Alistair Noon

Lit-Mag #39 – Berlin

Towards the Conference


Bright as amphibian skin,
the lakes encircle the city.
They glint on approach,
then dull as we close.

Walking the Wannsee paths
where a speedboat passes
under the spotlight, I watch
how I sit by the water:

viral eight-leggers, bold
climbers, discern my sweat,
my hair is their handhold
for an unseen ascent.


My talk is on channels.
I will track those caravans
in the air, under oceans,
showing how the shows
clamber along cables, I’ll
attempt to say why

to learn from the Talkmasters
is to learn to be victorious,
remembering voice and gesture,
that seasons are schedules,
the directive written in the decor:
national in content, global in form.

Starlet, wander through glass
and liberate that six pack fast.
Search and the camera will find you.
Take a walk on Peacock Island,
where the Minister, before he departed,
put on, they say, some great parties.


Although such programmes last
like clay pots notched with curses,
or china smashed the night before the knot,
or in mobile sarcophagi, the surging glass –

within the walls of the New National Gallery
a dark-suited gentleman suggested
I take my hand from the glass that protected
the manifesto: All Art Is Destruction.


Are you at the conference too? Among these lives
millennium sextuplets have landed.
I am learning to win a million in fifty languages.
Among the four million, I head for the archives.


While Mercedes loitered on the white streets,
and beggars invested in the cafés,
in the queue for drafts and postures,
cold infringed my skin’s liberties.

The levels of the palace to Lenin would rise,
a Great Hall billow over the Reichstag,
communists in cellars, hands above heads,
later an adjutant depositing a device.

Land use improved as women with mugs
and buckets would sprinkle the leaves and roots
on the ground before the walls of the Reichstag
that stonemasons had hacked at while drunk.

Then came the number on the signs for penthouses,
where the grassy forecourt to parliament
had been an informal football pitch.
The ploughed earth lay behind wire fences.

The building changes, the channels switch:
sixties’ shopping centres, thirties’ semis.
The skyline rewritten, the malls redrawn,
to make buildings to live out a life with.


This morning, the roof tiles were transmitting the sun,
the cumulus live on glass, like a culture on film.

As the white clouds darkened and paled through the evening,
in the ground-floor windows, news grew on the screen.

Then an archive of suns opened its doors, the panes
all around still flickering with the culture on film.

The swing of a satellite against the shift of stars:
a dancer’s dash among a stageful of statues.

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