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Syndic Literary Journal

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Art of the Spoken Word



German Poet, Britta Kollberg, writes  to Syndic Literary Journal:

Hi LeRoy,

How are you doing? I am impressed by the amount of your publications in the last months.
As for me, I’ve had a busy and somewhat stormy half-year. The current events made me think a lot about my past and about the things we were afraid of then and are again now.
So, here’s a poem about a very special time … I hope you like it (as much as one can like poems about these topics).
Warm greetings from the Baltic Sea (where I’ve established my home office this week).


LeRoy Chatfield  writes to Poet Britta  Kollberg:

My Dear Britta,

I lose track of time but it seems ages since you last sent me a piece to publish in Syndic.

It is so refreshing to hear from you again and to know that you are well and even now basking in the Baltic Sea. Sounds wonderful!  You deserve it!

I am very impressed with your memoir piece “Wall windows, East Berlin”.  I congratulate you on the the power of your narration; I really felt the bravery and the danger of those who sought to escape by scaling the Berlin Wall.

Take Care,


Wall windows, East Berlin

Written and Narrated by Britta R. Kollberg

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Wall windows, East Berlin

Britta R. Kollberg


There was barbed wire on top of the wall

pointing inside.

You had to climb the concrete slabs (if you got there, crouching across a dead end

in a deserted neighborhood or silently swimming across the night river),

you had to climb the concrete slabs and swing

or drag yourself over barbs, carefully pulling them out of your pants

and armpits before you jumped down to cross

the no man’s land now: landmines sleeping beneath you, and fingers

following you on the trigger as you run across,

waiting to stop you well before

you reach the second wall and, climbing up the concrete, feel the spotlight moving over

your insected back.

Some made it.



The day the Berlin wall came down, broke open, was unlocked mistakenly

by someone on TV

that evening I sat in what had been my room throughout my teenage years.

I didn’t watch TV.

But someone did. My mother did, she came into my room and, unbelieving,

asked if we should go and see the thing.

It was late night.

It was when people watched TV,

and fell asleep there, on the couch,

and hours later, eyes half closed, shuffled their movie dreams to bed.

But someone was awake,

and someone stammered on a TV channel hardly watched

the nervous news

and hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands

switched off their TVs and went

to see the thing.

I didn’t go. I didn’t join my mother for the one hour car ride through the night city

to a southern opening near Moritzplatz where she saw people serving champagne

to the border guards. I stayed home, reading, writing, tired,

planning our church youth group retreat the coming weekend,

drafting exercises, texts, discussions on beliefs and future plans (and not about

the question who might be the person in our midst who spied on us—we had decided

not to try to find out, not to spy-spy on each other…)


And I remember Saturday that weekend, how I suddenly, so urgently suggested going there

to see the open wall, days after it broke down, was unlocked by mistake—

and how I was postponed (due to our program)

with the assurance—and it turned out true—that there would still be time,

the wall would not close down again, so there’d be endless time

to see the thing…



I went in December

when I had guests, tourists from faraway.

I saw the squares and shop-windows, known from TV. I took a tour along historical

street lamps in the West. I don’t know if my mother

ever went to sit in the movie theaters and the pubs of her youth in Frohnau

or to the station where she had caught that city train one night

after the movies, the last train back East

(it was late night)

the last train to the East

before, as they heard the next morning,

a wall was erected and closed over night.



The wall is down in pieces, bits of stones

in glass-front cabinets around the world.

I never went to scratch one off although

the wall was just next door. (It is, still.

Graffiti along it color my Shabbat walks

now.) I never bought a piece or cracked

one out of broken slabs nor did I take

the one a friend once brought me as a gift.

But I have little barbs

still sticking in the hollows of my knees.

That will suffice.








Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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