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by JARED CARTER
In Goya’s Disasters of War, print
after print of huddled women, already
raped, beaten, defeated, struggling
to bring a cup of water to another –
hillsides draped with bodies of the dead,
a priest tied to a stake, darkness,
stones, illumination within that world
always stark, unforgiving, wild –
yet in scene after scene the backgrounds
begin to dominate, the fierce stippling
and cross-hatching that never seems
to repeat itself, and is always different
from one print to the next – the void,
the emptiness, that we see swirling
and drifting about in the images
of Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh –
quantum vacuum, beyond the limits
of the imagination, but shown, particles
popping into existence, screaming
on a frequency we cannot pick up –
and yet perfectly composed, balanced,
this darkness, this light that Goya bestows
on these huddled figures, these creatures
with bat wings, poring over their ledgers.
(Originally published in Valparaiso Poetry Review)
Jared Carter’s work has appeared in The Nation, Pemmican, Stand, Witness, Wheelhouse, and Animal Liberation Front. His fifth collection, A Dance in the Street, is forthcoming from Wind Publications in Kentucky. He blogs at www.the-growler.com.
by D J MOSER
I’ve come to grips with my inadequacies
like a three-legged dog learning to pee.
My partner’s seat on the see-saw is vacant;
this is no game for one and no time to play,
but still I buy another ticket in the lottery.
My chart swings from grim to inhuman:
disintegration makes me ponder the allure
of falling in battle, a hero hacked and pale.
Yank out the tubes! Pour me a fifth of slumber!
The wonders of modern medicine shuffle about
me with dangling catheters – sagging chests full
of sagging pride. The legless slump in wheelchairs,
cauterized blossoms of knees, death snickering
in stethoscopes the pitter pat of wrinkled hearts
where once was life. A thousand brutal beatings
than this bed-bound reverie! I cling
to pained certainty in fear of the rumored
shade, a gaunt skeleton gibbering on a chain.
Here, mandible and maxilla meet; here, tibia
and fibula conspire. Lie back and watch TV.
I still control the remote; if only the canned
laughter didn’t grate so between drawings,
a sub-dermal lottery harvesting my losses.
D J Moser is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, DC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by JOAN ANNSFIRE
Thirty years ago we were on the front lines of a war
that we called revolution, armed only with our youth,
we were fierce warriors
who believed all things possible.
With the desperate passion of outlaws, we held on
loosely laced together by cocaine and weed,
drinking, dancing, playing pool
and closing down the bars,
this was the life we were born to and there could be no other.
The night Briggs was defeated,
we celebrated more than the election,
we believed we’d vanquished hate
and paved a road into the closed society.
I loved you then, but more than you,
I loved us all, the whole army of lovers,
bright-eyed and breathless, engaged to ideas,
pregnant with theories,
intently awaiting the coming of age of our struggle.
It all changed slowly, completely;
the twelve-step groups that became more like home than the bars,
the onslaught of AIDS with its legacy of bodies,
the rethinking of our lives.
as reality’s heavy boot kicked us toward the future.
Today we soldier on bravely in this “faith-based” jungle
where hatred has come back into fashion.
When King spoke of the arc of the universe being long,
he sure wasn’t kidding.
Yet our goal remains inevitable as the curvature of earth
invisible from our limited vantage point,
but totally inescapable from the perspective
of history’s great height.
(Originally published in The Queer Collection)
Joan Annsfire is a librarian, a writer and a long time political activist who lives in Berkeley California.Her poetry, short stories and non-fiction pieces have appeared in various literary magazines, anthologiesand web sites including previously in Poet’s Basement on Counterpunch. In her blog, lavenderjoan: http://www.lavenderjoan.blogspot.com/ the personal meets the political.
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