In 2010 we spent 10 days in Berlin before going on to visit Jose’s family in Portugal. I’d been in Germany in early 1975. We both wanted to see Berlin, which I had missed then.
This poem won an Honourable Mention in the Royal City Literary Arts Society (a mouthful? i.e. RCLAS) contest earlier this year. It has just been published in the October issue of the RCLAS Ezine. So, here you are. I’ve been told that it refers to the Huguenots.
Now I see double-spacing here. Unless that will change back to single, we may miss the impact of the condensed stanzas having the shapes of the many memorial blocks.
I learned many years ago from a German friend, if you can’t type an umlaut, you add an “e” after the vowel. I love to say “Gewuertztraminer”. We have been making a fine one at the Wine Factory on Front St in New Westminster. “Cheeky Monkey” brand had great labels for this product, but they stopped making/providing those.
And now, my most recent recognition-winning poem…not true – most recent “otherwise-published”. My last award BTW was from the Burnaby Writers’ Society – second prize for my poem “The Mortal Coil of Life” – yes, the theme was “Shakespeare” – it’s 400 years, you know.
I’ll be reading that poem at the BWS Awards presentation ceremony at the Deer Lake Gallery, 6584 Deer Lake Ave (to left of Shadbolt Centre) – 7:30-9:30 on Tuesday, October 18. CRISTY WATSON won first prize – she read her poem at Poetic Justice this fall & honoured Shakespeare so well – I “had a feeling” – was not surprised by her win.
BERLINER SUITE, A SHAPED POEM
the Jewish Memorial is plain, grey, rectangular—
low-lying structures of dull, dark cement (coffin-like)
repeat in different sizes spread over acres
two thousand, seven hundred, eleven pieces
I’ve not come to celebrate war
won’t go to concentration camps
never again—I know enough—
I’m a pacifist, on a Berlin bus
I remember Martin Niemoeller’s words—when they came for
the communists, socialists, trade unionists, the Jews
he said: I did not speak up, and when they came for me
there was no one left to speak
I’ll look for memorials for the others—
gypsies, Roma people; gays and lesbians
the differently-abled and incurably-ill
Catholics, and Lutherans like Niemoeller
the tour guide reports—at one time
when Protestants were persecuted in France
they were safe in Berlin—
every fifth Berliner was French…
the painting in our hotel room shows a ship
carrying the city’s towers—
all the spires, old and new, are included—
it’s a clear day, an even keel, calm water
but my early morning stanzas come
as coffins, long dark shapes in the night…
Franci Louann August 5, 2010
Europe Germany Berlin religion war memorial
sub’d RCLAS contest 2016; won Honourable Mention
published in the RCLAS Ezine, Wordplay at Work, October 2016