Did the wall fall out of the sky? Did the wall have to come?
The Berlin Wall
Did the wall fall out of the sky?
Did the wall have to come?
What did the wall prevent?
Was peace really threatened?
Who is walled in?
Who breaks off human contacts?
Does the wall threaten anyone?
Who is aggravating the situation?
Is the wall a gymnastic apparatus?
Hagen Koch was drawing a new meridian, a new equator,
a new edge of the world.
The line he had painted was the line of the Berlin Wall.
According to Ute, the Socialist Worker’s Paradise
wasn’t that bad. There were libraries and swimming pools,
holiday resorts and good public transportation.
These concrete slabs
formed the western face
of Grenzmauer 75.
The residents of Bernauerstrasse woke up to find
that the wall between their flats and the street outside—
the one they’d just repapared, the one with the window
with net curtains and flower boxes, the one with the front door
that jammed a little every day—yes, that wall—
had become the Wall.
The tenants of Bernauerstrasse saw their lives
stretch out before them, and they knew what they had to do.
There was a clock in Alexanderplatz called the Welt-Uhr,
the world clock,
which showed the time in all the capital cities of the world.
She was made to sit in pools of freezing water for hours,
for days, until she couldn’t even shiver anymore.
She was forced to crouch naked on a mirror and urinate,
while the guards stood over her and pointed and laughed.
guaranteeing world peace,
the socialist workers
against the neo-Hitlerites
in the West.
But still Peter Fechter made a dash for it across No Man’s Land and died in the sand rather than stay at home.
We have decided today (um) to implement a regulation
that allows every citizen of the German Democratic Republic (um)
to (um) leave the GDR through any of the border crossings.
In Which History Comes to an End
The Parthenon is dissolving into the atmosphere,
but preparations have been made for the conclusion of its story.
Victor Pawlowski lives happily after in Bernau,
the town outside Berlin for which Bernauerstrasse is named.
He is the proud owner of a building yard,
a huge silver Chrysler cruiser,
and U.S. patent number 6076675.
Some of them started with graffiti.
They created trompe l’oeil murals
that poked gaps in the structure
upon which they had been drawn.
Ute went to London, to make her fortune and see the world.
She found work as a pastry chef in a smart restaurant,
she worked hard, and she made good money. She could buy
whatever she wanted, but she wasn’t happy.
The Wall can now be found in a bewildering array of locations:
the CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.,
the campus of Honolulu Community College in Hawaii,
the urinals in the Main Street Station Hotel in Las Vegas.
After the Mauerspechte and the bulldozers
had done their work, there was nothing left of the Wall—
nothing apart from nothing, that is.
Anis Shivani’s debut book of poetry is My Tranquil War and Other Poems (May 2012). His other books are The Fifth Lash and Other Stories (2012), Against the Workshop: Provocations, Polemics, Controversies (2011), and Anatolia and Other Stories (2009). His work appears in Georgia Review, Southwest Review, Threepenny Review, Boston Review, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.