You are herePoetry
Absolutely nothing, according to latest work by San Anselmo filmmaker by Ronnie Cohen, Pacific Sun
Born in 1914, the first year of World War I, poet William Stafford grew up hearing war horror stories along with the biblical commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." When the U.S. government drafted him into World War II, he felt he could not go and instead became a conscientious objector, one of 12,000 who lived in civilian public-service camps throughout the country.
"I belong to a small, fanatical sect," Stafford wrote in his journal. "We believe that current ways of carrying out world affairs are malignant."
By David Swanson
The latest hardcopy newsletter from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities opens with an article about poetry about war, which opens with this line: "Many of my favorite poets are soldiers." The author begins with a poet who "has served in the current war in Iraq." Served what we are not told. Then she jumps to Virgil and declares:
"Neither Virgil nor Turner gives us answers to war: they know the questions are more important, and likely answerable only by each of us alone."
So we should each enlist right away in order to answer "the questions"? Or we should all read lots of ambiguous war poetry? Who knows, because this follows:
"What is my responsibility as the gears of human perfidy and greatness grind together?"
Another question that is more important than the answer, no doubt. And yet, what could be more important or - by now - more obvious than the answer?
Dying-In to End the Wars | June 29, 2010
By Dan Pearson
On February 22, 2010, Chris Gaunt began conducting a weekly sit-in at the local offices of her US Senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, in Des Moines, Iowa, urging them to refuse any further funding for war. A number of other local peace activists joined Chris in conjunction with The Peaceable Assembly Campaign. As part of the sit-ins which took place during office hours, Chris made a point of connecting with the office staff, person-to-person, while she endeavored to educate them on the dire urgency of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite these efforts, it was clear that the Senators themselves were not willing to seriously consider voting against war funding or even listen to the rationale that Chris and others were offering. Chris recognized that, to be taken seriously, more had to be done.
On March 11, 2010, Chris changed the weekly peaceful sit-in to a peaceful die-in. She lay down on the floor as if she were dead, with a note explaining that she would remain there until she could get a straight answer from the senator about cutting off funds for the wars. The office staff called on the police to physically remove and arrest her. She and others have returned to conduct die-ins nearly every week, a total of eleven times, since. Speaking of the results, Chris describes the opportunities she has had to interact with a variety of people, including Senate staffers at all levels, both in Iowa & DC, Federal Building Security Officers, Police Officers, Prosecutors, and now Judges.
Below is a poem Chris wrote about her experience as well as an excerpt from a letter to Senators Grassley and Harkin and their staffs.
Dan Pearson is a Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
Dying to End the Wars
By Chris Gaunt
Dying-In, I should say.
Dying in the Federal Building in Des Moines, Iowa, 7th floor.
Dying in the offices of Senators Grassley & Harkin.
Dying to stay until my Senator starts voting NO on continuing to fund these wars.
Staying dead past 5 pm closing time? … YES.
Return to die again the next Wednesday.
Get to know the office staff before you die.
Let them get to know who you are and what you want.
Come in a spirit of resistance.
Arm yourself only with LOVE.
Care to join me?
Dare to raise your voice by using your body.
Speak loudly in the dead silence.
Come, die-in with me to end these damn wars.
Pick your day.
Choose your own way to simply say:
NO MORE $$$ FOR WAR
From a June 17, 2010 letter to Senators Grassley and Harkin and to staffers Nick Podsiadly, Kurt Kovarik, Tom Buttry, Rosemary Guiterrez, Aaron McKay, Derek Miller and Rob Barron:
The message I have been bringing to your Iowa offices since last February is:
NO MORE $$$ FOR WAR.
By Dave Lindorff
Kevin Neish of Victoria, British Columbia, didn’t know he was a celebrity until he was about to board a flight from Istanbul to Ottawa. “This Arab woman wearing a beautiful outfit suddenly ran up to me crying, ‘It’s you! From Arab TV! You’re famous!’” he recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me, ‘I saw you flipping through the Israeli commando’s book! It’s being aired over and over!’”
A soft-spoken teacher and former civilian engineer with the Canadian Department of Defense, Neish realized then that a video taken by an Arab TV cameraman in the midst of the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza of him flipping through a booklet had been transmitted before the Israelis blocked all electronic signals from the flotilla. The booklet had pictures and profiles of all the passengers, and he'd found it in the backpack of an Israeli Defense Force commando.
By David Swanson
I wrote a review of Karen Malpede's new play "Prophecy" when I had only read but not yet seen it. Karen read the review and invited me to lead the first in a series of talk-back discussions following performances in New York, and I did so on Wednesday. For that incredible privilege I'm glad I wrote that early review, but I'm sorry it was so insufficient as an attempt to convey the intensity of the phenomenon that is "Prophecy."
By Sherwood Ross
I write to you in my last hour
In the last hour of the night
The hour of fear before the light
The hour of persecution and execution
Of the headsman’s bloody institution
Of prisoners dragged from their cells
Hearts pounding, legs trembling
Piss-soaked with fright.
I write to you from the land of discredited dreams
Of delicate white petals spilled upon the floor
Like semen wasted in the fingers of a whore
Of American dreams twisted into nightmares
Of a president’s lying schemes
For which Christ has no parable, no metaphor.
I write to you when poets are beaten in the streets
When students are shot dead for protesting war
When men earn their bread making killing machines
And never question what their work is for.
I will show you the land of the dying cities
Where the many see little hope to get ahead
LOWKEY - OBAMA NATION (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
THIS TRACK is not an attack upon the American people
It is an attack upon the system within which they live
Since 1945 the United States has attempted to
Overthrow more than 50 foreign governments
In the process the us has caused the end of life
For several million people, and condemned many millions
More to a live of agony and despair
And the War goes on…
In dregs and druthers
Band of brothers and sisters
Are the chosen few
To go and do
What we dread to tread
And still they have to do….
This thing this aweful terrible….
They wing it
Un-responsive detachment unbearable
Cause that’s what they are ordered to do
To do this thing
And the beat throbs and sings
Calls the fist to jawline stings…
1-2 punch in endless fling
with pain... Read more.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
By Gary Corseri
I am sick of the voices of heroes!
They cry from maniacal graves:
“Why do you hurry and turn away—
You who are warmed by the sun?
“Once a year, on a ‘solemn occasion,’
You come for public mourning.
Officers offer orisons.
Politicians ply for votes.
We have our ways
On the ship of State
To win your praise
While pushing fate
For the detainee
That is so unlucky
To be positioned
And then to drown
While we clown
I can no longer remain silent on the false debate on torture.
May 2: A Saturday in Spring
By Richard C. Cook | www.RichardCCook.com
Today, amidst the flowers of springtime, all I really want is to be able to listen to the Silence.
Silence is the place from which every created thing originates.
Silence is the source of “the peace that passeth all understanding.”
Silence is the space between thoughts.
Being in Silence is the greatest of all freedoms.
Life and death are the coming out of Silence and the returning into it.
Listen to Big Money (v2).
listen up my friends it's time we paid attention
an age old specter knocks upon our door
phantom financiers hell bent on domination
they are closer than they've ever been before
it's Big Money's plan to own us for their pleasure
it's Big Money's plague that blackens all our dreams
where Big Money meets lies hidden from all measure
what Big Money says is never what they mean
Hurricane on the horizon
Judgment getting closer all the time
I can't find tomorrow
Bring peace to this troubled land...
The eyes of heaven are upon you
But so is the soul from down below
They'll cut off your fingers
To bring peace to this troubled land
Well you can stand up and holler
You can lay down and die
Bring peace to this troubled land
By Huck Gutman
It has been exciting and nerve-wracking, both, to think about what poem to begin with. I’ve considered poems by William Carlos Williams, Baudelaire, Melville, Dickinson, Eugenio Montale, Zbigniew Herbert….
I have chosen a poem by the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert because it seems to follow so naturally from what I wrote in my introductory message: Why should we read poems?