall. The firm
back of the winter’s hand
halted them all before it.
It didn’t upturn the hourglass,
nor did it shake and clean
its clogged throat.
The days were dust,
the dust that was their house.
Now none dares to speak to
those who’ve chosen to forget.
And we all go with them.
Dead men only speak
a language of regret.

November, 1961

As early as November of 1961, skilled and unskilled workers were practically employed around the clock to reinforce the first generation Wall under the command of construction engineers and the guns of guards on duty. There were actually four generations of the Berlin Wall.

Let this wall hide the wall that stands behind
the wall of itself. Feed another stone into
the wall, another word fed into the silence
that walls up the emptied rooms of the dead.
Most of the wall is centered about ourselves:
it’s up to us to believe it falls down in the end
or not.

13 August 1961

Archie Shepp is blowing through his sax. I’ve been a jazz collector for years and this music leads me to wakefulness. Perhaps too much genius in it? Too much fire in the flame? My nerves go bad or perhaps too good. My childhood home smiles in the background, but I’m sitting up in the plain light and the old map is sharp: Berlin was split. The thick postwar wall was not an implausible invention, not only a death sentence put off, nor did it barely mark the trench between two opposite ideologies. It drew a rough circle around Continue reading “13 August 1961”