As the walls came down
a time so strange even simple
honesty looked like courage
As the walls came down the night bore no witness
half-truths buried and half-blind
came forth like locusts,
as pharaohs awakened from millennial dreams.
As the walls came down so too did the occult of blood
that had painted the sky with freedom’s manifesto
moneylenders, profiteers, whores
and Ophelia danced with the oppressor.
As the walls came down Stalin and Trotsky shook hands by the gallows,
beauty and truth undressed one another
as holy men pleaded with the same murderous light
that has fallen a thousand years.
There was a quarrel between the generals of Mohammed
and Bachus, who for centuries had been playing baccarat with the neanderthal gods,
and there were ghosts, and a thousand armies quarrelling
over what went wrong in the hearts of men,
philanderers, provocateurs and court jesters
arguing over tyranny and madness,
Bolshevik widows singing the “international,” and the shestidesyatniki crowning
each other “King of May,” as the walls came down
my cat dreamt medieval sphinx-like dreams on the steps of the pyramid
while men killed each other with prayer
libertines who know nothing so well as longing
became partisans with scandal,
as 2000 light years away
a star wept for mankind.
When the walls came down you and I who know perfectly nothing
became believers in the day after,
drunken revellers sang paeans to their fathers
and planned new pogroms.
Dadaists and bourgeois prophets gathered for the wedding
as Cossacks and Jews joined hands in a freilach,
As the walls came down this too was recorded
in the Book of Time.
When the walls came down the bombs had already fallen in Chechnya
while diplomats danced like marionettes, to the Left and to the Right.
Fat-lipped girls with white satin skin
danced to Shostakovich and Stravinsky
as youth dances unknowingly with the deities
before the long journey through snow.
As the walls came down nothing happened
shepherds tended their herds while dim-eyed ladies knelt in prayer,
dissidents gathered over tea and signed petitions
as the proletariat recited Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley
in a half broken Russian
while the blood-libels of a thousand years went on.
And there was a New World Order, more feudal lords
Romans and the Golgotha time,
undergraduates with baccalaureate degrees
swooning to their own benign recitations of grief
as nations burst into flames
and the song went on being written.
As the walls came down millions watched starving
as the faithful erected new monuments,
crowds waited for miracles and witnesses
while the brave heart gossiped about gaiety and battle.
The rich built mansions and towers to proclaim godless ambition
as poets kissed the ground.
No silence honoured the work of genius
impaled upon the bloodless bird of prey.
As the walls came down the argument between bread and Christ continued
wars went on between self-appointed prophets
quoting Tolstoy and the province of Truth
as pallbearers passed out cigars for the stillborn.
There were whispers of Caesar and profit in the churches of envy
as commissars and serfs awoke hungover in paper-mache dachas,
dreaming Capitalist America, money and self-regard…
And it was Christmas everywhere.
As the walls came down I watched in horror
knowing the moon and sun would follow
old comrades shouted “Oda Revolyutsi”
to life-sized monuments of Lenin
while the masses shouted “Ya” and dug the same mass grave,
at Vilnius and Babi-Yar.
All the dead poets, the imagist poets, the symbolist poets
the dadaist and futurist poets, who lie forever silent.
As the walls came down Mayakovksy shouted to Yesenin,
As the walls came down so too did the foot soldiers of god
armies of thieves were imprisoned,
old lies were retold with new vigour
as Party Apparatchiks whispered perestroika,
and patriots remembered
hoisting the Flag over the Reichstag.
As the walls came down no bell tolled
history was recorded in inaudible whispers,
governments and holy men
dancing on the same blasphemous grave.
As the walls came down spring turned into autumn
a golden sun rained down from above
as Jericho fell,
“pale flowers on the runes of destroyed ideals.”