We lived in the war pasting coupons
page after page in the war our parents
subdued for us, banned in a loud quiet,
banning feeling in themselves
keeping the lights bright. We lived in a war
bleeding alone, for there was no tv
to see. Night radio muffled. The war hit our hearts,
what else? We ate polite weeklong pot roasts.
And knew something was missing. It was fear
that the world would not be here, nor we,
that the rituals would crash like Alice
fell through, fell to nowhere-land.
Oh, where will we go when we pass
into you? Will our hearts even start?
Who will keep this ritual life going
with all the killing and darkness?
Anne Frank at least she said, and Joan of Arc withstood.
And we all targets geographical and physical
and we exposed and frightened, having
to put a good face on this evil which threatened all
those war days and witch-hunt days and
always in our ever oppositional living.
And now again as the long days pass casting evil
again I wander-wonder alone what I’ll do when
Life turns into a living bomb cast and I’ll have no
pot-roast or pretense. Writing my
globetrotting weapon and disguise.
In out and all about. In rife absurdity.
Calm the bombs and silence the mad.
Let’s feel clear water and soft words all
green, clad in long love and trust beyond bloodshed.
Not hope but a sudden heartening.
“I knew—had long known—how poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire. And, in spite of conditions at large, it seemed to me that poetry in the United States had never been more various and rich in its promise and its realized offerings. But I had, more than I wanted to acknowledge, internalized the idea, so common in this country, so strange in most other places, that poetry is powerless, or that it can have nothing to do with the kinds of power that organize us as a society, as relationships within communities. If asked, I would have said that I did not accept this idea. Yet it haunted me.” —Adrienne Rich in preface to her book What Is Found There, Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (W.W.Norton and Company, 1993)
You bare witness to the spirit of the times,
recording the minutes, building monuments
with your soft technology of healing, elevating
consciousness, What joy you feel in rising up!
Rising up, you Poets, from silence and solitude,
from ear to the ground, observation is your
spiritual practice, you’ve all been oppressors and
oppressed, now use words to change the world.
i’m not certain
here we go
what’s your name
to the senseless slaughter
to wipe each other
let it be
raping the life breath
directly to me
particularly wise man
stuff bottled inside
about to shatter
world going crazy
does it matter?
so much violence
so much strife
desensitizing human sensibility
turn up the music
let harmonic sound abound
oldies but goodies
sooth harm and hurt
“ride Sally ride”
ride throughout the earth
“unchain my heart set me free”
free the words inside of me
free calming words
free soothing words
free encouraging words
let them ride with mustang sally
speeding in space
emitting messages of tranquility
that reverberate throughout the cosmos
let the balm of Gilead perfume the atmosphere
soothing all fear
ride sally ride
ride through the USA
declaring this a day of harmony and serenity
ride sally ride
ride through Africa and Asia
declaring this a day of a peace to release all animosity
ride sally ride
ride through Europe and Australia
declaring this a day of communication and restoration
ride sally ride
ride through South America, North America, and Antarctica
ride throughout the world
ride on the road of time
filled with hatred
filled with wars
filled with a power-hungry lust
that never trusts the source of light
that invites mankind into a relationship of love
a love that shines from above encompassing all
who choose to be stars through this long dark night
Jump out of your well, little frog.
Jump out of it, to see the world.
Your well isn’t the only place of existence.
There are many wells—
bigger and prosperous wells.
Wells with diverse cultures.
Just different—not good or bad.
How can you judge your well to be the best?
When you haven’t seen any other well, dear frog.
Don’t mock others frogs from different well
or berate them for being dissimilar
to the frogs from your well.
Learn from others for each has a reason
and a habit for being them.
Don’t let the well—define you either
or become your only identity.
Remember, you are a frog first.
Just as unique as all other frogs.
There is a world out there
Waiting to be explored.
Waiting to enchant and delight you
Jump out of your well dear frog
Leap out of your well, now!
By the time you read this
I’ll be long gone,
Not in a sad sense
But in a hit the road sense.
Did you think I’d stick around forever?
I’ve got universes to create
And people to make.
Besides, I’m infinite and you are finite.
Do the math.
You can’t count up to me
And I can’t subtract myself to get to you.
Everything you do or say is finite.
I do nothing, yet it is done.
I can’t know or care about every hair on your heads,
Nor every cell or atom in your bodies.
There are so many worlds and galaxies,
Yet they are finite.
Yes, my prototypes,
I knew them well enough.
No, I wasn’t angry when she bit the fruit of knowledge
And offered him a bite.
What parent would?
And I didn’t kick them out of Eden.
They just took up responsibilities
And fended for themselves.
Eden was their childhood
But then they were adults.
These books you so revere,
The Bible, Quran, and others like them,
You should know I had no part,
Men forged My name and that is all.
They quoted what they wrote for
Ungodly purposes I assure you.
Don’t let them lead you
For they know not more than what you know.
There have been wise men
But you seldom had the wisdom to follow.
I didn’t make you master over My creation,
You are just a part of a wondrous whole
Where every part is necessary
Or the whole is diminished.
One more thing before I close:
The poets, please don’t hang the poets
For I was one once, my words were worlds,
From them will come your soul’s salvation.
Tonight’s moon will be heat-throttled;
my father’s slow-turning eye watches
the rising reformation of our country’s
people—the ones with more bread less than
equal to the ones that learn they can survive
hunger with a special kind of tobacco
pressed between the teeth and cheek,
the kind that acclimates with blood. Grief is
malleable in skilled hands; soon children
for whom school is a visit either to a future
or a means to learn, furthermore, the way
to escape the need for alternate food, mining
the grounds of their minds with comic strips,
become the intellectual whose arms are
muted under grinding a balance between
logical escape and patriotic leisure. But the heat
is rising; the bated night is luminous, bands
of clouds invisible, like homes of dreams
lacing fragile exteriors. Our voice is ground for
debt, that is like delayed prayer shot from
a freshly oiled barrel; tonight the moon will watch
fireworks going off on a rich man’s terrace
resembling broken dawns. Opinion is didactic
in skilled hands. My father shall recognise
the sounds through his impaired hearing,
drink enough water to fill to the brim of
his stomach, turn off the touting reforms
and wait in his sleep for the next prayer.
The Catholic bells begin ringing
Women in their red huipiles
& ribbon-wrapped hair
wound ‘round their heads
enter the church
I quietly slip in & see
Father Stanley Rother’s heart
buried in the right wall
This Maya village wished it so
after his assassination in 1981
Variously colored crosses surround it,
each one with a name, a date
I reenter the sunlit afternoon
& aimlessly wander the market streets
The village echoes with the
hand-clapping & tambourines
the singing & hallelujahs
from the seven or more evangelical temples
I am haunted by the horror of that memorial
I am haunted by the testimony of a volunteer
who investigated a massacre in this village
just over a year ago
As dusk falls
I once more climb those round steps
& enter the white-washed church
I sit in a pew near the priest’s heart
meditating upon those lives embracing him
Green paper crosses for the 209 killed here
22 yellow ones for the wounded
68 pink, the kidnapped
I walk back into the twilight
thinking of that December night massacre
not so very long ago
& how these villagers marched to the
military base & ordered them
to leave, to end the murderings
of their pueblo that had gone on
for too, too many years
The two nearest volcanoes are capped
by towering grey clouds
Thunder rumbles the empty streets
“Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.” Mission Statement for Poets Against War.
Back around 2008 when I started blogging, Poets Against War, founded in 2003 by American poet Sam Hamill (1943-2018) in response to the war with Iraq, was still going strong and some of my poems were accepted for online publication. This was my baptism into socially engaged poetry. The thousands of poems that were contributed to the database from poets around the world are archived at a university, the name of which I’ve long forgotten. There were some other great efforts including Poetry of Solidarity, which made use of the easy and economical outreach the Internet offers. These two sites have gone the way of all things. The links I saved for them now get a 404 error code. Today we have 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.
Fortunately, I did keep notes on some of the poetry and activities I encountered in those early blogging days. What follows is a translation of a poem written by a child in Zimbabwe after the government made war on its own people in June 2005—200,000 people became homeless. This poem was included in an article by American poet Karen Margolis in the now defunct Poetry of Solidarity.
nights with ghosts . dear samueri, my friend i will never see you again; maybe i will. but i shall not know until father finds us a new address , addresses! we have none anymore. we are of no address. . now that i have written this letter, where do i post it to? shall i say, samueri, care of the next rubble harare?
“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’” American poet, Eve Merriam
“If you want change, let me throw it at you
as hard as I can at your dirty face…” —Homeless read mean tweets (YouTube, now private)
Let me throw justice at you, let it hit your face
and wake us up. Let me throw opportunity at you,
let it hit your face and give us a chance.
Let me throw change at you, change in the world,
change creating justice and freedom,
change creating opportunity, real change
for all. Let me throw democracy at you, let it
hit us in the face so hard that it cracks open
and spills out into the land, everywhere, change—
real democracy, real hope, real opportunity.
Let me throw change and the stinking, rotten
carcass of consumer capitalism and greed at
those so privileged and shallow as to think white
teeth are more important than your humanity.
And then, god help me, let me find love
and compassion to throw as hard as I can
into our faces, into our lives, into the hearts
of us all, of us all standing here watching
in voyeuristic pleasures of despair.
We share this common irritant: the smoke of distant fires.
It scalded the morning and evening sun
ember red, then hung a net of haze over the city.
After two days, friends are confined indoors, wheezing.
My throat is raw, sinuses ache.
Now dark clouds rise from the mountain.
The day after the election, police in Alton Park
stop black residents up and down the Boulevard,
as if it is Apartheid, or a new Jim Crow.
My son is driving, stopped in traffic, radio blaring.
A cop on a motorcycle passes, hangs a U, comes back,
tickets him for going 50 in a 35 mile zone.
“Yes sir,” is the drill we instilled
when we had the Talk all parents have
with their sons of color.
Five miles over the state line in Georgia,
a white boy walks the high school parking lot,
a Confederate flag tied at his neck like a cape.
Later, black students yank it from his backpack,
stomp on it, igniting threats of a race war.
My eyes are burning. Smoke threads through
the indoors air in the gym and large commons.
We choke on the fire of distant words.
In the sky, it’s raining backwards,
always backwards. From where we stand,
it is a nightmare—our tears are the sprinkler system
of heaven. The clouds grow lush and green.
They tantalize beyond our ability
to desire. We stand, poor,
with sand in our shoes, and
dust in our mouths, holding buckets
upside down to catch the rain.
Lost, yet nowhere to go,
I wade through this journey
by finding substitutes for life
and the living that follows
the desires of what is expected
by the standards of society
Which I thought was
by people like me
but even the grand normal
daily strives for
and gets buried under
the illusion of perfection.
How can we endure any more winters
Slip-sliding on icy terrains of war
Jagged politics scattered like splinters
Never ending, demanding an encore
Never a moment to form a rapport
O, could we behave like the best of friends
Understanding brings lavish dividends…
What are the six senses of calming peace
Scented cinnamon sweetens saline lips
Stroking soft fleece, hear music’s masterpiece
While light becomes night in solar eclipse
Sense the finish of outmoded warships
Just resting my eyes, just stifling my cries
As flowers of accord bloom in the skies
Women in woad*
Shaking undressed breasts
Leading the warriors
Down Irish roads
Banshee-ing through the air
To cause enemies fear
O, to be with you
When war was for defense
Against Romans marching
Through sacred forests
Women in revolt
Beside their men
Stuffing the cannons
Riding like Revere
Some disguised as men
As their great-great granddaughters
Four decades later did
In a civil war of economics
O, to be with you
When war was for
Something grander than balls
And women of all races
Did their part
Against Kings of foreign lands
And decades later
With amazing bravery
Against Kings of slavery
Women in partnership
In the War to End All Wars
But no, once again,
In the War to clean up
The economic and territorial mess
A second world war where
Women were winding through alleys
With secrets in their minds
Torn apart by the enemy
No chance of apology
The height of equality
In the torture culture
In hindsight, I would not have wanted
To be with you
On and on
And then I came of age
Married during the Vietnam war
Mom threw out everything
Even my genuine winter pea coat
And summery field jacket
From the Army & Navy store
Here’s an aside:
Why did we protest
That ambiguous conflict
Yet wear war gear?
Or, worst of all,
A mistaken glamour?
Clad in the garb
Bathing it in words
From Dylan and Ochs
What a joke
Decades later, sadly
Homo sapiens still wants to kill
And despite taking classes
For karate and gun safety
Defense for my sons and me
I’m still wondering
Where have all the flowers gone
Still damning the masters of war
And me, I ain’t marching anymore
Not lifting my voice in protest
It’s for the new young to do
But the desire
In love and peace
Is still in my aging heart
Still want global good
Still sign those petitions
Still write Congress letters
Now tweeting and emailing
Now posting and texting:
Stop it! Please stop it!
Why have we buried
The end-the-war manifesto?
Why are we all still
Killing the men
Raping the women
Destroying the children
Poisoning the pets
Polluting the water
Burning the books
Cremating the crops
All in the name
The name that does change
Of the jealous god
Let’s build a wall
Around hate and death and war
Is not glamorous at all…
the summer is what it is here
the humidity clinging to my tired skin
like a crazy 50’s t.v. wife mockery
on Wall there’s the law and then there’s us
each side with glaring mutual understanding
that nothing is being done
no longer angels no longer devils
Gods gone fishing and they won’t be coming back
the species of Adam failed to keep their end of the
Covenant with Noah and Jesus holy shit what have we done
in life there is reason and there’s law
inside the soul there is right and there is wrong
inside the ego all is mine and nothing yours
on Koehler there is a man who doesn’t know he suffers
the fear he knows not himself prisoner of
the bio-hazardous ecosystem freedom gone awry
the filth the human shit the rage the insanity disease
the pain addiction poverty starvation piss trash
tears the waste of modern time
no longer get through the stains of a life
poorly lived or sorely wasted no logic
no feelings no rhyming no Kingdom will come
betwixt the cardboard and the shelter
the damage has been done
wage on me wage your wars
indifference is your nuclear weapon
Humanity is often a place of forgetfulness
It’s often-a-place of solitude
A place of dreadfulness, fretfulness
It’s often-a-dwelling place a mirror eschewed
A place, without benevolence
A place, the neediest feel subdued
A place people wander around, incredulous
Humanity is a place you find the destitute
The place-you-come-across negligence
The place-you-come-across the most-ineptitude
The place-you-come-across the most-resentfulness
The place-you-find the most crewed
The place where cruelty finds its prevalence
The place charity can lead to decrepitude
Humanity is a place of opposites of redolence
It’s-sadly a place of corruption as a way not to preclude
It’s-sadly a place of hucksters directionless
Often-it’s the place of a cold absolute
Take my hand, and I’ll promise all you Denizens
A better life, I’ll promise not to pillage or loot
I’ll promise you, humanity, forget all other parables.
We all disapprove of bullying in schools
that seems to be clear to everyone
at least on a theoretical level.
Yet we never fully log out.
And you ask me why?
Why do we consent shouting
at a school sports competition?
What about a neighbors meeting
where we yell at each other?
Introduction to Fast and Furious,
driving carelessly, unaware of the shouts,
our children sitting at the back of our cars.
What about whatsapp messages
sending all kinds of insults because
we didn’t like another person’s opinion?
Why are we reproducing and creating
all kinds of male chauvinist jokes,
racist jokes, homophobic jokes?
What about the pranks still played
on first course university students?
No, computer games are not made
by our children but they trivialize violence
like those violent movies and series
our children watch. Therefore,
it is unacceptable that who governs
and dictates justice allows all this
to happen without impunity.
We may have wonderful anti-bullying programs
in our schools but meanwhile
society tells our children:
“Be aggressive and you will succeed in life!”
So, please, here I tell you:
“Log out of bullying school,
for coherence because
we need to live together
respecting each other and
we need to fight harassment.”
To the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, after the fire in Grenfell Tower, London, June 2017
Held back, a safe distance from the whoomphing
tumble of blazing cladding, and powerless
to respond to frantic phone calls,
we could only watch as the flames raced up,
their brightness overwhelming
the desperate flickering from mobiles’ screens.
The block is now a blackened stump:
yet again we are coming to understand
how a small outbreak of fire
can become an inferno
with horrific speed.
For years there’ve been flaws
in the construction of tower blocks –
single stairwells; cabling in plastic ducts;
an absence of sprinklers;
insulation and cladding that can burn.
Of course, fires in tower blocks
have been ‘properly investigated’
and improvements recommended,
but a countdown –
18 years ago: Irvine;
7: Southampton, Shanghai and Busan;
5: Dubai, Madrid, Roubaix and Sharjah (twice);
4: Guangzhou and Long Beach, California;
2: Dubai (again);
1: Shepherd’s Bush;
and now Grenfell Tower (oh, and Dubai yet again) –
makes us wonder why
the science of flammability
has been persistently ignored.
Aluminium melts at a mere six-sixty C –
not ideal for a panel supposed to be resisting fire
(steel, we note, melts at fifteen hundred).
the filling in a sandwich of aluminium foil,
especially when the flames are drawn
up a chimney-like gap
between cladding and concrete wall,
and as it burns it releases gases:
people die rapidly
through breathing in CO and HCN,
or more slowly
from other toxic fumes.
Your planners should have known all this
when you chose a cladding banned in Germany
to save, in a budget of millions,
a handful of grand.
For the want of a few pounds a square metre –
perhaps less than two coffees cost in Starbucks –
seventy-two would be alive.
And whilst you were refurbishing,
you could so easily have fitted the sprinklers
inquests have demanded across the years
and doors that match their fire-resistance spec.
You could have spent a bit of your reserve
(some three hundred millions)
to better serve the less well-off,
the constituents you have so grievously betrayed.
The borough embraces embassies,
expensive residences, Harrods, Harvey Nicks
and investment blocks whose apartments
look vacantly down on survivors yet to find a home.
Its motto QUAM BONUM IN UNUM HABITARE
(based on Psalm 133: roughly
translated as How good to dwell as one)
clangs particularly hollow
in the aftermath of the fire.
PIR: polyisocyanurate, a rigid plastic foam.
CO: carbon monoxide.
HCN: hydrogen cyanide.
Harvey Nicks: a colloquialism for Harvey Nichols, an upmarket chain of department stores in the UK and a few other countries.
“It gets to seem as if way back in the Garden of Eden after the Fall, Adam and Eve had begged the Lord to forgive them and He, in his boundless exasperation had said, ‘All right, then. Stay. Stay in the Garden. Get civilized. Procreate. Muck it up.’ And they did.” —Diane Arbus
surfacing from mother-sea, we came ~
we came shape-shifting and sighing,
living before the prescient moon and
under the life-giving sun, we climbed
mountains and marched into valleys
short-lived, we camped by the riverside,
we slept in caves, we cleared the forest,
built cities that domesticated us
we became sophisticated, forgot our
rootedness in the archives of heaven,
our shared destiny with the Earth, we
forsook our history and the stars,
invented math, maps and compasses,
governments, borders and ownership
we built great ships to sail the oceans,
to drum across the sky and away to outer
realms and other planets, we mislaid our
true stories and, in ignorance suckled on
prefabricated values, these streamed
from cold fires that stoked insecurities ~
we confused wants and needs, hungered
for the sake of our own stupidity
and someone else’s greed
Except for the scratching of my pen
I lead a quiet, almost silent life
on D Street, the second floor –
In a small, one-bedroom apartment with
Tibetan prayer flags flying on the door.
I overlook a courtyard with trees and grass and
children playing, heads stuffed with dreams.
It’s a quiet almost silent life I lead in a
second floor walk-up with a tiny kitchen.
Trees rise outside the door, birch, palm
and the raucous crows are taking over.
Still, there are sweet gentle gray doves
and a chickadee or two, maybe three.
Our resident squirrel visits, watching
through my window from his birch.
Such a quiet, tranquil life I lead here
where no bombs drop on aching roofs,
no soldiers march in heavy boots,
no occupying army enters uninvited. We
fear not for the safety of children at play
or adults walking by on daily rounds.
I lead a quiet almost silent life, but for news
squeezed between ads for haute couture,
pre-fabricated foods, and Saturday’s sales.
Reports are of tortured deaths in foreign lands
presented in measured tones, spanning a heartbeat
followed by the vapid gossip that passes for news,
delivered with breathless detailed analyses
I lead a mostly quiet almost silent life
but for the scratching of my poet’s pen.
Scratching, scratching and trying –
Trying to make sense of it all, and
Like the gentle dove, softly –
trying to make a difference.
for big cars
cigarette smoking women
or bourbon sipping
the page has turned on us.
I talk to old men
who don’t breathe
and anxiety ridden children
who never learned
how to spit properly.
They’re all hated
I park my car
anywhere I want
two spaces sometimes.
Go inside, order up a double
straight, on the rocks
sit at the window, sip
think about a different time
a different kind of noise
wonder how the world
got so goddamn quiet.
Lying awake images of Yemeni children
Syrian babies, Ebola ridden souls, the hopelessness
the helplessness, ravaged by man-made tsunami of wars
innocent lives pitted against grace and goodness
of humanity. I lay awake, look into the dark hoping
for the earth and mankind to heal.
Dreaming, waking, tossing, turning,
awake, cogitating, restless mind spooling
as the earth spins on its axis, the Universe
is at peace, its ritual goes on apace, no change.
I’ve never been in the hull of a slave ship
chained and starving, drinking my urine
lying in my excrement.
I’ve never been forced to leave
my homeland, my family, my tribe,
enslaved by those who saw me as subhuman.
I’ve never picked cotton fifteen hours a day
under the whip of overseers who
raped me when the sun went down
and when I was emancipated, hung me from a
lynching tree, torched my home and family
denied my right to vote.
I’ve never moved north for higher ground
to neighborhoods depleted of dollars and hope,
goods and services, red-lined out of moving up.
I’ve never been called nigger, refused a table, watched
my children in their Sunday best internalize the word
while I struck them to teach obedience so they could live.
I’ve never attended sub-par segregated schools
or at college worked harder, scored higher
for less recognition, offered fewer jobs at lower pay.
I’ve never been profiled by police
because they saw a violent criminal
easy to spot, hair-trigger ready.
I’ve never endured my success to the highest office
being questioned, called illegitimate, in a country
that my people love in spite of it’s hatred of my kind.
I’ve never been anywhere
without the cloak
of my white skin.
Unraveling privilege is
We are listening to the Old Voices,
from the Meat Time, before the Water Tap
was drilled and capped ‘in the last days’ they say,
deep into the rocks. They talk of water as though
it could be made to run freely without a click-stop.
They say that Tap used to mean a long hose, metal
like the ragged sharps the runners dodge around,
that water could be made to pour out of, just pour
and pour, like the sand in the sand bath; that long ago,
for thousands of years, there was no thought
of the Water Tap.
We are listening to the Recording
of the last ones, the Artists. They tell us about
‘sheep in fields of green’, ‘luscious’ they say it was,
like the eyes feel drinking the shift of sand at sun up
and that these sheep grew a coat over their skin. ‘Wool’.
They say it could be cut off and used to cover a man,
to make him look and feel not as he is. These were animals,
bred for clothes, even for food, and many more than sheep –
hundreds of different kinds. That was the Meat Time,
before scrubbing for roots and picking off the bugs
from our skin.
They say they tried to save it all:
water, metal, ‘plastic’, all that was more than roots,
they tried to save it but the End Rain came too soon
and all they could do, the Artists, was leave us The Words
to tell us, for each lost thing, how it might be made again.
They talk as though there was more than this one story, this
one Box in the sand telling of rain and how it was water.
They say there were animals that leapt and swung in the air,
like the bugs hop, and they were called ‘birds’. ‘Beautiful,’
they say, ‘how they would always begin to sing again
after the end of rain’.
from ‘Only Here till Friday’, Bibliotecha Universalis (Bucharest), Eng/Sp, 2016.
Ascultăm Vechile Voci,
din Vremea Cărnii, înainte ca Robinetul de Apă
să fie forat și astupat ‘în ultimele zile’, spun ei,
adânc în pietre. Vorbesc despre apă de parcă
ar putea fi făcută să curgă fără sistem de oprire.
Ei spun că Robinet însemna un furtun lung, metalic
precum coțcarii zdrențăroși evitați de contrabandiști,
că apa poate fi făcută să scurgă din, doar să scurgă
și să scurgă, ca nisipul în baia de nisip; că odinioară
timp de sute de ani, nu exista gând
despre Robinetul de Apă.
ultimilor, Artiștii. Ne spun despre
‘oi pe câmpuri verzi’, ’seducător’ spun că era,
ca ochii savurând mișcarea nisipului la răsărit
și că aceste oi fac blană peste piele. ’Lână’.
Ei spun că putea fi tăiată și folosită să acopere un om,
ca să pară și să se simptă altfel decât e. Acestea erau animale,
crescute pentru haine, chiar pentru hrană și nu doar oi –
sute de diferite feluri. Aia a fost Vremea Cărnii,
înainte de a trudi pentru rădăcini și de a culege gândacii
de pe pielea noastră.
Ei spun că au încercat să salveze tot:
apă, metal, ’plastic’, tot ce era mai mult decât rădăcini,
au încercat să salveze, dar Potopul a venit prea repede
și tot ce-au putut face, Artiștii, a fost să ne lase Cuvintele
să ne spună, pentru fiece lucru pierdut, cum ar putea fi refăcut.
Ei vorbesc de parcă ar fi mai mult decât această poveste, această
Cutie în nisip spunând despre ploaie și cum era apă.
Ei spun că erau animale care săreau și se avântau în aer,
cum saltă gândacii și li se spunea ’păsări’. ’Frumos,’
spun ei, ’cum întotdeauna începeau iar a cânta
după sfârșitul ploii’.
Those sweet Pacific blues
made me take fertile
thinking that green
would just be there
and it seemed
even the eucalyptus
felt a bit unique,
stolen of, standing out in
its starkly brown bare bark.
For a time,
everything was whole
growing out into itself:
live oaks and Kentucky grasses
and we were all going on forever
for years it seemed like some kind Heaven
favored us in those paradise days.
how I took them for granted,
how I felt protected and enhanced,
how it rounded out my wheezes,
how it was classical beauty,
solid in that clear light.
But dirt oozed in with McCarthy, Strontium-90
and the bombing bomb teething death.
Contaminations in the air.
A damnation took over the earth damnedly.
New smoke and blights and fires. The air soot crazy.
Oil wells leaking dredge. The balance tilted.
And we paradise kids went deep sea fishing for more,
catching the most wonderful people:
Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Paul Robson, Joan Baez,
all with hope in their arts
that we might live
in camaraderie with the stars’ light
as bright as the sequoias ranged high.
It is we rebels who must lust after our land,
lust without greed,
lust ever for change
to cleanse the world, scourge its filths
with our Pacific-blue kindness.
this rough-barked sequoia stump, sitting in majesty
in its coastal home, victim of wildfire, burned down
to its gnarly roots, its nicks, holes and char, eons
of scars, life seemingly cut off, goddess snake alive
inside the concentric circles, the smell of wood and
scorch of fire, at the verge of our infinity, in its truth ~
haunted by the geometry of limbs, the calculus of green,
the algebraic eloquence of a world within a world ~
Photo credit ~Bay Nature.org: “The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.” Read more HERE.
mountains rise round, Mother’s ever pregnant belly
and the aspens dance with paper-barked madrone,
screeching their yellows and reds, brindle and feral
like the snaked hairs of Medusa, they are warning
looming over me as i lay miles away on a mesa,
the bones of my ancestors, the heart of my child
the pelts of the brown minks my father sewed
the vultures circle, mesmerized by my demise
i feed on the pinion and ride mountain lions
down slopes, into valleys, a wanderer, lost and lost
looking eastward, seeking John Chapman he has something to say, or maybe it’s westward
John Muir, my ears are deaf, my eyes hear a song
emerging from brown bear, a surfeit of salmon
burning sage, clearing America, the wild beasts
are defanged and declawed and i am hawk-eyed
Do you remember radiance
of one who’s always there
the taste of swollen mamilla,
the scent of her sweet hair.
Whose kiss and gentle healing touch
was cooling with a balm
that soothed your painful childish graze
and injured pride becalmed.
Who taught you that a healing touch
and kiss could lead to more;
whilst she embraced competing love,
you found what love is for.
She stood as you went off to war,
to fight life’s bitter battles.
She taught you all you need to know
to rise above mere chattels.
As wisdoms, many, come to you,
from battles won or lost,
a mother’s love transcends it all
and never counts the cost.
In your old age you may well see
your children bear their own,
revealing then the seeds of love
that Stabat Mater’s sewn.
When dotage dims your consciousness,
confusion blurs your view,
expect a revelation that
her love has seen you through.
The poem “A Ballad for Stabat Mater” struck me on several levels. I had already written a poem for my son’s thirtieth birthday (“The Fourth Age of Man“), basing it on William Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” (a monologue, which he wrote to open his play, “As You Like It”). Incidentally, I found it particularly poignant to note that my son had reached the same age as Jesus Christ was alleged to be, when his own mortal life ended. So, the latter never had the chance to taste the next three ages or, perhaps, he lived all seven in that short life span?
Anyway, I found my Mother’s Day poem, written in the form of a ballad, again influenced not only by Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” but also the Stabat Mater, the unforgettable and extraordinarily moving image of this religious icon, Mary, the mother of of all mothers, as she stood and watched her own son die, painfully. “Stabat mater dolorosa”, meaning the sorrowful mother stood, is a masterful understatement. How many mothers could submit themselves to such unbelievable pain! And yet all mothers do, albeit mostly to a lesser extreme, for as long as they live.
I salute all mothers, however good or bad a mother you may think you are, you have still had to suffer for your children.
out of the womb of Time they slide
peasants and kings, artisans and queens
murders, warriors, healers, peacemakers
the grandfathers and grandmothers
on whose shoulders we stand
they are with us, their spirits sensed
their hearts are in our mouths
as they guard and guide
feet rooted in the mud of Earth
we drink the wine, eat the roots
and sing the songs we inherited
their sayings are our sayings
their voices are our voices
carried on breezes
like the music of cathedral bells
like the call of the muezzin
they chime and summon
they sum what came before
from their gnosis
whispered in the ear of silence
we learn: we are nameless but not lost
we too shall echo
shall be the shoulders
shall be the mothers and grandmothers
shall be the Hope and the Light
along the path . . .
. . . . beckoning
“I think this to myself even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore.” Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
near impossible to see past the manic crowds
or to lift our eyes to look at the wholesome
trees inscribing their calm upon the sky
we record our fears with writing utensils,
call them weapons, coloring the margins
of our books with the dry dust of martyrdom
the children use their pages to blot away their
mothers’ tears, turning backs on the old refrains,
hearing their own souls speak, deaf to their fathers
those children fell trees, transforming them
to paper and well-sharpened pencils, their lives
written in the manner of their own separate peace
You would be a butterfly
caressed by the sun
and the snake frozen by your sight
would lose his poison
The entire view would borrow its color
from the rainbow of your wings
The rest you should find it into my palm
there you would tuck in with my soul
I will be the guardian of your sleep
For nourishment I would serve you my eyes
my tears you’ll drink to calm the thirst …
Yes, mother, with your permission,
I will build you the heaven!
Is that the season?
The leaves are hitting the silent windows
and some roots of trees are creaking,
but I am a dream.
I do not recognize the colors,
when the sun of that town
without time shelters me like Mum.
Which flowers shall I gift to you?
I am not a saint – I cannot revive you.
I cannot even grief.
January’s not good for dying.
On nights like this air clots in hindsight,
I start a fire in her grave
watch winter burn in a blaze.
She warms her feet under my spleen,
rearranges my ribs not knowing
where to land,
as if walking through mine fields
stepping in footprints of others.
Can the woman fit in my skin as I age ?
She had church
thousands of them tearing
through stone groin of hills,
does it matter that prayer is stale
on my lips?
She had trust,
same desert swallowed our past,
she shook off the sand,
it fell like flakes of doubt and regret on my hands.
She knew love,
it filled her bones till they cracked,
I love with my heart behind barbed wire.
My voice paces in our language
between memories hanging like bats
clashing with a bright yellow dress
I remember from somewhere,
and the moonlight softening the lines
blurred in my chest.
A tender moment I chew and spit in a song,
lyrics scrape the only thing left alive
against my cheek,
this longing rising inside a sigh
where she owns all of this silence
crumbling on my tongue.
Kennedy Stewart is a young adult who takes great pride in his long, ginger hair. He is a graduate of Woodinville High School and is currently working towards his passion of gaming and music. His favorite musical is Hamilton and one of his favorite bands is Queen, but he loves all music. He hopes to be able to tell the stories of games through composing music. He loves animals and is currently plotting to adopt this little one with his brother.
What Greater Expectations than Great Expectations, Miss Havishams’ so many, embedded secluded, on dusty wooden gilded thrones, behind cobwebbed curtains, Majestic Marvels, First Created, Sacred, now rest transfixed in false reprehension, languishing in darkened streets As scattered clouds scan terrestrial to celestial dimensions blinking intermittent flashes only to find twisted torments blood filled swamps, whirring swarms of discontents, amidst seas of colorfully placed flowers ; Supreme Sopranos burnt to ashes.
Turning Around She Thought
O Woman’ What Mothers’ Day Means to You
created sacred beguiled abused
ordered bound accused excused
what woman’s day means to her
what nights will make her scream
day is work, no escape
night ‘love? no! rape..
fears and fears of rape
drugged missing real or fake?
should she think of women famous?
those who are seen on history pages?
should she think of those unseen
pushed kicked thrown in cages?
mothers and daughters in frustration
yet manage homes and serve nations
should she honor the saintly ones
who were obedient ordained
should she mention those half
widows, widows of genocide
chained enslaved in perpetual pain?
or those maids forced to labor
or those who hold kids while
parents dine and perhaps wine’
whom should she call ‘mine’
standing serving morn til nine-
and there are families royal
to the people crown so loyal
loved honored seen by all
that is not all…..
so many names graceful glorified
history remembers all sacrificed
she thought…cannot pick one or two
one in white, covered one in blue-
East or West old or new…Oh
Athena’ Wise One ! Help’ if only I knew
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
I. works at a factory in Kazan that makes parts for shells. This is how she supports her family. She lives in peace.
M. works for a state-owned company in Isfahan that makes electronics for guided missiles. This is how he supports his family. He lives in peace.
S. lives in different places in Idlib. She’s originally from Damascus, where she worked in a pharmacy before her husband was killed in a bombing. Her son made it to Germany, her daughter is with her. They stay with friends and try to survive. She would love to live in peace.
If these three met somewhere, they might be friends and would definitely live in peace with each other.
Es wäre möglich
I. arbeitet in einer Fabrik in Kasan, die Teile für Granaten herstellt. Damit ernährt sie ihre Familie. Sie lebt in Frieden.
M. arbeitet für ein staatliches Unternehmen in Isfahan, das Elektronik für Lenkflugkörper herstellt. Damit ernährt er seine Familie. Er lebt in Frieden.
S. lebt an verschiedenen Orten in Idlib. Sie stammt ursprünglich aus Damaskus, wo sie in einer Apotheke arbeitete, bevor ihr Mann bei einem Bombenanschlag getötet wurde. Ihr Sohn hat es nach Deutschland geschafft, ihre Tochter ist bei ihr. Sie leben bei Freunden und versuchen zu überleben. Sie würde gerne in Frieden leben.
Wenn sich diese drei irgendwo treffen würden, könnten sie Freunde sein und würden definitiv in Frieden miteinander leben.
still … at last …
I find myself
in this moment
a thousand madnesses away
from the person
I’d thought I’d have-a-go
at turning myself into …
once upon a time
the air is fresh
with frost so soft
it hues the skyscape
to every gentleness of blue
that man or miracle
has ever rendered
in and under heaven
the nuggets of self-knowledge
laboriously gathered along
my mazed and muddled journey
fascinate in retrospection …
for the course
was seldom sure
and the diverting path
more apt to interest
to have come to this
without much yield to show
from grand design or driven effort …
is strange fortune
for as it turns …
I feel myself good and comfortable
at the sight of my own breath …
greatly pleased to be alive
in gladness … having gleaned
that peace and splendor … such as this …
surely, must be blessings
I happened upon an old rerun of the 60’s TV series ‘Star Trek’ a couple of nights ago. How depressing it was to take that cinemagraphic stroll, down memory lane. Ostensibly an adventure series, Gene Roddenbury, the show’s creator, intended the program to showcase morality tales; allegories of modern day realities. The protagonists would proceed in their dealings, peacefully – with altruism and acceptance – thus demonstrating the very best of what humankind is capable of. The Starship Enterprise’s voyages played out in stories that championed the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality.
Antecedent to the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, the show seemed to herald an era when human understanding and technological advances would come together on a path imbued with more righteousness, than any path that had ever been trod before. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and uttered the words: ” … one small step for man”, how fervently we ‘earthlings’ wanted to believe … we were – at least – making small steps, in that good direction.
The 20th century marked more technological changes than all the other centuries in the history of this planet, combined. Having been born in 1951 – midway through the 20th century – I took my early footsteps in what is, arguably, one of the most fascinating, progressive, dynamic – and yes: turbulent, monstrous and challenging periods, in our earth’s history. Those words ” … “, have resonated with me, throughout the days of my life … often beating – like a metaphor – to forward progress … and often beating – like a metaphor – to backward regression. I remind myself that my lifetime is but, a grain of sand, in the sands of time. I live – and will die – in the hope that many … many … many … small steps will, eventually, find their way … to that righteous path.
on the beach
the shifting sands
erase my footprints
as I walk
to water’s edge
note: scientists believe that the earth has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years.
grease and dirt of people
who spoil your landscape.
Cleans as it polishes, replaces
their awful smell with fresh fragrances.
Their profane beliefs with fresh air.
Their noisy children with heavenly quiet.
Our history with revised pages.
Preserves our pure culture.
They are an infection that will be eradicated.
Their unmarked graves forgotten.
Ethnic cleanser for a cleaner society.
Buy into this great product.
Popularly known as genocide.
Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.
A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.
Here there is no “I”.
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.
On the verge of death, he says:
I have no trace left to lose:
Free I am so close to my liberty. My future lies in my own hand.
Soon I shall penetrate my life,
I shall be born free and parentless,
And as my name I shall choose azure letters…
You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are men like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
Men like you!
When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].
Cypresses behind the soldiers, minarets protecting
The sky from collapse. Behind the hedge of steel
Soldiers piss—under the watchful eye of a tank—
And the autumnal day ends its golden wandering in
A street as wide as a church after Sunday mass…
[To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
to find one’s identity again.
The siege is a waiting period
Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm.
Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.
We have brothers behind this expanse.
Excellent brothers. They love us. They watch us and weep.
Then, in secret, they tell each other:
“Ah! if this siege had been declared…” They do not finish their sentence:
“Don’t abandon us, don’t leave us.”
Our losses: between two and eight martyrs each day.
And ten wounded.
And twenty homes.
And fifty olive trees…
Added to this the structural flaw that
Will arrive at the poem, the play, and the unfinished canvas.
A woman told the cloud: cover my beloved
For my clothing is drenched with his blood.
If you are not rain, my love
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
[So spoke a woman
to her son at his funeral]
Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?
A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.
It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.
On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here…not over there.
In the state of siege, time becomes space
Transfixed in its eternity
In the state of siege, space becomes time
That has missed its yesterday and its tomorrow.
The martyr encircles me every time I live a new day
And questions me: Where were you? Take every word
You have given me back to the dictionaries
And relieve the sleepers from the echo’s buzz.
The martyr enlightens me: beyond the expanse
I did not look
For the virgins of immortality for I love life
On earth, amid fig trees and pines,
But I cannot reach it, and then, too, I took aim at it
With my last possession: the blood in the body of azure.
The martyr warned me: Do not believe their ululations
Believe my father when, weeping, he looks at my photograph
How did we trade roles, my son, how did you precede me.
I first, I the first one!
The martyr encircles me: my place and my crude furniture are all that I have changed.
I put a gazelle on my bed,
And a crescent of moon on my finger
To appease my sorrow.
The siege will last in order to convince us we must choose an enslavement that does no harm, in fullest liberty!
Resisting means assuring oneself of the heart’s health,
The health of the testicles and of your tenacious disease:
The disease of hope.
And in what remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in what remains of the night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.
Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!
Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.
My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died…who?
Writing is a puppy biting nothingness
Writing wounds without a trace of blood.
Our cups of coffee. Birds green trees
In the blue shade, the sun gambols from one wall
To another like a gazelle
The water in the clouds has the unlimited shape of what is left to us
Of the sky. And other things of suspended memories
Reveal that this morning is powerful and splendid,
And that we are the guests of eternity.
“As Democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folk of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.” H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 16, 1920
gone mad, gone mad
but for the flautist in shaman’s headdress and
the first violinist wearing a necklace of skulls,
praise the intuitive, the holy, the gentle chanting
of the faithful …
defy the bassoonist blowing brazen notes over Syria
and the cellists hidden in caves; succour the sad sweet
violins of Aleppo, Palestine, Kashmire crying salt tears
for their lost lands, pulses weakening, and there’s
that drummer who down-beats from North Korea
China harps on the fumes of its discontents,
the Ukraine is loud with crashing cymbals
and the snap pizzicato of Russian preying,
while the angel of Germany hosts a symphony,
or tries to, & here in America parties are discordant
[the price of order is dictatorship the price of democracy is chaos]
politicians out of tune, sections out-of-sync,
oligarchs charge themselves with theatre management
poor acoustics preclude hearing the chorus … . . . and all the world’s a stage,
the men and women are not mere players
The configurations of cruelty have changed since I wrote this poem in 2013 but the cruelty is still with us and often seems worse than ever. And, it certainly turns out that Mencken (quoted above) was prescient.
“Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.” Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
There are open spaces in the plotting of a story
I print out for edit during the work hours
In the silence of creativity, a sweet lavender
lends its fragrance, color and calm
Outside squirrels skip, toddlers play
Grandmothers stand-watch in doorways,
chili stewing and stacks of tortillas, warm and
soft, rest and wait under clean kitchen towels
Spring is moving into summer and neighbors
tend their herb and vegetable gardens
They imagine the yield dressed in salads
They’re willing to share the harvest with friends
A world away soldiers download ordnance
synchronized to the hum and click of my printer
Bodies fall, hearts stop, eyes water and
the manuscript is blue-pencilled* by rifle fire
“You see the suffering of children all the time nowadays. Wars and famines are played out before us in our living rooms, and almost every week there are pictures of children who have been through unimaginable loss and horror. Mostly they look very calm. You see them looking into the camera, directly at the lens, and knowing what they have been through you expect to see terror or grief in their eyes, yet so often there’s no visible emotion at all. They look so blank it would be easy to imagine that they weren’t feeling much.” Mary Lawson, Crow Lake
Eye-candy, a feast of crocus, bursting
Through the snow-laden ground
Drunk on the promise of spring
The devil behind, that shadow side
Clouds shape shifting, take on
The broad outlines of a memoir
Angels dance on the razor’s edge
Forget that pin stupidity, reductio ad absurdum, politicians and scholars
Debating, while greed and warring go on
Starving the children, curse the insanity
Dialectic, acquisition, murdering hoards
Clouds, shape shifting, take on
The contours of shame, crocus buries
Itself and the promise of spring
The broad outlines of memoir dissolve
The slashed moon drools ichor
How long can the innocent bear life
On the razor’s edge, coiling the fire
Of their despair around our hearts
Drawn to the verge on the reflux of
Rudimentary souls, vertigo, nausea
Nostalgia for what will never be known
A young wife, enamored by sounds of creation, calling birds,
wind whistling through trees, left the house to tend the garden.
Still fresh from the purifying mitvah bath, prayers said in Hebrew
praising God for life, she knew it was the moment to conceive.
In her youthful innocence and hunger she could not resist her new husband
cutting grass outside; shirtless, sunshine on sweat sparked his muscled flesh.
He was fit, recently back from the war, but he was not gentle. She melted at
his smile at catching her watching.
Still resentful of his fits of anger, fearful jealousy and critical outbursts,
she was ready to get back what he had taken.
No longer a trusting girl who could not protect her pregnancy from her husband’s
surprise punch to her stomach, she had become a warrior.
She lifted the soft cotton dress to view her ripe body, touched the skin
under her navel, blessed her waiting womb, then kissed her fingers as if
she were kissing the Mezuzah on the doorway. She raised her arms toward the sky,
summoned Shekhinah, the spirit of creation, begged Her for a conception,
and amidst birds’ songs, fragrant blossoms, freshly cut grass, the image of a baby
flashed in her mind. She thought she heard fluttering wings announcing the
arrival of the holy feminine force.
No words said, she took her husband’s hands, pulled him into their home,
and they fell fiercely together onto the bed. Soon she was alone again;
the girl knew immediately that a life was growing inside her, then she
became afraid of what she had done.
That night in a dream the Goddess Shekhinah spoke: ‘You hungered for a child;
a child was given. Be strong. Leave the cruel man and raise her in love and faith.
When you discover, she is like the father – forgive her!
Remember, it was you who called.’
When I was four my
Brought me a cloak and purse
Soft black velvet,
with swirls of gold braid
in patterns as intricate
as the tree of life,
as rich and bright as stars.
The cloak draped over
and fell to my knees.
In my cloak of stars
I paraded about proudly
Twirling the matching
Kingdom of dandelions
In my front yard
Last week I found the cloak
In a drawer,
In tissue paper
I sent a photo to my friend
Who lives in the velvet
darkness of Damascus nights.
Now streaked with silver missles
Instead of stars,
I put on the cloak for both of us.
Covered with my grandma’s love.
In our hearts
we walk together freely,
The golden braid
matching golden lights
In days and nights of peace
We hope will come.
when i was young i found these stones they were everywhere and a friend had said that if they were polished they’d be worth a great deal but no one that he knew had been able to smooth the surface even at an early age i was somewhat defiant and persistent when told you can’t or it can’t followed by some phrase like be done in any case i took it upon myself to prove him wrong that’s when i bought my first rock tumbler an inexpensive model since my funds and knowledge of such things were quite limited the results of my first efforts were rather pathetic like a love-sick youth seeing the true meaning of life and love but as i gained more knowledge of the stones and the processes others had tried i refined my process i learned that the best action could be achieved by wetting the rocks just enough for the carbide grit to cling to the agates as they tumbled i envisioned it as a war between the stones the grit of course were my soldiers oh and there were times when i was certain by the sounds made by the tumbler that i had indeed achieved my goal but on close inspection the stones had not changed so then i decided to seek the assistance and advice of others one expert inquired if i knew the nickname of the agates that i was trying to polish when i said no he said they’re called human greed i can’t tell you how many tumblers and soldier’s lives that have been sacrificed but i do know now that my quest has yielded little change and that those stones may indeed outlast even me when i finally find peace
My five-five-fingers of my hands
Zestfully lived In serenity.
The three thrill fingers of my right hand:
Thumb, index finger and middle finger
Stoutly lived civilly and gleefully amongst her BROTHERS:
They rested gleefully upon the placid,
Perched in the midst of the three thrill fingers
And laid rest upon the hungry,
Virgin DUSKY-SHEET, which sprawled
bear flat on the glossy desk.
The glossy desk accompanying the earth
The earth accompanying its depth.
The other two fingers of my right hand:
Ring finger and little finger
Calmly leisure, plopped on the hungry, virgin dusky-sheet
And lent ears to the sharp-sable-pointed-dart,
Muttering vignettes of yesterday
Muttering vignettes of today
Muttering vegnettes of tomorrow.
Upon the glossy desk
My five fingers of my left hand too
Laid rest, and eyeballed the sharp-sable-pointed-dart,
Muttering deep thoughts.
All you who waded through lines:
All you who unearth the heart
Of this earth, hunting for treasures
Pore over my ten fingers.
My ten fingers,
As pure as a full virgin moon.
I have dunked deep my five fingers
Of my right hand with my progenitors
In a bowl of sweet dishes
And nibbled singed YAM amidst
The thriving vegetables.
But my forefinger of my left hand
Never been raised above
To curse the heavens
Never been raised up to pinpoint
My progenitors’ homeland
Never had it tasted any depravity
And never will it be licked
Or bit by the savage butchers
Who loved to fatten themselves on murder
And gratified their heart with
Juicy cup of blood and gore.
We travelled far-flung
and sea beyond
to see an old time friends;
on getting to his street-brink
we sifted from aloof distance:
the street has already been cluttered
with flower of embers.
From each riven aluminium-sheet —
of every domicile
sequence of dense half-dark smoke
scudded into the engulfing mouthful sky
and a rusty brass bell
from a church-front welcomed us in —
welcomed in our dusty camel-feet.
We strutted in softly, softly slowly
upon the face of the earth,
and rubbed off beaded sweats
on the parched tired phiz
with the back of our palms.
The street has become lull
(like an empty squirrel hole
which the hunter searched through in vain)
except for the rusty brass bell that clangs.
“…bloody political critters
has already touched this street, too
with their grubby-filthy fingers”
My partner said, with ball of indignation
ricocheting in his metal lung.
Appalled by the devastation, the slaying and liquidation
wise men devised a plan for peace.
Nations formed alliances, worked together to supply
traded, worked, improved the lives of all that joined
in years of building peace:
whatever tint a skin, whatever tongue all prospered
and were welcomed in most lands.
Just as in the borderless time of the Dogger Bridge or the Pangea planet
we prospered, travelled, worked and played
for we were young, fearless;
ready to build a word of peaceful, prosperous peoples
respecting laws, discovering
each other’s ways, each other’s tongues, and each other’s lands.
Now fools have come and sowed the seeds of strife
with promises unattainable
stoking fear of strangers, hopes of empires long defunct
wealth, health for the working man
believing and following these empty tenants they raised their flags
gave them power to break bonds.
Now children die by gun and knife, the poor die untended
food banks litter once wealthy lands
as humble workers labour night and day for pittances
and the planes of war,
fear of strangers tear the treaties our fathers signed
in bonds of friendship
as the wealthy thrive behind their walls of privilege.
From the fools spawning wealth on empty air –
Take back power, take back belief in peace, collaboration
those gory empires advocated
the Dogger Man runs in the blood of all us,
Pangea pleads for rescue.
Only collaboration builds peace and plenty, rise – raise our children
safe in sustainability.
Come in. My door is open
The windows uncovered
Be you friend or stranger
The enemy of ignorance
My table, round
A circle of friends and strangers
Enemies breaking bread
I´ll pour you Italian espresso
You bring the baclava from Beirut
We will discuss the differences
Big and small
Green and black
Let us chew on the options
You be the Muslim
I´ll be the Jew
I´ll poem, you sing
We shall dance before an open window
For all the world to know
That we can
I shall follow you
To your city
To your house
I carry flowers
A curious manner
A wish to know
Your tastes, the aromas of your kitchen
The chatter of children
The photos you hang
Faces of they whom you carry
In your heart
An old man dies
A child is born
You tell me stories
I tell mine
Both of us discharging the shit
Of our lives in a world gone mad with itself
Spilling our laughter and pain
When evening descends
We find ourselves
Alone in the still ambiance
Of a solitude shared
When I take my leave of you
I will carry your voice
Your soft eyes
Landing in mine
My breath in halt
In that moment of
We share the grace
Night birds call
To waxing stars
All the world around
The grace of peace
I will carry your city
On the map of my memory
Carry your voice
In conversations on the bus
I will carry your smile
As a work of art
We shall both
For the rest of time
From my grave to yours
We shall rise in the heat of battle
To run on the waters
Fly on the winds
To the heat of battles
Angels of deliverance
Summoning our descendants
To lay down the fear
Pick up the torch
That lights the way
The way we had trod
To the crossroad of
Complete and calling
All the children home
In the Middle East
If you want to prepare for peace
You must first prepare for war
Because peace must be waged
With the same seriousness of intent as war
And there are as many obstacles and pitfalls
On the path to peace as there are along the path to war.
A weak man cannot forge peace because
His weakness tempts his enemies to attack
And weak are the saber rattlers
Hoping to frighten their enemies
With simulations of disproportionate force.
Their fears and uncertainties blind them
To the path of peace.
Only a strong man is confident and sees clearly.
He walks calmly along the path
Narrow as the razor’s edge.
The path to peace meanders through Gaza
Where we’ve been eyeless and
Our plowshares will be made out of swords,
Nor gentle breezes.
“A poet’s work . . . to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” Salman Rushdie
So let us say
for poetry has value, it pays
I did say it does not, but I now say
It doe, in one or another way
so let’s be poets for a while-
So let us say
poetry has value, it pays
perhaps not money but sweet
verbal soothing honey
let truth and trust prevail
let’s be poets for a while-
So let us say
poetry has value, it pays
can a link joined in heaven, break ?
Can the earth without His Will, shake?
Let thoughts reveal let ideas guide
let’s be poets for a while-
Let Romantics Rise, Dreamers unite
Wordsworth, Iqbal Pope William excite
there need not be a cell number as
talking takes place even in slumber;
so let us with poetry, abide-
let’s be poets for a while-
I did say that distances beguile
But no more, just step across the stile
one does feel a presence, the eye
does drop a tear, know it is just fair-
When the heart sings the birds sing
Such joy and peace they bring,
they can see the smile
And carry it over on their wings
Nature’s love makes serene,
from sadness and sorrow , free-
So let’s be poets for a while
let truth and trust prevail
let the words in peace, sail
let the song fly, the clouds may
carry across the sky, overtake the
red horse, peace in rain, no hail… – Anjum Wasim Dar
Copyright CER Regd. 2019
Behind your eyes you lived and in your legs.
It was as if your spirit had emulsified
It was as if your body had let you down
Lover dying fighting for freedom in Spain.
That bridge in Zaragoza, guns and fires.
Wires cutting and cutting, searing bone.
Your body’s blood crying in a bad transfusion.
You had to spin your language to sharp, your mind to pun
And spawn your odd oracular silence
which kept us all quiet, so your mind could play its ways
You lived in a utopia all of your own
You had activated heroes and heroines.
The rights of man singing with Paul Robson, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger
Malvina Reynolds, Miriam Makeba, Joan Baez.
For the average man and woman. Your eager brilliance
You kept under wraps, under your eyes.
A woman of many secrets, you longed for
That outrageous freedom, where women can let loose
To be without any precedent or precedence to slow her,
You broke through roles to model a glowing chance for freedom
And you always told me in your shaded eyes to go deeper:
deeper and further that anyone says, you can stay.
Whenever feathers lying in the grass I spy
they remind me of my dwindling days.
For all too soon I too could fall and die
and how would you know I passed though this maze?
Each quill is the scar of a leaving behind,
the remnant of some bird’s flying away.
And when I find one I hope Life may be so kind
that you might find mine when I fly one day.
So I leave these feathers of a heart taken wing
and a soul that never found a nest.
They’re dipped in black and songs they sing,
so you might know my soul’s at rest.
Haunts of people intense in spring light,
Straw fields and thatched roofs,
Wood fences standing at a slant.
The strangeness of people surge.
Your pale hat whiter than the hills and the sand.
The white of uniqueness. An unsullied tone,
Like you were, holding on to my red shirt
Your body planted firm in my mind—
Woody Herman swinging with Django Reinhardt.
Soulful on syncopated. In that strange balance
We made, standing out in the straight.
She believes in stones,
their tales of megalithic glory
told by the silence of the ancients.
At Avebury, spiritual omphalos,
she rushed to greet them,
hugged them like long lost friends.
Warmed by the sun
they breathed, they were alive,
they hugged her back;
Princess of Albion.
Seated in the Devil’s Chair
I watched her, pink hair,
zips and leathers a warrior queen.
Many silver bangles sung
as she danced, wove a spell
through the avenue of stones,
standing waiting for her
for thousands of years.
At last! she has come home;
Princess of Albion.
From the temple’s sanctuary
hand in hand along the ceremonial
avenue across Malborough Downs
to Silbury Hill, and why they were called
the Downs when they lifted her heart so
she couldn’t understand.
Having stepped on Neolithic footprints,
we kissed in a Druid circle of flowers,
this was when her laughter became sunshine
daughter of Mother Goddess;
Princess of Albion.
The cave beyond the edge
lies in the land beyond attachment.
I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
lay in the land beyond attachment.
I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
lies in God’s Heart.
How little I knew.
I didn’t know that the swimming
would be so rigorous,
the need for fitness so great.
I swam there.
I climbed there.
I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
would require so much vigor.
I stayed there.
I prayed there.
I waited there
in all the silence.
Now, how glad I am
to have swam and climbed there,
to have stayed and prayed there,
to have waited there,
in all the silence,
for amidst it all,
I am glad,
to be in the cave beyond the edge,
in the land beyond attachment.
O Gracious God, how glad I am
to be here, where You are,
in my heart, here.
For I hear,O Gracious God, I hear
Your Voice rising from the silence.
“Thank You,” I respond, “Thank You
for the freedom, the choice,
of entering here, with You,
into this deepest chamber,
this deepest living space
of my heart, Your Heart,
where together we live in peace,
in the joy and jubilation of knowing one another
and all others, heartfelt, in harmony,
together, in LOVE.
Similar to the crazy quilt, the log cabin is also an old pattern. . . . the difference is the structure of the patches; the pieces are cut into straight patches or “logs” and organized around a center square. Some speculate the pattern developed as the woman’s counterpart to the man’s building of log cabin homes years ago.
Or the shape of a Quaker meetinghouse,
benches ranged around a hollow square.
Or the hollow square deeper within,
where I learned to watch what stirred,
and called it God, or breathe with it
now and call it something else —
only what is. I remember my own
past, or the past long ago, easier
to imagine gracious, as if its suffering
were a progress though a stately lane of oaks.
Breathing through the summer morning
while the world falls apart, and a friend
says she can barely hang on with it,
destruction invisible but so close,
obscene. The wish then not only to
resist but build, hands aching in the lap,
to make something fit to last, to live
by. Sunlight moves on the eyelids,
as on the floor of a meetinghouse,
sifted through oaks past a window I imagine;
logs of light then, angling on the ground,
each one a line, a line, a line.