Memories From A Rickshaw

I was sitting in a rickshaw

I think it was last spring

Reminded me of Asia

But in a Euro kind of way


Was on Unter Den Linden

Stopped at the Bebelplatz

An underground memorial

Of empty bookshelves mute


I could still smell the ashes

Where burning books in flames

Died a silenced death of murder

While author’s spun in graves


Then onto Gendarmenmarkt

Where twin churches faced the other

Then along a cobbled road

Where a battered wall fell down


I could still hear some echoes

Of words I cannot say

I drank a lot of beer


But couldn’t shake the image


Of empty bookshelf shivers

Of forgotten words decay

I thought of that this mourning

When the news girl spoke to say


Subversive was misused


In a governmental way

So sat down by my river

In Montreal – Quebec


And I spat down on the water

That didn’t even splash

So I got back on my bike

And went and bought a book


And I’m reading it tonight

Sitting in my chair

It doesn’t make a difference

But its words will know I care


17 thoughts on “Memories From A Rickshaw

  1. the book will know…the words will know…the care with which you read…its a scary prospect….the death of thoughts…the burning of books…rather sad…books are many of the friends i grew up with…

  2. stuartmcphersonpoet says:

    Henry… Fantastic detail of time and pace in this. I was trying to work out where the ‘growing up’ element in this is…but then t dawned on me…maybe this about growing up and realising the history of the world, that it has a cruel history, and that it needs people to care (with that being the moment of realisation) apologies if I’m way off the mark.

  3. I like the capture of the time..burning books and forgotten words of decay jumped out for me ~ It won’t make a difference, but reading the words will carry and keep it alive ~

  4. You traveled us around the world, yet we could not escape the smell of the burning books. I mourn with you poet…and will hug my library a little tighter…some say, as we continue on our fast track to oblivion, that books should be cherished, as they will eventually become our currency…those folks will be sorry…

    • I cannot remember the exact number , but Hitler had burned over 30,000 books he deemed subversive and that is what the Empty Library Memorial in Berlin brought attention to. Was like a haulacaust (sp?)for words.

  5. you have taken us back and forward as well…I too was in Berlin last year and went on a lierary tour of the haunts of Isherwood and this post has reignited those feelings of the past and yet the present mixing, being similar and yet so very different…thankyou.

  6. that’s a magical moment of growing up – realising that the thoughts, feelings, understanding and memories of those who have walked this world before us DO matter and should be treated with respect, not labelled subversive (or undesirable) and destroyed.

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