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Berlin Wall

Sunday morning
I go in a drizzle
to Check Point Charlie
and peer over the barbed wire
someone points across it
toward a building where his brother
slid home on a rope of knotted bedsheets

my turn:
border guards check my pockets
shoes      camera

the East is a time machine
takes me back 25 years
the Reichstag a blind beggar
burnt out since 1945
soldiers goosestep across the grass
Arbeit macht frei

a scabby woman serves me goulash
mostly potatoes
points at her throat
whispers she’s had it to the gills
can I do anything about the wall?
I see it through a dirty pane
machine guns and sentries at fifty yards

when I start to answer
a potato catches in my throat


Shael Herman is a graduate of Tulane University Law School, where he was a member of the Tulane Law Review. He went on to become a professor at the law school as well.