for Peter Viereck

This is the house destroyed by Jack.
   This is the spot where the rumpled buck
stops, and where Hans gets killed.
   This is the wall that Ivan built.

This is the wall that Ivan built.
   Yet trying to quell his sense of guilt,
he built it with modest light-gray concrete,
   and the booby-traps look discreet.

Under this wall that a) bores, b) scares
   barbed wire meshes lie flat like skeins
of your granny’s darnings (her chair still rocks!)
   But the voltage’s too high for socks.

Beyond this wall throbs a local flag
   against whose yellow, red, and black
Compass and Hammer proclaim the true
   masonic dream came through.

The Vopos patiently in their nest
   through binoculars scan the West
and the East; and they like both views
   apparently devoid of Jews.

Those who are seen here, thought of, felt,
   were driven away by the sense of Geld
or by a stronger Marxist urge.
   The wall won’t let them merge.

Come to this wall if you hate your place
   and face a sample of cosmic space
where no life-forms can exist at all
   and objects only fall.

Come to this scornful of peace and war
   petrified version of either/or
meandering through these bleak parts which act
   like a mirror that’s cracked.

Sad is the day here. In the night
   searchlights illuminate the blight
making sure that if someone screams,
   it’s not due to bad dreams.

For dreams here aren’t bad: just wet with blood
   of one of your likes who left his pad
to ramble here; and in his head
   dreams are replaced by lead.

Given that, it’s only Time
   who has guts enough to commit the crime
of passing this place back and forth on foot:
   at pendulums they don’t shoot.

That’s why this site will see many moons
   while couples lie in their beds like spoons,
while the rich are wondering what they wish
   and single girls eat fish.

Come to this wall that beats other walls:
   Roman, Chinese, whose worn-down, false
molars envy steel fangs that flash
   scrubbed of thy neighbor’s flesh.

A bird may twitter a better song.
   But should you consider abortion wrong
(or that the quacks ask too high a fee),
   Come to this wall, and see.

This Issue

December 17, 1981