The Wall

Twenty years ago today the people of Berlin pulled down the wall that separated East and West Germany.  In a recent interview, former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev called the Wall, “one of the shameful symbols of the Cold War.”  Historians will continue to debate why the Wall fell at the time it did, and what was the “true” impetus for its demise.  Two years previously, Ronald Reagan in a much publicized speech demanded that Gorbachev “tear down the wall.”  Gorbachev appeared to do nothing, though his apparent silence of not reacting won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.  With the collapse of the wall, the a symbol of Communism was destroyed and the Cold War started to defrost, though its breezes are still felt. 


Freedom’ Call

Alan Cook


Over and under and through the Wall they came,

parched with a thirst they couldn't quench.

Tunneling, flying, leaping, crawling, hidden

in car seats and carts, determined to wrench

themselves free from tyranny's stench.


Oppressed, tortured, imprisoned, shot—

still the thirsty would not could not be denied.

The spring of freedom beckoned, so close, so far;

yards, feet, nay inches away they died—

and friends and loved ones cried.


Some made it! a baby hidden in a bag in a cart;

desperate men who leapt on a moving train;

a hollow car seat, tunnels, boats,

a makeshift glider, balloon and plane;

putting an end to the thirst and pain.


And then one day, one wonderful day,

they hammered and shattered and tore down the Wall!

Thirsting, singing, shouting, laughing, hugging,

chunk by chunk they watched it fall—

and the terrible thirst was quenched for all.

Computer expert turned author, Alan Cook writes mysteries and books about walking, as well as articles and poetry.


Berlin Wall Peddlers

William Marr

History on sale

One chunk for only twenty dollars

Look at this one

it's full of bullet holes

this one is stained with deserters' blood

and see these two dark holes

they were burned by an anxious gaze

the remains of cold war on this one

still make you tremble

and what we have here

are the dancing footprints of the youth

and the shouting and clapping

when a heavy chain tore it down

Our supply is abundant

after the Berlin Wall

we'll tear down the walls


the rich and the poor

the fortunate and the unfortunate

the oppressors and the oppressed

and of course we always have

the inexhaustible walls

between the hearts

of indifference

William Marr was born in 1936 and educated in Taiwan. He came to the United States in 1961 and received his master's degree in mechanical engineering from Marquette University in 1963 and his PhD degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1969. After twenty seven years with Argonne National Laboratory, he retired from his engineering profession in 1996 to devote his full time and energy to his true passion -- art and poetry. 


When the Berlin Wall Fell

Ewa Lipska

When the Berlin Wall fell, dear Frau Schubert, I began dreaming migraines, Mulilingual migraines, no preservatives.  Bulging freedom, the excess weight of the united countries, began peering in through my windows.  Its eye—I wonder what it’s thinking.


We Have It All Now

Ewa Lipska

We have it all now, dear Frau Schubert.  The borders’ invisible stitch.  Impeccably tailored fields.  Close-cropped towns.  A genetic crisis.  In the green house, where I’m resting: after growing a novel, Newton’s orange ripens.

Ewa Lipsak, the author of The New Century and Pet Shops.  The poem was translated by Barbara Bogoczek and Tony Howard from the Polish.


Rmemberance of a Yugoslav

Tomaz Salamun

Yep, There was a wall.  It was ornamental

and thick.  Bumblebees held secret.


Meetings. Artuad was exhumed, they

brought him on a stretcher so he


could view it.  Some dog it, others did

not.  It was scrawny, thinner than


the Chinese one, but not quite

as scrawny as the Israelis.’


I walked on the Chinese with Ron

Padgett, who bought himself


A cap there on Jan. 2, 1963,

I walked through Berlin’s


With Metka to visit Pergamon.,

Alexanderplatz was without


People.  We sat there in a People’s

canteen.  In my hands I held five


West German marks, which glittered like a wafer,

I bought Honoecker’s daily


Neues Deutschland with only

one photo, how in America in 1931


People stood in line for some hot

soup.  I remember people’s eyes.

Tomaz Salamun, the author of Weeds and Choices.  This poem was translated by Brian Henry from the Slovenian.


It was a Weird Wall

Vera Pavlova

It was a weird wall

Like the Mobius strip,

It had only one side,

The other one was unseen:

The far side of the Moon.

But some people would race

Against bullets, to rip

The barbed finish tape

With their chests, tog ive

A push to the wrecking ball,

The pendulum of the invisible clock.


Under 11/09/59,

My diary says:

“Natasha lost a front tooth,

Liza for the first time

Stood up in her crib

On her own.”

Vera Pavlova, the author of the forthcoming collection, If There is Something to Desire.  This poem was translated by Steven Seymour from the Russian.