Tope Omoniyi


Berlin 1997

I came
thinking of the wall
that halved you long ago
I came unprepared
for what you’ve become

East to West
Coca-Cola and McDonalds
Spaghetti and Tandoori
light global candles
on concrete mantles and glass screens
your days filter into lit nights
gently scouring the blot
from an old and evil desire

At Zoologischer Garten
the World congregated to engage
the past and savour your present
one full length poster spoke
for silenced children:
Geschlossen wegen Einsamkeit’
Mehr zeit fur kinder.

Endorsements on your billboards
were of humour and happier times;
of Chasing Amy one philosophised:
‘Sex ist einfach- Liebe ist schwer’
greeted by a long queue of lovers
seeking to learn a lesson or two
in the darkness of cinema halls

It is six decades since Jesse Owens
his testimony and your new wisdom
warm U-bahn seats for my tribe
spread beyond Afrikaanistiche Strasse
but your grapevine is full
of the scourge of Istanbul’s children
a new rage for a new age?

Whilst I hum millennium chants
of harmony among men
open up Berlin, open more
for that which is to come
that knows no borders!


Milena your daughter says
You’re a city founded on art.
On your cobbled streets
The edges of interlocking stones
Tell a story of human inventiveness

Your Seventh Hill
Blasted into the bits
Of ornament on which the soles
Of shoes wear out
To feed the souls
Of a thousand tourists
Scouring the virgin lands
You opened to the world

In your restaurants
Re-enactments of periods of history
By amateur actors and actresses
Ottoman Turks, Armenians
And Gypsies trace.

Another daughter Yordininka
Imprinted incredible on my mind
With an accent

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