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Poems From Berlin

Posted by rummyroo from Cardiff - Published on 03/04/2013 at 14:54
1 comments » - Tagged as Creative Writing, Culture, History, Travel

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I recently spent a weekend with friends in the wonderful capital of Germany, which was covered in snow.

The city is fantastic - full of culture and bursting with young, cool energy. The green Berliner Weisse beers were plenty, the music was incredible as expected and everything was perfect.

However, it was also impossible not to feel the overwhelming presence of the past there. Berlin felt distinctly eastern, clearly displaying its years of Soviet influence, in comparison with its Bavarian counterparts. You also couldn't walk for seeing remnants of Imperial, Nazi and Cold War Germany. Yet simultaneously you were aware of a Germany self-consciously making atonement and trying to look towards the future. These three poems reflect those aspects of Berlin represented in the major landmarks; the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Wall and the Reichstag/Bundestag.

For those who have not had the fortune of studying the entire history of Germany for History A-level, here are a few clarifications:

  • 'Mr. Gorbachev' - Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the USSR when the Berlin Wall was brought down
  • 'van der Lubbe' - Marinus van der Lubbe, a communist convicted by the Nazis of setting fire to the Reichstag, the German building of parliament
  • 'Dem Deutschen Volke' - translates as 'For the German People'
  • 'Merkel' - Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany


There are no more words for the dead.
They were exhausted long ago in
Mumbled prayers to the dust in assembly halls.
How awful.
How cruel.
So sad.
The textbook lay open, the blue-eyed boy feeble in 90s print.
Comic Sans screamed facts and figures,
S I X M I L L I O N.
How awful.
How cruel.
So sad.
Schindler’s List blared lazily in the corner as
An automatic hand drew a penis protruding from Hitler’s head.

There are no more words for the dead.
Amongst these stones the silence acts like a
Vacuum in the city’s heart, suffocating and ripe.
Those dark slabs, a static tumultuous grey sea,
Veer above like a morbid skyline convicting you
And me. There are no words, only a palpitating
Feeling as if butterflies had gone wrong,
Ignored the laws of metamorphoses and
Recoiled back into their cocoons to hide
Their shameful beauty from glaring eyes.
In every direction, there is solitude.
In every blip of solitude, there is only a feeling -
It happened. How awful… How cruel… So sad…
An automatic hand wrote its name on the snow.


I remember when the cinderblocks went up and the
Russians looked down and the dogs piled in to
Scrap over the remains and all of us were treading
Over minefields as the snipers arrived in their towers
Ready to pick us off
One by one.

And the Soviets and the Yankees were having a merry old
Game playing tug of war in my city and splitting us
Up into two teams and no one was picked last we just ran and
JFK, that doughnut of a man, turned up
Claiming he played for
Our side.

And Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev! And I mustn’t forget David Hasselhoff,
I asked you nicely to take down the wall and you kindly obliged and
It’s one year later, the USSR has fallen apart, but Mandela is in prison,
We’ll have to wait four more years to sing peace. Oh but now
Cyprus and Palestine are painting on the wall

I’ll walk past and I’m struck, but move on to enjoy the
Fruits of twenty four years as I take the leap into
East and have a little rest in the neighbouring
McDonald’s where I eat my Subway and admire the
Graffiti and the cold past.


I wondered, van der Lubbe, if it was really you
Who strolled in the frosty shadow of that proud,
Germanic architecture held up by borrowed
Corinthian columns, soon to be tinder fodder,
Looked briefly at the bold and passionate statement,
And saw nothing but future flames
As red and forceful as your political ideology.
Or, more likely, as I never really trusted them,
The Nazis were having us on.

I’ll hold your trial in the glass dome, built in the void
As if to say there are no secrets between us,
All you see is all there is; the past, present and future
Laid bare on the curve if only you look past the
Steamy rain sweating down the sides.
The column of flaked mirrors surges through the centre,
Reflecting the splintered image of all you see and all there is,
Dem Deutschen Volke in 360 degree view.
I wondered, Merkel, if you were below my feet,
Saving the economy, and wondering about van der Lubbe too.

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1 CommentPost a comment

Sam Sprout (Editor)

Sam Sprout (Editor)

Commented 37 months ago - 3rd April 2013 - 15:13pm

These are fantastic, so many great lines! Nice one and thanks for sharing!

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