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  • whitjr shared a letter in the Group logo of Magical MomentsMagical Moments group 1 month ago

    Accomplishing a suprise

    GOING TO BERLIN IN 1970 -for Hank

    They were traveling by train
    the whole family, for Thanksgiving
    at seventeen it felt like being thirty
    courage for the i-am-strong-enough
    to face the i-don’t-know-what
    speaking German wishing-to-know-words

    even so he was in his own thoughts-
    Where does genuine live?
    Is it In amongst the realizations of the self?

    Traveling with another Colonel’s family,
    with another son of seventeen
    both in railroad overnight sleeper berths
    the Colonels had to be in uniform
    crossing Enemy Territory as it was
    the Enemy’s armed soldiers at railway stops in the dark
    warned us not to exit the cars
    if the train stopped, must have passports at the ready
    should they be demanded by the communists.

    It would take all night to get to Berlin due to the many stops
    having left the freedoms of West Germany
    fluttering on flagpoles at the border.

    It was the first time, really, that he was aware,
    like no kidding, that the suppression of men could be such
    a real thing.

    That realization never walked away again
    the sight of man’s inhumanity to man
    that persisted for the rest of his years

    this epiphany became a finely tuned crap-dector
    like gauging spoken truths for authenticity
    or assessment of mood, or rank, at a glance.

    Sometimes both revealing, and understanding, were pushed
    into override, with wisps of smoke coming out
    he had to get out, away from the despicable source

    what of the half-truths
    or the lying in the unnecessary competitions
    in foolish men’s lives.
    Sleep was a casualty of that night.
    Excitement of so many AK-47s,
    the danger slung on The Enemy’s shoulders
    during the travel to West Berlin
    so divided (one of the few walled cities left in the world)
    the Berlin Wall was a living, breathing beast
    the beast was hungry to eat those that loved freedom
    the east had walled all around the west city with
    guard towers sporting machine-guns overlooking barbed wire.
    We were free to think and speak
    our minds carrying on the traditions
    that was why our Fathers wore the uniforms.

    Yet there was Checkpoint Charlie
    a passageway out of grey oppression
    crossing over into sparkling clean air

    the point of cruel suppression, of beyond unfair dictatorship
    made by the hundreds of small white crosses
    placed to honor where the dead had been murdered

    those that had sought out of the chill, shot dead
    sometimes having dug under the wire
    perhaps hidden in the trunk of a car under blankets.

    Those sights stayed with him far into his future years
    the detector tuned to not just seeing lies
    but to detect the oranges of tyrannical narcissism

    he felt as if he had breached the walls of Mordor there
    in the east walkers dressed in darks and greys
    city streets there unkept, paint on walls peeling

    a stark contrast to the bustle of the west side
    where there were freedoms even to wear bright yellow
    should one want to, and to think unencumbered

    he sought the exploration of the Self
    ever since, gathering strength
    asking The Critical Questions, the hard Q’s
    finding his answers where they may be
    in a song, poem, or readings of the great works
    perhaps in some direct act of a caring sort
    observing when life reached that occasional pinnacle
    where truth junctured with an intensity

    combined with spontaneous, deliberate acts of kindness
    produced those moments of humanness
    that people remember and talk about for years later.

    He remembered Berlin all his life.

    His walking up to the communist wall of Checkpoint Charlie
    seeing the machine gun in the guard tower
    ranging his steps, following his direction
    (his Mother standing there wanting to scream)
    as he gently removed a loose brick
    from the wall just by The Enemy’s gate
    even the western Military Policeman directing traffic
    watched him step back away towards safety.

    Taking that red brick
    an act out of a youthful sense of invincibility
    became a brick in his own wall
    the brick was in his study even now
    holding a honored place on a shelf
    near the volumes of philosophy
    becoming a power cell in the course of his life
    a light shining into the darkness
    showing what it means to be a real human in the world.

    Ray
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