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Andrew Schelling

 It’s been more than two weeks & raw psychic vulnerability is subsiding a bit. Still I’m skeptical of weighing in on an issue when others have more insight or information. This I find in my journal, a ten day old entry. Of interest only in that USA military tracks seem headed for Afghanistan—

Sept. 17

A natural history journal
             peppered with events from the
                             "human realm"
             gnomic verse of inner Asia a Paleo-human relic?
                          into the note-book
                                      gno-book
             mark, sign, inscription
                          indicator of gno-ledge for
                                         "literate humans"

The first shock of airliner attacks on World Trade Center & Pentagon giving way
to noisy opinions (fault of gays & abortionists?) & eventual hopeful calmer
considerations—despite USA administration beating drums for war—
                                         with Afghanistan? nation continually at war
twenty-two years, largest refugee populations worldwide (as were fifteen
years ago). "Bomb them Back to the Stone Age" vs.
                                         "Readjusting the Rubble"

                      —what hospital, factory, school, or gov’t building
not repeatedly bombed already? High mountain terrain, death for Silk Road
caravans, death for British troops 19th C., death Soviet army conscripts…
becomes
death ground American troops?

Yesterday’s Times photo: Soviet troop carrier (no date) crossing dizzy mountain
precipice gorge on slab concrete bridge, frail bark of Dante amid ringing ice
peaks.
The photo is blurry, scared soldier boys going into Himalaya
dominions of death—
From Bamiyan to the Twin Towers—
              what clutch of warriors in history so bold to
annihilate both ends: Buddha realm monuments Greco-Afghan civilization,
twin icons American Capital—? From March to September…
recollect how
Everything that lives is Holy

 

Miriam Sagan

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack, people tell me over and over that they don’t feel safe. One friend buys a gas mask, several buy guns. One stocks up on toilet paper. These people live thousands of miles from NYC. I was born there. As a child, I dreamed obsessively of Manhattan bombed from the air. The Cuban Missile crisis found my third grade class hiding beneath our desks. I was raised in a household were the words "Hiroshima" and "Auschwitz" were as common as "salt’ and "potato." My grandmother had been in a pogrom. The little girl next to her had been killed by horsemen. The town I grew up in New Jersey had the third highest property damage from riots in the nation. We could hear gunshot from our front porch—this in a gracious upper middle class neighborhood. My friend Sandy was locked in the house during the riots—her dog had escaped, she was very worried. I went to her Black Baptist church with her. The house next door to mine burned to the foundation. My parents were away. I sat up with my Russian grandfather, watching to see the trees didn’t burn. I was 13 years old. Our phone was tapped—a legal tap—click click click. My father was arrested because of his anti-war activities. His taxes were audited every year. He was on Nixon’s enemies list. Safe is not a word I would apply to my sense of reality. I was raised to believe that history would kill me, it was best to try and stay out of the way. During the war in Bosnia I looked every day at my neighbors—a different class, religion, and ethnicity than I. Our mutual walls supported many apricot trees. They were the pleasantest of people. Every day I was glad they weren’t trying to rape and kill me, or cut down my fruit trees. An odd way to live, perhaps, but my frame of reference. When I heard the news on September 11 I did say aloud: this is the worst thing that has happened in my life time in America. I cried for hours—after all, a New York accent means something to me. I won’t put a hierarchy on suffering—this was the suffering of the day, enough to buckle our knees, weep us dry. But I felt no less safe the next day than the day before. I grew up with hurricanes and blizzards. I had enough toilet paper.

 

Tom Clark

As a poet I believe that the spirit of poetry, which in all circumstances affirms life, is by its nature opposed to all wars.

 

Andrew Shelley

I have no license to speak of this, maybe no-one does, but I presume to speak out of a feeling of shared trauma, shared history, common aspirations. Out of a feeling of belonging to the human community, which this event may do a lot to strengthen. Yet it remains specific to a particular nation, an individual city, and no-one else really knows about it or has any right to say anything.

...The situation beggars language, that's what' s so shocking about it, language being reduced to empty rhetoric, but that's perhaps what makes it all the more important to keep talking, to keep the conversation going, so as to repair the rent fabric of the real. "Make love and conversation" said Jean-Luc Godard, and that's what people have been doing to deal with things. I suppose part of trying to lead your life with love and light is learning how to engage with hate, one's own hate, other people's. There's always enough hate around, without having it dumped on your head in a big pile. Maybe sometimes you have to fight for your life, but it's not a fight conducted by killing people but by trying to argue the good into or out of the bad, trying to negotiate with it, trying to see that the truth is a (dialogic) whole that contains both sides, even that side that you want to demonize and deny any validity to, because to speak takes both halves of the mouth, fucking takes two, those wankers in government who do nothing but talk to themselves and impose their monologues on others should realize that. Everything went quiet here for a while, but for the hollow echo of that otherless rhetoric, those idiots had got the war they wanted, having no idea what to do with their power otherwise, or how to otherwise justify and valorize it, and not knowing how to do nothing and be content, - they have to think of themselves as busy and important big men....

Puppet Blair in Bush's pocket declaring unconditional support for the US as if by reflex without waiting to see what 'your' government there would do is partly responsible for a strong feeling against the US Government here, even as the swell of sympathy for the little folk who were sacrificed to what the poet W.G.Graham called "a suiciding principle" is palpable. Shortly before Blair announced a multi-million pound programme to install CCTV cameras in areas defined a high-risk for crime. In my book, that's terrorism as well.

...It's like the return of the repressed: blanking the other, denying what lies outside just leads to an increase in the power of the outside; if you gang-up against it as if to eradicate it you just give it more force, more credibility. All the force and power in fact of what you need to call dark to fuel your own light, because dark fuels the light whether we like it or not. You turn the dark into your hidden source, your true oil, that your light needs. and blackening it even more just makes it all the more evident that you need it in some weird way that the victimizer 'needs' the victim, having failed to recognise his dependency on it, but still being dependent on it even as the denying light needs to censor or black-out this dependency. As Samuel Beckett said: repressed darkness "gathers, then suddenly bursts and drown everything"...

Jung analysed this mechanism well: too much light at the expense of the dark in the end leads to an invasion by the dark, it a compensation balancing mechanism, it's the beginning of coming out of denial. Because you need both light and dark. Body, dimension needs both at once and the US so often seems one-dimensional, everything surface and no depth, a blank placard or facade, with the dark relegated to horror-film demonizations of the other as bogey-man, outsider, one whom we deprive of all understanding and treat as a monster, not human and therefore okay to kill. And the stronger the one-sided bolstering and build-up of the power and intensity of the light, the more top-heavy the world or a nation gets, the more like an invasive rape the incursion of the darkness is, has to be to get through. It's the same process as a nervous breakdown in individuals, that or you get cancer from repressing too much, not crying enough. People will look back on this and say: "That's when the States lost it's virginity, that's when it started coming out of denial". Welcome to the world, (in which that kind of thing happens daily, where people are always getting literally and metaphorically blown up on a daily basis). But that incursion is a creative process, this whole outburst of the dark can be like the flooding of a plain, it can increase the fertility of the land, it can be like the dark soil things grow from. Let's hope, just so those people didn't die for nothing, those folk whose personal reality has to be primary and who were so brutally murdered, let's hope this whole thing will have the good and fertile effect in the long, long-run of bringing the States into the real world rather than the Disneyland world of total denial it often seems to exist in, where it is are always the boss, where it always wins in the name of an ill-defined 'good', where it is always so sure it is right it can do anything it wants and be exonerated from the start. . .

That phrase 'ground zero' is just such another denial though, I mean it's as if what's happening at ground level is so incalculable it has to be called 'zero' because it's too much. In other words, denied... Better to be in pain than to be in denial, because pain ends, denial doesn't. You can grow through pain, but in denial you always stay the same. Countries, like people, can grow through the pain of having a past, through the burden of having a history, can't they?

I'm on the side of that child who said in a class over here "Can't we give them some cement to build it again". He intuited the whole thing in a single phrase, in that way children have of seeing through to the basics of things. I mean cement separates and bonds, it does two opposite things: it sets apart so as to link together, it's a medium for bridging, connecting gaps. It's like love, real spiritual respectful love. That's the only thing that can fill "The Gulf". We need that cement that can see things as different but equal, diverse but unified, rather than polarized into totally on this side or totally against us on that. We've had enough of that from the Cold War and moved beyond it, seen through it and people do not want to go back to it. That's the problem I had with globalization, it was too much sameness without allowing for heterogeneity within it. World should be one unified tapestry, united but allowing for a plethora of differences. Let's hope and pray this event will in the end further the creation of that world, if we all work together and don't try to deny or exact revenge. Greater understanding between Islam and the States is what is needed, in fact essential now, not a war between them. Let's use this as an opportunity to forge that. (But men have a way of having to fight before they can bond afterwards). (Nearly added: women have a way of having to bond before they can fight. Fighting seems to be how the human race talks to itself. Maybe we should teach it how to use words).

 

Duncan McNaughton

"I really don't have any bright ideas to pass on to you. It's enough to do to keep at arm's length the awareness of ten thousand or so of the zillions of miserable ironies which adhere to this convulsion. All the universal manifestations of the God fantasy, the history neurosis, the science debauch... the greed of all of it... and of all of us who consume it.
Same old song."

 

Michael McClure

 

BLACK DAHLIA


THE CUPS WE DRINK FROM ARE THE SKULLS OF ARABS
AND THIS SILK IS THE SKIN OF BABIES.
THE FROTHING ON OUR CHINS
IS NOT RABIES NOR ARE OUR FINGERNAILS
GOLDEN SCARABS.
WE'RE NORMAL HUMAN ANIMALS
AND WE ITCH LIKE SCABIES
FOR THE RAPE OF THINGS.
It is ordinary and beautiful
to have the duty
to twist and tease
the lovely glimmering light
we see in things.

Then one day we look about
and hope to put it back
inside,
where once was fresh foam or moss.

But we've made a cross
of wings of birds and butterflies
and it cannot lift off the ground
or push into the soil.
— Where there was a perfume smell
of mulch
now there's the stink of oil
turned inside out,
and finger prints of brightness
gone away.

What
will
we
say
to
all
the
singing
realms
that
try
to
rise
inside
of
us
?

(grahhr)

 

Dick Gallup

Dear Michael,

     I wrote you a pretty good statement last week, but my e-mail program ate
the message before I could send it, I had the same problem when I tried to
send my daughter a letter about Sept. 11 (she was out of the country), I
guess it just takes too long to put my thoughts in order. So this is going
to be quicker, if less eloquent.
     First of all, I was watching TV that morning, so I saw everything live.
The growing horror of the first couple of hours is really indescribable,
from the first surmise of some kind of private plane accident involving the
WTC to the collapse of the second tower. I would commend the network folks
for NOT showing pictures of the people jumping to their deaths, and in fact
not speaking about the people above the 100th floor at all. As time went
on, we all understood that anyone up there was doomed, and saying absolutely
nothing was the best option.
     My reaction, thoughts about it, were pretty clear and nearly
instantaneous as soon as I saw the second airliner arrive. It is the end of
the world, in the sense that any expectations for the future were now
changed beyond recognition. My main thought was that a powerful irrational
and destructive energy had be let loose in the world, and nothing would ever
be the same. Nor would anyone, or any group, be able to control what
happens. There is an irrational emotive element to this which follows its
own logic without regard for human values.
     In the following 10 days I talked to many people about the event, and
everyone commented on the cinematic qualities, the feeling that you were
watching a movie. It's probably a defense mechanism to somehow distance
yourself from something too horrible to feel. No doubt, the people watching
the library burn in Alexandria would have had the same reaction, if they'd
had any movies to watch.
     Finally, to continue the cinematic metaphor, the movie begins as an
action thriller, but when we blink our eyes we find ourselves in the world
of ancient Greek tragedy, where human beings are subservient to forces
beyond their control and their fates are in the hands of the gods.

Yours,

Dick Gallup

 

Josephine Clare

War & Peace

Power over life & death
don't be proud of it
whatever they fear from you
you'll be threatened with

Seneca


 1

As a German kid I could hardly remember peace and when peace came it didn't feel like peace for a long time. To shake a nightmare takes time. My mother told me that before the war she fed me bananas every day and I was both bemused and envious contemplating this frivolous peacetime incarnation of mine.

I remember brilliant, cloudless winter days when we stood in front of our house in the sunshine on snow covered ground, hugging ourselves against the cold, looking up into the sky where squadron after squadron of bombers in neat formations droned south.

I was mesmerized. To my pageant-hungry eyes, against the backdrop of the fantastically blue sky, they looked like clumsy yet majestic silver birds, caught in the rays of the sun, carrying their unmentionable cargo to the people of Munich, Augsburg, Nuremberg perhaps.

The adults would watch in resigned silence. No fist was raised, no curse flung, but then we small-town people knew that we were not the target. A sense of humiliation prevailed: that the bombing raids could now be carried out in broad daylight, with impunity. Obviously, the German Luftabwehr had collapsed. "We brought it on ourselves," my mother said. "We started it."

About an hour and a half later they returned. They sounded different, lighter …

2

Everybody wanted to be occupied by the Americans reputedly by far the best of the lot, followed by the Brits, then the French. Nobody wanted to come under Russian occupation. Where we lived, the French came, sending in their colonial North African forces first. They were all right, but the French themselves were a mean lot. We kids thought ourselves pretty unlucky missing out on American friendliness, American white bread, American corned beef & other American canned food. We had gotten ourselves all read to start chewing gum. And when I thought of kids in the American zone nibbling away on their American chocolate, envy was nibbling, hard, away on me.

3

I'm listening to "Fresh Air" on the car radio. An Iran-American author who also teaches at the community college of N. Y. U. is being interviewed. On Sept. 11 he was in class in an annex close to the World Trade Center. He says that hatred of America is now institutionalized in the Middle East, & chic among the young. According to the New York Times the streets of Karachi, Pakistan are seething with hatred of U. S. Pro Bin-Laden demonstrations take place in Gaza. Even Indonesia erupts with hatred against America and weren't they our pals just the other day. Saudi Arabia says enough civilians killed in Afghanistan. Call it off.

Between bombings Afghans are free to search for food and medicine air-delivered "from great height." It depends on how hungry you are to put 8 million land mines dotted about the countryside out of your mind. On NPR somebody says the Bin Ladens are a lovely family, with the exception of Osama, the black sheep. How nice to know the Bush's didn't do business with a family not up to snuff.
Anyone up for exchanging the national anthem for a heartfelt "business, business, ueber
alles
"?

Let me know.

10/9/01

 

RhondaK

I'm having a difficult time acknowledging that the events of 9/11 really happened. My mind doesn't fit around the scene. I can't focus on the planes. I can't see the aluminum raining down in poisonous silver ribbons. The acrid smoke is so large I can't close my eyes if the knowledge of hope burning rests inside of my mind. I move it in and quickly out again. I was always scared of the World Trade Center. I refused to go up the towers. Even when people visited me in Manhattan, I would wait downstairs for them to return to the Plaza. When the bomb went off in 1993, I thought that was my dark premonition. The shudder of fear I had every time I saw the towers up close.

When I think of the people pressed against the ledges before the floors evaporated under their feet I try to find comfort in their heavens. Likely nearly 600 fell into the embrace of Allah. Thousands found their footing on streets of gold while seeking the calm of Jesus. Lambs slumbered near lions. Those of the 3 fold path began their 3 day waiting period reviewing their life before advancing for judgement. Others from the East rejoined nature spirits becoming the grass at their favorite shrine or the color gold from a setting sun. It maybe that a Brahmin was born and others were reborn into their next life. The book of the dead has many tongues. Heaven has many names.

 

Renée Gregorio

Since September 11 I have felt alternately despairing and numbed, more full of disbelief at what humans are capable of than anything, and I think of the ways in which we will go on as poets, as ordinary citizens in an extraordinary time. I feel that the ground from which I work-silence-is no longer there, covered by as much white ash as the ground around the world trade centers' falling.

We have heard language corrupted, flattened, devalued, language as commodity in a culture that values commodity so much that it will destroy its lifeblood, language, in the process. I am speaking of the t-shirts that have erupted into the marketplace since the attack, shirts that read "the wrath of freedom" (what does this mean?! ), or "Osama bin Laden wanted dead or alive" (with the "or alive" crossed out), or words overused or misused from the lips of our leaders, such as "evil", "cowardly", "freedom", "American way of life", even "war".

So many of these words have felt either empty, false or polarizing. To overcome "evil" becomes the goal rather than justice or understanding or resolution. What is the American way of life if not a complete embracing of materialism and wealth, to the exclusion of so much of real value-reflection, spiritedness, humor, wisdom, the act of going inward, looking deeply, reflecting on what is and what's been true, bridging vastly different territories to come to a better understanding of our own lives as well as the lives of those who are foreign to us.

I've watched women on television say they are too afraid to leave their homes. I've read account after account of the torn lives affected most directly by this tragedy. It is a horror none of us could ever forget-but I do not mean this in the sense I get from a poster in the nearby west side of Albuquerque, a painted American flag with these words scrawled around the flag: "September 11 is a day we will NEVER forget!!!!" Every time I drive by that poster I feel the anger and desire for revenge of its maker. No, we will not forget the horror, the loss of lives, the ways in which our lives are altered irrevocably by this event. And yet, I can't help but feel there are other ways to come to justice besides this so-called war. To wage war against an unseen enemy, to retaliate, to seek revenge-these are the old ways, ways that have never shown us progress but rather destruction, more loss of people innocent of any crime or wrongdoing. This was a crime of immense magnitude and the perpetrators must be found and tried, in international court. I don't believe that more killing-of anyone-is the answer.

This act represents a huge imbalance in our world. More violence will only create more imbalance, more horror, will, indeed, only be more terrorism. America needs to look at the ways in which we have helped to create this imbalance and the ways to right it.

I have been practicing the Japanese martial art, aikido, off and on, for many years. In that art, one always has an "opponent". The entire art is about getting close enough in to be able to deflect any force that comes at you, to learn how to use another's force of attack to fell the attacker. The idea is that if someone tries to attack you, they are, in a sense, disrupting the natural order of the universe. In aikido, as in life, if you meet a punch with an equal direct punch, there is deadlock. (If you yell back at someone who is yelling at you, there is deadlock.) If you move slightly offline, or join the force that's coming at you, or listen, or "see" from the angle of your attacker, and apply the appropriate technique, the attacker, seemingly effortlessly, falls-of his or her own energy.

No, this is not an aikido mat. But I would venture to say that these principles could be applied on a larger, more complex field with better results than revenge. As writers, we mine the territory we know and want to know, asking hard questions of ourselves, diving far into shadow to find our way. I ask the same of our world leaders. And I pray that "freedom" becomes free of wrath, that words blossom fully from our lips, that we find ways to connect with ourselves, strangers, the earth, our neighbors, even our perceived "enemies", and that language can survive these harshest fires. The Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, when writing after the Israeli bombing of Beirut in 1982, says: "Yet I want to break into song...I want to find a language that transforms language itself into steel for the spirit-a language to use against these sparkling silver insects, these jets. I want to sing. I want a language that I can lean on and that can lean on me, that asks me to bear witness and that I can ask to bear witness, to what power there is in us to overcome this cosmic isolation."

 

William Slaughter

Lines from a poem of mine, "Language Speaks Itself,"
which is about something else.

Words don't mean

anything.
They just hang

there—
like empty mouths

in forgotten air.

I wasn't ready, with language, for what happened
on September 11, 2001. I'm still not.

 

Rick London

"Yeah, the world is crazy these days—and now we're a part of it. I guess we got our cherry broke big time. I hope this opens us to the suffering that goes on all the time for (approximately) billions of people—in no small measure because of the actions and policies of the U.S gov't, etc. Chomsky has weighed in with some good observations—and City Lights E-Newsletter had a succinct response. I've been surprised by how deep my connection to the tribe is - I felt pretty clobbered by the horror of the attack, something beyond the typical empathetic sadness we feel when confronted with devastating human conflict. Social biology in action, I guess.

I notice people around me getting a little crazy. The media is making everybody ill with their pat programming: "Some very bad men took over some airplanes and crashed them into some buildings and a lot of people were hurt and killed but the firemen are still our heroes and daddy's not coming home ever again." Not exactly the information normal adults need to process something like this. Susan Sontag says they're trying to infantilize us with their coverage. Thank god for KPFA, which has been doing a good job covering events and providing context and community.

 

Bill Berkson

Gloria

A large US flag flaps loudly outside our dining room, suspended on a pole
from the topmost balcony across the way. I keep taking it for some poor
thug running through the late September night, sneakers smacking.

9/25/01

 

Michael Castro


hi michael—

good to hear from you. like everyone else i know i'm trying to come out of a stunned reaction to sept. 11's events. when i called ira even he was at a loss for words. went to rosh hashonah services last week (happy new year, right? shonah tovah) & today's yom kimppur service run by my friend, rabbi james stone goodman—he's as soulful as they come, a great musician as well—he sd, quoting bogart, "at times like these, the problems of three little people, don't amount to a hill of beans in the world." so he didn't lay a heavy atone for your sins trip on everyone—more got us through with music, prayer, & a compassionate tone. He even called on the poets—me & my ex-wife jan—to read something. i felt inadequate, but honored, both for myself & the tribe of poets. i read a poem by the 11th century sephardic poet/general Shmuel HaNagid—

First war resembles
a beautiful mouth we
all want to flirt with
and believe

Later it's more
a repulsive old whore
whose callers are bitter
and grieve

—& i read a poem by me Nurture/Nature—

offering
what is needed

a little water
a sunny smile
a touch
a caring word

nurturing

we are
most humble
most human
most god-like

—& i preceded it with excerpt from my journal—

NOTES WRITTEN WITH ACHING HEART

a surreal image
a plane disappears
into a high-rise building
surreal
i.e., super-real

*

faces twisted in grief
faces twisted in horror
faces twisted in anger
faces twisted in hatred
thousands dead
millions mourning
our world is suddenly changed
the world's evil focussed on a fateful day
to a sharp point plunged into our collective heart
to reveal

we have a collective heart
still beating
beating to a quickened pulse
the cheapening of our lives
by each act of terror & destruction
awakens us
to each other
makes each life more precious
prompts acts of kindness & human sympathy
& a few isolated
acts of the stupid hatred
that offer a vision of our defeat

crisis tests us.
who are we?
crisis offers opportunities
to draw on buried strengths
to find wisdom previously not even sought.
who are we?
what will we become?

*

i sit in my basement a week after the terror
a week after the declaration
we are at war
a week after & the rubble still smoldering
where the twin towers fell
a week later & i am back in my life
back writing on the blank screen
diving into my own empty center
trying to find
the word
diving inside
to ground zero
a week later
trying to find god
in this dangerous smoldering place

 

Joanne Kyger


                         IT’S COLD TODAY        A COLD
                                    WORRIED     HEART

                    Don’t ask so much
from some like 'God' who is supposed
   to be on 'our side' against 'the evil one'
      and who blesses America that we love
             to stand beside and guide

Is there REALLY 92% support
   for the 'president’s'
        decision re the 'war'
             Fighting Back
                 You are With us or
                       Against us
                              & that’s a choice?

                         The 'Shroud of Fear'
stifling dissent as civil liberties
   are taken away to 'protect' us
         from the 'enemy' -- the weapons
            the bombs dropped for our 'safety'
            -- oops there goes the Red Cross
                        building       O god

                   turn off the news, put on the music
                   let me know how much I have to Buy

                            to keep the current One trusting


October 16, 2001

 

Stefan Hyner

FRAGMENTS FROM THE PRAYER FLAG JOURNAL

11/IX/
A BLACK DAY FOR CIVILIZATION!? Certainly a grim day for those souls who suffer from the terror of a few, no matter who the few are or where they come from. I don't care if he wears a cute leather jacket or a black turban, this tiny fraction of the world's population who thinks they run the show & produce nightmares like this. Fuck 'em. Why don't we build 'em some kind of huge gym where they can take all their paraphernalia & do onto each other what they've been doing onto us. But now we have to all sit in one boat again, & this one is not gaily drifting toward Nirvana.

12/IX/
It's all just a big fat dream, nothing left of it this morning. But no, we have invented it & it's how they want it in their eyes. A new world map is being designed. Evolution won! Only the strong survive! Somebody sez: It's like Pearl Harbor & they shd be punished that way. Again the nuclear physicists are chanting: KALO 'SMI LOKA-KSHAYA-KRIT. This one won't be measured in real estate & even Hilary Clinton sounds like she's escaped some Icelandic Saga.

13/IX/
Retaliate: L. retaliatus past part. of retaliare L. re-taliare talion ME. talioun = punishment in kind Lex Talionis: the Mosaic Law of 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth' Exodus 21:23-25. Who invokes this wrathful good & gathers his forces under the banner of >Reciprocity & Darwinism>.

14/IX/
It's like a bad Sam Peckinpaw movie. The outrage is manipulated into the desired direction. Soon they don't need Homo SS. anymore, they gonna clone their own worker-ants, who live happily on sugar-water & the newest tabloid edition. It's not a new war, it's a new species: Homo profitus nonlimitus.

15/IX/
We live in a burning house, why add fuel to the fire? See 'em rattle w/their swords & dream to become El Cid who left countless Moors dead on the battlefield. Can we please talk about the weather, the throbbing of diesel engines on the river, guest in the sky arriving for winter.

16/IX
We leave beauty to rot, fascinated w/disaster & death. Love this World of Endurance. ²To be or not to be, that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to bear the slings & arrows of outrageous fortune, or taking nuclear arms against a sea of troubles & by opposing / end them & ourselves - is not the question² (Paul Blackburn The Crisis) & the rain continuous, & there won't be anymore routine.

17/IX/
Condemn this emergency-room politics, where tumors get removed w/knives & deadly rays, never to look at the patient or the reason that got him there. Dark ages of Kali Yuga. We've been told, we didn't heed the warning.

18/IX/
It's a very old story, 900 years at least when in 1095 Urban II. urged 'em to take the cross. Just six miles downriver from here in the cathedral of Speyer, King Konrad III. took his on December 27. 1146. But it goes back further the misery is engraved in the landscape, the consciousness of its people, when the Greek invaders destroy the statue of the Mother Goddess in Ephesus on the Turkish coast in 1200 BC.

 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Artists and Poets in War and Peace

After the tragedy and trauma of 9/11, poets and graphic artists alike are no longer going to be able to create works that say Nothing. Only a rich capitalist consumer society such as ours before 9/11 can afford artists and poets that basically present only their own private concerns in works that have little relation to the world around them and nothing important to say about that world. (Existential angst is of course a valid subject for art, but Jean-Paul Sartre himself always insisted on the total engagement of the artist or writer in the larger world.) If 9/11 spealt the death of the Postmodern, among other myriad deaths, perhaps it was high time that artists and poets got a Wake Up call, as America itself got one. Just as the nation itself can no longer act unilaterally as if the rest of the world didn't exist, neither can artists and writers.

 

Louise Landes Levi

                                  9.11

                                    If
                                I was
                           not
                                  in
                                        NYC

                           Where as (I)

                    ______________

                                  All
                       those/ 'human'
                  Voices. We thought
          we
                   knew
                                  'la differenza'
fra
            SAMSARA & NIRVANA, or
    that
                 Non che. I heard
        it, clearly, in the forest.

                      Maria Grazia
            you gave yr. left ear-lobe
       everyone spoke of yr.
                                            'generosita
                lst.
                       Bhumi,
                   "satisfy their wishes"

          The deep emotion
                                            of
                                                 looking

       into the sky,
                            &
                                seeing,

                                              Nothing.

                         _____

Very CRazy here, too. ALL WAR IS TERRORISM

Note: Maria Grazia Cutuli. Italian Journalist slain in Afghanistan. The absent left ear lobe on the corpse was the executioner's signature.

 

Roxanne Poormon Gupta

As fate would have it, at the time of the attack, we were discussing the Bhagavad Gita in the "Yoga: Philosophy and Practice" class I teach at my college. Although I consider myself a Hindu, the Gita has never been a favorite of mine. I was always suspicious of the way in which this text has been interpreted by some as a justification for violence, and indeed, the text states "There is no greater good for a warrior than to fight in a righteous war." (2:32) which, taken out of context, sounds a lot like the concept of holy jihad or the Christian crusade. But with my back up against the wall, I have been forced to consider this text in a different light, and surprising even to myself, I have found in it the only answer I can come up to the question everyone seems to be asking: "What can we do?"

In reconsidering the Gita what is most evident to me is the vast difference between the traditional Hindu worldview and that of the monotheistic religions that have so heavily influenced the very categories through which we in the west interpret our experience. Whereas we put our faith in history-either in the God of history or the human rationality that is its result, the Gita offers no such consolation. The God or Ultimate Truth that reveals itself in this text lies beyond all good and evil, beyond birth, death, beyond self pity and consolation. Krishna (the incarnation and mouthpiece of Vishnu, a manifestation of Brahman or Ultimate Truth) who plays the role of charioteer, and guru, says to Arjuna, the warrior who weeps for those whose deaths he is about to cause

"Thy tears are for those beyond tears…the wise grieve not for those who die-for life and death shall pass away" (2:11)

and

"If any man thinks that he slays, and if another thinks he is slain, neither knows the ways of truth. The Eternal in man cannot kill: the Eternal in man cannot die." (2:19).

So is it then right or wrong to kill? On what do we base our answer to this question, if not on some kind of commandment from the God of history? The Gita’s answer to this question would be that dharma, or righteousness is the basis for one’s action in the world: an ethic that is negotiated by the highest ideals of one’s culture, family, and individual sense of right and wrong. This means that on the global level, no one tradition or viewpoint has a patent on the Truth. There is no basis for an imposed one world order, there is only the possibility of a human consensus, the collective capacity to act on behalf of the common good, the individual possibility of sacrifice of the perspective of one’s limited ego in favor of an expanded understanding. The meaning of dharma is that on earth, ultimate Truth is realizable not in the outer world according to an angry God’s commandments, but only within the self, through one’s own experience on the "battle ground" of life.

This conception of dharma is based on the impartial and inexorable law of karma: that one reaps what one sows, if not in this lifetime, then in the next. It is very simple: In hurting others, one is hurting oneself. There is no clear boundary between self and other, the individual and the collective-a lesson that one has unlimited lifetimes to realize by painful trial and error. This is why, according to the Hindu worldview, there is no such thing as eternal damnation nor original sin and I can just see Krishna howling in laughter at Bush’s notions of "Infinite Justice."

Reflecting on this, I entertain the idea that each one of us, whether as individuals or nations, will have plenty of lifetimes to realize the error of our ways. It would be complete delusion to think that America or any one individual, regardless of socio-economic status, is in a position to be spared the consequences of the choices they make. We can appropriate billions of dollars for high-tech military equipment, pillage the earth and ransom our children’s futures, we can build walls, boundaries, and fall-out shelters, but we will never find the security for which we have become so desperate.

In the Gita, the warrior Arjuna, filled with doubt and regret before the battle even begins, asks Krishna for guidance. He repeatedly asks which is the better path-action or renunciation, the path of the warrior or the path of the holy man-which is going to lead him not only to the greatest good for this world, but to his own realization of the Ultimate Truth. Krishna replies by teaching him about what both paths have in common: yoga, the means by which one conquers the self. Arjuna, a warrior, must fight, but he must do so without attachment to outcome. This is the essence of the engaged yogic path: to uphold dharma, righteousness, accepting that the outcome is not in our hands but ultimately lies beyond us.

The main message of the Bhagavad Gita is very difficult for me to accept, coming from a western, historical-based political activist perspective. Although I have practiced yoga as my spiritual path for over 30 years now, world events have shown me that I am only a beginner in understanding the spiritual depths of this tradition. Only when one is staring death in the face does one put one’s faith to the test, and the point of view of the Gita is neither easy to fully grasp or ignore.

Everyone asks me "What can we do?" The only answer that engages me at this point is influenced by my understanding of the Gita’s profound teaching. Like Arjuna, we have no choice but to act-within our own reasonably determined spheres of influence-while remaining firmly grounded in our highest principles. And this is most difficult-we must finally be prepared to surrender the results to The Ultimate.

 

Michael Rothenberg

CIVILIZATION OF TWO

Attack, terrorist attack, coffee spills on floor
Clothesline drips with soul of puppeteer
Bomb, fireball, ground zero, finger in body bag
Ten thousand fingers, invisible, lidless
Glass broke in sink, squash peels, skinless fruit
Separate the waste and contemplate the loss

In crisis I seek isolation, aloneness my just desert
I don't deserve prosperity while skull-faced
Children search for old fathers in torn rubble
Of chain saws, alcohol and war. Mothers
Raped in name of the holy mother. A shadow
Masturbates before a photograph of a Dutch goddess
Recites the Lord's prayer and god resolves to answer

Apocalypse, doomsday, end of time, "On The Beach"
Waves drum sand thunder undersea, cicada, cicada
Crow. Telephone rings, rings, rings, "Hello,
Sweetie, what are you doing?" Peeing off the deck
To save water. World coming to end. Long last
A moment's rest. Begin Here: Cornfields

We should have made the fences fall while we had
The chance, one thousand times. Rebuilt the temple
With milk and honey, apples, candles, fast, fast
I'm nobody I've ever known. The only one on the plane,
Philadelphia to Reading, 8pm. "Attack on
America" program replaced with "America At War".

September 19, 2001

 

Hanon Reznikoff

dear michael -

just after it happened, i wrote:

haiku for september 11

violence makes fear
revenge, a bad idea
anarchism, not


of course, there's a lot else to say...

just now, hearing relief workers report that as many as 7 million afghanis may die of starvation this winter, i only wish that some inspired soul with access to the leaders of the war on terrorism could convince them to use all those planes they've got ready to drop bombs on afghanistan to cover the country with sacks of grain - they can even put american flags on them if they want - what more concrete way to convince people that americans mean well? but do they?

yrs,
hanon

 

Jennifer Birkett

Vital Shock What has me most on edge lately is the specter of more or worse mass destruction maybe heading our way. Have read more news recently than I ever normally do. When 911 happened, friends called at 7am telling me to turn on TV and I sat terrified in my living room watching apocalypse unfold worse than any Hollywood conjured disaster. Mushroom cloud of smoke as World Trade Towers collapsing reminded me of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. World calamity. On Spanish speaking channels they showed people waving from windows of doomed building for help that couldn't possibly come – then bodies flying and flapping in wingless flight towards the ground. Viewing this, I felt the end of the world. Powerless. My mother called from Canada — we said how scared we were and how much we loved each other. Fear of obliteration is something we are all dealing with as possible life outcome/demise in 21st Century.

I have been feeling shock, numbness, and immense grief. Also fear when I listen to self-righteous voices of America’s war machine that wants to strike back. At whom? 18 guys in hijacked planes knock down America like a stack of cards. Lust for revenge. Knee jerk reaction. The people in Afghanistan need our humanitarian aid, not our bombs. Our kindness not our rage. Enemy is already deeply infiltrated, layered in, a very persistent weed. What are roots of this hatred in this jihad, holy war against America? What are roots of this inside myself — from not being open to suffering of the rest of our world. Drugged by consumption mentality. I see Bush on TV and can’t listen to him longer than two sentences. Scared little boy posturing and saber rattling – postures of aggression. Don't trust world's fate to him, but maybe that’s me too, the scared little girl. More fear. Then distancing.

Can maturing process emerge from this tragedy or will people be so anxious to normalize their lives that they fall back into dullness of habit? Scab already growing over wound yet I still feel haunted and hunted by an unseen enemy. Who are these mystical warriors? Where will they strike next? Bin Laden with his moon like face and long finger, not the bottom line culprit, only the fall guy. America is so quick to do "Most wanted, dead or alive." Texan style. Are America’s leader’s sophisticated enough to untangle miasma of planetary hatred and hysteria? I pray for peace, paralyzed in front of computer screen reading too many articles. Sick with terrorism. Imagination haunted by crop duster planes spraying anthrax, nuclear power plants sabotaged, water supplies poisoned, trucks with hazardous wastes turned into bombs, commercial airliners used as cruise missiles. What moves the minds that move the machines of war and hatred? Who is this enemy that can’t be profiled to nation-state?

Layer of anxiety morphs into excitement— set free from dullness of habit.

America's Charlie brown security blanket has been ripped away. But how long before people go unconscious again after vital shock? Suffering on this planet is unbearable. How many times a day do I turn away from bearing witness to this suffering? So many atrocities committed against world people by American regimes while we are seduced by consumption mentality and dull texture of our lives.

What has been important for me since 911 is to normalize my life, get more intimate with terrorist inside of my own self and how out of control I feel.

Suddenly I look up at the sky —white clouds against blue. Astonished by this raw beauty, almost too much to bear. Life and death is always happening. Today my friend Ron died at Coming Home hospice after long struggle with AIDS. There is a little makeshift altar beside my computer with his picture and a candle burning. Tears are flowing.

Reading stories from NYC where they find body pieces and in gutters the thousands of sparrows and finches overcome by billowing poison cloud from collapsing WTC buildings. I grieve for the birds and for the people who died and for those who lost their loved ones. I grieve for the terrorists so infatuated by their cause that they gave their lives. I grieve for their families.

What is terrorism? Who are these terrorists who spread infection of fear so that our lives become disrupted and we fall away from our joy and freedom? How can freedom dance with fear? How can we become intimate with global trauma? Want to know the terrorists. Armageddon is happening inside all of us. How can we talk with each other and be kind? Terrorism is a condition of hatred. How can we melt down hatred in each one of us? My most stark meditation right now is what would it be like inside the heart and mind of a jihad mystical warrior who so hates America that he/she is willing to die NOW for this cause. We have crossed a threshold as a nation and as people and our sense of security is gone. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Let us join with all others on this world who know this vulnerability as an ongoing condition of life.

 

Jack Collom

from PANDORIC BRAIN

…FINITY:

   Question is always the atmosphere of answer, under the sun.
   Desire flows; satisfaction stumps along.
   I want that orange. You want that orange. Other oranges are far
            away. Our heads bump. Pain. We smile & bow. A stone is
            in each throat.
Living on a ball means constant penetration by "the opposite"
            (diameter the point of an endless curve,
            axis, the only sharp thing around,
            acupunctures cold…
NATURE, HUMAN, TRUTH OF:
War is exciting, simple, righteous, rouses energies,
trims excess population if the plague is late,
comes from friction of the limits-of-goods twisting against emptiness.
"The fittest" is no more the graceful mole killing clearly,
      but a psychotic with his money-shit together.
War’s the swelling of singular "imperfections." Leaders are
essences of us. -
            "I’m going bowling!"
            "Would you mind taking out the garbage."
            "C’mon! I Itake out the garbage!"
            "I can’t do everything here-- "
            "You don’t have to do everything here--"
            "You don’t do everything! Look at this kitchen! Your own
                  little kingdom, which you run 5% of the time!"
            "You have a blind pig’s idea of what it takes to run this place!
                  & work, because you can’t support a family like a man!"
            "I could support three women who spend normally & don’t pour
                  the family jewels down a mousehole because they’re afraid
                  of getting fat!"
            "You/limp/worm!"
             Crash.
Animals make little wars (individuals, bands) - are those limited
   by anything but the end of their powers?
"Our heads bump. Pain. We smile & bow. A stone- "
         Where is the/ imperfect transfer there to chop. From pain
         to stone. Or from stone to dot-dot-dot.
Anger’s the pragmatic fear….
         Violence the concrete anger.
Which is vulnerable to change, the urge to the pragmatic or the
         urge to the concrete?
The urge to the pragmatic
                                             is less concrete
                                                                       and can be changed…

 

David Meltzer

20:x:01

beans & lentils in tomato sauce
peanut butter
strawberry jam
fruit bar
beans & tomato vinaigrette
biscuit, shortbread, & fruit pastry
utensil package of salt, pepper,
napkin, & a match

airline food for landmined mouths

===

26:ix:01

what's not there
was never there
yet is always there

sayonara
bad architecture
evil enterprise
innocents remain
complicit irregardless

===

9:x:01

goldfoiled peanutbutter sandwiches
dropped onto mined dead Afghan soil
kids racing to the lights

 

John Brandi

late night 28 sept

It comes to me now, in half sleep, in the moments before I disappear into the dream shadow, that if we have ever wanted to see into the future, we just have. We have lived (or died) through it. And for those of us who have had the chance to have nothing to do with the world, we're going to revere those times—those states of trance, meditation, the wild walks, private lifestyles, self-made landscapes, little rooms to write poetry in. They may well be much harder to come by now.

For in this future that has presented itself, like myth inventing reality's end, all ways and life kinds are threatened—however small, however tall and apparent. Every niche and cranny, every ovary, each altar enclosed by stained glass is vulnerable (I think of the French lovingly removing the windows of Chartres during war's threat).

Anyone who's listened to Leonard Cohen's THE FUTURE knows that poets speak the prophecy that they witness in the Crystal of the Everyday (the everyday that others choose to deem "the future"). And because poets report—ahead of time—what the headlines barely capture after the fact (and mostly wrongly, because they are interested in sales, not intelligent perspective), they are often the first targets of the hierarchy (I think of Victor Jara).

As a reminder of the terrible future we have just walked through, burned in, flung ourselves from, or survived with missing skin and damaged hearts, as a reminder of the anguish and terror and unabashed destruction humans are capable of, I think the splayed remnants, the abstract scream of the Trade Towers' steel wings —all that is left standing among the smoke and debris— should remain standing. A park should be planted under and around it. This is OUR GROUND ZERO, not of the same magnitude as Hiroshima's, but brutally sad and horrible in a remotely parallel way.

America—who wants so badly to flex its muscles, to rebuild, clean the slate, replay the market, reclaim its (flimsy) lead, and take control of our lives, our world—should be left with the presence of the ruins. Should be reminded through them, of our own folly, our negligence, hubris, pomp, and over-inflated sense of self. America should continue to realize, however painful such realization may be, that, this time, "they"—the others, the tyrants, the hidden ones, the uncontrollables, the shadowed—"won". Claimed lives. Destroyed the material heart of a nation. Got into her pants. Ripped her gut. Raped her liberty. With the worst of fire.

Amid that reminder, we need the green grass—the spread of walkable lawn, the new growth—amid the ruins of the once gleaming towers, those magnificent twins of radiant light who cast their shadows over the homeless and the left outs; those symbols of materialism, wealth, and ingenuity. We need to look down, not up. We need to be humbled by the little flowers. We need to look across, from park benches, at each other. We need to learn the hellos the good mornings the how are yous in as many languages as possible, and begin—between yesterday and tomorrow—not with steel beams, but with the new prosperity of humility.

 

Steve Ben Israel

Between dark and dawn

New York City

Dressed in black

Like in mourning

Noon and night

Holding their cell phone

Can’t be alone

Either can I

I never am

 

Ira Cohen


HOLY SMOKE

Taking Tuesday back
or removing the black figure
from the constellation of Karma
would only condemn us to experience
again and again the time loop of history
as in the relentless barrage of TV sets
in a world without an audience
"There is something in the air," you said
dreaming of a plane crashing into
the twin towers of Nostradamus
nor was there any security when you took
your flight back across the Atlantic
a week later
"A shudder in the loins engenders there
the broken wall, the burning roof and tower
and Agamemnon dead…"
Walking up the stairs the fire fighters
could not put out the fire from the heavens
Black smoke encircled the crowns &
the heat passed even Dante’s depiction
of the Inferno’s daily routine
What is the way to true Reconciliation?
What is it that we must reconcile
to break the chain of our own making?
How to lure the Lightbringer back to
                                            Paradise?
Don’t expect answers from the man with
                                            the bullhorn,
ask the Shambala Masters or David
Carradine, the Kung-Fu champion –
Remember Bamiyan & the blown up head
                                                       of Buddha!
It will take detachment to detach.
Attachment will only take us straight
                                           into the trap,
there where all the bullion lies buried
below the 6,000 dead
P. S. The money goes through Switzerland

Sept. 17, 2001

 

Ammiel Alcalay

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

In the classic 1950s science fiction film, aliens in the form of large plant pods become the doubles of people and take over their lives, draining their souls of any real human emotion. Dr. Miles Bennell, the hero of the film, is called in to check on several cases and begins to see the pattern: "I’ve seen how people have allowed their common humanity to drain away. Only it happened slowly instead of all at once." Along with his ex-sweetheart, Becky Driscoll, Dr. Bennell finds himself persecuted by former friends who have been taken over; as he says, "It’s a malignant disease spreading through the whole country." At the end of the film, Dr. Bennell loses Becky to the aliens, but the police finally believe his story and call in to the FBI for help.

When the coalition force driven by the United States began bombing Baghdad in the Gulf War just over 10 years ago, I was reading the poetry of the great Iraqi poet Saadi Yusef at a protest gathering. Several years later I heard through common friends how much he had appreciated the gesture. The United States was acutely aware of the need to fight that war quickly, knowing the American public’s tolerance level for foreign adventure in the post-Vietnam era. The common cliche has always been that, after Vietnam, Americans would not bear too many casualties. While there is some truth to this, it is also partially a myth concocted to minimize the enormous power of the anti-war movement and the dismal fate of so many veterans, left to become victims of suicide, addiction and homelessness in a country that no longer had any use for them. But even more importantly, the Gulf War had to be fought quickly and sensationally before too many people got wind of precisely what kind of regime "we" were defending. In other words, the more Americans got to know about Kuwait, the less they would want to die for it. This is why almost all post-Vietnam American adventurism abroad has been fought through covert means or puppet governments.

But all that changed with the attack of September 11th, and this story doesn’t look like it will have a happy ending. There is a face to evil now, like the face of Sadaam before, now the face of Osama bin Laden is ubiquitous. Elusive as he might be, there is a target.

The attack has managed to unite a country that only a minute before the attack was bitterly divided over many issues, not least the means by which Bush Junior, our now fearless leader, managed to win an election that he had apparently lost. As flags are unfurled, it is almost impossible to hear voices of dissent. In the media, we move from outright rage, racism, ignorance and calls for disproportionate vengeance, to the "nuanced" analysis of philosophic justifiers of war. Michael Walzer, prominent among these ranks, and professor of sociology at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, wrote in Saturday’s New York Times: "There are two conditions that must be met before we can fight justly. We have to find legitimate targets — people actually engaged in organizing, supporting or carrying out terrorist activities. And we must hit those targets without killing large numbers of innocent people." Large numbers? Who determines what a "large number" is? I seem to remember a guy named Abraham hearing voices on precisely this issue in a place called Sodom.

And we, who exactly are "we?" I checked on this when I went to teach the other day. First I encountered the African-American maintenance man in our building. I saw he was reading the paper so we began talking about the situation. The politics of it were quite clear to him: something needed to be done, but simply striking out would just line the pockets of the rich and topple half a dozen countries within a week; and besides, he said, isn’t it about time America stopped telling the rest of the world to screw itself? His wife is in the reserves and had just been called up to duty, so he was naturally very worried. When I went to class I asked my students if they had any family being called up. The only student in the class who had family called up (one to the Marines, one to the Army and another to the Navy), was a Latino. So who the hell are "we," sitting in Princeton, and getting ready to "fight justly?" This, too, has been one of the functions of the need for politicians and pundits to get over the "Vietnam syndrome," as a way of forgetting race and class, of forgetting the disproportionate number of poor, black and latino soldiers who fought and died in Southeast Asia. There is both irony and sadness in seeing Muhammad Ali proclaiming the attacks on New York and Washington to be against the teachings of Islam , for it was he who said "No Vietnamese ever called me nigger," when he went off to prison as a conscientious objector instead of going to fight in Vietnam.

And what about the money? What if this turns out to be just another opium war, with the son having to wipe out all traces of people who know too much about the father and his gangster pals? It is fairly common knowledge (except in the US media), that the bin Laden organization is the legacy of an effort by the United States (with the willing and unwilling collaboration of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and others, supported by drug money generated by the Golden Crescent trade), to topple the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union through the war in Afghanistan. A large part of the ideological facet of this war involved the creation of a finely honed double-edged sword: Islam had to become the only alternative for resistance to the Evil Empire, but it could also — at the drop of a pin — become evil itself, in the form of resistance to the "West." Bosnia played a key role in this transition, but this war was fought on many fronts, from Camp David to Chechnya.

But I am digressing, I meant to say something about money. In the New York Times of September 20, a story called "The Paper Trail: Roadblocks Cited in Efforts to Trace bin Laden Money," we learn that not all means at the government’s disposal were used to uncover the organization’s means of support. In fact, the Clinton administration had introduced a bill that would grant broad power to bar foreign countries and banks from access to the American financial market unless they co-operated with money-laundering investigations. The bill was blocked by Republican Senator Phil Gramm from Texas, the state President George W. Bush served as Governor of, with strong support from the banking industry. "I was right then and I am right now," senator Gramm said. He called the bill "totalitarian" and added, "The way to deal with terrorists is to hunt them down and kill them."

So, has our common sense drained away slowly or all at once? My wife woke up from a nightmare in which she was in Pakistan, and strange bombs that looked like the ash and paper from the toppled towers were raining down on everyone. I get startled when I hear loud voices outside because I think people might be coming after our Arab neighbors, scared to leave their shop around the corner. During the war against Bosnia I always told people that I was involved because of us, here, and not because I was trying to do anyone a favor. I wasn’t kidding, but who remembers Bosnia anymore.

 

Daniel Moore

 A LITTLE RAMSHACKLE SHACK

1

A little ramshackle shack on a hill
blown apart by the wind
door roof and walls lofted aloft and sent flying
no weightier than paper upon which is casually written
a name
twists in the air almost signals goodbye then
suddenly is gone only
bare hillside left behind
a goat now stands upon
two goats a small herd after the wind's died down
straggle along distractedly
chewing

Madame X is led out to the guillotine where a
head once encircled by ermine on a tall neck once
encircled by strings of pearls and glittering diamonds
rolls like a dark pearl into a basket its
eyes rolled heavenward its body relaxed
backward like a flung necklace onto a
marble tabletop in an
empty room after the
ball is over

2

Imagine the precise and daunting gears and
levers of the decree that led to all those innocent
people meeting death at the World Trade Center in
New York September 11, 2001
all the little accumulating gestures and maneuvers that
put them at their desks on schedule in time to die
the horrific fireball of the angel of death who may have
appeared to them all at the last as
cool refreshing waterfalls of light or open
delightful corridors leading to emerald green
gardens so bright with joy they forgot completely
how they got there

we all wonder how we'll die
hoping for a soft bed in a warmly lit room surrounded by
loved ones after a short and not too uncomfortable
illness a kind of light cough or a
stitch in the side and that's all
never imagining falling to the ground from 110 stories in the air
or twisted in molten steel like a tyrant's cage
in suffocating smoke

unthinkable

the high school diplomas the happy
vacation moments in Cancun across a turquoise pool
the epiphanies while reading Moby Dick
the birthday banquets with long-lost relatives
the recent wedding or long-awaited love letter received

it's a lone figure in a woolen hat on a sheer white hillside
whose coat trails the ground and whose
footprints evaporate once the meeting's taken place
it's unfathomable and beyond any human
words devised to describe it
and for all those souls lost in the New York disaster
whose accidental but destined martyrdom is absolutely assured
(except ironically to the fanatically deluded
hell-bound perpetrators of the unthinkable
disaster itself)

there are coats of eiderdown so soft and pearls so ethereally gorgeous
so filled with subatomic music that pours out of
every gap in their weave to envelop the air in
ecstatic choir
and the divine shadow of Truth moves aside to let pour
a radiance so pure every moment set in motion in time
one step after another year after year that led to their
being there in the right place at the
supreme right time
suddenly becomes a series of perfect stepping stones like floating
lilypads over deep black water to a Paradise even our
most ornate imaginations cannot adequately imagine

3

People are very involved with having
faces and eyes and thoughts of their own and
smells in the odorous parts of their
bodies where the human anatomy dictates
they move with a certain self-consciousness which is sometimes
nonchalant and at other times unnatural
they can feel their spines hunched or vertically straight
and how their rib-cages make room for their
breathing
people are curious capsules of atmospheres and internal weathers
and at complete ease are either blessed with expansive
horizons or cursed with tics and foibles that
intensely constrain them
a consciousness that may include the Serengeti for example with
all its wild flora and fauna or the
bleached out and tattered prospect of simply
four walls a ceiling and a floor
young ones often betray a jumpy and eager quality
old ones a sleepy and generally exhausted quality though they
may achieve beneficence from time to time as their
bones creak and their nerves ache

but each one is categorically a cosmos and has vivid
cosmological thinking and a deep appreciation of its consequences
and each one experiences the end of the
world when death appears like a
yawning sea to drown them in its
perpetuity

drawing back within it the
essence of their beauty

4

This is the music space
where music is most difficult

this place of joy and horror
sound of fuselage entering steel as if
slicing through butter

this is the silence out of which
all the thrilling chords emerge

this is the space of the silence of souls
at their moment of release

this is the air over a dewy wheatfield
crackling like cellophane in the morning light

this is the music space
voices in a room of those
visible and those who are invisible

I think the music of the spheres
can be heard in this space

it's the sound of life
which takes place without echo
or is nothing but echo

and the original sound is the
sound of God alone audible to Himself
and we are the humming elements of that sound

this is the music space
we hear it this very moment

it's the sound of hooves
and nothing at all like the sound of hooves

it's the endlessly heaving ocean-sound
which turns out to be our blood beating
and the deep tidal push of our own heartbeats

each whisper of love and fear and grief
rises in this music space

and one single note is enough to fill it

and silence itself is part of it

and the silence or the sound that follows it
is also part of it

9/15-16

What does this mean the Language of War and Peace?

The language of war was the terrorist's unthinkable act, the language of peace is our hearts coming to terms with this event, privately and socially. The language of peace is the consolation of spiritual light, it is even Blake's "Tyger Tyger burning bright," which I read in the midst of my feelings about this, and found immensely moving. The shock as an American Muslim was that suddenly the entire Way of Islam is in the spotlight, and on the defensive. The language of war is blind hatred, unthinking reaction, overzealous response and ignorant bigotry. The language of peace is the religion of Islam (among others) to which these terrorists DO NOT belong, since it is the Way of peace and ultimate enlightenment, patience under duress rather than suicide bombing, not a haven for fanatics. For me the ultimate language of war and peace is found in the Qur'an, but I have found poems by Norman Dubie, recently discovered by me, strangely accurate, and the lyrics of Dylan's new CD strangely apt, and poetry's prescient role when it's being eternal naturally healing, as it should be, in the hands of poets with their hearts on the universals even when quirkily expressed.

The eloquence of heroism has outstripped words for the moment, the stark skeleton of the towers has encapsulated the metaphoric realm and the language of symbolism more than poetic tropes, and the suddenly disappeared-off-the-face-of -the -earth human souls lost in the disaster have joined voices in a celestial choir beyond anything of Bach or Mozart, and anything that words can express. But we must, the living, continue as long as hearts beat, to try to express it.

 

Gabor Gyukics

Checking out of Life

A hand releases a bunch of hair of a young woman
from a half open window
while she is reading a book on enlightenment
and emptying her bowels in the bathroom
of an Upper West Side condo on the 8th floor
full with photographs
by unknown strangers who disappeared the same way
they came to view as the disciples of soil and water
and learned that dreamlessness equals insanity.
The woman leaves her bathroom
cleaned off of all burdens.
Cover every mirror when they die.

 

Zoketsu Norman Fischer

excerpts from In Times of Trouble
How can we respond to these attacks of terror?

Given at Everyday Zen All Day Sitting, September 16, 2001

As everyone who knows me knows, I am a big fan of zazen practice. I have always found it interesting and challenging, if difficult sometimes. There are times when everyday life seems trivial and burdensome, when one wants to let it go for a while to seek some more profound peaceful or colorful sense of life on the cushion—to seek reality, enlightenment, samadhi, a glimpse into life's deepest mysteries. But there are other times when life becomes so stark, so absolutely real in and of itself, that there is no thought of meditation practice—just bearing witness to what is is enough, and more than enough.

…In the Surangama sutra we hear of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva who through the power of her practice of listening, and turning the mind around through that accurate, powerful, listening, is able to deeply hear the cries of the world. She hears these cries with a still and perfect serenity, and she understands that they are all manifestations of the perfect light of enlightenment. Because of this she remains peaceful, and is able to offer exactly the right kind of help to beings, each one a different help, according to the situation. I suppose we all are and aspire to be Kuan Yin. But also we aren't Kuan Yin. We are human beings and so when we confront the stark realities of the delusion of human violence we cringe. We aren't serene. We get jittery and angry. We feel grief and anguish, terror and disorientation. I don't think we want not to feel these things. If we are human we do feel them and we want to feel them. Maybe we have to be both. Both Kuan Yin, who accepts what is with perfect and effective equanimity, and also poor human beings, who find what happens sometimes unbearable and unacceptable. And yet we have to bear it and accept it because there isn't any alternative.

..The day before the terrible bombing I was at Spirit Rock, helping to facilitate a meeting the community leaders there were having about racism and diversity in the sangha. In the meeting we heard many expressions by people of color, about their frustration and their suffering—suffering that often is hidden to people of the dominant culture, who have no idea what their brothers and sisters go through in the course of any ordinary day in America. One African American woman said to the group, "racism isn't just eye holes cut into white sheets. In its most insidious form it is simply privilege itself. When you live in a world structured so that some races dominate over others, some races enjoy peace and prosperity while others suffer terribly, then your simply enjoying your privilege unthinkingly is itself a form of racism." And this is what is so upsetting to me about the remarks I have been hearing our government officials make. I do not doubt that something needs to be done in response to these events—what needs to be done I do not know. As a religious person it is not my job to figure this out. I do not know what I would do if I had the responsibility. But if whatever action is taken comes out of a wrong understanding of the situation, out of a blindness to the social and spiritual forces that have given rise to it, then I think that action will be twisted and ineffective. I have seen this so many times in my lifetime: violence inspiring violence that gives rise to more violence. Wars that end temporarily, only to produce new wars.

...There are some people who wonder how there could be such evil in this world. How human beings could generation after generation perpetrate such acts. But I do not wonder about that. To me it seems so very much ingrained in who and what we are. To speak in theological terms, it's not that evil is out of God's control and that we, on God's side, have to overcome it. Good and evil exist on the same plane, and operate by the same calculus. Evil is good covered over. Wherever we ourselves, in our confusion and in our unwillingness to look at life as it actually is, with all its pain and difficulty, commit acts of evil, we add to the covering. And whenever we have the courage and the calmness to be with life as it is, and therefore, inevitably, to do good, then we remove the cover. We transform evil into good. This is the human capacity. Evil is not a part of reality that can be excised, cast out and overcome. Evil is a constant part of our world because there is only one world, there is only one life, and all of us share in it.

In the beginning I said that sometimes the starkness of reality makes meditation practice seem irrelevant. But I did not mean meditation practice itself. I mean the preciousness of it, all the interesting refinements and developments of the practice that can get so artistic sometimes, like a fine miniature painting. It's all of that that reality often blows out of the water, especially during weeks like this one. But meditation practice itself—the simple practice of being quiet, and, if possible, being quiet together, in community, for our mutual support; the practice of listening to ourselves, to the cries of the world, listening deeply with an accurate ear, allowing, opening to what we hear—that practice is more relevant in times like these than ever. There are, in a crisis, a million ways to help and we all should help in whatever way we can. I can give this talk today. This is my way. And there are others ways too that I can help. But beyond help, and in addition to it, we need to bear witness to what has happened. To take it in, imagine it, feel it, grieve over it, accept it, not accept it, understand it, fail to understand it, and comfort each other in that. To do that we need to sit, we need the expansiveness of our sitting, as well as of our chanting and our prayers. It seems absolutely essential."

 

Sarah Menefee

September 13-17, 2001

for Larry Kearney and Cinnamon Stillwell

 

I lost my daughter

 

been said before

 

one is left in a rubbled place

 

with a sign: already done

 

on this

 

very corner

 

what dusty street in what

 

poor land?

 

ask in a rare silence

 

as my friend does:

 

what of a burned

 

child?

 

what worth

 

the pearl

 

of innocence?

 

what god

 

of bloody gouts

 

asks for the burning

 

of the child?

 

has already

 

and sleeps on the parched

 

ground

 

in a long-blasted place

 

a boy of eight

 

dead of pneumonia

 

naked body lowered

 

into a hole dug

 

in the rocky ground

 

into the poor dry

 

dying mother

 

oh mountains!

 

what poor

 

place?

 

where is a book

 

with sayings

 

such as in the land

 

of the blind?

 

asked a lovely young

 

arabic-looking

 

man

 

inside whispered:

listen

 

my younger

 

sister

 

went home

 

in tears

 

Mike Topp

DEATH TRIP

When I am alone, I see pigs covered with mud and a car full of devils. The guns in the closet are the first guns to come out. They are not enemies but partners. I hope it rains tomorrow. Then all doubts and suspicions will disappear.

 

Steven Allen May

language war: peace, languid. Stewing in the foul stench of hatred and revenge all words become potent agents, squeeze the flower to make the poison. Read this passage (it's lined with the martyrs blood of generations)Take back - take/ do not give. Do not notice the blue skies at midday. Nor the warmth of the sun. No, instead READ THIS PASSAGE {to hell if you like}

peace:war - these words matched throughout history from cave drawings to collapsing cityscapes|YOU can not appreciate the....blah blah blah. Slogans blast through grey matter brains without rebuke. Needs to be rebuked. Needs to be challenged. Needs not to be, but that would require other strengths besides bottom line dollar signs.

language war battling language peace for the right to be the last one dying. Good plan, I vote to de)volve to ape cousin in lush gardens. Plenty of fruit. Leaves. Heaven. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

 

Anne Waldman

CAUTIONARY THOUGHTS MANIFESTO

Re: The American War on Terrorism (second take)

dedicated to innocent victims everywhere & the
memory of their life & unwarranted deaths

"Sunday night, and on Wall Street a foul wind
blows newspapers along the empty sidewalk. Wall St. with stars
eerie and empty. The bank windows dark
though not all. A few rows lit up
in the black monstrosities. They can be identified:
the foreign departments of the big banks.
The iron doors barred and padlocked.
But by back doors some people have entered
the foreign departments. The lights -- secret meetings,
decisions we're unaware of (and their cigar smoke
rising like shares) but they affect us all.
Devaluation sparks off a riot in Malaysia, buses burned
and blood flows in the streets like water from a hydrant.
At the hour that the stars shine over Wall Street
and the hour the banks open in London.
-Ernesto Cardenal
from COSMIC CANTICLE
(1970s)
"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."
(WH Auden, "September 1, 1939", received compliments of Alice Notley)

Umberto Eco, semiologist-philosopher, reminds us of the three ways cultures clash: the members of Culture A cannot recognize the members of Culture B as human beings (and vice versa), seeing them as "barbarians" to civilize or destroy, which is the Conquest Model. In the Cultural Pillage Model, Culture A must steal from B and colonize or subjugate politically or militarily and in that way undermine and usurp the invaded culture. The Exchange Model is a two-way process of reciprocal support, often "influence" in the best sense and respect.

*Always invoke Model Three!

It is a fact, woefully, that Western culture (European civilization) has been most engaged with the first model - and, as just one example, subjugated African and Ameridian cultures with unmerciful acts of cruelty. And that now, more particularly America - the richest and most powerful country in the world - the "cop of the world" - acts and has acted with unmitigated and brutal economic self-interest in many parts of the globe. Because of media control (particularly since the American War in Vietnam) Americans do not fully comprehend the damage we have inflicted on Iraq. And now do not understand the "karma" of that conflict which galvanized so much hatred of the US. Or how the indignities that the Palestinians have suffered in Israel/Palestine have led to such loathing and call for
"jihad". I was in Germany during the Gulf War and was shocked by the contrast in media coverage between the States and abroad. I only heard Ramsay Clark speak live of the devastation of Basra (bodies in the streets, no water to drink) via transmitted reports from Cuban radio.

* Demand comprehensive, intelligent, reliable and mature media coverage from television (where is where most of America & a lot of the world is getting its news). Support the alternative media! Does it only take a tragedy to subsist from constant pushing of the Market? It seems shameful that only a week after the terrorist attacks in the US we were back to business as usual, slick advertising pushing the American Economic Way, theme music for the American War, sentimental ads to push cell phone biz to communicate with loved ones. And endless repetition/assault of images that invoke patriotism and revenge.

After Operation Desert Storm a UN mission to Iraq reported that the Gulf conflict "wrought near-apocalyptic results" by destroying "most means of modern life support", relegating Iraq to a "pre-industrial age". Again, is it any wonder that citizens of that country, as much as they might be under the iron rule of Saddam Hussein abhor America and everything it stands for? As we know, as has been proven, they are not alone in this.

Or the instability we brought to South & Central America, Indonesia, the Caribbean historically in support of corrupt governments that were in our interest to support. In a recent conversation with Ernesto Cardenal - Nicaraguan Catholic Priest, poet, and former Minister of Culture under the Sandinistas - the suggestion was that karmically the US helped create Osama Bin Laden (& others like him), through a variety of actions, but most particularly the US covert (CIA) support against Russia in Afghanistan on which side Bin Laden fought. Bin Laden also later saw arrogant US presence in Saudi Arabia which he resented. His call for jihad, his heinous words against America and Jews are the product of a sick and twisted yet ideological-based seemingly "righteous" mentality. Ernesto also noted that Bin Laden helped support the Contra movement against the Sandinistas who had overthrown the brutal dictatorship of Somosa who was supported by the US! (This is documented in an Oliver North biography, although Bin Laden has said he didn't know what he was funding). Poet Andrew Schelling's response to this information: "after all the Soviets were supporting the Sandinistas. The enemy of your enemy's friend is of course; your friend. Bin Laden's just a Machivellian militarist/politician with vast sums of money, & a crazy agenda, who loves god but hates humans."

* Invoke Investigative and documentary Poetics! Know the score! Know the history!

The TV pundits and media cannot keep mindlessly repeating the simplistic notion that these recent horrific disasters are merely an attack on America's "freedom" in light of such demented, albeit complex history and the grinding truth of cause and effect. It is insulting to our dignity as free-thinking individuals. Bin Laden - if he is the mastermind - is another hardened player in the big "game". He can play both sides in his agenda. Glamorizing him as a "holy warrior" would be idiotic as well. His agenda, presumably, is to rid the Middle East of US presence. Any ends -to that goal -justify the means.

* Study the nature of power-politics!

In Buddhist psychology one of the Six Realms of Existence includes the Warring God Realm which is a super-intelligent paranoid realm of energetic activity in which enemies have to be created and maintained in order for the neurotic mind to function and thrive. It operates on the notion of revenge. This states manifests in an endless cycle of balance and checks around power and perpetuates suffering, and yet its strategies, to some, are fascinating, compelling even, and may suck one in.

*Check out the Warring God realm of every day existence! US Military budget could go as high as $400 billion this year and higher in the future. You know where your dollars are? Are we insane?

Meanwhile, an innocent victim of The Warring God Realm could be any one of us. We can empathize now with innocents who have died & suffered while the Masters of War carry out their agendas. Writing this text from Europe, one hears countless stories of the suffering of innocent victims during times of war still within memory. Czech friend writer/translator/scholar lost an aunt to US bombing during WW II, the US never apologized. Of course Hitler had to be stopped. The US was late in that conflict. We know governments do not always serve the best interests of their citizens.

The situation in Afghanistan is extremely complex. The Taliban in power represent only a minority of the Pashto-speaking Afghanis who border Pakistan. The nation has been described as a "pre-modern warlord state". The Pashto speakers are mostly Sunni Muslims, the Persian (Farsi) speakers are those who look to Iran. the underclass Shiite Heraras speak an archaic Persian and resemble in physiognomy Tibetans or Nepalis. Residents of Bamian were evidently enraged when the Taliban destroyed the magnificent large twin statues of Buddha there ("bowed to dust"...) How irresponsible for the US to portray Afghanistan as a united front to the American public, dehumanizing the situation. William Blake implores us to "observe the minute particulars" and to "look to the little ones". "God is in the details" - A. Warburg.

* Discriminating Wisdom ("prajna") Now! Poetics adages are useful here: "No ideas but in things" (Williams), "Go in fear of abstractions" (Ezra Pound) Poets & artists: make your own lists of sane trustworthy language measures....

Aren't there sane models for mutual co-existence on this precious planet? Aren't there any wise leaders (with clout) who may be allowed to speak sagely & effectively at this crucial time? And speak with historical/cultural/philosophical/religious perspective? Why don't governments have such counsel in place? The US presidential cabinets are made up primarily of partisan lackeys, often not even trained in their supposed arenas of expertise. And they, too, can be bought. Are the Muslim Clerics the only "body of elders" to weigh in on this? Isn't there a way of invoking and developing (through UN auspices) a body of mediating enlightened human beings from all nations and cultures and communities that aren't simply representing and reflecting their own government's national interests? Who holds the whole of existence sacred? Cannot we have, also, a body of folk going in just to help (as witnessed powerfully in the aftermath of the attack in NY)? Not aid groups or religious groups with ideologies or strings attached, but...

*Form cadres of "boddhisattvas" for mediation, for true compassionate (not self-serving) action! And bands of articulate poet-warriors!

The US's questionable legitimate presidential leadership, its government's very recent rejection of the Kyoto accords, its boycott of the UN conference on racism (related to the situation in Israel/Palestine), its undoing of sane and sensible legislation that protects its own citizens (standards for arsenic levels in water etc) has been most troubling, depressing. Does not the current scenario, at the brink of a consuming possible war in the Middle East - simply benefit this country's hegemonic interest, economy? Will it root out terrorism or create more terrorism? Does the US not showcase its most advanced weaponry once again which will lead to support of Star Wars and other scary outer space death machines? Is it not true that the US wants an oil pipeline through Afghanistan? And won't we be paying a heavy price for an "us versus them" mentality, for invoking a sense of righteous "crusade" and revenge? Where are the women critique-ing the use of patriarchal language now when we need them? Where are the responses of women leaders in general as we see unfolding before us another Macho drama. What are the 3 wives of Osama Bin Laden thinking? Is Condoleeza Rice our only audible voice? Where is Hillary Clinton in articulation of the suffering of the Palestinian people now, at the eleventh hour? Should we now examine our language with perspicuity at this time? Should we not explore other less devastating method for uprooting terrorism and its causes before we inflict more suffering on already desperate and suffering peoples?

* Stay vigilant. Be a guardian of "right speech"!

Consider the deals that are being made to insure support of US policy planet-wide! Will Russia now even have more permission to persecute its "terrorists" in Chechnya, will China in Tibet and Taiwan etc etc...

As patriotic US citizen who has always strived to "save America from herself" and one (with many) who mourns her country's loss, & who feels tremendous assault on her home city, and as writer defending creative expression and the right to dissent and as denizen of the world who aspires to know the world (& the cosmos) -understand it, witness it in all its richness & complexity, - I take a vow for an aspiration of "vipashyana" or clear-seeing (insight). The world does not need more war. Pursue the path of least suffering...

Umberto Eco also invokes the Tower of Babel collapsing as a result of man's hubris in a salient essay that examines the search for the original language of the first man. The plurality of tongues should hardly be seen as a tragic consequence and yet there is something to be said for an image of restoration and communication. Is it really too late?

By this merit may all obtain omniscience. May it defeat the enemy wrong-doing...

Sarva mangalam.

 

Mary Sands

For James Edward

I remember times when you were age two and we went to Squirrel Park, a tiny fenced playground near Chicago, surrounded by liquor stores and run-down brick pizza parlors and apartments. But inside the park, a magical world of your soft, curly hair and large blue-green eyes chasing leaves evolved with dripping ice cream and pebbles. I remember the energy you had. My energy too! (Being a young mother and all.) I used to worry that you would get hurt, because you ran too much, fell down too much, were always scraping your knees. But I let you run free, knowing that you would learn to get back up if you fell.

What has happened in the past generation has been a mutation. A wonderful one. I don't know how you got past your silly childhood years, when we'd drive from Chicago to central Indiana, and I'd finally have to tell you to be quiet with your goofing off in the back seat, because frankly, the swirling snow was frightening to drive in, and I always had trouble seeing at dusk. Then I'd feel badly if you became quiet. Soon, we'd crank the Smiths on the radio and sing loudly, "Heaven knows I'm miserable now...." I knew we'd be okay, despite the increasing snow.

That time you went to Tennessee, just with my father and brother, and helped my aunt and uncle build a deck extending from their house, overlooking their own lake, made me think that you had never lost such boundless energy, and I knew you'd someday become a solid man who is not afraid to work, but also who is not afraid to keep jewels in your dreams. Around that same time, you were so into Nirvana and affected by Kurt Cobain's suicide. You began to ask about suicide and what it would be like to take acid. As always, I practiced my soft advice, not wanting to push you away. I knew you would experiment around, and oh did you ever. Playing guitar in a punk band for years during high school just drew you closer to the world of living on the edge. Somehow, it never got the better of you, and deep down I knew it wouldn't.

When you decided to join the army after high school, I saw your hair go from a purple mohawk to shaved brown. Your change surprised me, and I thought "No way will you ever get through basic training; you just spend the last few years of your life mocking authority!" (I knew it would be okay, in the end; I really did.) Here it is, early October. We talk, 2,000 miles apart on the phone, and you are busy in college and working--also getting ready to go to war, if called. Your division, the chemical unit, may be in great demand. It's strange how you want to go fight. I say, "Watch that adrenaline; keep your head about the who the enemy really is." (The enemy is within us.) I know, I know. A mother's worry. Hold him back. Remember when you showed me how you could play Pink Floyd songs on your guitar? Us and them; remember that.

For the first time in our lives, I have wanted to not let you go onward in whatever path you have found. Too many risks this time. For the first time in 21 years, I wonder if it will be okay, really. I long for a sunny time when we frolicked at Squirrel Park. I still hear myself being the gentle guardian: "Not so fast, Jimmy, slow down. Hey, Nirvana was great, but Cobain had major problems, and suicide isn't admirable. Yes, I've done acid too, but wait until you're older if you must try it. I wouldn't recommend it to you. Holy, Jimmy, look at that violet hair. Love it! Well, yes, son, I love you and miss you like mad. If you go to the Mideast, watch out for camel spiders when you sleep, alright? Promise me that? Call me soon."

Love,
Mom

 

Hammond Guthrie

Strands of Red Hair

Oh I have lived within a red hair of terrorist death --

The day before Carlos the Jackal
   threw his hand grenade into Le Drugstore in Paris
       I was standing in the doorway

Three hours before an IRA bomb
   destroyed a London tube station
       I was standing six feet from ground zero

One hour before a San Francisco manic
   killed a corner grocery patron with a rusty hacksaw blade
       I had purchased an orange at the store

Red hairs come in the most natural and un-natural flavors

While crossing the Atlantic on a prop-jet in late 1950's air
   I encountered Hurricane Donna's turbulent rage,
       and outside my window seat an engine caught flame

Or at the age of 5 while observing the silver threads
   of Nevada's atomic atmosphere --
       from my front porch in California

Red hairs at hand sleeping in the body of mankind
   undetected virus as simple as pneumonia
       awaiting a temperate clime

OH CRIES THIS TIME OUT LOUD!

Antiquitous anthrax
   fifth and sixth plagues of Exodus
       "Black Bane" chthonian-spore

Koch's postulate
       the first bacterial sleaze
           to be immunized against

Yet within this melting democratic pot
   there roils a chimeric melange
          awaiting the vengeant tide of mankind's folly

A fossil's creed
   the black diaspora¹s post cellular migration
       to a homeland where essentially nothing thrives

"Ring around the rosies
   a pocket full of posies
       a tishoo, a tishoo
           we all fall down"

Infectious buboes disfig

 

uration horror


   hacking, bloodstained coughs
       and charnel pits quickened with lime
house a dismissed plague¹s delusion past

Alone together along the horizon waits
   a momentense down beat from time's
       unfathomable reverberating now --
alone together along this horizon awaits

Those who remain standing
   here and everywhere
       longing for the smell of London's Tube
           the Metro's electric tang,
              or the stank of an Amsterdam canal

Standing here in America
   come out come out wherever you are
       oh where is the common woman-man
           longing -- oh dearly longing
for a day of infinite charm

Alone alost along the riverrun of
   or "over the hills and through the dales" of
       as does this momentense in time
so sorely upon my shore

 

 

peace.jpg (22673 bytes)

Art courtesy of Nancy Victoria Davis

 

Michael Rothenberg
walterblue@bigbridge.org

Big Bridge
http://www.bigbridge.org