VERSE / Bobby Nelson : The Wall

Photo by Veruschka (1971) / Playboy / Flatrock.


We are all masons
highly skilled
without apprenticeship
a birthright of our culture

We lay the bricks
unintentionally – without design
as we sit in silence
and long for god-driven bulldozers
    to crush our life’s work

Our dreams slowly suffocate
while our fear
places the mortar
expertly on the growing wall

We wait expectantly
for just one brick to crumble
by lightning, thunder and the
    storms of heaven
but divine sources don’t intervene in
    this human-made catastrophe

we move into smaller confines
as the wall spreads over the open spaces
our dreams intensify
as the space we allot ourselves shrinks

We imagine actions
which would crumble the red brick
praying our silent screams will shatter the wall
and uncover the hidden rainbows

The wall only continues to expand

How have we built such a sturdy wall
what did we do to shape its architecture

Did it begin with my silence
    on that Sunday morning
when you rolled on and off of me quickly
apologized for your insensitivity
    but received no satisfactory reply

or the last time we left the mortar
    in the other room
threw the bricks out the window
stripped off the offending rococo

you slid into me easily
embarrassed that the entry was not biblical
my pleasure didn’t reassure you
and the wall went up a foot at least

Is it too late to tell you
how I loved your hard dick in those days
that you could want such pleasure with it
without the all restrictive fear
that I would not approve of your love of your own body

Have we learned enough not to build other walls
but not enough to tear down the existing structure

The great wall, the maginot line, the Berlin wall
county lines, racist incorporation, patriotic borders
separating cultures
dividing people
reinforcing the night silence into the day
walls built by human hands and weak hearts
by fear of loss, ignorance of gain

walls over the earth
providing privacy, preventing union
built brick by brick
as our minds lose the zest for openness
our hearts the belief in others

cynical walls too long to allow
    holding-hand circles
too high to allow
    embraces and kisses

We can’t even nestle in each other’s eyes
as the wall shades the sunlight

the most effective and compleat mason of all time

We build a brick each time we keep our
fantasies to ourselves
each time we bury our smiles and tears
our stoic selves are building a dead world

the wall is high
shouts of love barely chip the mortar
my eyes can’t say enough to you

and how I miss your low slung balls in my hands

barbed wire fence parallels the brick in my country
supposedly to separate the cows from the sheep
but instead separating people
establishing territory

people sweat as they stretch the wire
    and lay the bricks
the same builders wonder at the destruction
    of their dreams
about the purpose of their life at the time of their death
fleeting last thoughts of sweat, misunderstanding,
    and eternal nothingness

a double wall of protection in my land

a crazy friend – who is sane –
smashes bricks and clips barbed wire
    at the most unexpected time
exasperating her community with her lonely success

observers remain in their brick prison
silently cheering the effort she makes
    on behalf of us all
but unwilling to enter the unknown territory
    beyond the wall

this crazy bricksmasher is scratched by the wire
choked on the dust of the crumbling brick
she despairs at the bricklayers found on the
    other side of the wall
replacing the red blocks faster than she can
    knock them down
but she keeps looking for bricksmashers in her life

where are the bricksmashers
the bulldozers, the wire clippers

where are the crafty people
ones with strength in their hearts –
    wall-smashing strength
determination in the eyes –
    wire-cutting determination

show me the hands that can masturbate
    in the middle of the morning
    surrounded by red brick
and I will show you a natural born brick-smasher

show me the eyes that can shine
    in the middle of the night
    surrounded by barbed wire
and I will show you an experienced wire-cutter

eyes of light; hands of purpose
these are the illegals
those who cross borders, boundaries and walls

so tell me your fantasies
what you think as you fall into sleep
what you dream as the sun goes high
    and the hours pass on the glossy lake
    as the nibbling crappies mesmerize us
    into a dead silence

help me rip open a small place in the wall
a hole through which we can pull ourselves
and make space for others

I know you’re there

I’ll look for you
you look for me
we can add on as we go
tearing down those red oblong blocks
    which imprison our most worthwhile dreams

find the active hands and hold on tight
locate the gleaming eyes
    and keep a steady gaze

do something
do it now
while we sit in our separate corners
the wall keeps getting higher

Bobby Nelson
© 1980

“Camouflage.” Image from The Sun, U.K. / Flatrock.

Posted August 10, 2010 / The Rag Blog

This entry was posted in Rag Bloggers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to VERSE / Bobby Nelson : The Wall

  1. Mariann says:

    Bobby, have you been hiding your light behind a wall?? Beautiful, dear one, and strong!

  2. Kisses,
    wafted to you
    all the way,
    from now wallless
    or at least one wall less

  3. Janet says:

    So powerful. So true. We need to tear down walls–personal ones which prevent intimacy and political ones which prevent peace. Please share more of you poems with us!
    janet Berry

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