Page 2

Compiled and Edited by Halvard Johnson


Murat Nemet-Nejat

A Dedication to Bush and Skulls and Bones

In the valley of bones and skulls
the skin of someone else is lying
the high jinx of school chums this room only          
war a lark from an immense bridge
going into white fog, wild dogs
among rows of wounds        
the raven of bullets
or hiss of charred metal
reaches the bones before
the heat dries the eye sees
the mother's tears begin to drop
before the laughter laughter
ceases, and the lark turns
into a loon, the moon into a wound         
the bat descends to the heart.
at ease
at home.


Sheila Black

Star-Gazing Wars

The war on peace started in the fifteenth century.

Long before that
reading the stars,
like reading the cards,
forced me to look at the broad strokes,

avoid the splintered surfaces
on the universal sidewalk.
These granulated differences
reduce to pinpoints of light
compared to the war on peace

and seem closer today. The war
on peace delegates its interests
by commanding all the young
lieutenants to go first;
paternal-looking sergeants,

Copernicus discovered
the heliocentric model of the planets;
Galileo invented the telescope,
and everything scientific
except war.

Now as rules are broken,
killing substitutes thinking
The gravity
of falling bodies,
the discovery
of missing stars,
and the flaccid repose
of my brother's face,
all seem to fit
into some grander plan.       

The peace of war seems understandable now.

In the sixties,
thirty seconds of bombing decimated
a hundred acres of
rice paddies,
which turned out to be
a country.
We swallowed
the climaxes of war
gulping down indifference.  

And I am left
sighing and whispering to myself:
"Oh country, Oh country,
your waving green grass
looks so innocent 
seems so peaceful

Someday we will reach
the necessary point for
and the theory
"global warming"
will fall upon us
in shards of volcanic glass,
opening up a hole
in our newly exposed sky.

And the war on peace will be believed.

In this universe,
telecommunicate across
a wide expanse,
the depths of which have
no measure yet,
and grow with each
Scientists report in telescopic views:

28 new exoplanets,
sometimes called
undecided objects,
failed stars, brown dwarfs
and red dwarfs,
appear as
at first.

I know this is very broad but
after Pluto was downsized,
these dwarves became important.
The war on peace absorbs anomalies
in its repertoire of anomalies
because they are signs.

Like horoscopes, Tarot cards, and numerology,
they become more accurate
every year.

The peace of war depends on this.   

Stellar wobbles,
a phenomenon seen through
an amplified lens,
reveal their secrets in
unexpected movements
like sliding your fingers
over the warp and woof
of a rough
hand-woven blanket.     

The earth wobbles
like stellar wobbles
every time it goes around,
incorporates our expansion
into pieces for war that grow
like massive brown and red dwarves,
whirling and waiting to be discovered—



Barbara Crooker

An Extreme Material Breech at an Undisclosed Secret Location
                from the Archived List of Banished Words

I'm voting for more Homeland Security;
those outsider blue jays have splattered
my station wagon one too many times—
at least suicide bombers have the decency
to do themselves in. And the jihad
those chipmunks have launched in my garden,
gnawing all the shells off my pumpkins,
rendering them obsolete. . . . Don't get me
started about the damn woodchucks
and white-tailed deer; they're all four—
legged eating machines, hooved maniacs.
They can mow down the Black-eyed Susans
in a single night's raid, can't share the orchard,
want it all for themselves. The blue jays
are screaming, "Mine, mine, mine," and me,
I'm stockpiling weapons of mass destruction—
you just wait. I'll nuke them all to kingdom
come, turn this fertile hillside into a desert—
that'll show them who's the boss—


Richard Kostelanetz



Rodney Nelson

Show and Shadow

In an old gray movie a warplane went up the runway
into a sky of no color that seemed to ache with the
music and the woman's look who had waved to it and him
and all remaining of the military plane and man
was a driblet of exhaust on cloud and watching him off
hurt because the two had not gotten to the needed words
or omitted them might not have a chance to meet again
and rain was coming she might want to die yet the rain that
other men had written was real so too runway and sky
in the madeup narrative tingeing them
                      I do not know
how late in life I am cannot remember the ending
of what I saw in a crummy show hall of childhood but
this afternoon when a navy exhibition team bucked
the hot damp air I knew the narrative had not changed or
ended even if these warplanes were not of no color

wonder if I turned into that departing man he
into me and went away into more than sky I mean
time if the woman knew me when I got back if she had
waited had we said the needed words or did I fly too
early am I beyond the aching and the music now


what I remember seeing was a picture of rain not
rain and an arranged interpretation of worry on
a white face that did not belong to the woman in the
narrative who whatever the eventuation would
not have survived the unremembered ending
                 I smelt the
movie theater not the aviation fuel or
her perfume but the invented emotion made it hard
for the man on duty and me to leave and it has clung


Karen Alkalay-Gut

Crossing the River

I'm driving on the Bailey bridge
over the Yarkon River—
the narrow one that takes
one car at a time—
and there are two men before me
spraying something in big clouds
that may just be water
but I can't be sure.

So I slow down,
and pretend to be terrified.
"Oh dear!" I mouth,
a silent film heroine.

They turn off the water,
and flank both sides of my car,
bowing me past and calling
"Please," "tfadal," in Arabic.

I nod and wave
like the queen.

"May your whole day be like this,"
one calls out, and I shout back,
"May yours be even
a thousand times more inspired."


Patricia Valdata

One Stop

Dale's Tire Shop sells
Esso products,
wheel alignment and
balancing service.
Sue's Air-conditioned Diner
sells steaks, chops, hot lunches,
homemade soups and pies.
Yin meets yang at routes
four and fifteen
two miles north of
Cemetery Ridge.
Look for the waving waitress!
Look for minie balls.
Alignment and balancing.
Soups and pies.
Meade and Lee.
The troops would get
soups and cherry pies.
The way to a man's heart,
and an army marches on.
Peach orchard. Pickett.
Eisenhower's farm.
Quaker State products.
Alignment. Balancing.
  It is altogether fitting
  and proper that
  we should do this.
Phone 1085-X.


Sybil Kollar


Slivers of syllables glide into
     the mouth's hollow.
The smell of char lingers from
     a dying fire,
pulls the thrum of voices
     from the throat.

The burning glows—
     the fire
eats through the language of paper,
     the throat
waits for the motion of ash, its whisper

Words slide away. They maneuver deep
     in the throat
far from the tongue that floats
     as if hollow.
The mouth opens. Bathed in a shaft of light
     the words glint with fire.

There is memory in the throat, hollow,
     thirsty for fire.               


Mark Pawlak

'Infinite Justice'

   "Shortly after word spread among key military leaders that President [George H.W.] Bush had ordered the invasion of Panama, Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly, Operations Officer on the Joint Staff, received a call from General James Lindsay, Commander-in-Chief (CINC), Special Operations Command. His call did not concern some last-minute change in the invasion plan; rather, it concerned a seemingly insignificant detail of the operation: its name. 'Do you want your grandchildren to say you were in Blue Spoon?' he asked. Lieutenant General Kelly agreed that the name should be changed. After hanging up the phone, General Kelly discussed alternatives with his deputy for current operations, Brigadier General Joe Lopez.
   "'How about Just Action?' Kelly offered.
   "'How about Just Cause?' Lopez shot back."

                    - Bob Woodward, The Commanders

News Item: September 21, 2001—One month before the invasion, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced that the code name for U. S. military operations in Afghanistan would be changed for a second time.

Operation Infinite Justice was the initial name.
Infinite Justice followed the practice
of using a single theme for a region
where Americans are at war.

For the Persian Gulf War
"desert" was the common denominator
as in Desert Shield, Desert Storm,
and subsequent or subordinate operations:
Desert Saber, the ground offensive;
Desert Farewell, the troop redeployment;
Desert Share, the distribution of leftover food to the US poor.
As Major General Charles McClain,
the Army's Chief of Public Affairs, wrote:
"The perception of an operation can be as important to success
as the execution of that operation."

The theme for Afghanistan operations was "infinite."
The 1998 air assault on Osama Bin Laden's training camps,
for example, was called Operation Infinite Reach.
"It gave the impression," an official said,
"that there was no sanctuary for the terrorists."

After the September 11 attacks,
the president made justice his key theme.
Pentagon officials picked Infinite Justice
for the second operation in the "infinite" series.
But Islamic scholars raised objections. Only God
could mete out infinite justice, they complained.

Two Protestant clergy who specialize in ethical issues agreed.
They said the term 'infinite justice' carries strong religious resonance,
suggesting divine sanction, and therefore was inappropriate
for a military campaign waged by a secular state.
"It's a sin of pride," one of them added.

In response, Pentagon officials dropped Infinite Justice
as the name for the Afghan campaign
and put in its place Operation Noble Eagle.

A similar problem arose with an Operation Masher
during the Vietnam War. President Johnson is reported
to have angrily complained to Army planners
that Masher sounded too bloodthirsty,
and did not reflect his theme of "pacification" in Vietnam.
As a result, Operation Masher was renamed White Wing.

Operation Enduring Freedom is the latest effort
to match the name of the Afghan war against terrorism
to the national mood. "'Enduring,"'
said Defense Secretary Rumsfeld,
"suggests that this is not a quick fix."

[from Official Versions, Brooklyn, NY: Hanging Loose Press, 2006]


David Howard

Social Studies


On the faces of children
rain, scratches and egg-flecks;

on their hands the gloves of soldiers
who never finished that letter

home. Cross the bridge quickly—
there are sharpshooters on the rooftops.

Soon there are no rooftops.


Bursting like the hearts of martyrs
direct hits on the hospital. A fifteen-minute hero

he lifts the baby clear of debris—
but this is no ascending cherub from Tintoretto

and Serbian kids biff stones for the camera.
White is best described by grey (Rozewicz).


There, where the fire-escape
descends into black rubbish-bags,

his stare rests like a magpie
until she pulls him

back with her cleavage, her devil-may-care mouth
and, finer than a martyr's prayers,

her hair—it flickers with the flames.


Through the slats of the shutters
that paper napkin

imprinted with his lips after the stray bullet hit—
no better memento:

he was strongest with words
and wine and the taste of sex, any body's,

despite his reputation as a saint.
And the money under his mother's floorboards.


Marcus Bales

Stories Warriors Told Me, #4—His Face Catches Fire

Twenty six inches wide
eighteen high;
I cock my .45
and close my eyes
for sixty breaths then slide

No sergeant's orders now;
no discipline but mine:
it's me and fear
against their fear and them.

Dark and darker
there's only smell and sound
smell and sound
and light betrays.

I take my time.
I breathe their smells
and crawl a little slower
there is no time
but there is lots of time.

The dozing guard dies
with barely a burble:
K-Bar benediction
and I'm by.

The smell of cooking food
the fire's light
I rub my face with new mud
and fingertip along.

There's only one
beside the kerosene flame.
He sees me,
reaches for his gun,
I shoot,
he flips backward
arms flapping
into the food.

His clothes begin to burn.
His face catches fire.


Jose Padua

The Beautiful Things

In Virginia
this fat southern kid
sits by me
on the bus
and starts talking
to a man wearing a baseball cap
who's sitting across the aisle from him.
"My daddy once had
this beautiful antique gun,"
he said. "It was the most
beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
But one day he got mad and
busted me over the head with it,
breaking it into pieces. I forgave him
for busting me on the head
but not for breaking that gun.
It was the most beautiful
thing in the world."
The man with the baseball cap nodded.
He seemed to understand.

[from The Complete Failure of Everything: Apathy Press, 1992]


Patrick John Green

precipitation defined by radio

the water falls from clouds.
no matter.

just began to "shock and awe."
those streetlights, still, in baghdad seemed so tranquil on the morning news,
and all that changes like a squall.

and here the day continues on,
the officers form
lines squared off
by fountains in the park,
wait for word.
protest in the distance,
like a storm.

rittenhouse square is calm.
birds make it hard to hear. walking.
a painter brushes lady liberty,
jabbing hostile colors,
but gives up.
starts another canvas.
the silence is a farce.

half an hour later
stopped in the middle
of the block to find a signal,
between race and cherry streets
the frequency and static
shift reception back and forth
the sound of dropping bombs
and bono singing "in the name of love,"

and facing toward the graying sky,
the signal stays a moment
and then it
shakes off language,
the resemblance
of something making sense.

from the vendor on the corner
come words that trickle through,
how greece did not need
our american help
"to depose a dictator
when i was 12."

the signal just cleared:
the enemy by the oil field
was "evaporated."

like water.


John Bradley

A Bag of Fertilizer for the President

The President is a pretty round fellow.
This means his borders cannot be bisected
without intersecting our own.

After a few cups of coffee, I must evacuate
the entire house. Some may choose to
evacuate through the left wrist.

From her bicycle, she reviewed my
many flaws and fissures.
When she struck ice and fell, I carved
a Buddha head out of a potato.

Across his forehead, a wrinkled map
of Afghanistan. This does not mean
I applaud the smoke venting from armpits.

"Say something about love," one tongue
clucked. And so I said, "One tongue cluck
equals about four and a half pounds
of nitrogen per two and a half acres."

"Say something about war," no one
said. And so I said what I always
say to no one, which is pretty much nothing.

The President is a pretty violated fellow.
All his fields filled with nails
all his nails filled with scrap metal.


Kent Johnson

The Impropriety of the Hours

           —after Cesar Vallejo's "La violencia de las horas"

The whole habitus has gone up in flames.

N. went up in flames: SHE, the bird-throated one, who cruised chat rooms and cooked jamush in the market on a kerosene lamp.

The mullah, G., combusted in a whoosh: HE, with the eyes of green tile, who loved the songs of boys in the madras, even as he scolded and shushed.

The red-haired one, K., became a fire fountain: SHE, with the plastic tree of buttons and business cards, who left behind a four-month-old, who died without skin, floating in a plastic tub of melted ice, on the following day.

My sister-in-law, A., bizarrely flashed and vanished in brilliant light: SHE, of the yapping kennel of beings behind her mud house, and it was so sudden, like a search hit, while she bathed a brown dog who was bigger than she, sad dog of the mad doctor Dr. M., who'd renounced his Muslim name, and exploded in his bed, as he was weeping himself to sleep.

The young man with no legs and glass eye, whose name almost no one knew, though they called him S., became a hundred-foot flame: HE, who muttered the poems of Abu Nuwas, day after day, sitting in antique leather chair, with lawn-mower wheels, in front of tin shop of the watchmaker B., who also blew up, while tapping tiny gold hammer to tiny gold wheel.

J. burned slowly: HE, the blue-skinned dwarf, with a thing for Tom Cruise, for he gathered wild leeks on the outskirts of town, and when he was found he presented intact, so perfectly white, though the smoke that did drift from his eyes was the color of his skin, in his strange life.

My grieving brother, D., shot columns of fire-jelly out his bottom and mouth: HE, the clown on the side, in the peace of thighs, and the joy of small blogs, whom children would laugh at and mock, but who would fall silent, the children, at his fist-sized tears, making his the face they'd recall, when it faintly rained and the young thistles were in bloom.

My brother-in-law R., who was just visiting from An Najaf, became a sudden and inexplicably small puff of smoke: HE, of the Bedouin revolver and the cufflinks and the saws, which like my sister and her husband became confused with him by chance in a single dark thing, the three of them and the things, joined like a caravan spied from above, a digital smudge, in a valley of dull rocks, in a month of great heat, and in six unending years.

The hip-hop fan, M., dissolved like half a million into the great bonfire he became: HE, gigantic by the measure of our race, skull-faced, with stutter, who made people clap their ears, even as they gazed in stupor and awe, for it was he who called to prayer from the minaret, and it was said that such paradox was from God, was connected to the miraculous productivity of the hens of our town, who stopped their clucking at his call, and laid eggs that were translucent and huge.

Yes, the whole town has gone up in flames, and I am speaking of it now, inappropriately, in the on-line light, of this fun avant life.


CL Bledsoe

Tsar Bomba

Nabokov wasn't murdered. He didn't shoot his brother, steal
his parents' will, impersonate a woman in order
to escape Serbian occupation of Zembla. Nabokov, called
Tsar Bomba by admirers, was never in St. Petersburg the night
they found the royal jewels. He never played ping-pong with
Momar Khadafi, though once they bowled together and Momar approached
a perfect game.

Tsar Bomba spoke French, Russian and English, but had trouble
understanding the lyrics to popular songs. He never worked in a bank, never
watched other people's money flow through the door while his head bulged
from the tie, never lobbied congressmen who stank of Aqua Velva
and dumb sarcasm.

Tsar Bomba taught, surrounded by bored, admiring
boys, girls, etc. He enjoyed (watching) dance, played
a lyre crudely, existed on a diet of oatmeal,
broccoli and cashews, abhorred squash (the game) and lived
in consummate fear of succumbing to the dementia which claimed
his uncle Namesake.

He hated Shakespeare, hated the man's style,
his ruffled pantaloons, the easy way he had with strangers—
hated all actors, hated people who wrote nutritional information
on cereal boxes, ran hot and cold towards food
packaging designers, loved watching butterflies writhe
when his pin entered their bodies.

Nabokov's grandfather was a banker, his father a politician.
After his brother died in the camps, Nabokov never went back
to Zembla. Long, long after his pamphlets faded
from popularity, he sat, late nights, staring at their yellowing covers, muttering
over the fact of their staples, wishing all things were joined and held
together through entropy, never steel, but knowing for this,
if nothing else, he was a fool.


Joseph Somoza


          "Half-gnawed . . . /deep/in the eyeslit-crypt."  
                     —Paul Celan (1920-1970)

what you love
before it takes you
down with it—that's
what must've
in him.

your dead loved
by allowing them
to be forgotten,

as the living
bury the dead.

In that
sense he succumbed
to the Nazis'
culture of death,

he had to die
to continue to live.


Martha Deed

Willow Branch

apple peels of laughter
make the fruits of labor to whom you refer
consign bananas to the hereafter
I have nothing to say to her
yesterday's thunderstorm that fed
the apple orchard does not meet
my definition of Homeland Insecurity,
nor does the fruit cup make fate sweeter
than the proposition of equal sweetness for all
so who are they to say what carbs we should eat today
swimming in fat is never easy and the food pyramid's a blast
to keep the past in the past
like today's politics leave me too queasy
to digest ham on rye again and afterwards
endure four more years


Lisa Sewell

The House of Bernarda Alba

For three days the winds badger and fume
their deep song of desire—
the duende kicking its legs

shattering the floorboards
with footwork that scatters papers and rattles shutters

until the windowpane
unmakes itself in shards, in spades

like the proof of low standards
the evidence of crimes.

There are names that blow against the places
where your lives unravel and unwield:
Chamsin, Mistral, Santa Ana,

and in Andalusia,
your guide tells you, the Viento Fuerte
is what desiccates and drives us

and is driven by cold air flowing downhill
and charged like a great tragedy
with a woman's complaint.

It makes you want to do whatever work
you've been avoiding
as though the opposite of fear is love and love is fear, and truth, truth.

Lorca knew to paint the inner walls of the household yellow
and paint their faces all the same.

He knew a mother's bark and cadence
the way a mother knows to keep her daughters on a leash
half sunk in the sandy bright arena

like the sinking dog in Goya's infamous black painting
for a daughter who's disobedient
becomes an enemy.

In a movie, a Japanese soldier flayed a Chinese prisoner.
In a novel, a Russian colonel made a Mongol flay a Japanese spy.

What was left would eventually stop screaming
and likewise, the plaster walls and yellow rooms
can dampen any din or racket

and what never takes place nevertheless
leaves behind the carapace of the human.
like the sound of those bells that hits me right between the eyes

or the devil winds, murder charged, that sing
what cannot be left unsaid in Granada
where Lorca no longer resides or protests.

Look how the dead grass, dried mustard weed, and a few
white tail feathers have gathered at the threshold:
omen or offering, cenotaph or curse.


Hugh Seidman

Marla Ruzicka

December 31, 1976 - April 16, 2005
Founder: Campaign for Innocent Victims in
                     Conflict (CIVIC)

                spread the word
                it will be what we make it

                For Adrienne Rich

sparks ratchet from the tinder
corpuscles crackle from the racket of fire and light and are gone

tireless, fearless
against generals, politicians, bureaucrats

skull touching skull
hem of her black abaya clenched in her fist

set on the shoulder of the unveiled woman in hijab
who buttresses the dark-eyed, moon-eyed child

specks hiss from the splutter
fly up from the pyre drafts

motes flare, incandesce, and are lost
pinpoints tick from the holocausts

ingénue face-splitting smile
attester to succor before yielding to martyrdom

Buddha-girl California smile
propelled to the bull's-eye of the expulsion from this world

petite, with curly blonde tresses
pretty, peppy, fiery, vivacious

nicknamed "Bubbles" in Kabul
martyred by a God car on the Baghdad airport road

her last outcry: "I'm alive"

avatar of the aura of the offered nipples of Ishtar
enumerator of the mutes of the underworld

manic, anorexic, insomnial
fortified by parties and red wine

Rock Creek Park Rollerblade Queen, "Cluster Bomb Girl"
spitfire, hurricane, love bomb

Amazon of the courage of the vulnerable
novice of no past at the boundary of history

bearer of amends unto the mourners
registrar of the hopes of the mutilated

saint of the collateral orphans
paladin weeping for a planet of graves

nova emptying its burden of souls
stranger arousing the genital wind

auric-haired "bride" Marla
wrapped in the black abaya

like the noon sun above the blood beyond the background


Sheila E. Murphy

Speech Trimmed to a Whisper Anymore

Fiction disguised as wealth has grown belligerent again.

Promises inflate mirage to temple size, inflicting routine hardship on the psyche of indebtedness.

Tripwire interferes with an imagined path, removing from the premises all luck and flowering.

Surfaces once replete with opportunity reveal a layer down beneath them, scraped harsh.

An earth scabbed with broken symptoms happens to absorb a life from fragments memory might inflect.

The hardship of accumulating islands draws down overload of being only fractions.

The probability of introducing any question pronounceable by heart is brought low by branches testing shelter repeatedly.

A logic once considered poise endures the whittling of recollection now and at the hour of a methodical unfolding.


  e k repzka


przedkin barter, which (chvila) bristles

               caution pojenani

kulisi vobetch (deficient-escape), dlina [through embonpoint wizyta litchis


      tenable slova                               [declaim

               shapkin insphere  (kins
                      shaep effigin

                                           shed | mess

               bleached  ::  casted

     pwutki droresque  (rozumiec
                                        }how unremitting provokes

                mutining slows

                on pevien, jeden

                    an objective silence



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