A POEM BY: Ben Dunk:† 1980. Inspired by news of an attempted escape from Communist East Germany.




Dragging wearily along the river bed,

struggling over the slithery-rocky surfaces under the water.

The wet seeps through my boots, socks and clothes

dampens cold my feet.

The leather and stitches sodden of my shoes,

heavy and squelchy they grow;

but I dare not take them off,

for fear of sharp and knobby stones,

biting into my civilized soft feet.


Then, the shot rang out

and I was falling and flailing into the flood.

Distance, memory and time formulae flashed briefly through my mind.

Too weak to rise, mouth open and nostrils flaring,

the sweet, polluted brine poured gently and irresistibly into my lungs,

sluiced and then shut off by convulsive gulps and nasal closures.


The lungs stop, the heart stops but the brain lives on:

three minutes to death.


This world and the next are omnipresent.


Feel the pains of kicks and rifle butting,

Bayonet stabs in the back;

as the great divide becomes a lesser-gap to cross.


This must be the painest-pain of all;

this must be the pain of Christ twice over.


Here is the promised place;

meet all the people here.

See the beauty of everything,

Look upon Godís Son of man.

Dream bad dreams away.

Drown ones self in happiness and joy,

contrary to my murderous shooting and drowning,

whilst attempting to escape,

across the communist Iron Curtain as a young boy.