- shock and awe              72 poems against the war

- out loud reports           7 poetry readings against the war

 - out loud poets           3: patricia mclean, duane poncy, ethan place



(a gentle balm)




ahmad faraz


alexander wat

anna akhmatova

anna swir

antoni slonimski

ariel dorfman

arthur rimbaud

attila gerecz

barbara lamorticella

barbara zelano

bei dao

benjamin perét

bob kaufman

bodo murray

carolyn kizer

charles bukowski

charles hamilton sorley

david ignatow

david ray

denise levertov

diane di prima

duo duo

edward thomas

eleanor wilner

ellie gunn

emily dickinson

fred nemo

frederic manning

georg trakl

gu cheng


hayden carruth

henrik visnapuu


ingeborg bachman

ion caraion

james schevill

jános pilinszky

jesse bernstein

jim shugrue

judith wright

kenneth patchen

kojo laing

lawrence ferlinghetti

lawson inada

lenore kandel

lily brett

lisa bernstein

lisa steinman

lucille clifton

mang ke

lynn martin

margareta waterman

marina tsvetaeva

mark twain

michael casey

miroslav holub

mohandas gandhi

naomi lazard

nelly sachs

osip mandelstam

paul celan

philip dacey

ralph chaplin

randall jarrell

richard hugo

robert peterson

robert pinsky

robinson jeffers

saul yurkievich

simone weil

stanley kunitz

steve mason

taban lo liyong

tadeusz rozewicz

tsuboi shigeji

w.b. yeats

w.s. merwin

yusef komunyakaa

zbigniew herbert




ahmad faraz




Whose headless body is this

whose scarlet shroud

whose torn and wounded cloak

whose broken voice?


Whose blood is this

that turns the earth a ruby colour,

whose cruel embrace

taking the coffin's shape?


Who are these youths

standing in the line of fire,

what city are they from?


Who are these helpless ones

lying scattered

like a harvest reaped

by enemy swords?


Whose faces have we here,

drops of blood like pearls

glistening on their lips and eyes?


Who is this mother

searching in the debris for her child,

who is this father

his voice lost

in the terrible chaos?


Who are these innocent ones


like lamps

by the dark storm?


Which tribe are they from,

these brave people

ready to die?

No one wants to know them

for knowing them is like a test;

we see no child, no mother,

no father in their midst.


In the palaces

the lucky sheikhs are silent;

kings are silent,

protectors of the faith,

rulers of the world,

all silent.

All these hypocrites

who take God's name

are silent!


(trans. Mahmood Jamal)





from Killing Floor


The machine-gun bullets

hit my wife in the legs,

then zig-zagged up her body.

I took the shears, cut open her gown

and lay on top of her for hours.

Blood soaked through my clothes

and when I tried to rise, I couldn't.



alexander wat:


from Persian Parables


By great, swift waters

on a stony bank

a human skull lay shouting:

Allah la ilah


And in that shout such horror

and such supplication

so great was its despair

that I asked the helmsman:


What is there left to cry for? Why is it still afraid?

What divine judgement could strike it again?


Suddenly a rising wave

took hold of the skull

and tossing it about

smashed it against the bank


Nothing is ever over

- the helmsman's voice was hollow -

and there is no bottom to evil.


(trans. Milosz and Nathan)



anna akhmatova:


Why did you poison the water

And mix my bread with dirt?

Why do you turn remnants of

freedom into a robbers' den?

Because I didn't violently curse

the bitter fate of friends,

because I stayed faithful

to my sad homeland?

Let it be so. The poet cannot exist

on this earth without the executioner's block.

Our fate is to wear the shirts of the penitent,

and to carry the candle and howl.


(trans. Richard McKane)



anna swir:


They Lay Dying Side By Side


'Your husband's lying here in the next bed.'

'Your wife's lying here next to you.'

They lay dying side by side,

each muffled up in his own suffering,

not looking at the other.


They grappled with death,

sweat pouring, teeth gnashing.


At dawn

the husband looked toward the window.

'Will I live to see the day?' he asked.


They died side by side,

without so much as a glance at each other.


(trans. Krynski and Maguire)



antoni slonimski:


To the Germans


Proudly looking at the ruins of the conquered city,

Carrying a short, bloody sword, from an empty yard

A Roman barbarian entered the house of Archimedes

When the legion of Marcellus conquered Syracuse.


Half-naked, breathing heavily, in his dusty helmet,

He stopped, his nostrils drinking in new blood and crime.

'Noli tangere circulos meos' -

Said Archimedes gently, drawing in the sand.


On the circle, along the diameter and the inscribed triangle

The blood ran in a dark and living sign.

Archimedes, defend yourself against the mercenary!

Archimedes, who are murdered today!


Your blood sank into the sand, but your spirit lives.

Not true. The spirit dies as well. Where do traces remain?

In the marble of your house are adders' nests.

The wind spins circles out of sand on ruined Hellas.


(trans. Scott and Milosz)



ariel dorfman:


Last Will and Testament


when they tell you

I'm not a prisoner

don't believe them.

They'll have to admit it

some day.

When they tell you

they released me

don't believe them.

They'll have to admit

it's a lie

some day.

When they tell you

I betrayed the party

don't believe them.

They'll have to admit

I was loyal

some day.

When they tell you

I'm in France

don't believe them.

Don't believe them when they show you

my false I.D.

don't believe them.

Don't believe them when they show you

the photo of my body,

don't believe them.

Don't believe them when they tell you

the moon is the moon,

if they tell you the moon is the moon,

that this is my voice on tape,

that this is my signature on a confession,

if they say a tree is a tree

don't believe them,

don't believe

anything they tell you

anything they swear to

anything they show you,

don't believe them.


And finally


that day


when they ask you

to identify the body

and you see me

and a voice says

we killed him

the poor bastard died

he's dead,

when they tell you

that I am

completely absolutely definitely


don't believe them,

don't believe them,

don't believe them.


(trans. Edie Grossman)



arthur rimbaud:




Our flag goes off to the unclean landscapes, and our dialect drowns out the drum.


In the cities we'll feed the most cynical prostitution. We'll massacre the logical revolts.


On to the lands of rain and spices! - in the service of the most hideous exploitation, industrial or military.


Goodbye here, hello anywhere. Draftees of good will, our philosophy will be ferocious; stupid in science, debauched in comfort; let the world go to hell. The real war. Forward, march!


(trans. Scott Bates)



attila gerecz


My Legacy


Insignificant poems.

Soot rising in the sad light

From a burial torch.

For the briefest time they will float like stains

On the freckled and indifferent sky.


(trans. Robert Bly)



barbara lamorticella:


War Pond


So now the frogs of war are croaking

from their pond of fire

and all the haters of peace, emboldened

croak back


They have only two notes:


Kill     Take

      Kill     Take



John Ashcroft Orders the Bare Breast of Justice

Covered on the Floor of the Senate


he must want to

stop   jiggling

  wipe out round get

                       total control               costs

more zeroes


than anybody can   ever

possibly                         pay


           so everyone ends up

totally                          (dead)



barbara zelano:


As our country

pushes us deeper

into the dark night

of the soul


in the name of god


I wonder if

Persephone and I

would be better off

to stay




bei dao:




All is fated

all cloudy,


all an endless beginning,

all a search for what vanishes,


all joys grave,

all griefs tearless,


every speech a repetition,

every meeting a first encounter,


all love buried in the heart,

all history prisoned in a dream,


all hope hedged with doubt,

all faith drowned in lamentation.


Every explosion heralds an instant of stillness,

every death reverberates forever.


(trans. Donald Finkel)



benjamin perét:


Little Song of the Maimed


Lend me your arm

to replace my leg

The rats ate it for me

at Verdun

at Verdun

I ate lots of rats

but they didn't give me back my leg

and that's why I was given the CROIX DE GUERRE

and a wooden leg

and a wooden leg


(trans. David Gascoyne)



bob kaufman:


from Benediction


America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Nailing black Jesus to an imported cross

Every six weeks in Dawson, Georgia.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Eating black children, I know your hunger.

America, I forgive you ... I forgive you

Burning Japanese babies defensively -

I realize how necessary it was.

Your ancestor had beautiful thoughts in his brain.

His descendants are experts in real estate.

Your generals have mushrooming visions.

Every day your people get more and more

Cars, televisions, sickness, death dreams.

You must have been great




bodo murray:


Doggerell for a Washington Holiday Lay-Over


Two hours between trains in Washington, DC,

I decided to walk to the Capitol and see.


A cold sun, blind and blinding as a judge's eye

made me wear sunshades against the bright sky.


The Capitol building was cordoned like a hive

to construct a visitors' center for 2005.


Everything now was closed to the nation,

allowing me to see how little separation


lay between the Capitol and the High Court.

I wondered what John Adams would retort


that in 2000, 5 Justices had some fun

and made the Court and Presidency one.


Both buildings were a dull gray and sterile

though clean and monumentally Neo-Classical.


An eerie silence disturbed the December day;

President, Justices, and Congress were away.


What will happen when they return and find

someone's been snooping, one not of their mind?


They'll not notice; they're set on bombing

to a new unity, a sort of national embalming.



carolyn kizer:


Gulf War


Tout le ciel vert se meurt.

Le dernier arbre brûle.



The whole green sky is dying. The last tree flares.

With a great burst of supernatural rose

Under a canopy of poisonous airs.


Could we imagine our return to prayers

To end in time before time's final throes,

The green sky is dying as the last tree flares?


But we were young in judgement, old in years

Who could make peace: but it was war we chose,

To spread its canopy of poisoning airs.


Not all our children's pleas and women's fears

Could steer us from this hell. And now God knows

His whole green sky is dying as it flares.


Our crops of wheat have turned to fields of tares

This dreadful century staggered to its close

And the sky dies for us, its poisoned heirs.


All rain was dust. Its granules were out of tears.

Throats burst as universal winter rose

To kill the whole green sky, the last tree bare

Beneath its canopy of poisoned air.



charles bukowski:




we ran the women in a straight line down the river

clinging to the fear in their rice-stupid heads

clinging to their infants

mice-like sucklings breathing in the air at odds of

one thousand to one;

we shot the men as they kneeled in a circle,

and the death of the men held almost no death,

it was somehow like a moviefilm,

men of spider arms and legs and a hunk of cloth

to cover the sexual organ.

men hardly born could hardly be killed

and there they were down there now, finally dead,

the sun straining on their faces of weird



some of the women could fire rifles. we left a small

detachment to decide upon

them. then we fired up the unburned huts and moved on

to the next village.



charles hamilton sorley:


When you see millions of the mouthless dead

Across your dreams in pale battalions go,

Say not soft things as other men have said,

That you'll remember. For you need not so.

Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know

It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?

Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.

Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.

Say only this, 'They are dead.' Then add thereto,

'Yet many a better one has died before.'

Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you

Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,

It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.

Great death had made all his for evermore.



david ignatow:


All Quiet


How come nobody is being bombed today?


I want to know, being a citizen

of this country and a family man.

You can't take my fate in your hands,

without informing me.

I can blow up a bomb or crush a skull -

whoever started this peace

without advising me

through a news leak

at which I could have voiced a protest,

running my whole family off a cliff.



david ray




How quickly the victors

rewrite history.

The big lie works.

Tell it again and again

loud and clear

as the truth seldom is.

There was no massacre

in Tiananmen Square

says the Chinese state radio

and within a week

National Public Radio

in Washington, DC,

says they have to agree,

see no hard evidence.

It is true - no massacre

in Tienanmen Square!

The new truth from China

is affirmed - "It never

happened that soldiers

fired directly

at the people."

But I still can't get

out of my eyes that sight

broadcast on TV to millions -

islands of blood -

truly a thousand red islands

in Tienanmen Square.

We saw it. Yet now

we are told

it did not happen

and the kids

are rounded up

as they were in Budapest.

The Chinese people are told

it did not happen.

We are told.

We begin to forget.

We agree to forget.

It does not take long

to fulfill our contract

to forget. Bloodstains

on stone - who remembers them

past a fortnight?

Not you, not me,

not the Chinese state radio,

not the USA state radio.

How quickly indeed

the victors rewrite!

Propaganda works - that is all

the truth ye know

and all ye need to know.



denise levertov:


What Were They Like?

(Questions and Answers)


1) Did the people of Viet Nam

use lanterns of stone?

2) Did they hold ceremonies

to reverence the opening of buds?

3) Were they inclined to rippling laughter?

4) Did they use bone and ivory,

jade and silver, for ornament?

5) Had they an epic poem?

6) Did they distinguish between speech and singing?


1) Sir, their light hearts turned to stone.

It is not remembered whether in gardens

stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways.

2) Perhaps they gathered once to delight in blossom,

but after the children were killed

there were no more buds.

3) Sir, laughter is bitter to the burned mouth.

4) A dream ago, perhaps. Ornament is for joy.

All the bones were charred.

5) It is not remembered. Remember,

most were peasants; their life

was in rice and bamboo.

When peaceful clouds were reflected in the paddies

and the water-buffalo stepped surely along terraces,

maybe fathers told their sons old tales.

When bombs smashed the mirrors

there was time only to scream.

6) There is an echo yet, it is said,

of their speech which was like a song.

It is reported their singing resembled

the flight of moths in moonlight.

Who can say? It is silent now.



diane di prima:


Les Americains


we are feral    rare

as mountain wolves

our hearts are pure

& stupid we     go down


pitted against our own 



duo duo:


When the People Arose from Cheese


The songs ignored the blood of revolution.

August tautened like a cruel bow.


The malevolent son strode from the hut

with a pouch of tobacco and a parched throat.


Cruelly blinded, oxen dragged

blackening corpses behind them

like distended drums,

till all the sacrifices had been hidden away.


In the distance, another legion approaches.


(trans. Donald Finkel)



edward thomas:


The Cherry Trees


The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,

On the old road where all that passed are dead,

Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding

This early May morn when there is none to wed.



eleanor wilner:


Found in the Free Library


 "Write as if you lived in an occupied country."

--Edwin Rolfe


And we were made afraid, and being afraid

we made him bigger than he was, a little man

and ignorant, wrapped like a vase of glass

in bubble wrap all his life, who never felt

a single lurch or bump, carried over

the rough surface of other lives like

the spoiled children of the sultans of old

in sedan chairs, on the backs of slaves,

the gold curtains on the chair

pulled shut against the dust and shit

of the road on which the people walked,

over whose heads, he rode, no more aware

than a wave that rattles pebbles on a beach.


And being afraid we forgot to notice

who pulled his golden strings, how

their banks overflowed while

the public coffers emptied, how

they stole our pensions, poured their smoke

into our lungs, how they beat our ploughshares

into swords, sold power to the lords of oil,

closed their fists to crush the children

of Iraq, took the future from our failing grasp

into their hoards, ignored our votes,

broke our treaties with the world,

and when our hungry children cried,

the doctors drugged them so they wouldn't fuss,

and prisons swelled enormously to hold

the desperate sons and daughters of the poor.

To us, they just said war, and war, and war.


For when they saw we were afraid,

how knowingly they played on every fear -

so conned, we scarcely saw their scorn,

hardly noticed as they took our funds, our rights,

and tapped our phones, turned back our clocks,

and then, to quell dissent, they sent....

(but here the document is torn)



ellie gunn:


Standing on My Mother's Grave


The earth, still raised,

Yields as

I step slowly from side to side.

Her body untouchable beneath

In a plain plywood box.

Tears come, hot and sad.

Will I ever feel ready

Waiting my turn

Like she was?


I shoulder a NO WAR sign from the trunk

And my daughter

Takes my picture

Standing on my mother's grave.



emily dickinson:


There is a pain - so utter -

It swallows substance up -

Then covers the Abyss with Trance -

So memory can step

Around - across - upon it -

As one within a swoon -

Goes safely - where an open eye -

Would drop Him - Bone by Bone.



fred nemo:


(after lucas murray)


in place of a fall harvest

there will be bodies buried


and unburied



frederic manning:




These are the damned circles Dante trod,

Terrible in hopelessness,

But even skulls have their humor,

An eyeless and sardonic mockery:

And we,

Sitting with streaming eyes in the acrid smoke,

That murks our foul, damp billet,

Chant bitterly, with raucous voices

As a choir of frogs

In hideous irony, our patriotic songs.



georg trakl:




Over the white pond

The wild birds have travelled on.

In the evening an icy wind blows from our stars.


Over our graves

The broken brow of the night inclines.

Under oak trees we sway in a silver boat.


Always the town's white walls resound.

Under arches of thorns,

O my brother, blind minute-hands,

We climb towards midnight.


(trans. Michael Hamburger)



gu cheng:





coils in the corner

like a black snake.

Cold while it lived,

it's colder dead.

Once it crept slowly

over so many hearts,

leaving a greenish trail,

concealing every

trace of blood.


It's dead at last,

secretly buried under

mountains of newsprint.

New hordes of characters

swarm like ants,

debating how

to circumvent

the second coming.


(trans. Donald Finkel)





from R.A.F.


If I dare recall

his last swift grave smile,


I award myself

some inch of ribbon


for valour,

such as he wore,


for I am stricken

as never before,


by the thought

of ineptitude, sloth, evil


that prosper,

while such as he fall.



hayden carruth:


Complaint and Petition


Mr. President: On a clear cold

morning I address you from a remote

margin of your dominion in plain-

style Yankee quatrains because


I don't know your exalted language

of power. I'm thankful for that. This

is a complaint and petition, sent

to you in the long-held right I claim


As a citizen. To recapitulate your

wrong-doings is unnecessary; the topic

is large and prominent and already

occupies the attention of historians


and political scholars, whose findings

will in the near future expose your

incontinent and maniacal ambition

for all to see. Let it suffice to


say that you have warped the law and

flouted the will and wisdom of the

people as no other has before you.

You have behaved precisely as a tin-pot


tyrant in any benighted, inglorious

corner of the earth. And now you are

deviously and corruptly manipulating

events in order to create war.


Let us speak plainly. You wish to

murder millions, as you yourself

have said, to appease your fury. We

oppose such an agenda: we, the people,


artists, artisans, builders, makers,

honest American men and women,

especially the poets, for whom I dare

to speak. We say, desist, resign,


hide yourself in your own shame,

lest otherwise the evil you have

loosed will destroy everything

and love will quit the world.



henrik visnapuu:


Lilac Time


Lilacs in the barrels of the guns:

Lilacs, lilac blooms.

My friends are fallen, are fallen

In lilac time.


Peering through blooms of lilac

The sniper tensed.

Spring burst out in lilac blooms to meet us

Across the field of slain.


Lilac trees behind the little houses -

Lilac trees.

Drowsy lilac bushes round our home -

Our charred home.


We marched to war in lilac time,

The lilac spring;

Bayonets glinting through the lilac sprays,

The lilac sprays.


We read our luck in lilac blooms of five,

In lilac blooms.

Life spoke to death in lilac blooms of five,

In lilac blooms.


(trans. Andres Pranspill)





from The Iliad


Curs'd is the man, and void of law and right,

Unworthy property, unworthy light,

Unfit for public rule, or private care,

That wretch, that monster, that delights in war:

Whose lust is murder, and whose horrid joy

To tear his country, and his kind destroy!


(trans. Alexander Pope)



ingeborg bachman:


Every Day


War is no longer declared,

but simply continued. The unheard of

has become the everyday. The hero

keeps clear of battles. The weak

are pushed to the front lines.

The uniform of the day is patience,

the decoration the paltry star

of hope above the heart.


It's awarded

when nothing more happens,

when drum-fire ceases,

when the enemy becomes invisible

and the shadow of eternal armament

covers the sky.


It's awarded

for desertion of flags,

for courage in the face of the friend,

for betraying unworthy secrets

and disregard

of every command.


(trans. Daniel Huws)



ion caraion:


At The Rotton Sea


We shall torture you, we shall kill you and we shall laugh

then we will be killed and others will laugh

we are old enough and shrewd enough

not to care

everything is truth, even the lie

everything is lie, even truth -

darkness begets itself.


(trans. Dorian and Urdang)



james schevill


Rat-Hunt for Terrorists


I walk my hate and let it harden there,

A plastic bomb to blast his hide-out high.

My time to purify the glowing air.


Search out that traitor with his injured stare

Whose terror causes innocence to die.

I walk my hate and let it harden there.


Answer his terror with the terror

Of my bomb, explosion answers every why.

My time to purify the glowing air.


Often at night I hear him scuttling to scare

Us from our longing dream of liberty.

I walk my hate and let it harden there.


Blow up his secret holes, strip him bare

Until his silence breaks into a cry.

My time to purify the glowing air.


We'll meet in rat-hunts in one burning glare,

Traitor and patriot fused in the bursting sky.

I walk my hate and let it harden there.

My time to purify the glowing air.



jános pilinszky:


Three-Coloured Banner


The first color? Just like a captive

at the moment sentenced is passed.

The second? Like lost

soldiers falling down

in huge, soft heaps.

And the third? The colour of the third -

it is you.


My beautiful three-coloured banner!


(trans. Peter Jay)



jesse bernstein:


from Main Street USA


It is all monotonous: the murder, the giant mice, the marching bands. It's a setup. Setup meaning everything is prearranged: the festive atmosphere, the killing, even the stars, everything that's said and felt here is rehearsed. Also, the clockwork life on Main Street is a setup for annihilation. Life on Main Street is the prototype for life all over America. Everything fits nice like a jigsaw puzzle - when the picture is done, it will be a picture of a sour empty planet. America has been a setup for suicide/global destruction from the start. Slaphappy clowns, lovable cops, politicians like take-charge dads from TV. We all fit into the picture puzzle somewhere. Guns to the temple, unbearable grinning - we'll get the signal.



jim shugrue:


On A Photograph of a Severed Hand


What is the sound of one hand

lying in the middle of a road

waving goodbye to its lost body?

How has it come this far from a hand

to mouth existence?  How did it earn

its crust of callus?  Is this

the right hand or the left?  I cannot

tell.  This is a photograph of a hand;

they could print it either way.

I've never seen a hand, alone,

open and empty in the middle

of a road, and pray to the god

they tell me has us all

in his good hands never to see one.

I know what history is.  Our hand-

me-down bodies are mostly water,

and we spend them in tears and sweat.

Here is my hand.  Take it,

and give me yours, while we

are still attached.



judith wright:




The will to power destroys the power to will.

The weapon made, we cannot help but use it;

it drags us with its own momentum still.


The power to kill compounds the need to kill.

Grown out of hand, the heart cannot refuse it;

the will to power undoes the power to will.


Though as we strike we cry, "I did not choose it",

it drags us with its own momentum still.

In the one stroke we win the world and lose it.

The will to power destroys the power to will.



kenneth patchen


The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting


The lions of fire

Shall have their hunting in this black land


Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats

Their claws kill


O the lions of fire shall awake

And the valleys steam with their fury


Because you are sick with the dirt of your money

Because you are pigs rooting in the swill of your war


Because you are mean and sly and full of the pus of your pious murder

Because you have turned your faces from God

Because you have spread your filth everywhere


O the lions of fire

Wait in the crawling shadows of your world

And their terrible eyes are watching you



kojo laing:


from The same corpse


And the pounded man is the pounded country,

arrest me-O, don't arrest me-O

I will still live below your politics, cutting

the roots whenever I can, burning the pride with the ironies of history.

You cry I laugh, you laugh I cry, and

when the flag was upside down, no one noticed,

for the amazingly tasty fufu

had finally shrivelled the jaws that ate it.



lawrence ferlinghetti:


Speak Out


And a vast paranoia sweeps across the land

And America turns the attack on its Twin Towers

Into the beginning of the Third World War

The war with the Third World


And the terrorists in Washington

Are drafting all the young men


And no one speaks


And they are rousting out

All the ones with turbans

And they are flushing out

All the strange immigrants


And they are shipping all the young men

To the killing fields again


And no one speaks


And when they come to round up

All the great writers and poets and painters

The National Endowment of the Arts of Complacency

Will not speak


While all the young men

Will be killing all the young men

In the killing fields again


So now is the time for you to speak

All you lovers of liberty

All you lovers of the pursuit of happiness

All you lovers and sleepers

Deep in your private dreams


Now is the time for you to speak

O silent majority

Before they come for you



lawson inada:


The Legend of Protest


The F.B.I. swooped in early,

taking our elders in the process -


for "subversive" that and this.


People ask, "Why didn't you protest?"

Well, you might say: "They had hostages."



lenore kandel


from First They Slaughtered the Angels


First they slaughtered the angels

tying their thin white legs with wire cords


opening their silk throats with icy knives

They died fluttering their wings like chickens

and their immortal blood wet the burning earth...



lily brett:


Children II




thin children


fat children







wide-eyed children




it was harder




the children








flung in the air







their heads




the nearest




bent others

across their knees




snapping their backs


the lucky ones

walked with their mothers

to the gas.



lisa bernstein:




As in the bible,

where one massacre precedes another,

she was born with her father's war

in her body.

There in the damp, clayey flesh:

a yellow field of grain

where the men lie bleeding.


Her father recognized

the yielding piece of land

he had walked on after the bombing,

stepping carefully through the wheat sheaves,

the dismembered

as slick as newborns.


He held her body

in his arms. When she was wet,

sometimes he thought she was bleeding

from the killing he saw.


He tilted the warm bottle

into her mouth.



lisa steinman:


The Old Woman's Poem


All summer the crows yelled at me from trees

in praise of the immaterial.  Surly

I was by fall.  The laundramat sign read:

'Re-grand opening'.  And the world did open,

garden notebooks filling with weeds:

meadow rue, lady's mantle, the first page

left blank for Elijah.  Just in case.  Though

the papers lamented the weapons of mass

destruction, as if destruction did not

occur to us one by one.  Now passing

cars sing in warm rain, but not well, what with

their tin ears, petulant and off-kilter.

I wake up with a furrowed heart.  I am

as cultivated as the delicate

smell of carrots thinned early.  I can taste

my childhood.  Look:  a small figure dances

in the yard.  No, look:   it's me.  No, I'm here

rehearsing the dance in memory, trying

to imagine an older woman's life.

Somehow I've come to feel such an untoward

affection for my younger self, I could

just cry.  Instead, I thin carrots, hearing

crows, living carefully . . .  as if I might

otherwise forget to wake, eat, breathe.



lucille clifton:


buffalo war


war over

everybody gone home

nobody dead

everybody dying



lynn martin:


Cherry tree, holder of ten thousand

blossoms, ignites into a city of flames,

a candle at every window. I would

have let you glow like that, calm.


burning your own beauty until

you were nothing but light. For days

in rain and sun you would tremble,

perhaps. I would take you to places


open, where the yellow field widened

where the river loosened its tied-back

hair over its shoulders. There I would

say, live, flash until you become lake.



mang ke:


A Fallen Tree


On the branches of a fallen tree

a shroud of snow is melting

like the flesh of a corpse.

It halts me in my tracks,

afraid to come near.


I stand at a distance

staring, staring

until, at last,

when all the snow has melted,

I can see its skeleton on the ground.


(trans. Donald Finkel)



margareta waterman:


insult: warlords condescend to speak of poetry

lend us your magic, o poets, to serve our propaganda

every day, in the paper

in any town in this country

every day, in the paper

degradation of language so horrific

no word can mean anything

because public words

are so far

from ever meaning what they say

we all know these lies are lies

we read this newspeak, find the hidden facts

we all know that this government wasn't honestly elected

that it has no respect for us, no interest

in the public interest

that greed beyond sanity is its only value

we all know what the papers don't dare print

but don't expect poets

whose life is language and the clean use of words

to contribute to the hypocrisy



marina tsvetaeva


As you fought for your fatherland

You scratched Marina on your knife.

I was the first and also the last

In all the magnificence of your life.


I remember the night and your brilliant face

Enclosed in a military boxcar's hell.

I let my hair fly in the wind's wild chase.

In a chest I store your epaulettes well.


(trans. David McDuff)



mark twain:


Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies,

putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked,

and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities,

and will diligently study them,

and refuse to examine any refutations of them;

and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just,

and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys

after this process of grotesque self-deception.



michael casey:


A Bummer


We were going single file

Through his rice paddies

And the farmer

Started hitting the lead track

With a rake

He wouldn't stop

The TC went to talk to him

And the farmer

Tried to hit him too

So the tracks went sideways

Side by side

Through the guy's fields

Instead of single file

Hard On, Proud Mary

Bummer, Wallace, Rosemary's Baby

The Rutgers Road Runner


Go Get Em-Done Got Em

Went side by side

Through the fields

If you have a farm in Vietnam

And a house in hell

Sell the farm

And go home



miroslav holub:


The Fly


She sat on a willow trunk


part of the battle of Crécy,

the shouts,

the gasps,

the groans,

the tramping and the tumbling.


During the fourteenth charge

of the French cavalry

she mated

with a brown-eyed male fly

from Vadincourt.


She rubbed her legs together

as she sat on a disembowelled horse


on the immortality of flies.


With relief she alighted

on the blue tongue

of the Duke of Clervaux.


When silence settled

and only the whisper of decay

softly circled the bodies


and only

a few arms and legs

still twitched jerkily under the trees,

she began to lay her eggs

on the single eye

of Johann Uhr,

the Royal Armourer.


And thus it was

that she was eaten by a swift


from the fires of Estrées.


(trans. George Theiner)



mohandas gandhi:


You assist an evil system most effectively

by obeying its orders and decrees.

An evil system never deserves such allegiance.

Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.

A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.



naomi lazard:


Ordinance on Arrival


Welcome to you

who have managed to get here.

It's been a terrible trip;

you should be happy you have survived it.

Statistics prove that not many do.

You would like a bath, a hot meal,

a good night's sleep. Some of you

need medical attention.

None of this is available.

These things have always been

in short supply; now

they are impossible to obtain.


This is not

a temporary solution;

it is permanent.

Our condolences on your disappointment.

It is not our responsibility

everything you have heard about this place

is false. It is not our fault

you have been deceived,

ruined your health getting here.

For reasons beyond our control

there is no vehicle out.



nelly sachs:


Already embraced by the arm of heavenly solace

The insane mother stands

With the tatters of her torn mind

With the charred tinders of her burnt mind

Burying her dead child,

Burying her lost light,

Twisting her hands into urns,

Filling them with the body of her child from the air,

Filling them with his eyes, his hair from the air,

And with his fluttering heart -


Thern she kisses the air-born being

And dies!


(trans. Michael Roloff)



osip mandelstam:


You took away all the oceans and all the room,

You gave me my shoe-size in earth with bars around it.

Where did it get you? Nowhere.

You left me my lips, and they shape words, even in silence.


(trans. Brown and Merwin)



paul celan:




Not on my lips look for your mouth,

not in front of the gate for the stranger,

not in the eye for the tear.


Seven nights higher red makes for red,

seven hearts deeper the hand knocks on the gate,

seven roses later plashes the fountain.


(trans. Michael Hamburger)



philip dacey:


Found Sonnet: Remarks Overheard at the Wall (Washington, D. C.)


Do you have someone here?  Let me try

a different lens. Before we were born.

There it is. You mean all those people died?

We're underground. The war we didn't win.

They had a great big article on him. Oh

my god. Everything's picked up at the end of the day

and catalogued. This is not a TV show.

It was his first assignment. No fucking way.

Take a picture of us in the reflection. They're

not buried here. The order of death. It's simple.

This one could be a girl. He was making a career

out of it. Are you looking at this at all?

Excuse me. These walls are getting higher.

I've been here before. I can't believe it. My      brother.



ralph chaplin:


Mourn Not the Dead


Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie -

Dust unto dust -

The calm sweet earth that mothers all who die

As all men must;


Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwell -

Too strong to strive -

Each in his steel-bound coffin of a cell,

Buried alive;


But rather mourn the apathetic throng -

The cowed and the meek -

Who see the world's great anguish and its wrong

And dare not speak!



randall jarrell


The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner


>From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,

And I hunched in its belly til my wet fur froze.

Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.



richard hugo:


On Hearing a New Escalation


>From time one I've been reading slaughter.

seeing the same bewildered face of a child

staring at nothing beside his dead mother

in Egypt, the pyramid blueprints approved,

the phrases of national purpose streaming

from the mouth of some automated sphynx.

Day on day, the same photographed suffering,

the bitterness, the opportune hate handed down

from Xerxes to Nixon, a line strong

as transatlantic cable and stale ideals.

Killing's still in though glory is out of style.

And what does it come to, this blood cold

in the streets and a history book printed

and bound with such cost-saving American

methods, the names and dates are soon bones?

Beware certain words: Enemy. Liberty. Freedom.

Believe those sounds and you're aiming a bomb.



robert peterson:




I listened to the guns

and shook


while Scobey bled

simply blinking swiftly


at the leaves

as if only



that the shell


should throw

his glasses and his steel



to the sun


leave him lightheaded


running breathless

among the aspens



robert pinsky:


BEFORE DISASTER (Yvor Winters, 1900-1967)


Evening traffic homeward burns

Swift and even on the turns,

Drifting weight in triple rows,

Fixed relation and repose.

This one edges out and by,

Inch by inch with steady eye.

But should error be increased,

Mass and moment are released;

Matter loosens, flooding blind,

Levels drivers to its kind.

Ranks of nations thus descend,

Watchful, to a stormy end.

By a moment's calm beguiled,

I have got a wife and child.

Fool and scoundrel guide the State.

Peace is whore to Greed and Hate.

Nowhere may I turn to flee:

Action is security.

Treading change with savage heel,

We must live or die by steel.



robinson jeffers:


Eagle Valor, Chicken Mind


Unhappy country, what wings you have! Even here,

Nothing important to protect, and ocean-far from the nearest enemy, what a cloud

Of bombers amazes the coast mountain, what a hornet-swarm of fighters,

And day and night the guns practicing.


Unhappy, eagle wings and beak, chicken brain.

Weep (it is frequent in human affairs), weep for the terrible magnificence of the means,

The ridiculous incompetence of the reasons, the bloody and shabby

Pathos of the result.



saul yurkievich




doesn't read what he should

thinks what he shouldn't

doesn't say what he should

writes what he shouldn't


shouldn't read

shouldn't think

shouldn't speak

shouldn't write


should read what he should

should think what he should

should say what he should

should write what he should


what he shouldn't do is read

what he shouldn't do is think

what he shouldn't do is speak

what he shouldn't do is write


doesn't live as he should

lives but shouldn't

shouldn't live


(trans. Cola Franzen)



simone weil:


The winning of battles is not determined

by men who plan and deliberate,

who make a resolution and carry it out,

but by men drained of these faculties,


fallen either to the level of inert matter,

which is all passivity,

or to the level of blind forces,

which are all momentum.



stanley kunitz:


Day of Foreboding


Great events are about to happen.

I have seen migratory birds

in unprecedented numbers

descend on the coastal plain,

picking the margins clean.

My bones are a family in their tent

huddled over a small fire

waiting for the uncertain signal

to resume the long march.



steve mason:


My soul just did

what most souls did.

just disappeared one afternoon

when I was in a firefight.

Just "walked away" in the scuffle

like a Dunhill lighter

off the deck of a redneck bar...



taban lo liyong:


blood iron and trumpets

blood iron and trumpets

forward we march

(others fall on the way)

blood iron and trumpets

blood iron and trumpets

we shall hack to kill and cure

blood iron and trumpets

singers of the datsun blue

forward we drive breaking the records

blood iron and trumpets

let bullets find their targets and the earth be softened

blood iron and trumpets

let the dogs of war rejoice

and the carrion birds feed

we are reducing population sexplosion

blood iron and trumpets

the uniformed machines are around

put on your helmet iron and the rest

blood iron and trumpets

only thru fire can we be baptized to mean business

so once again

blood iron and trumpets

we shall always march along

blood iron and trumpets

blood iron and trumpets

blood alone



tadeusz rozewicz:


Leave Us Alone


Forget about us

about our generation

live like human beings

forget about us


we envied

plants and stones

we envied dogs


I would like to be a rat

I used to say to her


I would like not to be

I would like to fall asleep

and wake up after the war

she would say with her eyes shut


forget about us

don't ask about our youth

leave us alone



tsuboi shigeji


Silent, but ...


I may be silent, but

I'm thinking.

I may not talk, but

Don't mistake me for a wall.


(trans. Bownan and Thwaite)



w. b. yeats:


We can't see. But feel some awful thing


We had fed the heart on fantasies,

The heart's grown brutal from the fare;

More substance in our enmities

Than in our love...



w. s. merwin:




It would not have been possible for me ever to trust someone who

acquired office by the shameful means Mr. Bush and his abettors resorted

to in the last presidential election. His nonentity was rapidly becoming

more apparent than ever when the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001, provided

him and his handlers with a role for him, that of "wartime leader",

which they, and he in turn, were quick to exploit. This role was used at

once to silence all criticism of the man and his words as unpatriotic,

and to provide the auspices for a sustained assault upon civil

liberties, environmental protections, and general welfare. The

perpetuation of this role of "wartime leader" is the primary reason--

more important even than the greed for oil fields and the wish to blot

out his father's failure-- for the present determination to visit war

upon Iraq, kill and maim countless people, and antagonize much of the

world of which Mr. Bush had not heard until recently. The real

iniquities of Saddam Hussein should be recognized, in this context, as

the pretexts they are. His earlier atrocities went unmentioned as long

as he was an ally of former Republican administrations, which were

happy, in their time, to supply him with weapons. I think that someone

who was maneuvered into office against the will of the electorate, as

Mr. Bush was, should be allowed to make no governmental decisions

(including judicial appointments) that might outlast his questionable

term, and if the reasons for war were many times greater than they have

been said to be I would oppose any thing of the kind under such

"leadership". To arrange a war in order to be re-elected outdoes even

the means employed in the last presidential election. Mr. Bush and his

plans are a greater danger to the United States than Saddam Hussein.



yusef komunyakaa


"You and I Are Disappearing" (-Bjorn Hakansson)


The cry I bring down from the hills

belongs to a girl still burning

inside my head. At daybreak

she burns like a piece of paper.

She burns like foxfire

in a thigh-shaped valley.

A skirt of flames

dances around her

at dusk.

We stand with our hands

hanging at our sides,

while she burns

like a sack of dry ice.

She burns like oil on water.

She burns like a cattail torch

dipped in gasoline.

She glows like the fat tip

of a banker's cigar,

silent as quicksilver.

A tiger under a rainbow

at nightfall.

She burns like a shotglass of vodka.

She burns like a field of poppies

at the edge of a rain forest.

She rises like dragonsmoke

to my nostrils.

She burns like a burning bush

driven by a godawful wind.



zbigniew herbert


The Rain


When my older brother

came back from war

he had on his forehead a little silver star

and under the star

an abyss


a splinter of shrapnel

hit him at Verdun

or perhaps at Grünwald

(he'd forgotten the details)


he used to talk much

in many languages

but he liked most of all

the language of history


until losing breath

he commanded his dead pals to run

Roland Kowalski Hannibal


he shouted

that this was the last crusade

that Carthage soon would fall

and then sobbing confessed

that Napoleon did not like him


we looked at him

getting paler and paler

abandoned by his senses

he turned slowly into a monument


into musical shells of ears

entered a stone forest

and the skin of his face

was secured

with the blind dry

buttons of eyes


nothing was left him

but touch


what stories

he told with his hands

in the right he had romances

in the left soldier's memories


they took my brother

and carried him out of town

he returns every fall

slim and very quiet

(he does not want to come in)

he knocks at the window for me


we walk together in the streets

and he recites to me

improbable tales

touching my face

with blind fingers of rain


(trans. Czeslaw Milosz)



a partial list of sources:


Beyond Lament

A Book of Luminous Things

From the Republic of Conscience

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

Poems of War Resistance

The Poetry of Survival

Postwar Polish Poetry

A Splintered Mirror

Where Is Vietnam?





out loud   

thursdays, april - june, 2003, at pacific switchboard, portland or



first night


anna decastro was the total star, yelling,

'they knew what they were doing!'

(when they let the iraqi national museum be plundered)

and, 'no foundation!'

(referring to the same thing in the broader context -

reducing iraq to the cultural moonscape

that is bush's america).


walt curtis was in top form

with his giant anti-auto piece and his

world-turned-to-primordial-snot piece.


stephen spyrit was also in great voice

(he takes to all this with a vengeance),

quoting utah phillips,

"the most radical thing in american life

is a long memory."


we had three startling a capella women.


several small strange men with very brief

and sharp and poignant things.


the self-effacing hero per fagereng.


guinne illiana,

sharp african-american grandmother,

terse, spoke her mind.


only two poets dissolved into tears,

though moe's opening piece

dissolved everyone.



i did short poems by akhmatova, stryk, tsvetaeva,

and (that no-one should have to follow walt)

that precision-guided ariel dorfman thing that goes

'don't believe them

don't believe them

don't believe them'


there's still high-points i've left out,

one of which is that,

strange for an open mic,

there wasn't a single poet one had to

(or wanted to)

wrestle off the stage.



second night


fred too sick,

faux-SARS of some kind,

to get the word out,


we merely had

4 davids,

taking turns




and dickie calmly explaining.


the high point

was david milholland's

rambling stories

and antique





third night


a phantasmagoria

in opposition:


first off, i did lincoln kirstein's

brilliant rhymed vernacular -

WWII and the insanity of



emily johnson shared harsh celine

and harsher wilfred owen


david galli sang billy bragg

strong and plaintive


leslie fried did a bernstein apology

and accusation


niani improvised a song

a capella

a shocking sweetness


mary selarkin

broke the somber mood

with bright

garden poems


(what i say is

if it is FOR life

it is against war)


anna dashed in and narrated how

the canadian punk band

>godspeed you black emperor<

was held at a 7/11 three hours

suspected of TERRORISM,

and dashed out.


eric read rimbaud

on the travesty of



david abel in a star turn

took things all the way

with joe napora on poetry's inability

to halt the carnage

and kent johnson's 'baghdad'.


brigid swayed

and delivered her lyrical meditations

with unswaying



alicia gave us

stark silences


and then leslie and i

in stately unison

reprised the razor-edged

jesse bernstein apology

for the 'intimate link

between the artist and oppression.'


to great effect,

if i may be permitted.


and besides this and the kirstein,

i was able to work in hulme's

WWI cluster-bomb of a poem

and lisa bernstein's

stunning evocation

of 'post-traumatic'




fourth night


we start out round robin:

sam hamill's

'poets against the war'

came out this week,

so douglas, stephen, fred and chris

take turns picking one -

al alvarez

or marge piercy, say.


i armored up tonight,

brought up the heavy artillery:

the wrenching central section

of whitman's 'wound dresser'

and anne waldman's


hilarious and terrifying

gulf war litany

of weapons systems

and buddhist bardo.


next up,

christopher luna,

out of new york

(and kelso)

with the free speech section

of his 9/11 epic.


inspiring tony farrenkopf

to do the stern and stirring

recent ferlinghetti rant

upon that subject.


and follow it with a

riveting memoir of

his childhood under the

'allied' firebombings of

civilian hamburg.


which brings us to the incomparable

leanne grabel

with her simple keyboard

and witty complexities:

3 pieces - a sorrowful szymborska jewel

juxtaposed to piggery and poetry.


chris andrews comes up with the song

from threepenny opera,

mothers do not send your sons to war.

the long spoken intro

does not prepare us for this song's

- and his delivery's -

plangent beauty.


now comes anais

who brings a pair of news stories,

the 'celebrated' iraq war teen

and his unbearable heartfelt doggerel,

put side-by-side

with a young girl's

unbearable heartfelt lyricism.


kathleen does fierce songs about her mother

and one, a capella,

against war,

en espanol.


stephen gets up and rants

his passionate rants:

conspiracies + spiritualty

= conspirituality?


which gets me all hopped up

to do leanne's insane burlesque

of bush I as bush II

or is it

bush II as bush I



now tony's back up

to bring it back down

with his viet vet's


and his own





fifth night


again we begin


out of sam hamill's

valiant anthology,

alicia does a quiet

rendition of kizer's

'gulf war'.


in assembling the zine

that birthed these readings

i stumbled across

two poets i never knew of -

tadeusz rosewicz and judith wright,

masters of the form.


here is rosewicz'

'posthumous rehabilitation'

and his

'leave us alone'.


brigid is back

life-affirming as is her habit

three poems declaimed

spring nights

and cherry trees.


alicia is back

confounding plato's dictum

in her interstices.


casey ambles forward -



and compact.


and dickie is back

his conversational

and stately couplets.


and anais is back as well

doing fern capella's

'mothers of the revolution'


and stephen spyrit is back!

but before he can read the

police bureau spokesman's

disparagements, or his rant

about 'ameri-earth',


in comes a very tardy walt curtis -

he's baaaaaack!

to remonstrate, heckle, argue,


and laugh at himself

and others.


but then heidi davisson

takes hold of the house

and shakes it like a dog:

first a short reminiscence

of her gulf war tour -

of somewhat flawed instructions

for surviving chemical weaponry.


but now a tour de force

in the slightly germanic

slightly hysterical

voice of her mother -

another set of instructions,

but to characterize them as flawed

would be to understate the case.


walt returns to the front,

and wise general that he is,

he sees our need,

in the wake of heidi's attack,

for a little r & r,

drops the pace, gathers us around,

insists that conversation is crucial

to the poetic project,

and that context

must not be lost:

alicia - for once - is drawn out,

and casey tells a harrowing tale

of television withdrawal.


now it's walt solo

smashing all dire intimations

- I call him gypsy rose curtis -

with his manic jamble of fish,

gnosticism, and classical




i send us off

(wash out our mouths)

with ozzie genius

judith wright's





sixth night


we start at seven sharp,

seven of us read seven poems,

picked not quite at random from

'poets against the war' -


stephen, fred, anna,

sara, heidi, patricia,

and duane,

respectively, read

zaccardi and barnstone,

hansen and battin,

jane miller, carlos reyes,

and dorianne laux -


"waiting for peace to break out".


a crowd has trickled in

and I lead off with the

great etheridge knight's

calm visit to a v.a. hospital.


stephen spirit escalates

matters, explaining in 2 quick pieces

how we are all a 'test market',

our round world a 'petrie dish'.

and that he leave no ironic stone unturned,

tells how he is 'at peace with war'.


anna decastro dives in

weaving her stories into poetry

and vice - if you'll pardon the expression -

versa, covering no little ground:

she divides the world into those

who can divide themselves

to walk in others' shoes,

and those who can't.

she tells of all those

alcoholics she can't help loving,

and her cab fares'

eternal capacity

to shock and awe.


heidi brings two manic dialogs:

tries to wrap her brain around

the immigrant friend who can only see

how "america is blessed!"

and a comic horror

between god the meek

and our tv emperor president.


patricia mclean flaunts a quiet authority.

she reprises heidi's theme,

antichrist in the lincoln bedroom,

'as if there is no danger',

then does exquisite szymborska

on the demands of reality.


now duane apologizes

for his cherokee poems

how they are not exactly


but they are.

a poem on cherokee women,

'the white path is the peace path',

on maintaining the balance,

and on gadugi -

the essential way of

mutual effort


anais la rue

reads judith moore's

radical outraged screed

from 'malcolm x'

and another from

punk anarchists



brigid whipple

has reconsidered.

she hadn't planned to perform.

but now she blows

the evening away

with her raging

poetic force.



seventh night


it must be therapy night

at pacific switchboard.


eight of us read

poems picked at random

from sam hamill's book,

starting with me reading

sidney hall's 'imagine'


...Impossible to imagine

A war that has not begun,

A black-headed boy buried

Along with his soccer ball,

A young mother's broken breast

On a red sidewalk...


slow. and ending with casey reading

martin galvin's 'army burn ward'



and in between:

john, heidi, leanne, and liz,

duane and patricia, doing

alicia ostriker, elizabeth austen's

'the permanent fragility of meaning',

janet mccann, majid naficy?

building up a head of steam,

allusive & sickening.


to get things back on the ground

i pick three poems from the zine,

lucille clifton's tiny sharp

'buffalo war':


war over

everybody gone home

nobody dead

everybody dying


and ingeborg bachman's

'every day',

awarding a decoration

for the disregard

of every command;


but then,

margareta waterman's

intense response to sam's

white house disinvitation

is so volatile as to

once again

cut loose our moorings.


along comes

johnny peaceseed -

bearing a moniker

that cannot be lived up to -

but, you know what,

he does, and here's how:


a short personal piece

on grieving,

a terse little thing called


and a tour de force

of apoplectic shrieking,

imprecations upon

the 'war whores'.


up into the stunned silence

strides heidi -

right away

she starts yelling too;

it's an improvisation

based on her experience

as a recruit,


then her seagull poem,

then her compact political rant

all about 'shit'.


duane comes up

in his quiet way

with a cherokee ode

to the palestinians,


but now duane -

even calm duane -

gets a little caught up

in the night's hysteria,

when he backs up

his poetical truck

and unloads a great shapely monolith

of relentless terrifying hilarity,

his piece on the raw eroticism

of the 21st century bond-trader,

entendres you never dreamed of.


now patricia,

also calm and balanced,

presents us with

a precisely drawn oration

on the subject of words,

their twisted ill-use

in the service of power,

their unassailable power

in the service of peace.


chris andrews

reads a long-time favorite,

the ralph chaplin poem

out of my zine -

the famous one, that begins,


Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie -


and ends,


But rather mourn the apathetic throng -

The cowed and the meek -

Who see the world's great anguish and its wrong

And dare not speak!


casey is here,

disjointed surreal

terse and wildly



then leanne and i

turn on her infernal keyboard


and chant together,

off and on,

missing every cue,

chopping it to bits,

ishmael reed's

voodoo epic

against the deathbird architects

of the vietnam slaughter:

'the gangster's death'.



we are all tapped out

catharsis incarnate,


with leanne's

gracious permission

i do her short patriotic


juggernaut 'growl':


America, a horse like you

Would have been glue by now.



3 Out Loud Poets


Between this Stigmata and the Stigmatism

© Patricia J. McLean 6/19/03


I am in the middle of this war

on the flat land, the pocked land

between the landmines and mine mines

between the shooters and the shot at

I have holes in my hands

where I've tried to stop the bullets.

These days the blood never dries.


Born in the USA! She cries from the back

of the bus no more than five blocks

from where the driver warned her said

You're off at the next stop

You back there, you understand me?

Unless you can be quiet.


I'll be quiet.


And then she can't help it.

she starts up again

but he leaves it go for awhile

puts her off over the bridge

near the soup line, Harbor Lights

he apologizes to the rest of us

and he should. I think he should.

Because he's offended me.


Minds slip, I want to tell him

Say something, but I am dumb founded

And my hands are tired.





who are your enemies, america?

© duane poncy, 2003


the street is quiet today

no sirens, no orange alert

no news from the occupation

who could be your enemy, america

on a day like today?

teens in the barrios

who cry america, america?

african village girls

who would die to marry pop stars?

who are your enemies, america?

(the resident says he knows)

the natives you conquered long ago

raise your flag,

just like real americans

die in your (just and unjust) wars

who are your enemies, america?

who would develop such terrible weapons

against you?

the poor line up for your hamburgers,

watch your teevee wait for some sign

who are your enemies, america?

and why do they hate you?

the homeless family on the corner?

the old woman evicted,

cutoff from her medication?

who are your enemies, america?

not the masses yearning to be free.

who are your enemies, america

and why do they hate you?

are they jealous of your freedom?

'cause they are virtual inmates

in their gated communities

surrounded day and night

by secret service rent-a-cops

chained like dogs to their corporate masters

tethered like masters to their slaves

imprisoned by their greed and station

are they jealous of your freedom?

who are your enemies, america?





vintage year (the benefits of global warming)

© duane poncy, 2003


hey, how about this weather?

nice day for a foray up the coast

better make the most of it, don't you think?

how about this weather?

good day for a cool drink picnic getaway

fine day for a drive down i-5

in your air-conditioned chevrolet

pedal to the steel, wheels to the road

endless summer days

how about this weather?


in europe the grape growers say

it's a vintage year

3000 dead of the heat in france

but the grapes, they said....

twenty-oh-three boujolais

a year to remember,

how about this weather?


say, how about this weather?

nothin' like a summer drive

to make you feel alive

sliding the mustang into gear

wind in your hair

endless summer vintage year

how about this weather?


how about this weather?

take the family to the lake

put on the sunscreen bugscreen

else the kids gonna get West Nile melanoma

for heaven's sake wash the grapes


speaking of grapes -- did I say

its a vintage year for bourgeois-lay?


how about this weather?

you could fry an egg on the sidewalk

sunnyside up

a phenonomen, I believe

once only found in mojave desert towns

but now that the california sun

has crept up to oregon who knows

could be a vintage year for hash browns

how about this weather?

how about this weather?


how about this weather?





Moses Rides Again (His Ass)

ethan allen place


Fuck You vera katz, Fuck You

mark kroeker, fuck you Portland alliance for more and better

Big Brother, I'll damn well sit

where I please, when I please.

Five words: from my cold, dead







by ethan allen place


Heidi X is pissed off

on dignity's stage and I'm rolling methodically with her, with some smooth beat-


resurrection that's slowly spreading our vile infection, our vile anti-patriotic peasantry,

we sing out our souls blood flowing with beat


beat, flowing like ants from our eyeballs, flowing like military colonization the same

neocolonial influence the same neocolonial infection that

we're fighting with antigen antipatriotic beat prescriptions for more

poetry, more poetry,

more pestilence, more rage: rage, read

it again beautiful souls whose name I've already forgotten, already forgotten to

remember, remember oh my god it's so hard to remember but oh my god it's so easy to believe the lies Dan Rather keeps telling me, ranting me from my

TV set, my

make believes-set but I don't


anymore, I don't believe, anyway,

now I'm writing my own score, my own love, my own goddess, my own planet, my own







The Constitution is For Sale

by ethan allen place


America is under fire

yet I

cannot bring myself to live patriotically.

My Birthright to this word, to

my Liberties, to my Flag,

to the Democracy and Populism that made our country great,

that made our people great;


My Birthright that still could

make our words shine bright

throughout the world, throughout

the night;

My Birthright to Martin Luther King, to Thomas Jefferson,

My Birthright to Karl Marx and Bob Dylan My,

Birthright has been bought and sold

by Lockheed-Martin, my birthright

is being auctioned off to the highest

bidder from the back steps of my

white house; my flag is being trampled and

my rights are now wiping the asses of those politicians in Washington

and all the while,

the sweet cherry blossoms fall, like bombs from the trees in our backyard

and Katie Couric's smile is disarmingly bright,

as she complements our unelected president that his



drawl is disarmingly sweet and God Damnit, God Damn

Him, Sweet Jesus help me, I simply wish

we could all just disarm.





The Patriotic Rapist

by ethan allen place


The patriots have been reading my library books,

indulging our waves of fear and suspicion;

They've been tiptoeing through my inviolate,

my castle, my church, my liberty

Your liberty


Sneaking and peeking, slipping from shadow to shadow,

sliding from one black pool of deception

to another

The masters of our universe have perverted my world,

your world

Our world


The great hand of patriotism is shuttering our sun, killing

our sons and daughters, raping

our land, raping

our history, stealing

our freedom





The Rat Bastards (Mr. President)

by ethan allen place


The spiny, motherfucking,

rat bastards

couched in their

ringingly hollow ideals

safety, security, patriotism.


Those fucking rat-false patriots come

knocking on my Librarian's door


What've the workers been reading today?

There, sniveling in anticipation, their wireless

whiskers twitching, sending the bad news

back to mother rat, big brother, the war


The hate machine


Achtung! The peasants are no longer

meek, they've stopped reading the

fundamentalist fictions, King

James is unchecked, uncovered



But two-hundred copies of Zinn are

all on request,

the line is a month long

Marx, Lenin, Tupac Shakur



all on request, and the

line is a month long


The line is a month long for healthcare

The line is a month long for food

The line is a month long

for the poor

for homecomings

for desert sands

for sanity

the line is a month long

for love


The peasants have stopped reading our lies, they've

stopped believing our promises of

lives made better by waiting

on an inheritance that

never arrives


The peasants have stopped begrudging eachother

what little they have, what little

we give them

The peasants are starting to see, starting to realize

that we would just as soon kill

them. Mr. President, I do believe we're