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Poetic License — Wallpeckers (Mauerspechte)

By Staff | Mar 3, 2011

Philip Heubeck's "Memory: Berlin 1990."

Introduction: My collaborator Philip Heubeck and I are separated by more than two generations. He spent his childhood in Germany in the late 80s and 90s and I spent mine on NY’s East Side in the 30’s and 40s.

He spent an afternoon with me and left 3 paintings in my house, all of which sang fragments of poems to me but each time I sat with Memory: Berlin 1990, the sound of hammers pinging kept reverberating in my memory. I soon remembered why.

When I showed Philip my finished art poem, he told me had heard the sound when he was 7 and living in Berlin. My collaborator was an eye-witness to the scene I had witnessed on CNN twenty years ago, a continent and ocean away, a scene we just witnessed again in Egypt last week: the tumbling down of oppression and the re-birth of freedom.

Wallpeckers (Mauerspechte)

(Inspired by Philip Heubeck artwork: Memory: Berlin 1990)

All day long the hammers ping and ping

As flocks of Wallpeckers chisel

Piece after piece off the Wall of Shame.

Their hammers pound and ping and ring

With the sound and fury of being walled in,

Twenty-eight years of not being free.

Wallpecker hammers ping and ring and sing,

“Topple the ramparts, knock down the gates,

Flatten the fakir beds, pave the death strips.”

Wallpeckers pound and their chisels chink —

Chunks of Checkpoints Charlie and Brandenburg

For sale with original graffiti spray.

Free at last to roam Berlin and the world,

They pound the last of the “Protection Wall”

Into powdery protest and pebbles of shame.