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One Hundred+ Poets Against the War

 

One Hundred+ Poets Against the War

Todd Swift, Editor

 

 

Table of Contents

Editor�s Introduction

Are There Children

Collateral Damage

Regime Change Begins At Home

Hot Milk

killer

At Home, At War

Ode to all concerned with that �baby milk� factory in Iraq

Notwithstanding

The Day After

Mickey Mouse came, Mickey Mouse saw, Mickey Mouse conquered 

Hyperbole For A Large Number

Mark the Day

un-UN inspected

Why I Want To Be A Baconaut

The Field

Dancer

Other Demands

Georgie Porgie

the war is on the kitchen table

The Virtual Total Information Awareness Office

The Flying Flag

a short list of short lists

Dragonseeds

Water Dragon

We Accept

Sirens

Treasured Ghost

pEACE iCON 21c

Moonblood 

From After The Anti War March 

Where There�s War 

The Man of Principle 

War - the concise version

Harvest

Untitled 

clash of civilisations? 

All Those Home Spun Places 

Peace Poem 

Imminent 

Brainstorm 

Miranda Rights 

Dubya Anabasis 

Talking With The Cat About World Domination The Day George W. Bush Almost Choked On A Pretzel 

Yellow Jackets 

A Verse to War 

Anna�s Meal 

Rhetoric for Peace 

No Seasons, Only Weather 

Leavening 

Gulf War � Aftermath 

A Dark Little Psalm Against War 

Even 

Still True? 

This is the War That George Fought 

the killing fields 

Terror on Warism 

A Light 

An Untitled Place 

Streetcars and Crosswalks 

Bubble Girl Song 

Priests� Skulls 

Life after wartime 

Unleashed 

blood in the snow 

untitled 

Taking Sides 

We Believe 

Against the War 

Nation 

After the Anti-War March 

Untitled 

The Hawk Who Became A Dove 

What You Call It 

The Paloma�s Lament 

Broken fall whispers 

on the night she didn�t feel like it anymore 

Haunted House, October 2002 

The Moments Silence 

The Tooth 

let us step around this time 

Wedding War 

The White-Throated Sparrow Can�t Compare 

What Did Adorno Say? 

"Christendom" 

Off The Record 

God Decides to Press the Mute Button on his Remote Control 

Sim Shalom 

The 20th Century Man 

A Poem for My Muslim Poet Friend 

the sand that is everywhere 

Good Morning Middle Age 

On Election Day 

Untitled 

Divine Haiku for the New Patriotism 

To a Veteran of the Last Wrong War 

Easy 

Circling The Gulf A Gain A Loss, Ingrained 

Women in Black 

from How It�s Been 

war is gud 4 bizness in th 19th centur 

Psychotic Sea 

Women Washing Clothes in the Kabul River 

Bigger Than Time 

transit 

The Land of Hope 

excerpts from little dead things 

Press conference 

Filofax 

Nets At Gennesaret 

King Rat 

In The Abundance Of Oxygen The Refugee Is Choked 

Ballad 

The Palace of Art 

My peculiar talents 

I Dream of War 

Candle, Flame, Stained Glass and Prayer for Peace 

News Theatre 

Letter to Hayden Carruth 

Unrhymed Peace Sonnet 

Crossing Kurdistan 

This Sky of Lost Miles 

Dear Lady, Fear No Poetry 

January meadow, 

From Peace Walk & Rally, San Francisco 

Can We Have Some Peace and Quiet Please? 

To Mikl�s Radn�ti 

For The Birds 

N.O.T.R.O.T.C. 

No War Then 

My Collaboration with George Bush 

Waiting for the Marines 

Rania 

The Servant 

The Border 

 

 

Editor�s Introduction

Never before has a book travelled the globe so quickly. Or so it seemed the week of January 27, 2003. 100 Poets Against The War was launched at www.nthposition.com to coincide with Hans Blix�s report to the UN. Within days, news had spread around the world, via print media, Internet, radio and TV. More importantly hundreds of web-sites hosted the PDF, tens of thousands of people emailed and downloaded the "instant anthology" and many more printed it up and made copies. Our DIY chapbook has become part of various peace demonstrations, readings and rallies world-wide, from Oxford to Seattle. And all this week, hundreds of new poems, from Gambia to China, kept arriving by email. This proves that electronic books still have a future - so long as their content reaches an interested global community.

Clearly, a nerve was touched. The interest in 100 Poets Against The War has been in proportion to how unpopular the planned attack on the nation of Iraq is. As the Copper Canyon initiative - and the week�s surge of interest in poetic protest - lead to the First Lady cancelling her White House poetry event because "poetry and politics" shouldn�t mix, the rest of us realised an important cultural point had been made. Walt and Langston and Emily can�t be silenced by any politician - poems rise above the moment, and echo across history with power to speak to all people working to stop injustice and oppression. Poetry does make things happen: in people�s lives, in the way they see the world and act in it.

One week later, on Monday, there was 100 Poets Against The War Redux. If our first version made history by being the fastest anthology ever, then maybe this was the quickest second edition. But it is more than that. Due to the many exceptional poems that arrived this week, we added more than 20 new ones and corrected some typos.

Thanks to Ms. Benoit, President of the Canadian eAuthors Association, the version you have has been designed for access in new ways. 100+ Poets Against The War features nearly all the poems from both previous versions and is a welcome addition to this project, which aims to generate peace through protest and poetry.

Once again, let me thank all the poets who have generously donated their work to our project - it is brave and good of them. While we are not able to feature all of the nearly thousand poems we have received since January 20, 2003, every poem has been appreciated and read, and contributes in its way. While the poets whose work is here retain copyright, they have agreed to let you freely share their words.

I also wish to thank Val Stevenson, publisher of www.nthposition.com in the UK, where all versions originated and can still be found; her vision and hard work have been indispensable. Val and I hope that you, poet, reader, activist for peace, will email and snail mail this book of poems to friends, family, colleagues, media and leading hawkish politicians everywhere. We want to keep the momentum for peaceful poetic protest going, until we are able to say we stopped this war before it started.

 

Peace.

Todd Swift

Editor

100 Poets Against The War

100 Poets Against The War Redux

100 + Poets Against The War

Paris, February 4, 2003

 

 

Are There Children

Robert Priest

are there children somewhere

waiting for wounds

eager for the hiss of napalm

in their flesh �

the mutilating thump of shrapnel

do they long for amputation

and disfigurement

incinerate themselves in ovens

eagerly

are there some who try to sense

the focal points of bullets

or who sprawl on bomb grids

hopefully

do they still line up in queues

for noble deaths

i must ask:

are soul and flesh uneasy fusions

longing for the cut �

the bloody leap to ether

are all our words a shibboleth for silence �

a static crackle

to ignite the blood

and detonate the self-corroding

heart

does each man in his own way

plot a pogrom for the species

or are we all, always misled

to war

from Blue Pyramids: New and Selected Poems (ECW Press, 2002)

 

 

Collateral Damage

Jackie Sheeler

In a place of sand and wind and want, worn

cotton looped across her forbidden face

a woman without pleasures tends to her sons.

She believes what she is told, owns no flags

knows life by the taste of cloth at her mouth.

Bread and leaflets drop from the sky, then

other things. We meant to bomb the airport

one mile north of this village with no name,

this village on no map,

this village of no more.

 

 

Regime Change Begins At Home

Sue Littleton

"Like fish in a barrel, man,
it was like shooting fish in a barrel!"

The barrel has no water in it;
the fish lie stacked on their sides
like silver playing cards,
gills gasping frantically,
mouths opening and closing
in silent screams.
The pupils of their round lidless eyes
reflect flashes of light
as their bodies jump and twitch
beneath the hail of bullets,
their flesh splitting to release pale blood.

The barrel holds no water ...
but somewhere in its depths
there is the dark, iridescent sheen
of oil.

 

 

Hot Milk

Patrick Chapman

Your father would hardly speak to me.

One afternoon, he brought home cans

Of carrots, peas, Carnation, Spam.

He reinforced the concrete walls

With mattresses.

Strontium in the milk, they�d said, but

No cause for alarm.

I might as well have suckled you

� My babe-in-arms �

On long-range missiles� noses

As on the teats of bottles, warmed

At four a.m. to quiet you.

 

 

killer

Marcus Moore

a woman�s child is ill

she will have to buy a pill

she will have to pay the bill

she will have to earn a shilling

she will have to use her skill

she will have to use a drill

she sits behind a grill

the poor woman makes weapons chilling

a rich man owns the mill

he has an iron will

he sits behind the till

he likes to watch the coffers filling

selling arms gives him a thrill

so while on some distant hill

a poor woman�s blood doth spill

the rich man makes a killing

 

 

At Home, At War

Tony-Lewis Jones

Now there is silence in the house, except

The pipes tap-tapping under floorboards and

The clocks� slow rhythmic messages. You are

Late coming home for an argument:

The night holds terrors every parent knows.

Your mother is away. She, I�m certain,

Would have played this same weak hand

Quite differently. The morning paper

Demonstrates with images how words

Can lose all meaning: mouths that cannot speak

Tell how desperately we need to understand.

Wars begin when language fails us. The missiles

Fall, undiverted by the right command.

Bristol 20.1.03

 

 

Ode to all concerned with that �baby milk� factory in Iraq

Hel�n Thomas

Bombs go off and so does milk,

And both events make you grumpy,

But given the choice between the two,

I�d rather have milk that�s lumpy.

 

 

Notwithstanding

Harriet Zinnes

Notwithstanding

and so forth

But it is oil

and the dark tunnels disappear

and the ghosts of tanks

the sand covering dead bodies

The missiles, where are they stored?

And imports of uranium and of aluminum tubes

for making missiles

and stores of VX nerve gas

and United States spy planes?

And weapons inspectors

The United Nations

Oh, they did not include a meeting with

President Saddam Hussein

Ah yes, stopping weapons proliferation

Notwithstanding

and so forth

 

 

The Day After

Se�n Street

There�s no time now,

at least we won�t notice anyway,

seas can�t be tidal any more,

no time today.

No seasons now,

and lost the loving interplay

of light and dark. No dusk or dawn,

no night and day.

No future now,

all options, choices gone away.

Time signatures? Impossible,

no songs today.

Just sadness now

because Time heals, they used to say,

and without Time of course our pain

will always stay.

Stars? No. None now

turning, nothing dances today,

no winds, there�s nothing linear,

today�s the day

all ends, this now

is when, this stasis is the way.

Transmitters fail, the clocks are still.

Time stops today.

 

 

Mickey Mouse came, Mickey Mouse saw, Mickey Mouse conquered

Vincent Tinguely

Looking for clean copies in a post apocalypse with skewed scan lines.

Whenever I stand up straight my head smears across the screen; still,

the soundtrack�s good. If I lean at a forty-five degree angle, walk

laterally across a grassy knoll, one hand keeping balance, the other

against the ground, I almost seem to be what I am.

George W. Groovy and his GWGs electric chair their way to the Oh So

White House. God, I remember your father and his father before him and

all the fathers before that. Brows knit in the media glare, a penchant

for current affairs leaving songs like legal briefs littering the

clear cut swath of history. The stupid shall inherit the system and

everything else shall follow, like unto dominoes or fractal equations.

Sail on oh mighty shit of state.

It�s the end of a thousand years of book-keeping and I�m doing my bit.

A gunshot across the bow of the ship of progress. At least the

Egyptians had aesthetics, Amerika has all the bad taste money can buy.

Power rabid and destructive just out of view, the other side of calm

pronouncements. They march in video formation in their desert

camouflage, their helmets, those Aryan cutaways.

There�s nothing worse than a good idea whose time has come and gone.

Religion, the car, capitalism, it�s all turned into a freak show for

the living dead. Actors all around me chasing the script, everybody

should just fuck their time away, forget the oil and the geopolitical

bullshit. A good, healthy obsession is all anyone really needs, take

that shampoo hair and jazzy beer ad body out of the television and

re-install it in reality.

 

 

Hyperbole For A Large Number

Stephen Brockwell

Not the hair that you or I have touched
but the follicles all lovers hands have combed
their fingers through, that number so much
greater, say, than all the teeth from speechless

mouths that now the fish and birds
perceive as stream and garden pebbles.
Not the breaths our mother exhaled
since mud filled her father�s lungs

at Amiens but all the breaths of children
put to rest since Iphigenia�s sacrifice.
Not the drops of blood that have
fallen on all the battlefields of spring

but the particles of mist the sun has scattered
from them � enough to weigh your khakis
down after a patrol, enough to resurrect
your face from its evening mask of ash.

Not the number of the stars that burn
and burn out like eyes of but the number
of the particles that give the stars their fire
surely exceeds the number of our crimes.

 

 

Mark the Day

John Asfour

I will light a candle

and read Justice books, only

to find out that justice will be abused.

Light a candle and talk about humanity, only

to find out

that humanity, in the time of crisis

resorts to revenge. I will

light a candle

and talk to the children, ask them

how they tolerate one another,

how they abandon play once they disagree

and later invite their playmates

to the same game. I will

light a candle and

die for a day, only

to see if death would

teach us to choose peace

over war.

 

 

un-UN inspected

Tony Hillier

five hundred marched to Fairford

stealth home of wealthy Yanks.

Marchers came in peace for peace for Pete�s sake.

December grey skies threatened

but seeing five hundred march to Fairford

held back their inconvenient though life-giving rain.

Even the cold war gave its respects

to these peaceful, non-military marchers

out of step with some legs

in step with millions of caring minds worldwide

to Fairford�s barbed wire front door came placards, plays and protest

came music, singing and love.

Yellow Gloucester bobbies shielded from exposure

khaki-violent yanks whose mass destruction weapons lay

another day

un UN inspected

lay, until another day

when five mill will march to Fairford

with letters and es to MPs

and quiet talk with neighbours

 

 

Why I Want To Be A Baconaut

Eileen Tabios

Sometimes when I put something full of flavor in my mouth, I close my eyes and feel like I�m flying--drifting into eternity, above and beyond all the craziness of the world below, and I dream that all there is in the world is love, harmony and bacon.

--Dan Philips, Owner of The Grateful Palate and "Future Baconaut"

A painter lays down his brush
to speak the unspeakable --
"The artist painting white flowers
against snow while others march
is as political as those who laid
down brushes to wield placards."

Today, I am a poet
writing bad verse because
a headline blares
"Politics and Science Mix Badly."
I read its significance
as the inexplicable
inability to understand
BOMBS AND BULLETS KILL, KILL, KILL...

I begin to search for "comfort
food." I find a "Family-size" package
of bacon. I fry and eat them all,
welcoming the heat
burning my inarticulate tongue.

With the most avid mouth
I eat and eat -- cramming the strips
quicker and quicker
into my ravaged, ravaging mouth.

I eat them all, I eat them all, I eat them all...

 

 

The Field

George Murray

The sky has been aged, is ancient enough now
to have lost its teeth, clamping one smooth gum

down on the other in a wry horizon�s bite.
That the violence we have witnessed

was not random while the kindness was,
how insulting to our attempts at existentialism!

Can we not even frighten ourselves
with philosophy anymore? That intent

could replace randomness as our greatest fear
speaks of how far we�ve come;

from there to here, from right to just left of right,
from fallen to the lower part of down. The corn

that stretches into the distance,
once an orderly army, has grown slack, wild,

and hoary, each stalk standing at ease
instead of attention, and in a place of its choosing,

bearing those heavy yellow arms in a silence
similar to hushed anticipation. Listen to the wind,

the brewing rain, the field of fire, the flight
of distant machinery, the coded plan of attack.

 

 

Dancer

Hugh Hazelton

we are watching
the dancer
spread her arms music body
forward into space
beyond the light
robot armies
push through gutted streets
fire into straw villages
empires
of death�s heads
reflection in
poisoned molten rain
circuits connected
set at
command
waiting
the dancer
arms clasped with her companion
rolls herself slowly across his back
slender shoulders linked through
steel-plated insects
bullets coming
from their eyes
there is no
Official Violence
lies in
a conspiracy to kill
the dancer
slowly raising her head
beautiful throat
held curved
taut
against
air

 

 

Other Demands

Colin Morton

Peace makes other demands: unfailing
years of neverfailingness;
the courage to reach into a wound
and begin to heal; the bravery
of a Barry Armstrong, the blue beret doctor
who stood up in the Somali sun
and told the truth to power.

Retired from the military now, demobbed
to the woebegone lakes of northern Ontario,
he feuds with the hospital, which would cut corners,
and the picture over his mantel at home
shows it is conscience the forces drove out,
paid off, retired and forgot:

in the muted colours of a tent at night
somewhere in the Kuwaiti desert
the army doctor bends over his task
of suturing the shrapnelled brain of an Iraqi
soldier wounded at the start of the war
and found on the battlefield at its end days later
by advancing allied forces.

 

 

Georgie Porgie

Rochelle Ratner

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the girls come out to play
Georgie Porgie runs away.

Except it isn�t girls, exactly,
But women in veils,
Who without them might look
As old as Mother.

And it�s not the Father
Going after the bully
But the Son setting out
To avenge the Father.

And the oil, of course.

When even Tony Blair
Turns against him,
He pouts.

Damn the UN,
We offer them a home
And this is the thanks we get.
They�re foreigners, all of them,
Not part of this One Nation,
Under God.

 

 

the war is on the kitchen table

Myrna Garanis

the war is on the kitchen table

the war is on the kitchen table

waiting to be read,

I brew the coffee black as buildings,

charred, collapsed,

I load the toast with butter,

chew my way through cluster bombs,

smear raspberry jaw on screaming headlines

which do not disappear

I flip the page to guaranteed results:

hockey scores, ice dance competitions,

there the gains and losses

line up in soldierly columns,

no wavering parades of souls,

filing down disfigured roads,

walking, falling, left behind,

long after the page is closed

 

 

The Virtual Total Information Awareness Office

Allen Cohen

After Sting and Santa Claus

The Virtual Total Information Awareness Office

is watching you

virtually wherever you are.

It knows what you are buying.

It knows where you are living.

It knows where you are working.

Every step you take

every move you make

the Total Information Awareness Office

is watching you.

It sees you on the street

on the train and in the buses.

It knows your diseases

and measures every drug you take.

It knows who your lover is

and keeps track of your divorces.

It wants to put a chip in your head

and give you a number like 666.

It counts debts and can collect.

It can steal your identity and make you dead

The admiral is keeping a data base

and he�s checking it twice

in the total information awareness office.

Every step you take

every move you make

the admiral will be watching you.

 

 

The Flying Flag

Eric Paul Shaffer

Call them mad, call them evil,
they are men with ideas
like the ones we celebrate
on the proper occasions: God,
freedom, forgiveness, justice.

But none of us love one long.

Witness now: we turn again,
arms above our hearts,
to pledge allegiance to vengeance.

Eyes raised to blue, we look
without learning the first lesson
of the sky, stars, and stripes:

The flying flag follows the wind.

 

 

a short list of short lists

devorah major

miracles:

silk worms

pearls

thousand year-old redwood trees

lightening

the sun rising every day

the ocean and its tides

human existence in a universe

that is mostly ice rock and fire

tragedies:

starving children

oil drowned gulls

sonar beached whales

rape

murder

uranium dust

bullets and bombs

that shatter peoples�

walls, doorways, beds,

heads, hearts, lives

remedies:

justice

peace

love

 

 

Dragonseeds

Jem Rolls

On a white field stands out the red flower�bodiless names�baying voices of death�the sun catches the dying, exposing their grief and terror and destruction to the looking eyes of dawn...the heavens singed, tattered... bodies dashed on the random reefs of war�the dead and dying lead the living into death �to the boy who falls comes only the sound of other bullets making other death ...death the almighty rolls in remorseless from afar, visiting where it will with impunity, crushing the strongest defences, annihilating the strong the weak the proud the fearful the bold ... perfume of death...men planting rootcrops of death...flames climb high onto the sky... harvesting the dragonseeds of hatred sown by previous generations ... the skeletal arms of the last war�s dead youth reaching up through the earth to bitterly strangle the finest hopes of this world turned to nidorous hell, this life turned to victorious death...horizons topple... house of god implodes... stuffing muddy insides back into wound ... the head an eggshell smashed, the brain spattered on the wall, the congealing blood dripping down the dirt � cry bursts out, shearing through the long night with unspeakable terror ... but who shall return them their sons? ... burst bodies ... smiling corpses ... death by lead death by steel death by fire...the life through flutter dyings struggles going going struggling goes...the steam of sweat rising from the already dead into the wintry morning still ...the dead and dying leading the living into death... hours tautened, elongate with fear...daily words with avuncular death sat grinning on the sandbag wall... choking the very lungs and life from a body now cored by death...a world always to be, now ending...but who shall return them their children?... life despoiled crying out up to the emptiness ...have you forgotten yet? look down and swear by the slain of war that you�ll never forget...gone howling and screaming, bitter and tormented, into the void of death...a child weeps now for the death he shall die in ten twenty thirty years time as besuited men stride proud and pleased from peace conference hall...river of death overflows... innocence kills innocence fear kills fear youth kills youth strength kills strength father kills father ...no red roses no glows from the hearth no sunday worship no nurtured pie no grimy-faced children ... a sorrow as far as the mind can stretch...a world always to be, now ending.

 

 

Water Dragon

Jason Camlot

Twelve years ago my love left me

for the war. He was no soldier

but he swore he must go

or else random accidents

would destroy our home.

Take care of our little one,

he said, pointing to this terrarium

and the strange sea creature that lived inside

on a tiny island, shielded

by these thin glass walls.

Light from one flickering, yellow bulb

was all the food the water dragon

needed to survive. Likewise, my hope

and comfort fed on the flickering

of some remote war.

I used to watch the dragon

pace the strand,

survey the water

that I changed religiously,

afraid that parasites were there.

Once I even touched its skin

and let its threadlike tongue

draw gleams of tea

from a spoon

my lover left with me.

I clutched my arms

in my sleeping gown

and watched the monster sleep

beneath the little mango tree�

fallen now, and petrified.

What can it mean?

I fear what it can mean.

Last night before I went to sleep

I thought I heard a whispering

and rose to find the amber bulb

had left a million glistening shards

across the dragon, lying dead.

 

 

We Accept

Vicki Hudspith

We accept that things have changed
Walk past closed shops to the movies
Little League fields hold equipment, debris trucks
We accept that everyone

Will wear photo ID necklaces
Bags and briefcases will be searched, scanned, X-rayed
We accept that though we walk through all of this
We may still pass through metal detectors to enter a building

We accept that we won�t eat as well, sleep as sound
Too many appointments will produce confusion, inertia
We accept that we will check exits
Crowds will make us nervous

The subway will be a target of captured life
Overflowing wastebaskets will be potential hiding places
Sirens will make us jump
Sudden, loud noises, will irritate, even enrage

We�ve accepted mountains of information but so few facts
We�ve accepted politicians who don�t read their mail
We have waited and waited for the other shoe to drop
Accepted seeing ordinary people in air filter masks

And that everything is fine, for now
We�ve accepted so much
Will we accept or even recognize
When we�ve given up?

 

 

Sirens

Pat Jourdan

They waited for you on the landing

on winter nights, black figures

ready with guns.

on the way to the bathroom, the bedroom,

they hunched in the shadows.

at the peak of my terror and bravery

they disappeared, until next time.

(Torches or candles made it worse,

menacing shapes against the walls.)

They could appear at any time -

always be ready to run,

leave the plate or the bed.

I don�t know where we went

or what we did.

Pyjamas, coats, cold, running;

crowded shapes, hushed voices,

adults in adult talk.

A mattress under the stairs - why?

and her making tea at the corner

of the iron table, a slice of light

showing exhaustion in the set of her shoulders,

the radio sacrosanct, the only guardian we had.

 

 

Treasured Ghost

T. Anders Carson

Fields of turmoil

sown with pain.

Festering wounds

hold power.

Free the foothold

of insanity,

as the sacred bush

of Golgotha

is charred

by military observers.

 

 

pEACE iCON 21c

rYAN kAMSTRA

The red g-tar is larger

than hysteria.

Anyone who plays the red g-tar

is stealthier than atom bombs.

Anyone who sings

can have my phone number.

Anyone who looks to the blue sky

not expecting a sleek all terrain coffin

knows that clouds

are the river�s soldiers.

To kill them is poison.

Anyone who helped build

those buildings keeps them standing long after death.

In desert clubs, playing a red g-tar.

This is the valley of death.

A mass grave inhaled

at red lips with a hint of gloss.

Or you with us or against us?

 

 

Moonblood

Sharlie West

my wooden pail is split from carrying:
mother�s at home with brother

where have all the people gone?

faces of towers in the distance
haggard against the landscape

pebbles stones cutting rocks of mite
dirt mounds and glistening red objects

night-circling buzzards
the heat is all around

people wind across the desert
in bands of yellow

the colors of coughing and spitting -
onions mixed with salt

a fog of sulphur sends our heads
reeling into dawn

likening the empty streets
to a doom of lessons

a house with gashed shingles
and gutted windows

an old woman staring out

 

 

From After The Anti War March

Neeli Cherkovski

...The news had been one-sided as usual
quick to point out most of the people
are for destroying whatever remains of Ur of the Chaldees
and the ziggurats of life

we are doomed, the National Security Advisor said
as much, we either bomb them first or
they�ll bomb us eventually, we either step
into the abyss or get pushed into it

The Security Advisor is a nice looking woman,
she speaks in clear, even tones unlike her boss
who has a mean expression whenever he invokes
the name of our patriotic god

...

We�re victimized by one conspiratorial voice
demanding silence, we don�t even have to
listen, we are asked to surrender our bodies
our minds, our children

On the way home it�s the Secretary of Defense
defining our desire, telling us who
and what we are, the radio screams
and I manage to listen

At home the President tells us
he is running out of patience
like a storm offshore, he is ready
able and willing to make his move

It�s the day after the march, I should
have been there, but here I am now
walking through my words to where
we must reclaim the land and its language

 

 

Where There�s War

Ken Waldman

Where there�s war, there�s an anti-war
of writers writing, readers reading,
veterans recalling what they served for --

to make the world more
open for children, to share understanding.
Where there�s war, there�s an anti-war,

and in between a heavy warped door
old, creaky, and infuriating. Seething
veterans, recalling what they served for,

can�t find sense in making only the poor
pay for the needs of the rich -- and suffer dying.
Where there�s war, there�s an anti-war

of you and I walking into the music shop, the food store,
greeting friends, finding peace in being.
We�re veterans who recall what we serve for--

not god, not country, but the chore
after chore that is the daily chore of living.
Where there�s war, there�s an anti-war--
writers, readers, veterans recalling what we serve for.

 

 

The Man of Principle

Mr. Social Control

I absolutely refuse to go

on this insane and murderous

suicide bombing mission to Oxford Circus

unless

we first have the full agreement

of the United Nations Security Council.

 

 

War - the concise version

Rachel Bentham

contention between people

this is how we begin

specific conflicts

armed hostilities

 

the "art of war"

- it�s certainly not a science,

but doesn�t art create?

strategy and tactics

been in the wars?

war baby

war bride

war crime that which violates

international laws of war as if laws are effective

in wartime

war cry

war of attrition

war of nerves

war grave

war weary, just reading the words.

 

 

Harvest

Barbara Berman

For Amos Oz and David Grossman

There are no enemies
insist your rugged hands
and muscled backs half hidden
in olive branches shading
women darkly veiled.

There are no enemies
but the enemy of a piece
of fruit, its oil, its balm
for the rest of us
who need to be so brave.

 

 

Untitled

Tom Bell

Dearest Angel,

I have a story to tell you, today. They just told me that pill popping pilots are
protecting you from terrorists. We�ve watched television together, you and
I. I know you didn�t understand all you saw, but also felt your fear of
the pill poppers. I don�t want to hand your care over to the world out
there.

It�s not all hippos hoppin�. It�s not all mamas shopping at the mall
and grampapas bopping. Be strong, dearest.

Love,
Grampa

 

 

clash of civilisations?

Ilija Trojanow

(on the bombay suburban)

swallow your pride
an elbow in point
choke on the last
morsel of comfort

there is no doubt
we all are one
shedding our skins
to reach the exit

pick up the odour
like a callus a cold
strain with the flow
catching a whiff of border

when the jostling starts
grab the waist
of the nearest prayer
stumble to shanti to amin

body-reading your way
onto the platform
protected by union
from another other.

 

 

All Those Home Spun Places

David Plumb

The old man�s fist
thumps the dais again.
Flags wave. Slick
cars stream cool.
The price of gas
runs down, runs up.

Cell phones ring.
Oil Oil Oil screams
the endless whopper
click click game
show of them all.

Bombs bomb bomb
pipelines run
who knows where
the stink started?

What do we dance
on this moonless
night of cut off thumbs
and business as usual?

 

 

Peace Poem

Charles Potts

"The young men and women standing against the war

have made a green place in my heart," sang Robert Duncan

protesting the Vietnam War in a former time but in the same place.

The earth doesn�t need us; we need the earth.

Let us try to act as holy as we�d like to think we are.

War is the attempt to control the economic future by force.

There are better ways to be secure than by making paranoia public policy.

Intellect and moral integrity are under assault and must survive.

Where the powerful sleep in fits and starts

with their troubled dreams of death,

the death of their system with its interlocking privileges,

no amount of security devices can ever make safe.

They want a stage to pose upon

from the depths of their gated communities

where they can throw fear into the hearts of others

to eclipse the fear in their own.

We are safe in love with truth

willing to march, live and die by and for it.

Peace is the way you live your life.

 

 

Imminent

Fred Marchant


even the heavy machinery seems tentative,
as if the engines would like to quit,

as if the road itself was glass,
as if iron or ice or anything solid we touch

wants only to fall apart,
give way in relief

the jets cut across the morning
nothing seems to stop them, says the pessimist

but sometimes I think the cold deepens
forever and more, and like us

even the bombers will be grounded
and all good pilots will want to stay inside

go nowhere all day,
speak with no one they do not love

1/23/03

 

 

Brainstorm

Bruce A. Jacobs

We�ve got to
Um,
Protect families children
Weapons mass destruction
Yeah, that�s it,
A war fought from
An SUV. Stomp Saddam
In time for soccer practice.
Trust me, they�ll buy it. Uh-oh:
North Korea.

Shit. Okay: Um,
It�s different.
Help me here, Colin.
Possession isn�t everything.
No proof he�ll use them.
Huh? Contradiction? Well,
Shit. You tell me
How to duck a fucking A-bomb.
Okay. Okay. Think
Story. It�s all in the

Telling:
Mustard gas becomes
Weapons Mass Destruction.
New Hiroshima becomes
Matter of Discussion.
See? We�ll rev up an SUV,
Splat Saddam, give Kim the finger
And peel out. He�ll never dare.
Damn! That�s it. That�s definitely
It.

 

Miranda Rights

Marcos Flores

You have the right to remain silent�

Silent about the injustice that exists, about underground modes and methods of survival�

About love and compassion and peace and giving and sharing�

And all that this earthly experience gives, what life�s cycles bring and more.

You have the right to remain silent�

And be arrested for the homeless, for the sick, for the lame, and the poor, for those faceless, nameless, invisible human beings suffering, right outside your nation�s living room door.

You have the right to remain silent�

And go home to your family while political tyrants plot paths to war.

You have the right to remain silent�

And live your life�living and looking through glass�

In a pseudo democracy, forgetting the past, forgetting to pay homage to all those things that truly make men, women and children free.

You have the right to remain silent�

And not ask questions, when you already know in your heart the answers.

You have the right to remain silent�

Because action is needed�words have no meaning�time is fleeting.

The world and its peace�our community�they�re calling for more, not war.

January 2003

 

 

Dubya Anabasis

Richard Peabody

 

Dubya Anabasis. Original name, George W[alker] Bush. (1946-?) 43rd President of the United States (2000-?) and the man who started World War III. It�s difficult to understand how Dubya became president. His Republican Party (GOP) was famous for rewriting history in the style of evil dictators Stalin and Hitler before them. What we know now, post World War III, is that he was installed into power after a disputed election in which he lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. A petty criminal, it appears he was a pawn of the corporations who expected to get rich on military excursions into Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea in order to corner the market on the world�s oil reserves at a time when natural resources were dwindling. The son of the 41st President (George Herbert Walker Bush) Dubya is thought now to have been a puppet of his father and his father�s staff. He disappeared in the fallout following the vaporization of Washington, D.C. For years it was claimed that he died in a bunker in West Virginia, or was hiding in caves in Texas or Argentina. (See Dick Cheney, Chomsky, Gulf War, Heroin Smuggling in Southeast Asia, Iran-Contra, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Zinn).

Dubya appears briefly as a Taniwha in Keri Waratah�s rock opera Whiro, he is presented as a bland and puritanical man of relentless torpor, the "child is father to the man" who gradually mutates into a mythical demon, as contrasted to the heroic characters like Good Soldier Schweik, or Xing Zi famous for his magical feather cloak.

Dubya is to this day a curse word passed down by generations of Maori people. (See also: fuck, merde, scheisskopf, walker, wang ba dan, et al.)

 

 

Talking With The Cat About World Domination The Day George W. Bush Almost Choked On A Pretzel

Kevin Higgins

Now that pretzel�s gone and done
something an expert like you never would
- loosening its hold a split-second too soon -
I think it�s time we revised our strategy.
Just sitting back waiting for the big collapse?
Face facts. It isn�t happening.
If there�s a job to be done, why not us?

This time tomorrow we�ll be in Washington
telling Bush to come out with his hands up.
Faced with me and you, Puss, I bet he�ll just crumble.
And we�ll whisk him off to Guantanamo Bay
where he�ll share a cage with the Emir of Kuwait.

I see from the frown wrinkling your brow,
you�re worried, perhaps, how
Mariah Carey fans everywhere might react.
Too late for all that. To put it in terms
I think you�ll understand: after the years wasted
here in this litter-tray, it�s time to deliver
for me and you, Puss. Our battle-cry?
Something snappy? Like?
Yes, I have it! Repeat after me:
Don�t make me angry, Mr Magee.
You wouldn�t like me when I�m angry.

 

Yellow Jackets

John Rybicki

I inhale this yellow bell, too late to warm the car engine

to the emergency room. I kicked the dirt from a woodchuck

hole, and thought, that soft tear of the arrow

through the cardboard deer in my yard: woosh

it went through the lungs, that wind hole just like love.

Watch with me as the dead leave their bodies lunging

like Astaire up no staircase at all. I�m searching for the arrow

when those yellow jackets swirl up from the scrub grass

to twang their stingers into my vocal chords, which need cutting,

of course. All over my eyelashes, in my ear lobes and hair,

these little people with their harpoons. See your cartoon Johnny

pantomime a man on fire, into my house and flailing my shirt about,

my love up from her own nest of a nap, woken by Jesus Christ,

I�m a tall building, and, they�re all over me. Shocked awake

the way soldiers spring to when bullets rip through their tents.

She�s swatting yellow jackets off my blue jeans and stomping

embers on the carpet. I have gasoline. I�ll pour it down their hole

tonight and light the match. Late night another tickle

along my throat I swat down on my knees now with my Buddha,

my boo-dawg beside me sniffing the carpet to find that yellow

spasm on its back. I swat swat swat at it with my tennis shoe.

My hound awes over my power, God knows he might be next.

Don�t be scared booger, I say and we lower our noses together

to sniff the little carcass. At least with the crusades all we had

were swords to butcher each other. Let�s see what we have

learned: abcdefg� here we go again.

 

 

A Verse to War

J. R. Carpenter

I am afraid
(of what will happen
of the rhetoric
of the silence
of not knowing).
I am afraid I don�t know what to contribute.

I am afraid
(of destruction
of waiting
of doing nothing
of adding fuel to the flames).
I am afraid I don�t have any answers.

I am afraid
(of trivializing
of propagandizing
of margins
of error).
I am afraid it is but a meager thing to add
a verse adverse to war.

 

 

Anna�s Meal

Nuala N� Chonch�ir

If it had not been for the fighting in Dagestan
the two of us might never have met:
the tinned meat of the Semikarakorsk
processing plant and my digestive system.
I was invited to share a meal with the troops
in a border cellar, two flights down,
and if the darkness wasn�t enough to scare,
the slovenly guardian of the kitchen was.

She disembowelled rows of unmarked tins,
slicing the aluminium as easy as silk,
"Tin 23, rotten. Tin 39, the same. Tin 42,
for you. Try a sample of our daily fare,
and tell Moscow how we feast,"
and she plunged the blade through each tin,
so I sniffed and licked - what else could I do?-
then spewed my bile all over her floor.

The soldiers earn twenty-two roubles a day,
for no medicine, no fuel, no faith; and for hours
of ducking bullets their bellies are rewarded
with putrid meat from the government�s stores.
If it had not been for the fighting in Dagestan
the two of us might never have met:
the tinned meat of the Semikarakorsk
processing plant and my digestive system.

 

 

Rhetoric for Peace

Susan Hankla

Let us examine the loneliness
of war,
how when something is ripped
it can never be restored.

How we make ourselves
bigger than God
and then, that done,
carry all we love
in frayed coat pockets -
sometimes whole villages
end lining coats.

Why do it?
Why rip, then think things
will be better?

Why strip earth,
never to build it up again?

Why say goodbye, wipe out memory, civilization?

We�re more same than not -
DNA isn�t reserved for Capitalists.

Why can�t we stop and live again?
Why do we cling to death?

Why hasten the leaving of birds
and miracles?

 

No Seasons, Only Weather

Meghan Nuttall Sayres

You say about life
in Kabul that you remember
a childhood of orchards
and roses.

I see you in sepia tones,
Ramazan, in this newspaper
photograph: white turban,
beard and robes.

Are you proof that it is possible
to carry on when your children
have been blown up
by a single bomb?

Javaid 7
Zamoor 6
Hidayat 4
Mushabana 1.

Your eyes asking
will Allah hold them; restore peace
"like it was," wish the pomegranate
trees into bloom?

 

Leavening

Kate Newman

Walk beside us hear our time.
Know that a perfect purchase is heaven here
as leavening bread on Clark Street,
likewise the pane gathering light
on the east line down.

If I catch a spark of knowledge
on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday
ever after I will give thanks.
Lie as I have not lain
sit without disdain.

Crows shelter at the smack centre
of the four way on Main
while somewhere a lark sings
what will not be heard.

 

 

Gulf War � Aftermath

Mary Trafford

"Depleted uranium is the super weapon of the �90s: [it was]

used in the Gulf War and conflict in Kosovo."

One decade down this hazardous way

wrings a freak show out of Iraq,

where silver bullets of depleted uranium

linger in dust and debris, detritus of war,

infect the babies; split atoms / split genes,

and a toddler stares at life�s cruel turn

through a single eye � all that nature

can bestow of beauty; twisted hairpin

turns of chromosomes, unlike

anything scientists have

ever seen, while young mothers

bleed out fetal remains:

unrecognizable might-have-beens

the teratology of war.

 

 

A Dark Little Psalm Against War

John B. Lee

"poem written after seeing a documentary on the rise and fall of Hitler"

lost

between fear and the fairgrounds

to the cult of fire

and the idolatry of death

these skull-browed men in red and black

bowing to accept bouquets

from bare-legged little

flower girls

blowing almost away in thin summer dresses

or patting the forehead fidelity of dogs

their own fuhrer in final scorched repose

his uniform coat

his pair of pajamas

a burned body in a bomb crater

in April in Berlin bearing the tight-boned grin

of eternity

with sixty-million souls

for company, remembering

those sentimental interludes

that poisonously sweet tea-cake ambrosia

tasting of the smoke of burning flesh

and the ash-drift confection

like a Christmas evening snowfall

oh, the wrong gods are in the mountains

above the overcast

or riding a red river of crushed roses

when weeping and harp-willowed

is the world

it dashes our children on stones.

 

 

Even

Nathalie Handal

Nothing is even, even this line
I am writing, even this line I am waiting in,
waiting for permission to enter
the country, the house, the room.
Nothing is even, even now
that laws have been drawn and peace
is discussed on high tables,
and even if all was said to be even
I would not believe for even I know
that nothing is even - not the trees,
the flowers, not the mountains or the shadows�
our nature is not even so why even try to get even
instead let us find an even better place
and call it even.

 

 

Still True?

Clive Matson

Yesterday I dreamt the sky
turned orange and white,
spawning giant mushrooms.
I jumped into a ditch.
Held my head in my hands
for a few seconds until

everything went.

Today the western hills
are hazy green and brown.
I have things to do.
People wander in and out
of shops. Sun shines on
the shimmering road as if

nothing happened.

 

 

This is the War That George Fought

E. Russell Smith

This is the land
where the war was fought
that George fought.

This is the oil
that comes from the land
where the war was fought
that George fought.

This is the tractor
that runs on the oil
that comes from the land
where the war was fought
that George fought.

This is the farmer
who drives the tractor
that runs on the oil
that comes from the land
where the war was fought
that George fought.

This is the son
who lies in the sand
and this is the oil
that burns on the land.

This the war that George fought.

 

 

the killing fields

Di Brandt

but don�t we all dear Em doesn�t everyone

have cut off hands gripping knives in their

too big heads aren�t we all blood crazy thirsty

in our midnight selves to avenge the curdled

mother�s milk rotted on our parched cracked

tongues convinced the death of the little princes

& princesses in the baby tower & the enemy

their king will release us from her untimely

abandonment like the Pharoah like Herod

like Hitler like Bush is this a dagger divine
Will Shakespear said giving the words to

regal Lady MacBeth I see before me handle

toward my hand come let me clutch thee

we must be able he taught us to imagine at

least this much darkness in us & then & then

Em then to wrestle down the spirits who

would delude us into attacking the living

breathing world turning to face the hot fanged

wolves that haunt us who if we�re brave enough

would rather play & full leafed trees dancing

toward us & the frozen child huddled asleep

deep in her forest bed shivering in slow

thaw as we remember ourselves her father

her mother & the enemy our sister brother

 

 

Terror on Warism

Ian Ayres

 

Bloody warmongering

perpetuates the endless cycle

of bullets >>>>>> of weapons >>>>>> of mass destruction *
Unthinking obedience is the point at which democracy breaks down:

DE C A Y

m
o c
r

We must speak out when we feel
our / government / is / wrong. We have that right.

In a time of terror,

PROTEST IS PATRIOTISM
Our flag isn�t some bloody rag to be waved by politicians.
The red, white & blue is for Arab Americans, too.
S T O P T H E W A R !
S T O P A N N I H I L A T I O N !


Bombing people only fuels anger, resentment, & desire for revenge.

& let me tell you,
there�s nothing casual about casualties.
Such rhetoric that deafens us to slaughter blinds us

to our quickly approaching end. For we have already entered

A PERIOD OF MASS EXTINCTION
not seen since the age of the dinosaurs.

Or in other words, I mean Albert Einstein�s:

�I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,

but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.�

 

 

A Light

Anita Govan

 

they that know

the truth of it

 

with such brilliant color

in bright eyed remembrance

its breath upon the fire

 

a light

that feeds

the very birth of it

shattering

into the quiet chaos

like some bright bell

in still silence

 

a moment

to change the world

 

 

An Untitled Place

Suzy Morgan

this used to be
a city, town, local
wherever
maybe over there, maybe
here.

a splintered dreg
of wood is the only object,
passed over by the usual
chaos and trivial frivolities,
terrors - of war - and it
stands

this post.

and the shell-spangled sky leans
down upon it
with such weariness.

 

 

Streetcars and Crosswalks

Anita Santarossa

In the battlefield of crosswalks

I join the dancing band, circling the courtyard

Tapping my finger on the edge of the trigger

I wait.

Silently.

And over the hill, just slightly over the hill

I crawl.

The conflict boils and blasts

Along the horizon,

Is a streetcar named

Genocide.

She uncovers her breasts exposing

A tatoo of a butterfly

Always changing.

Now it�s time to take cover

Hiding from the masochists, capitalists.

Trying to take the next cab

As it pulls over, I run toward it

My mother shouts out, "Don�t Go!"

The slow motion film tries to speed up

But it was all over too fast

As I sit here wishing to re-wind it all.

 

 

Bubble Girl Song

Wednesday Kennedy

I shop with my white girl immunity and i�m safe till i get on that plane

I want to stuff myself stupid and go back to sleep

branded right down from my head to my feet

yeah it�s fat and obscene my american dream

but you�re only jealous cause you want the same

tell me...

Who�s gonna die for my SUV

come on....

Who�s gonna die for my SUV

And i�m thinking i might get a facelift

because that might make the world seem more fresh

because it�s not been the same since the day the world changed

and the war cry keeps beating it�s tired old refrain

I mean how can i shop in this negative frame.

who knows what�ll be the fashion next week?

Tell me

who�s gonna die for my SUV

come on

who�s gonna die for my SUV

And it�s just not the same as it used to be

the mcmuffins just aren�t quite as sweet

and the tips have dried up and the times nearly up

on the joker who�s taking the heat

And i want another mcsunrise and i want another mcsweet

a mcfuck, a mcstock, a car built like a truck

a gas guzzling rip roaring empire�s last wank

come on...

Who�s gonna die for my SUV

tell me..

Who�s gonna die for my SUV

 

Priests� Skulls

Michael R. Brown

"Hell is paved with priests� skulls"*
laid gently in place by nun�s hands,
and soldiers� boots have worn them flat.

The archbishop of Madrid blesses fascist cannons.
The cardinal of Berlin admires newly acquired art
and chats with Hitler about ethnic purity laws.
What the Pope can�t see can�t be pointed to.

First the Jews and gypsies go.
When the war goes badly, Nazis disappear,
and no one can say where anyone went.
Trains run to Auschwitz and to Switzerland.

Mass deaths draw crowds out of Serb towns;
rosaries dangle from bloody hands.
Scapulars and blessed medals
ring their necks like strings of garlic.

Ministers foam at the mouth with oaths
against strongest enemies, weakest friends.
Add another bead to the charm bracelet:
Carthage, Jerusalem, Carcassone, Mostar.

A Rwandan nun sprays huts with holy water,
screams at the devil in arms wielding Hutu machetes,
justifies God�s destruction in hands firing Tutsi guns,
with never enough salt to sow bloody ground.

Priests in eternal fire give each other absolution.
Burning nuns lay hot bones in mocking patterns--
swastikas, stars of David, fasces, crosses--
crushed into paving by military boots.

After the final judgment day
archeologist angels spend another eternity
excavating layers of bone floors in hell.

*John Chrysostum

 

 

Life after wartime

Tom Phillips

Some things never change.
The garden bushes wag their beards
like arguing theologians while the orange fists
of passion fruit take cover in the leaves.
The sky aches with unmapped distances
and the sun hides nothing.
At dusk, it surrenders to the moon.

When there�s small-hours muttering in the street
remember it�s only someone deciding to go home or go on,
pushing through the night for the last of the great good times
and into a shell-shocked morning-after.

At least there�s coffee again.
It takes our minds off the radio,
the smooth-voiced reassurances,
the metaphors encrusted like barnacles
on every announcement - your almost
imperceptible jump at the sound
of a pamphlet shoved through the door.
Somewhere further resolutions are signed.
Things never change.

People wear their silence like a cawl.
To bring them luck against drowning.
They were parents. Or siblings. Or both.
They are the ones that nothing surprises,
the ones who no longer look up
when a jet comes roaring in above the city,
framed against the orange sky,
seemingly picking its way among the towers.

 

 

Unleashed

Kate Evans

Wild legs flying, my dog barks into the waves
full force. Planting her feet,
she pushes her body down,
haunches up, and flies off. Tangled white fur,
her legs lock and spin and her alien blue eyes
whirl. Sand whips thick and wet.

After the flash
he put his hand to his
face. It slid down
with his skin,
a Hiroshima survivor
said on TV.
There are too many ghosts,
he said.

Terrorist warnings,
countries and people
stretch rubber band taut,
nuclear edge. And the President
promotes pre-emptive strikes.
Full force.
Dogs of war,
wave after wave.

My salt-matted dog spins, red gums
flashing, suspended tongue
quivering. Ignoring my calls,
she flies to the gray waves,
an angry wraith. I touch my sea-cool face
and wonder why wildness takes us.

 

 

blood in the snow

Conyus

storm clouds full of war & sufferingthreaten from the mountain.winter snow buries old men near the borderin Afghanistan, while young children in Detroitprotest the killing fields in Iraq, Israel, & Oakland,with boycotts of Disneyland and McDonalds.january half over and the ground is wetwith blood in the snow.the war, just over the next mountain,and threatening summer; a long way off.somewhere, between the white rock and blue sky,gray bones lie drying in the sand.the day is like a soldier,creeping slowly to a freshly dug grave,and mourning flowers on a hillside,somewhere near the far horizon& red desert morning.San Francisco, California

 

 

untitled

Kathleen Spivack

although she moves in a personal winter --
a red scarf against a black chair --
that red gash widens like the outcry of a widow:
a woman keens the world kills.

from The Jane Poems (Doubleday & Co. N.Y., 1974)

 

 

Taking Sides

Aoife Mannix

There will be another war,
many people will be killed,
and I will be expected to have an opinion.
But what can you say about a man
who�d rather let thousands of children die
then give them access to medical vaccines
he claims could be used in bombs.
Or for that matter a man
who when the supplies finally arrive,
locks them up in a warehouse,
preferring to let his own people starve
then weaken their hatred of the enemy.
Talk about a rock and a hard place.
The fundamental difference is questionable.
Neither Jesus nor Mohammed
would have allowed themselves
to be pushed into this kind of choice.

 

 

We Believe

Kasandra Larsen

"[U.S. administration officials] acknowledged that the case must be
made in a negative fashion: Iraq has failed to disprove the
contentions of the U.S. [...] about its weapons of mass destruction.
The administration asserts, without offering evidence, that Iraq has
thwarted inspectors by hiding the weapons
." � from The New York
Times, 23 January 2003

WE BELIEVE
in Democracy.
But without evidence, we will still proclaim you Guilty.
We enjoy playing global Judge and Jury. We will stridently
enforce Accountability
as we avoid our own disclosures or Transparency.
We fully support the concept of Liberty
(with exceptions for those with whom we Disagree).
We prefer to call it War and not Brutality.
We strive to promote human Dignity
but call you Evil, Liar, warn of your Duplicity.
We have smart bombs but will risk civilian Casualties.
We joined the U.N. but like acting Unilaterally.
Let us avoid discussing our Economy,
ensure oil for our mighty S.U.V.s.
How dare anyone question our Authority,
our blatantly impatient, greedy Policies?
One nation under our own Divinity,
we hold that might makes right
and not Diplomacy. Prepared to march, we will ignore
all calls for Peace.
You would not bend. We gave you time. Now you will bleed.
We are America. We believe in Democracy.

 

 

Against the War

Susan McMaster

Against the war I�ll refuse
to be insulted today.
Against the war I�ll smile
at my boss till he smiles back.
Against the war I�ll recite
this poem on Wellington Street,
drive my car not at all,
gossip about love,
play F�r Elise badly.
Against the war I�ll take
a break from doing bills
to watch the squirrels play
on the wires outside my room,
sign up for Italian,
listen closely to a child,
joke about the cold
with the newly arrived Ph.D.
who sweeps my office floor.
Against the war I�ll laugh
at Bush�s foot-in-mouth,
make love in the afternoon,
send clothes to St. Vincent de Paul,
learn to spell Qur�an,
phone up my daughter,
light a birch fire
and turn off the furnace,
shovel the walk for the mailman,
clean up after our old cat,
leave the door unlocked.

Against the war I�ll act
today, as I can, for peace.

Ottawa, 24 January 2003

 

 

Nation

Nora Gaines

in this field,
and upon its sowing, they ask
for rain,
they pray
by the three saplings
for dew
in the gap of the espalier;
tears,
stationary,
awake,
but as
the trouble-child;
a loose stone wall
restoring the wind,
the trees themselves,
the reed grass
unloved,
listing like a
paper thief.

may I put seed
for more trees
under this branch
as if they were
for their saplings� sake
the reeds
as if they were
tears
and the rain of one
is close to
the rain of the other.

 

 

After the Anti-War March

Minnie Bruce Pratt

We had a different driver on the way home. I sat

on the seat behind her, folded, feet up like a baby,

curled like a silent tongue in the dark jaw of the bus

until she flung us through a sharp curve and I fell.

Then we talked, looking straight ahead, the road

like a blackboard, one chalk line down the middle.

She said, nah, she didn�t need a break, she was good

to the end. Eighteen hours back to home when

she was done, though. Fayetteville, North Carolina,

a long ways from here. The math of a mileage marker

glowed green. Was Niagara Falls near Buffalo? She�d

like to take her little girl some day, too little now, won�t

remember. The driver speaks her daughter�s name,

and the syllables ring like bells. I say I lived in her town

once, after another war. The boys we knew came home

men cocked like guns, sometimes they went off and

blew their own heads, sometimes a woman�s face.

Like last summer in Ft. Bragg, all those women dead.

She says, "One was my best friend." Husband shot her

front of the children, boy and girl, six and eight. She calls

them every day, no matter where she is. They get very

upset if she doesn�t call. Her voice breaks, her hands

correct the wheel, the bus pushes forward, erasing nothing.

There was a blue peace banner from her town today,

and we said stop the war, jobs instead, no more rich

men�s factories, refineries, futures built on our broke bodies.

She said she couldn�t go to the grave for a long time,

but she had some things to get right between them so

she stood there and spoke what was on her mind. Now

she takes the children to the grave, the little boy

he wants to go every week. She lightly touches and

turns the big steering wheel. Her hands spin

its huge circumference a few degrees here, then

there. She whirls it all the way around when she

needs to. Later I hear the crinkle of cellophane. She

is eating some peppermint candies to stay awake.

 

 

Untitled

Jennifer LoveGrove

We live on a fat red
lifeboat, heaving and tossing
on a geyser
of melted gold
siphoned from
the veins of the dead.

A pox of small explosions
tears up the rubber
beneath our feet. You
can even see it
from the moon,
if you squint.

Some of us
fall over the sides,
and do not even splash.
The rest are overfed
Cupids, charming enough
with our little crossbows,
but confused
by all these lights
and noises!

Those of us
who still have legs
try to jump -
as the fiery dots
connect themselves,
hungry as barrels.

 

 

The Hawk Who Became A Dove

Hal Sirowitz


Most people start off supporting

their country�s war efforts,

Father said, but as soon as someone

close to them gets drafted,

they suddenly change their tune

& begin to question their government.

Your friend�s father was a hawk.

When his son received a draft notice

he became a dove. Instead of swooping down

on anyone opposed to the war he

started to do lots of cooing. He�s

easier to listen to now, because he

isn�t always ruffling someone�s feathers.

It�s a shame that he needed the possibility

of his son�s death to improve his personality.

 

 

What You Call It

Tony Brown

What d�you call it / that thing
that came in the night / that hung above our village
while a war fell onto us from its mouth
what d�you call it / that thing
I couldn�t see it too well in the dark
I think it had grey skin / know it had red eyes
it wasn�t a dragon
it was too hungry to be a dragon / it was too angry
a thing like that ought not to be free
ought not to be let loose to do that / ought to be locked up
ought to be somewhere else
What d�you call that thing that
roasts your children / cinders your wife
takes your father in flame
melts your tongue to the roof of your mouth and burns the consonants out of you
until all you can do is scream open throated in only vowels
with nothing to give shape or form to the sound
what words could you have had before this to describe -- this

what d�you call it?

yes I suppose
you could call it a helicopter
a vertical takeoff and landing armored air support vehicle
an Apache / a Cobra
and I suppose its anger and hunger could be
a mistake an unfortunate incident
nothing to deter us from our mission
but

HELLMOTHER - BLADECLOUD - DARKRAPER- CHILDBURNER - SKYEATER
STORMSWAN - DEVILROAR - DEATHBIRD - WIDOWERMAKER
GODFLAMEHAMMER �

all work just as well

just do not call us "collateral damage"
there are no clean words for some things

 

 

The Paloma�s Lament

Rebecca Villarreal

for Our President, January 23, 2003 Washington, DC 20009

(paloma = dove)

i cannot name you
son of sons
for you only go by the bastard of your middle initial

i can only ask you
how many palomas
white feathers
curucuc�
must fall to win?

it�s minus sixteen degrees tonight
the next zip code over
i escape to the theater
away from your headlines
away from your ranch

i only ask you why a man of means
stayed so close to home
before moving to my neighborhood

Were you afraid of sand and outdoor markets?

Or was it the trill of another tongue?

now you embrace the last resort of the incompetent
despite halting words
from the civilized

nodding, I see you embrace your wife
confused
and happy your daughters stay on dry land
drinking to old pap�
and his trigger finger

the weight of dead palomas
rests on you, your middle initial
and the lands you never visited

 

 

Broken fall whispers

Adam Pettet

Broken fall whispers
on windows and eyelids
the kisses of granite laughter
crushing saffron under boots
of burnished steel.

Marching in the graveyard
the sullen turns away
another dream citizen
behind a breaking door.

From side to side
the blades turn
a tail disappearing
through the hail.

Children kissing,
the carnival,
damp panties by the seaside.

Blowing the gremlin
in the breakdown lane
she rises
blood red lips streaked
across her face.

Red on red
on a crumpled blue sea
black sails in the wind
bugs in my teeth

war on my TV.

 

 

on the night she didn�t feel like it anymore

danika dinsmore

she stuffed herself to claustrophobic proportions

belly ache a reminder she still had work to do

she baked during moments of frustration listening

for the difference between fireworks and gunshots

she had been startled the week before by a

strange man in the yard tonight

she baked without looking out the window

perhaps it was the New York Times story

the Israeli tank blowing up two little boys

on bicycles who didn�t know the curfew was still in effect

the whole one the one who maintained his limbs

was buried with his chocolate bar in his hand

perhaps it was Noah�s impending flood God with crumbs in his beard

or the appearance of an angel-afraid-of-dogs in the forest

perhaps a lot of poets had died in the last few weeks

and with them their hats

or perhaps it was the rose on the bus lying on the dashboard

in wet paper towels confiscated at the border a memento

a kiss an apology

what she really wanted was to stay up all night creating a path

of words burning clay singeing the wick of mortal time

what she remembered was this is not a dress rehearsal

what did it matter the embarrassment of being human

when we are all pedaling away from the same tanks

with our chocolate bars and

our misinterpreted dreams

 

 

Haunted House, October 2002

Sherry Chandler

Nearly Hallowe�en and the high spooks tell
us we should be afraid, our boy king fumes �

we must exorcise the desert demon.
The old cold warriors creak and shriek like ghosts
of desert storms past.
Meanwhile our school
children bleed, our war vet sniper fades
into a fog of pundits.
The boys down
in Lubbock, who believe in evil, kiss
their virgin wives goodnight, pray
the thunder god will give mojo
to the boy. They put their faith
in F16s.
The tang of wax and rotted
pumpkin fills the air. Is the smell
of front-porch jacks stronger than the reek
of burning oil, the copper smell of blood?

 

 

The Moments Silence

Peter Hunter

In the moments silence,

Hearts don�t beat,

They grow and shrink

Worlds expand and break the air

As other, bigger worlds contract

Tiny holes appear from nowhere

Having nowhere to react

In the space between the flash and bang,

The stroboscopic afternoon,

The sudden drop from can to not,

A cobweb softly snaps.

Between the answer and the question

One hand deafeningly claps

As the tree becomes the seed

Pausing just enough to take a life

The tension slips

The perfect pane becomes a pain machine

And as the drop releases grip

The mind lets go the dream

In the moments startled argument

The cell divides again

Two voices stall in emptiness

The first wave hits

Between the tock and tick

And understanding clicks.

In the moments silence

Death knocks at the door

And roars and shits.

 

 

The Tooth

Robert Minhinnick

(Amiriya, Baghdad)

In your head I whisper:
A tooth, blue as a cinder
And I ask: Coward,
Whose pain is it anyway?
Your cells are a blizzard,
Your mind a ragbook, yet
I dream you into growth
Luscious as papaya flesh
Around my black seed.

Why this need to condemn?
I have felt your bones
Gasp in their foundry,
And at night you do not know
But I have heard your blood
Like a bench of silversmiths
Pause at its work.
Then continue.

Once I dreamed
You inside a laboratory
When you stared at a kernel of phosphorus
Until it sprouted fire;
And thirty years later
Ached in your skull
As you stooped in the shelter
Of Amiriya to pick the tooth
Of a child like a rice grain
From the ash.

We�ve been together
Such a long time now.
And my roots
Go all the way down.

 

 

let us step around this time

Lisa Pasold

 

take my arms, we might dance

do you know how to tango? or maybe some kind

of boogie-woogie, is there music there? can we listen.

this is a story for which there is no witness, for I wasn�t born or even

thought of. I was only told about this war

by my elder brother and then he died. in this story, the century is still new,

my brother is tall and no one expects him yet

to sicken and cough through my childhood, no one expects

we will disappear.

when I am not yet born, this story: uniforms, you see. the cloth needed by an army

of new recruits. they were given freshly-made fatigues. let them go

cleanly. some blessing, some clean shirt. there�s a lot of cloth needed

in wartime. a war is good for business

when you�re in textiles.

after a while the shortages set in. this is the real beginning of most war stories.

they began sending us old uniforms. I mean, taken from the dead.

any denomination of man, when dead, his body�s not worth the next soldier�s cloth.

you know how they died in that war, don�t you? the shortest english word

is mud. what they turned into.

trucks piled with empty uniforms arrived at our factory.

my brother�s job, it was to cut off the buttons, medals, any

clasps or zippers, anything that wasn�t cloth then take what remained, fabric,

to soak. vats full in the factory, break down the fibres,

reweave it into new cloth for fresh lambs. my brother only wondering right at the end

whether these uniforms were coming through

repeatedly, unending, his hands going over the cloth, the buttons, the dead men.

he would wash his hands. he was only thirteen and he had buttons

from all over the world, he was proud of his metal collection. it included

colours from every country. you understand what I mean. the dead

came from everywhere.

 

 

Wedding War

Buster Burk

To my father:
Those brutal spots decading old
Seek to be red again,
Failed, failing tongues of Quinyon

Are we born each nude new generation?
To be so forged to suit tradition�s weigh?
Does New Man facile limitation?
Yet centuries tick the same old fate?

We have broken sound with jetting ease
We have mooned our dreams and touched Great Space
We have mastered ford machine-light needs
And turned it Auschwitzing a race

We have changed and social custom�s bearing
Lets loose the cinched tight shaming ways
And since customs difference times uncaring
Can man divorce himself from man�s beast frays?

Because if not then hopes like newlyweds
Fall from where we rose, old newlydeads

 

 

The White-Throated Sparrow Can�t Compare

Eleanor Wilner

He had made it through so many winters,
an optimist in the blizzard�s heart, staying on�

so it seemed wrong, unfair (if such a word
has any currency), that the gray expanse
that used to mean the rain of spring
should be the solid metal of a sky
in motion overhead, and nowhere
for a small and singing thing to fly,
now that the bombers had come back,
a phalanx overhead, a Roman legion
given wings, and the land below
grown dark�the way a shadow slips
across the land when a cloud passes
overhead. But there resemblance ends.

As does ours with the sparrow, who, resting
on a shaded branch, shakes his wings
and gives the clear, reflective whistle
for which his kind is known.

And now the very thought of him
has flown; the mind can�t hold for long
the sparrow and the bombers
in a single thought. Mad
to make them share a line, as if
to balance power so unequal
on the creaking fulcrum
of the merest and:
a pennyworth
of weight with its live, pensive song
against a roaring overhead�pure dread,
its leaden tonnage, and its tongue.

 

 

What Did Adorno Say?

Jeffrey Mackie

Do you think anything really matters
In the extreme?
Do you think (country)
Should be capitalized?
Is it any different
Now that the war is over?

And the bodies found
And the bodies counted
And the bodies
Continue to be found
Will continue to be found

Do you think civilians
Should be bombed from the air?
Running again
As they did from snipers in the hills
It�s all the same
Bodies are collateral

Is there a flag in the world
Without the colour red?
Without
The colour of blood,
Hidden somewhere?

 

 

"Christendom"

Graywyvern

there was once a king
a stupid king
son of a king

and he ruled a great empire
greatest of his time
and a pious king was he

so pious
he wanted to punish
everyone that didn�t believe

and he made a department
to spy on his own people
this pious king

but it was war he loved
constant war
war with no object

he made war till he exhausted
the wealth of this richest empire
he ruined his country

to utter bankruptcy
and it became
the most backward country in Europe

and after this king
whose name was Philip the Second
a Golden Age of art & literature

was snuffed out
like it never existed
and it was three hundred years

three hundred years
till Spain produced anything good again

 

 

Off The Record

Maureen Gallagher

He tippexed the twin towers off
the Guinness Book of Records,
the World Trade Centre no longer holds
the title; there�s meat here for a class

recording statistics; not so much anti
as pedant: concrete examples
are always best; not so much cynic
as blind to the tragedy of so many lives

lost in a massacre; blind to the backlash
such terrorism unleashes on people
around the globe; the gendarme-in-chief
of the New World Order promises revenge:

scapegoats will be found; the lesson learnt:
the importance of history is not about
the circumstances of an ordinary crowd,
the towers of commerce are what count.

 

 

God Decides to Press the Mute Button on his Remote Control

David Siller

Sometime during Eternity*
the sounds of "Cowboys and Indians"
outside a window, picket fences, sons and daughters playing
a little game, giggles, �ready or not here I come�

stomping and marching, hustling and hiding
the roar of a fire hose, the shhhh of a shower
the bells and bulls and bears of a stock market, flags in a breeze
the sounds of cowboys and Indians

outside a window, picket signs, sons and daughters pleading
a little restraint, grumbling, �we�re not ready here or there�

glug glug glug of oil, boom boom boom of timber, click click click of clips
the rumble of bulldozers, useless thud of rocks

outside children whimper, �no food, no home help us find one�

wolf calls to broads, whistles of bombs
whispers of mass(s), whinings of missiles
�Fire� burning woods
�Fire� blasting weapons
�Fire� in a crowded theatre, no one listens
the sounds of "Cowboys" and "Indians"

somewhere grandmothers making soup for kids hiding in bushes
somewhere dicktators massing troops, hiding behind bushes
somewhere people seeking truth, hidden just hidden

everywhere windows are closed

the only sound is the hum of the television
then a snap to black
the grinding halt of humanity
to which no body listened

*quote from Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

 

Sim Shalom

Susan Freeman

In a rush of air and wings, soaring up, they arrive,

small, still statues in the open spaces

of an old and rangy tree.

Three, four, and finally, twelve mourning doves

dark against the fogbound sky,

one week beyond that indelible darkness, that fear,

as the world begins again the slow circle of renewal

we call the new year.

I stand alone in the turning garden

lifting a song for the ash-covered city,

for its tumbled dead and the living

who search, exhausted, remembering life.

Words fly up, begging solace,

and the answers that come sound nothing

like the raw noise in angry men�s throats.

Between the fire and our fury, dreams

disconnect from our hearts. Apples turn to ash,

the honey of ironic prayer thickens to ash in the mouth.

Everything we believe lies open for inspection;

who shall live and who shall die, and who will be inscribed.

From the east, the smoke floats up the river,

across the country, over our eyes.

The doves offer no song, absolutely still in the bitter day.

The weight of war clouds the sky

and twelve birds sit watching.

 

 

The 20th Century Man

Robert W. Proctor

In 1918, I, a man of the 20th century, ordered 10,000 men
like me over the top. A similar man, on the other side,
ordered machine guns, howitzers, and mortars to fire.
He had to stop my men.

He did. Few of them returned. And most of them--like me--
were scarred in mind for life.
I did it. He did it. His Emperor did it. My President did it.
Our Stone Age ancestors did it.

In a hundred days I sent a thousand bombers across the Channel
to blow apart and incinerate my fellow man, just as some of them
had gassed and burned to ashes many more of my fellow man.
They did it. We did it. I did it.

And you know something? I wasn�t even born when I sent
my fellow man to death at Belleau Wood;
and only a child when I rained fire on Hamburg.
But as certain as I live today, I did it.

Years later, when I am gone, when others bemoan
the slaughter at Verdun, the fiery atomization of Hiroshima,
the disembowelment of Vietnam, the consuming fireballs of 9-11,
death grants me no rest, because if others don�t know him,

I know the 20th century man behind those horrors.
If it could, my earth bound fleshless jaw, bone grating against bone,
would try to form these words:
I---did---it.

November 2002

 

 

A Poem for My Muslim Poet Friend

Larry Jaffe

I was not taught to hate or love,

my depression era parents only

trained survival of the meekest.

When parental guidance spoke,

it was work or be worked

from above as slaves.

Family was to be cared for

as extension of self,

blood of course thicker than water.

Love was bestowed by gods not mortals.

Liking was taken personally �

"You are always loved," they said.

"We just don�t always like you,"

they spoke true.

But I did not need to learn to hate you

it came naturally a by product of heritage

a natural extension of ancestral strife.

One day I dropped out of ancient conclave,

never having learned these lessons,

actively fighting thoughts intrusive.

It was then I decided if I was going to hate

it would be for good reason and not self-indulgence.

And it is for this reason, that when we met

I saw no colour of nationality or culture

I only saw poet.

 

 

the sand that is everywhere

rob mclennan

you would be so very nice
to question

& be ready w/ a believable
excuse

seeking out the cause, so much
left here has been broken

a rattling of chains

this is a noise you hear
on a bus

a context that supplies its own
geographical

chest pulld tight, as watching
worlds collapse

announcing the death of irony, even
before the fires are out

ash covers all in his apartment

the space of weeks, & a few
short blocks

 

Good Morning Middle Age

Robin Lim

I woke with a backache.
It�s no use blaming the mattress, I got older.
Here it is, the time I waited for, promising myself
that my peers and I would change the world.
From the clay of our hands and a few seeds of justice,
we would grow peace and food for the people.

Today I can�t bear the pressure of listening to my friends, my goddamned
friends,
talking about meditation and art. Their heads twist side to side, puppets.
They do this because they woke up with backaches too.
They do this because they can�t admit that they really care about their two
or three cars,
their VCR, their vacation in Florida.
They earned their wealth, the right to ignore the lies.

The lie that we in the United States elect a President,
and all the lies he tells, smiling on their TV sets.
The lie that this nightmare will be over after the next election.
The lie that demonizes an underfed Iraqi child,
who might, if we let her grow up, become a terrorist.
She might give birth to a whole litter of terrorist pups,
every one of them with a grenade arm,
poised to take out your recreational vehicle with one thrust.

When Congress gives this so-called President the infinite power to protect
our jobs
and our schools, where our children are taught
to talk about meditation and art,
these men will go home and try to have sex
with their wives, or someone, anyone.
Ignoring all the phone calls and the cries of the constituents, our Senator
just wants to get it on. But this time, having gone too far,
having betrayed every last dream, he can�t get it up.

In the basement, his son, and all our American
babies, are huffing glue and household chemicals.

 

 

On Election Day

Jennifer Dick

On election day, we came to the

edge of our continent to watch

a boat depart.

It was a green day and if it were

long ago or a cruise line

we might�ve waved kerchiefs,

thrown multi-colored pastel confetti,

drunk champagne bubbling into sea-froth.

But as it was, we stood silent.

Some of us had forgotten to vote,

others no longer cared, calling it a

conspiracy, arguing, "makes no

difference anyway."

In a still row we raised our palms to

shield our eyes from the glaring sun,

watch the battleships set out to sea.

Men in green, men in beige and grey camouflage,

men in neatly-cropped hair, loins still stinging

from all-nighters. Blue, brown, green, red-eyed

men with round fingertips, earth-hand, fire, air,

water hand men answered : "All hands on

board, Sir !" Cutting a dark swath across the

blue swells they looked back at us,

believed we were saluting.

Brothers, sons, uncles, fathers

drift out. We stand ashore, waiting

as if the net in our fingers were not

sufficient to catch even one.

This net spinning forth from our lips

like webbing overnight,

this rattle and din now ceased.

The day was green and the tide

bouyant. From afar years later

perhaps you and I shall return

to this shore of our continent

and believe we can hear them singing

robust songs

as they return.

 

 

Untitled

d.m.

Since the death

of 500,000 Iraqis goes unmourned

so I will not mourn them

but continue drinking to excess.

Though it has been written

that under the eternal threat of war

children gain anxiety disorders

and are found banging their head against floor and other available cement �

I will not mourn them.

I will not mourn the dying and deformed

because an idealist cannot be happy.

And I want to be happy.

So I will laugh and marry

and continue drinking to excess.

 

 

Divine Haiku for the New Patriotism

ryk mcintyre

i don�t like you, so
i am blessed by gods that don�t
like your ass either

("I ain�t gonna study war no more",
but Woody Guthrie should�ve said,
"I�m gonna study war some more
so that it never needs to happen again."

 

 

To a Veteran of the Last Wrong War

Susan Ludvigson

Every time we speak of it I understand

another loneliness. What lives in us?

Every atrocity, a landscape filled

with mountain paths, every prayer committed

to a deeper wilderness.

The morning sky twists yellow

above the nearest peak.

I think of the spirit dissolving.

You lift yourself onto a shaky elbow,

your voice so low I can hardly hear.

You speak of the origin of hymns,

move your head slowly from side to side.

You talk about the mind, its grooves carved deep.

The hollow the head makes.

Shocks to the psyche, buried in years,

no light touching the body

as detonations ripple through.

From time to time, my hands warm on your skin,

I dream what was intended. As the world threatens

to implode, I turn in a strange kind of hope,

though I am a child of the only myths

in which the gods die too. What can we do

against the determined dark?

 

 

Easy

Sampurna Chattarji

Death is easy to pronounce.

He deserved to die.

They ought to be shot.

Hanging�s too good for him.

The words fall glib.

Throwaway lines

sentencing them to death.

Distant observer,

you speak without guilt, or fear

of misplaced allegiances.

You just need something to say,

that�s all.

The right sentiment, rightly declared

whichever way your loyalties blow

in the gust of the smokefilled air.

A country burns.

The death-dealers deserved to die, you say.

Death is easy to pronounce.

It�s the smell of burning children that�s hard.

January 2003, Mumbai, India.

 

 

Circling The Gulf A Gain A Loss, Ingrained

Penn Kemp

Signs proliferate as we pass by. Plastered on the auto dealership plate

glass: SAVE THOU SANDS SAVE THOU SANDS. Save thou souls,

save thy soul, grain of sand, rain of rant, cycles of want and plenty.

We are so defined by the stories we tell and those we as children hear.
For years, as I was growing up, �war stories� were served with dessert
at the table. Over and over, I listened to my grandfather�s tales of leading
a regiment of Iroquois troops in battle on the killing grounds of France.

This warrior tradition emerged in my son in a fantastical, twisted way.

During an acute psychotic episode, my son was hospitalized. His terrible

adventure, coinciding with the Gulf War, took on metaphoric overtone.

Even the word "gulf" loomed between realities. Mind the gap, mine hole.

At the height of concern about the possibilities of chemical, biological
or nuclear warfare, he became convinced that he himself was radio-active,
a bomb about to explode. Yet who is to say what his response to threats
of nuclear annihilation should have been? To me, his was a tortured way
of reinventing personal history, of linking himself up with our tradition
of war service, of families disrupted by early deaths from wounds borne
on the field of battle. With the end of the Gulf War, my son recovered.

As a child, he had listened to my father�s stories about his work as a bomb

disposal expert in Scotland during the Second World War. That stress was

internalized by my son with dreadful accuracy. I believe this literalization

of memory occurs down the generations all the time. Our work is to stop

the war in art and life so that the children don�t continue to enact conflict.

How do we experience peace as a fullness of life, not an absence of action

and adventure? How do we live peace without constellating its opposite?

A dream speaks: Dad gently warns me not to pay more attention to the dead.

Their time is over. Sparse spring rains demand we plant the desert in grain.

 

 

Women in Black

Leza Lowitz

Fields of gypsies
growing dark across the Danube,
dark across the desert,
across the world, now at home.
Widows and weeds.
Homes of broken chairs,
half-standing walls,
empty door-frames,
another fresh grave.
Town square, open market
rows of orange-red tomatoes,
tattered clothes,

blood-stained plaza
centuries-old buildings
stripped bare to brick.
Across the Danube
across the desert
across the world
now at home
old women in black,
fields of young men,
families laid to waste
women waiting for bread,
counting grains of sugar,
grains of salt, minutes,
the hours, waiting for peace.
Once friends, now enemies.
Once lullabies, now eulogies.
Old women in black
bent in half, whispering
across the world...

when will it end?
"Will they fight
even over the moon?"
Hands lain
over another coffin,
hands lain
over their hearts,
women in black
praying,

praying.

 

 

How It�s Been

Elmaz Abinader

How has it been for you... since 9/11?

You, the Arab, you mean.

You say it with such sincerity

and love that I almost forget to be frightened.

*

Might as well ask how it�s been for me

forever... how it�s been watching hatchet

images of my uncles starring enemies on t.v.

How it�s been for almost twenty years

not one year, standing in airports, pronouncing

my name, verifying my birthplace, and wishing

it actually was different.

*

But don�t ask me how it�s been since 9/11.

Ask them: the boy soldiers in lions� cages

in Guantanamo bay,

the Afghani villagers, standing at the tub

while their homes are ransacked,

the American boys shivering in the encroaching

winter in a mountainside that does not

remind them of Macon, or West Chicago

or Harlem.

Ask them where they lay their heads

at night, and will it be there tomorrow.

Ask all the thems in the Sudan, Somalia, Ivory

Coast, Nicaragua, Colombia, Vieques, Phillipines,

Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor, Tibet,

the countries in the Axis of Evil.

South Central L.A., West and East Oakland, Newark,

Chicago, Chiapas, Pine Ridge;Wounded Knee.

Ask the people of Iraq whose prayers now

must condemn our country because we have

bulls eyed them, hair lined them; taken aim.

 

 

war is gud 4 bizness in th 19th centur

bill bissett

war is gud 4 bizness in th 19th centur

ee addiksyun 2 fossil fuel mind set sens

but not sew gud 4 pees or life or 21st

centuree aims receipes n realiteez

or is it th wepons sales by evree

countree 2 evree countree n th

kontinualee shifting allianses

changing tongues killing mor

that have made th world sew

unsafe sew squirellee that th

i m f dusint seem 2 mind inkrees

uv defisit 4 war yet 4 peesful

programs that is seen as sew

kleerlee fiscal irresponsibilitee

munee 4 health 4 th environment

not as gud as munee 4 big bizness

deth masheens that will definitlee

keep konsumrs down ducking n

lying being lied 2 hurts us toxiciteez

now we can sell yu all thees wepons

uv kours but yu need 2 promise 2

follo our leeds in almost evree thing

n 2 not use thees wepons un less we

say theyr onlee 4 yr proteksyun n 4

paying us n 4 downgrading individual

human life preventing wind powr n

solar panels being usd as frendlee

enerjee sources wch dont kill us like

a lot uv organizd religyun can war

famine povrtee hate is nevr as inter

esting as love love is alwayze mor

beautiful mor giving mor uplifting

mor intricate generous refind nevr

gross goez thru walls doors makes

mor opnings that carree mor love

bettr thn who controls th oil field

 

 

Psychotic Sea

Sonja A. Skarstedt

The spread of algae amplifies undercurrents of disease
crabs stutter and starfish are hooked on obliterations of lichen and foam

did radios hiss like this
the day before Pearl Harbour
the day after Hiroshima?

shores and shores away through foreign skies
the crawl of bombs migratory as lice
predatory wings deposit larvae
their mothlike bodies sophisticated as microchips

satellites map a watery screen
each slick, foreseeable blip
impassive as allegory
goads the ocean�s trampoline
its red-tide arrogance
its coral-toothed caves
its bric-a-brac processions

the sea spits out poxes
parasitic brigades
each trauma drives the malignant tide
lacerations upset the sepia sand magnifies its scathed surfaces

interplanetary jaundice

post-radar transmissions
inland inspections pump its arteries
with purple connotations of mourning
civilian echoes

a woman�s palms dipped in tuscan
mark a wall for the dead
the sound in her throat
is permanently pierced.

 

 

Women Washing Clothes in the Kabul River

Susan Gubernat

Their men, our men, are pulverizing cities

into truckloads of human dust, bone splinters,

ash that floats back into red lungs.

And freeing them, for what? For laundry,

hiking up the burkah and venturing out,

the first time in years, to wade in a river,

to find, at the shallow end, their wavy

reflections in the mirroring waters.

One girl bunches up her skirt and stares

at her own pale legs extending down

into the riverbed into another, matching pair.

Her half-naked twin, attached at her soles,

looks up. They laugh, squeezing the invisible

muck between their toes. Her mother�s broad

backside is captured in the photograph on page one,

millions will see her now, bent over, scrubbing

in the old way, against a flat, wet rock. This

is how we invade without apology, this display �

the backs of her calves, her loose underwear.

Our own homes are draped in flag cloth:

the windows and the doors some of us peer

out from now, furtively, in this other purdah.

 

 

Bigger Than Time

Dawna Rae Hicks

I heard them scream
in the valley of hatred
when Lucrezia was in my mind
I hear them wail, as Mona prayed:
This tear in my eye
is bigger than time

I heard them grieve
when the president was shot
I heard them sing
to keep the others alive
I heard them shout
as they went over the top
and I heard them weep
at the sorrow he had brought

I heard their voices over the hills
in a sad old earth tongue
I heard the death-cry at night
when only the good die young

I heard the plea
I heard the laugh
I heard the sigh
I heard the sigh
when I found we were destined to
destined to
the tear in my eye
is bigger than time

 

 

transit

Rip Bulkeley

taken dog to put down

in the British queue

stiffupperlipping

their saddened bits
*

wearing heavy burka

squats in sodden verge

just outside Eynsham

hand she supplicates with

lavishly scrolled in henna
*

motorway sacrificed lane

with army convoys

stride into service-stations

bursting fulfilment
*

all along Calder ravine

big gasmask and little

bouncing gasmask

warmly ferried by

yellow lollipop gasmask
*

again big again bouncing

again lollipop

gasmask and again
*

treading about under the hill

beneath steep birches

sick and tired of beauty

magpie cracks "wait"

with its back to the stars

"you just" � sorrow

 

 

The Land of Hope

Ethan Gilsdorf

An opening between anvils blocking the sky:

was the dark age parting?

The clouds outside contain their own ideas,

and release them as they fly eastward over the bois

towards the steely blue city states and principalities,

their fortresses and parking garages.

The 10 am sun just kisses the facing rooftop

on its journey up its snowy blue trajectory, its infinite

orange-white core blinds me so I shift left to where the sun blast

is bisected by the window frame, crucifying my good vision

trying to look only towards the east, to the forest,

the ring road, to the land of hope, they say,

because we are gradually revealed by the

roving planet repeating,

because that direction endlessly lights itself along the way.

The late afternoon light surprises someone hoarding

his dogs and chicken coop in the shadow of the overpass.

Surprises the houseplants and herbs left outdoors

too late into winter�s subterranean tunnel.

Would a pot of coffee

shimmering on a hotplate bring 100 years of peace?

 

 

excerpt from little dead things

Maggie Helwig

the small bones of birds
meaning: death from the air

it is not clear where this is happening, this
is happening everywhere

***


dawn in a distant place
these houses are burning
while warriors move in an absence

a yellow mountain

small girl, blood on her face

parts of a leg in the desert

there is fear at the pass, the birds like living bullets,
eddies of wind, beings that fly and fall

***


sit in the dust
and number the little dead things

hold them in your guilty hands

there is not much left to be known
except that we are here
we are all here

the world is a single place

and there shall be rumours of war

and we shall attend in the dust

 

 

Press conference

Ana Doina

It�s hard to keep your senses orderly
when hearing the general�s words
to visualise how all the heavy equipment
will be moved through an alien landscape
how the food will be cooked
the laundry done
while everything around is advancing
or retreating, worst yet, exploding.

It looks simple; all the toothpick flags
stabbing the map; here a town we had
conquered, there one where heavy
fighting is still going on. On the flat map
places look as nothing had happened
though reports tell of old temples
destroyed, roads closed, hospitals on fire
children orphaned, people maimed. Today only
the smell and the smoke of burned flesh, blood
and smouldering ruins blackened
an incinerating sunset.

The general
his voice calm, his poise almost jovial
answers questions shuffling papers
he rarely glances at. He seams to know
all the answers, as if the war had
taken place in a history book
centuries ago.

It is hard to keep your senses orderly
when he, rolling his papers like a scroll
says: we don�t expect more
than 2, maybe 3% casualties for our troops
as if the forecasted dead
their life pre-written on scrolls
are ready for eternity like mummies
packaged in history�s embalming.

 

 

Filofax

David Harsent

The entire township, heading north in cars, in trucks, on bikes, on foot,

some with next to nothing, some choosing to cart

(as it might be) armchair, armoire, samovar, black and white

TV, toaster, Filofax, Magimix, ladle, spindle, spinet,

bed and bedding, basin and basinette,

passed (each in clear sight) lynx and wolverine and bobcat,

heading south to the guns and the promise of fresh meat.

 

 

Nets At Gennesaret

David Morley

 

One mirror: he walked the water

and the water

allowed it: a web�s face of surface tensions:

a pondskater�s halo. We have toiled all night

and have taken

nothing: nevertheless, at thy word.

�I sank three nets in the lake�s edge,

each with a plumb,

lattice corks strung skew-whiff of the ante-lines,

mesh thinned to catch swimming needles of elver.�

And when this was done

�the taut sea exploded with fish�.

 

 

King Rat

Edwin Torres

the rain in Kabul smells like smoke

overcooked mist burned by an ocean of fear

All followers want to be leaders
All leaders follow themselves
All rats follow the king rat
All king rats are rats


In a pack of rats
The newest one will be trampled
The biggest and brightest will stand out
The one who stands out will be killed eaten
Stomped into the earth
All rats follow themselves
All tails as long as their outcome


In a pack of rats
The sharpest teeth
The dirtiest dirt
The slickest spit
The lowest low
The damnedest of the damned
Will win every time


All rats are rats

In a world of rats

All followers are rats

In a world of rats

All kings are rats

In a world of rats

Who needs cheese

When we got rats

 

 

In The Abundance Of Oxygen The Refugee Is Choked

Essa Bokarr Sey

Sparks! o! sparks!

The rumbling sound shook our walls within the dusty

desert.

Earth quakes?! No! Typhoons?! No way!!!

B fifty twos...Hmmm...souls are being wiped by

styles and smiles.

Is the bomber feeling the pain?

Refugees are spreading like wild geese.

Oxygen is abundant but they are choked by the

whistling stones that are

propelled by flames!

Gunpowder cannot save us from napalm!

Save the refugee-operation or save the

powerful-operation?!

Resolutions have been buried. Is might the answer?

Shadows behind gallows or silhouettes upon pillows?

Who�s who within these wars of our time?.

Those jailed cannot be bailed by truth and those

bombing cannot snore when

flying.

Our time is as sour as lime.

Please stop it! The ghosts that are peeping through

a futuristic window will

haunt our generation.

Some want to rest in the west and eat cheese in the

middle east.

Oh lord! our time is sour.

Kindly grease our world with peace.

Gambia, 2003

 

 

Ballad

Sean O�Brien

 

with apologies to William Empson

 

Here we go to war, boys -

Rally round the flag.

Tony cleans it up, boys -

He�s the oily rag.

Tony talks in sentences

And even paragraphs:

When Dubya tries a speech act

Half the planet laughs.

Wonder what�s at stake, boys?

Why we�re off to war?

Someone on the take, or

Was that the time before?

Just keep it in the Firm boys,

Like the OSS:

Take away the �O�, boys -

Familiar address?

Could it be the oil, boys,

Waiting in the ground?

Could it be the oil, boys?
Is the planet round?

Treat us all like mushrooms,

Hidden from the light.

Here it comes again, boys,

Lorry load of shite.

Let �em show the way, boys,

Dubya and Tone,

And if they want to fight, boys,

Let �em fight alone.

Let �em ride a missile

Down to old Baghdad.

Never coming back, boys -

Wouldn�t that be sad?

1 February 2003

 

 

The Palace of Art

George Szirtes

In a classical porch two angels

Are steadily beating their God.

You must train your deities properly.

No point sparing the rod.

St Veronica lends her hankie

To the fallen. Next day

she opens it up: Oh my god!

I have taken his face away.

A wheel on a pole. A raven.

The crowd has formed a ring.

In the centre: death.

And still they keep coming.

Always this bare hillside and the crowd

huddling and thinking aloud,

thoughts that collect in the valley beneath

with folded spectacles, shoes, gold teeth.

It is awfully black down there,

And their limbs are terribly bent:

How lifelike the darkness is

We seemed to be doomed to invent.

Hell is muscular and crowded

Like a gym where the demons work out

Their frustrations on apparatus

Unhindered by rust or by doubt.

God slides down the chute of his robe:

His body seems almost to float.

The late romantic chorus of love

Belts on in full throat.

We watch the universe collapsing

About the victim�s head.

The living are turned away from us.

Not so the dead.

Soldiers asleep, he stands

Stiff backed: his eyes burn.

Resurrection begins.

Now it is our turn.

You put your fingers in the wound

Gingerly, since you doubt.

The problem is not so much poking it in

As getting the damn thing out.

 

 

My peculiar talents

Ifor Thomas

I linger next to the school ice cream van

Threaten the angelic horrors

As their tongues lap the cones

Say I believe in child slavery

I bite the neck of the strange woman

I�m standing next to in the lift

growl into her flesh

"take me to Transylvania - now"

I wander into the art gallery

reeking of gasoline and carrying a flame thrower

exclaim there�s a need for more spontaneity

I steer this car into the queue at the bus stop

and as my wipers beat away blood

say "whoops"

I sprinkle white powder into an envelope

send it to the mayor with the message

Snort anthrax sucker

I stand up in the plane

shout � my shoes are filled with gelignite

we are all going down

And if I had a powerful rifle

And if my cross hairs

Were fixed on your chest

do you think I�d hesitate before pulling the trigger?

When they drag me into the dock

wearing an orange suit

weighed down with chains

wild-eyed, spitting feathers

the judge accepts that I am a victim

of a violent society

offers me 999 years in high security -

Or he says perhaps

a spell in the army may suit your peculiar talents

It�s the army for me

I agree.

 

 

I Dream of War

James Cervantes

I dream of war. I dream of poets being poets
along a riverbank in a war. There are no books, no prizes,

and they pack food in boxes: cereal, rice, dried fruit,
bread, and beans, each in their plastic bag,

for they must row across the river to gather. They must leave
their parapets of three stone walls open to the land

away from water, and open to the sky. They are dreamless
in the dream and wake to row every day. When they bend

to fill their boxes or sweep bare ground, they are faceless,
and it is only hands and arms that row, only hands

that open palms up to read the air. If you are one
of them and stay behind, you see the broad, brown river

and a face, finally, across the water, too small
even for a child, and there is time before you hear the sound

of bloodless hands, a clap that starts the song.

 

 

Candle, Flame, Stained Glass and Prayer for Peace

John Kinsella

for Veronica Brady

 

Heliolithic, the taper honing the flame

ready for the passing, a plastic dish

of solid naphtha awaits its passive melting,

set rigidly as counterbalance, a wrought

iron candelabrum bracing ceramic insulators

left over from the town�s rewiring � now

ensuring the thought is delivered safely.

 

The trinity unsettles and reseats itself,

the late morning sun cuts through the glass

and foot-notes the altar. Ezra moves through

the large print of text and looks far into

Babylon. A child unknowingly prays for peace,

enjoys the church as a house with thick doors

to keep the fear out, though he�s not sure

about the glass. His father considers the candle,

the flame, how it fills the room, climbs

beyond the roof, outreaches itself.

 

From beneath the pews a liquid almost gold

seeks to flow freely over the floor � boards

parted by tremors preventing this. The father

knows it to be the candle, the flame wallowing

in its downfall, drowning at the source.

Legend would have it a bird passes through

a panel of stained glass to resurrect

the flame by lifting the wick and with rapid

movement of its wings cooling the naphtha.

Legend has it the flame hardens in its beak

and follows the release, that the gold

beneath the pews retreats, that the father

prays aloud for peace.

 

 

News Theatre

John Hartley Williams

Meanwhile Mouse
straight-arms the doorframe of the hole in the wainscot,
eyes up Tarnished Tom,
whose floorbrush tail
sweeps the carpet.

The vast thighs of Doris Blooper squeak together.
From the door her nasal voice
calls kiddy kiddy kiddy�

Bucko male chauvinist Tarnished Tom Pussycat
has eyes on Meanwhile Mouse,
who�s got Doris riding shotgun.
Wait till Doris� thighs go shuffle-piffling off.
OK, OK, mouse -
enjoy a little feminine mouse irony, why don�t you?
Show a bit of slender rodent leg.
Taunt old Tarnished Tom.

Just wait.

Doris squeaks into
her radiant stainless blossom kitchen
and back into the living room.
Imagine mouse horror, cat consternation
when Doris slides
her skirts up to her waist,
tips herself into a chair,
and stirs a broom handle briskly
in the warm soupbowl between her thighs.
All together�in italics now!
Academymiceawards
Irradiatedhorsetesticlehamburgers,
Gimmerockets
Gimmebiggerrockets
Nukethealiens
Gimmethestars
Gimmethecosmos
Oooooh...

Meanwhile Mouse,
Tarnished Tom Pussycat�hey!..
they just look at each other
in creaturely crumpleface
doom cartoon dismay.

Exaggerated hush-hush tippytoe goose-step�
They�re leaving by the kitchen door.
They�re vanishing down a winding road.
They�re spinning in a highly-coloured whirlpool.
A loopy kind of writing is writing by itself:
No joke babies.
War is next.

 

 

Letter to Hayden Carruth

Marilyn Hacker

Dear Hayden, I have owed you a letter for
one month, or two - your last one�s misplaced. But I�m
back in New York. The world is howling,
bleeding and dying in banner headlines.

No hope from youthful pacifists, elderly
anarchists; no solutions from diplomats.
Men maddened with revealed religion
murder their neighbours with righteous fervour,

while, claiming they�re "defending democracy,"
our homespun junta exports the war machine.
They, too, have daily prayer-meetings,
photo-op-perfect for tame reporters.

("God Bless America" would be blasphemy
if there were a god concerned with humanity.)
Marie is blunt about it: things were
less awful (Stateside) in1940.

I wasn�t born� I�ve read shelves of books about
France under Vichy after the armistice:
war at imagination�s distance.
Distance is telescoped now, shrinks daily.

Jews who learned their comportment from storm-troopers
act out the nightmares that woke their grandmothers;
Jews sit, black-clad, claim peace: their vigil�s
not on the whistlestop pol�s agenda.

"Our" loss is grave: American, sacralized.
We are dismayed that dead Palestinians,
Kashmiris, Chechens, Guatemalans,
also are mourned with demands for vengeance.

"Our" loss is grave, that is, till a president
in spanking-new non-combatant uniform
mandates a war: then, men and women
dying for oil will be needed heroes.

I�d rather live in France (or live anywhere
there�s literate debate in the newspapers).
The English language is my mother
tongue, but it travels. Asylum, exile?

I know where I feel more like a foreigner
now that it seems my birth country silences
dissent with fear. Of death? Of difference?
I know which city lightens my mornings.

You had New England; I had diaspora,
an old folk song: "Wish I was where I would be,
Then I�d be where I am not." Would that
joy claimed its citizens, issued passports.

"First, do no harm," physicians, not presidents,
swear when inducted. I�m tired of rhetoric,
theirs or journalists� or my own ranting.
I�d like to hole up with Blake and Crashaw -

but there�s a stack of student endeavours that
I�ve got to read, and write some encouraging
words on. Five hours of class tomorrow;
Tuesday , a dawn flight to California.

 

 

Unrhymed Peace Sonnet

Marilyn Nelson

Who are the Good Guys now? Who are the bad?
Nobody�s wearing Stetsons, black or white.
Each has a history of evil deeds:
one individual, one centuries
of rapine and ideals. It�s almost noon.
One leader straps on bombs. The armies mass.
We�ll blow that s.o.b. to kingdom come,
everyone thinks; bring on Armageddon!
Yosemite Sam, frustrated and enraged,
jumps up and down, shooting holes in the clouds.
And Africa is dying out, of AIDS.
Why the hell doesn�t the moving finger write?
What the hell are you waiting for, my God?
Why don�t you tell those bastards not to fight?
For Pete�s sake, send an angel! Burn a bush!

January 28, 2003, a.m.

 

 

Crossing Kurdistan

Nadine McInnis

The sky is a country we cross
with our heads bowed down.

We no longer notice the mud,
so chilled
the bones of our feet ache.
It is not our mud,
these are not our mountains,
complicated
with invisible borders,
rising and falling like a fever.

But when the sky speaks,
we strain to listen
to dialects we cannot understand:

thunder and helicopters, sleet
cooling the babies in our arms
until they are still
as stones.

The burden we carry
lightens
as they drift up
and become citizens of the sky

and what falls from the sky
is called relief.
Sweet and strange, fall
chewing gum, hard candy,
powdered instant tea.

This must be what children eat in heaven,
or in America,
after they�ve already
had their fill.

 

 

This Sky of Lost Miles

Ranjit Hoskote

Shield your eyes from this oblong patch of light

where the towers once stood, where now there floods

on our TV screens this sky of lost miles, miles yet to be

� now never to be � redeemed, this sky that showers

a rain of ash and scorched maple leaves,

of powdered glass that settles on bridges and cars, a rain through which

phantoms trundle their barrows, carrying heads, arms, bricks

that rained from the burning towers, and through this poisoned rain we see

as if for the first time, a sky that showers missiles without warning,

striking without prejudice the present sacrifice.

Heap up your cinders, pray for your dead, our dead:

Baghdad, too, was a city of high towers once, New York.

 

 

Dear Lady, Fear No Poetry

Rebecca Sellars

Dear lady, fear no poetry

Those you revere so highly

Twain,
Whitman,
Hughes

Even your beloved Emily

Wrote beyond

Bees and blades of grass

They wrote the human condition

How can you turn your back

on the human condition

of all times

now?

Now is the time to look

beyond

the sweetness

the goodness

the pleasantries

of poetry read

in parlours

And consider the reflection

poetry

all poetry

evokes

not to remain silent

but to provoke thought

to provoke question

not to ignore the eyes we have all seen,

Children�s eyes,

black moons reflecting emptiness,

Do not promote war, Dear Lady,

let the children live

Do not fear it, Dear Lady

Let the people speak

Do not turn your back

Patroness

of poets

Give open your parlour

Our Parlour

Let the poets read

 

 

January meadow ,

Sandra M. Gilbert

whistles and simmers in the low, south-sliding
California sun, clack of crows
in hedgerows, prickle of grasses still abiding
winter pallor, silence of cypresses
upholding sheaves of needles�here they are!--
like gifts of darkness to a sky whose light�s
so fierce and clear it arches like forever
in the tiny shine of noontime minutes.
The tree guy�s dragged and dumped the tree that toppled
last week (when the power failed). Let�s gather
sunshine now, lounge in the hot tub, tipple
a little, watch the twelve o�clock news together--
(peace marchers shouting in the city
under a sky like this, so blue, so pretty......)

 

 

From Peace Walk & Rally, San Francisco

Stephen Vincent

If You Are Not Outraged
You Are Not Paying Attention

No Blood for Oil
Did Your Car Start This Walk?
How Many Lives Per Gallon?
Go Solar Not Ballistic
Start Drafting SUV Drivers Now

Bush on Crack
Don�t Attack Iraq

Somewhere in Texas
A Village (Crawford)
Is Missing An Idiot

Clone Change Needed:
A Heart for Cheney
A Brain for Bush
Courage for Powell

War Is A Tragedy
Not A Strategy

War Orphans Make
Great Terrorists

Homeland Insecurity

January 18, 2003

 

 

Can We Have Some Peace and Quiet Please ?

Eliot Katz

The belligerent voices are yelling in the streets
& on the radios calling for the big bombs of peace
to fall, the smart bombs, the bombs that have passed
their college entrance exams. It�s Orwellian the way
everyone claims Orwell for their side--these days
everyone is fighting on behalf of Orwell and God.
Years ago Don Rumsfeld & Saddam Hussein met in
the corner & exchanged secret diplomatic handshakes--
it is only after peaceful gestures like these that the missiles
can fly. In the meantime, the time between the world
mean as is and the world we mean to become,
the endless rains are Yehuda Amichai�s tears watching men
still violently beating their swords into ploughshares and back
into rifles & remote-control fighter planes. On the corner
of Spring & Broadway, a taxicab driver threw a baby lamb
out the passenger-side door--everyone in a two-block radius
ran away screaming. In New York City the yelling is
so loud and the quiet so quiet that everyone I know, just below
the surface, is scared out their wits, knowing the violence
these days that can follow an apparent peace. They are calling
Senators with empathetic American voices, urging earthly
generosity and kindness, which their elected leaders interpret
as a vote for pre-emptive strikes. The next century�s gods
have not yet been born and the last century�s are no longer
able to show a child the simple magic trick of pulling
its fingers away from a newly lit flame.

 

 

To Mikl�s Radn�ti

Yerra Sugarman

Radn�ti was a well-known Hungarian poet, whose "body was exhumed from a mass grave in 1946. His widow, going through his pockets, discovered a notebook full of [his] poems."

My mind throws its crumbs into the night�s stopped river.
This is its ceremony to cast off sin, to become pure,
What we Jews call Tashlich, an emptying of pockets.
Night�s dark darkened by the museum of human ash, its lights switched off.

The stars� corollas stammer and, muzzled by clouds, vanish.
A spot of blood throbs under God�s moony thumbnail.
I would like you to know our foundations for burning flesh have not yet been razed.
I pay their victims homage by day�s inebriated bright.

But understand, I still love the glass scent given off by groves of lemon.
I gladly feel the olive trees� arthritic branches pulsing in my knees.
And despite everything, I participate in the crime of music.
My body still an instrument, strums its many forms of abandonment.

(Although I ask you whether what�s truly ephemeral can be abandoned.)
My lips, after passion, scrape like leaves along pavement, incoherent, tarrying�
Yes, my mind flings crusts into the night�s taut river.
And I see by the moon�s weak lamp, it�s as flat as the bottom of a pot.

The night so motionless, it seems an inertia devised by angels or devils,
Who pull on it from both ends.
The night�s surface like a trampoline, resistant, rubber.
And so, my sins fly back at me.

They splash my face like spindrift, leaving river on my lips.
They reenter me through my eyes and teeth,
As my mind rears up, a wild horse.
For I understand, you were murdered by hands like mine.

And I understand I am helpless, a reveler at the table of the void,
A pilgrim who�s journeyed only to discover herself.
And I�m ashamed to speak you or read the poems you shine on my skin.
And the sky does not kindly let me empty my pockets.

 

 

For The Birds

Bob Holman

The Birds are whispering

Tweets into my ears

Tweet tweet

Tweet tweet

I must be a Saint

St. All of a Sudden

What are they tweeting?

That is between

Me and the Birds

Now I am in The Birds

And they are in me

They are dive-bombing me

They seem no longer

To regard me as saint

And I seem to be running

As St. Alfred Lord Hitchcock

Screams out "Cut! Cut!"

However the Birds are not cutting

They are not whispering Tweets anymore either

They are slicing and diving

And I am running across the desert

Is it because I would not tell my own people

The secrets of the Birds?

Who are my people, anyway, I ponder

Now that I am a movie star

As I stumble on in the desert

Upon the answers I receive

Divine illumination and I see

Tiny insects swarm round the heads

Of the Birds that swarm round me

Tiny insects dive-bomb Birds

Birds dive-bomb me

I can no longer translate

Tweet tweet into Bzz bzz

Why do you hate me so

I wrote this in the movies

Even in the dark these thoughts

Do not stop dive-bombing

It is dark here

It is hard to write in the dark

It is hard to think in the dark

The bombing outside takes on a steady rhythm

As I pull down my mask, get runway clearance

And take off with my babies under my wings

Claws extended, bill open and screaming

Tweet tweet

 

 

N.O.T.R.O.T .C.

Mark Rudman

ROTC struck the wrong chord with me.

I couldn�t take it seriously.

I raised the question with my friends, no, they

didn�t like it but it was required

to graduate high school in Salt Lake City.

I hadn�t thought much about pacifism

by the age of fourteen, but had warred

against war all my life; I tormented

the Rabbi with the question why?

Why why why? A dispute over land.

Was this a reason for a man to die?

ROTC struck the wrong chord with me.

I kept wondering how to be excused.

Asthma would keep me out of the army

but not exempt me from ROTC.

We were required to wear the heavy woolen

uniforms all day every Monday,

but since drill preceded first period

I wore a tee shirt and jeans underneath

and changed in the bathroom--

a simple, elegant solution until a tall

senior crashed through the BOYS bathroom door

while I, now in my tee shirt and jeans,

was stuffing the woolen uniform into my briefcase.

He asked "what�s your name private."

"Tom Jones," I fired back.

"That�s insubordination," he said,

and grabbed my left arm hard with his right

and marched me down to Colonel Will.

I shook myself free of his grip and glowered.

"Do you know what insubordination means, private?"

They stared, jaws clenched, faces red.

Private--what a joke. "Not telling the truth?"

"To an officer, and that makes it worse.

I regret to say you�re out for the year.

Unless you�re willing to get here an hour

before school and march around the track

carrying your rifle and infantry pack."

"For how long?" "How long do you think, Private

RUDMAN, until school lets out, is that clear."

When he said "clear" I glanced down at his spit-

shined shoes, saluted, and asked if he cared where I dropped off

my uniform, swivelled and walked away while he,

apoplectic, boomed abuses, threatened repercussions�

ROTC struck the wrong chord with me.

In another life the Colonel�d been a pit bull.

Yet he appeared almost likeable when I glimpsed him

waiting in line at the 7-11 or chopping at a golf ball.

To be fair, I take it back, to be accurate,

I had more freedom to behave this way

than the Mormon kids for whom this was life.

I knew that my real father would take my side

when I said that there was no way I would stay

and finish high school in Salt Lake City.

ROTC struck the wrong chord with me.

 

 

No War Then

Fred Johnston

To The Lighthouse lay on a pillow

Big enough for both of us.

The curtained room was warm, quiet �

We made love here. No war then.

The radio was a long way off,

A voice in another part of the house.

A gasometer gloomed on the garden,

Blood-rust coloured; we were near

The sea, and we had a few friends,

Innocent as dust, as leaves falling �

We know better now. Too grown for

Our own good, war is everywhere.

These bad days I think (forgive me)

That it could be no possible sin now

To feel your breath in my breath

In such a warm, quiet room.

 

 

My Collaboration with George Bush

Robert Adamson

Quote of the Day: New York Times
"Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom."
PRESIDENT BUSH, at a cemetery above Omaha Beach 27-5-2002

Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom
our freedom is for us a thing of countless hours
and after we win each war we wait in fear once more
the more we win the less time there is for living

The more we win the less time there is for living
yet our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom
as we fear what war brings we rejoice in the hours won
and go on to live out fears in the way we wage each war

Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom
even though to afford this freedom costs a bomb
we teach our youth that war will make them free
their freedom is for us a thing of countless hours

and as we take away from them their secret liberties
they understand that living here involves a dreadful fee:
Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom
our freedom is for us a thing of countless hours

 

Waiting for the Marines

Fadel K. Jabr

Translated from the Arabic original by the poet


Twelve years have passed
And the Iraqis are turning over
Like skewered fish
On the fire of waiting.

The first year of the sanctions
They said: The Arabs will come
They will come with love, flour, and the rights of kinship.
The year passed with its long seasons
The Arabs never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The second year of the sanctions
They said: The Muslims will come
They will come with rice, goodness, and the predators� leftovers
The year passed with its long seasons
The Muslims never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The third year of the sanctions
They said: The world will come
They will come with manna, solace, and human rights
The year passed with its long seasons
The world never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The fourth year of the sanctions
They said: The Americans will come
They will come with hope, sugar, and warm feelings
The year passed with its long seasons
The Americans never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The fifth year of the sanctions
They said: The opposition will come
They will come with victories, water, and air
The year passed with its long seasons
The opposition never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The sixth year of the sanctions
They said: We will sell whatever is extra
We will be frugal until relief comes
The year passed with its long seasons
The Iraqis sold all unnecessary things
Relief never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The seventh year of the sanctions
They said: We will give up our semi-necessities
We will be patient until we get support
The year passed with its long seasons
The support never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The eighth year of the sanctions
They said: We will sell some of our organs
We will be strong until the coming of justice
The year passed with its long seasons
Justice never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The ninth year of the sanctions
They said: We will sell some of our children
We will sacrifice until the coming of mercy
The year passed with its long seasons
Mercy never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The tenth year of the sanctions
They said: We will emigrate
To the wide world of Allah
We will entertain ourselves with hope
Until the coming of the gods� orders
The Iraqis separated east and west
The year passed with its long seasons
The gods� orders never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The eleventh year of the sanctions
They said: The best thing for us is to die
We will stay settled in our graves
Until the coming of the day of judgement
The year passed with its long seasons
Cancer, tuberculosis, and leukaemia consumed their bodies
The day of judgement never came
And sent no explanation for the delay.

The twelfth year of the sanctions
The Iraqis found nothing to wait for
They said: Now is the time
For the earth�s worms to devour us
They might rescue us from this hell
Where we are turning over like skewered fish.

 

 

Rania

Curtis Doebbler

(based on an interview with 5 year old Rania in Baghdad)

Wildly flinging arms,
the furry of colour of a child's lit eyes,
the tales of dress and hair,
flung into the sky,
mixed with holler.

Her ornamented animation,
tears lingering in perpetual balance,
failing to fall, glimmering, Silver,
under her black eyes.

"From the sky will come the fire.
and men will come, all in black
to take daddy and mommy..
and my brother, he will stop them.
He will hit them. He will defend me.
But they will put off my arms and legs."

Shuttering in excitement,
terrified by what she sees,
Rania, just one little girl,
cowering under the clouds of war,
waiting, hoping, losing, day by day,
her life in any other way.

 

The Servant

Mimi Khalvati

Ma'mad, hurry, water the rose.
Blessed is the English one that grows
out in the rain.

Water is scarce, blood not so.
Blood is the open drain that flows
out in the rain.

Bring in the lamp, the olive's flame.
Pity the crippled flame that blows
out in the rain.

Where are the children? What is the time?
Time is the terror curfew throws
out in the rain.

Hurry, Ma'mad, home to your child.
Wherever my namesake, Maryam, goes
out in the rain.

 

The Border

Grace Schulman

Perhaps because of the twiggy cigars
he offered me, his showy "Come, American,"
the outstretched hand, the hasty, sidelong stares
at shorts I packed to wear in whitehot sun

and windblown hair, I knew he was a friend.
On my side of the gunfire, date-palm fronds
waved in groves. On his, white sand. In Kfar Saba,
they warned, don�t walk the path too near the border.

Soldiers were shot, and would be, ours, theirs;
and new borders, none deadlier than the mind�s.
Why was it then I had to cross, and why,
at that dizzying moment, fear disguised
as ignorance, I asked: "Where is the border?"
"Moved," he answered. "Now it is where you stand."