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Gardner, Silverstein and Orloski





pharaoh built a wall

so highwide and so strongtall

it would forever never fall

but they all come tumbling down


up to the walls of jericho

he marched with spear in hand

go blow those rams’horns joshua cried

to the satchmos in his band


the shofar section began to wail

drums to boomboomboom

backup singers began to shout

from krakow to khartoum


you cant build it long enough

you cant build it strong enough

when your goal is hoarding stuff

the walls come tumbling down



macnamara’s d m z


with motion detectnology

it all came tumbling down


sandals slender pedals push

shshing in pyjama black

neath the jungle canopy

down the nighttime track


the eternal embassy

reedy flutes to blow

cementblocks commenced to dance

to tunes from uncle ho


you cant build it long enough

you cant build it strong enough

when it’s just to whored your stuff

the walls come tumbling down



rockebremer greenzone ruled

amana’d from the heat

afraid to buy a lambkebab

from courage down the street


the firingsquad lines up at dawn

the blindfold sees through fear

the orders come from pitboss lips

to  bebi’s pitbull ear


grieving cousins rise from prayer

and payback bombs explode

a café smolders on the square

checkpoints mate the road


back west “the people’s house”

gets “permanently” locked

and pennsylvania avenue

gets “permanently” blocked

and yet

you cant build it long enough

you cant build it strong enough

if the soulgoal is owning stuff

the walls come tumbling down



barricade your aridzona

all southtexas too

through the sea of tijuana

declare no brown gets through


history rock-n-rolls along

the right-on cause turns might then wrong

from berlin unto mountzion

the walls come tumbling down

and though

memory fades bit by bit

whoso jewish could forget

the punchline of their first big hit?

“the walls came tumbling down!”


joshua f’t the battle of jericho

jericho jericho

joshua fi’t the battle of jericho


Fred Gardner can be reached at plebesite.com.  He edits O’Shaughnessy’s, the journal of cannabis in clinical practice.

The Think Tank Song


For many long years I felt ineffectual
A misunderstood and ignored intellectual
My theories (though brilliant) were hooted and hissed
By colleagues and others their value dismissed.
But still I did labor to make them more statable
In hopes that one day they’d become more debatable
And those that opposed them for reasons nefarious
Would meet a just fate that was most deleterious.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus, part book barn, part nut house, part bank.

It’s true a great thinker on great ideas thrives
But it’s also quite true that we have private lives
To best change perceptions and settle old scores
We need the support of big buck sinecures.
The best thinking’s done on a surfeit of calories
And tends to improve in tandem with salaries
This linkage ain’t found in a staid university
Not to mention such places’ diverting diversity.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus, part book barn, part nut house, part bank.

It was only by chance that I found my true nesting
The place in my heart I had always been questing
I’d published a screed, arcane and voluminous
So riddled with bile, some tagged it bituminous.
It seemed for a time to attract no attention
Except the occasional snide condescension
Until came that call from a hunter of heads
Who asked if I’d ever considered Op Eds.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus, part book barn, part nut house, part bank.

I’d always deemed Op Eds a medium trivial
So compact one’s points couldn’t be unequivial
Yet write one I did, laced with fury and gumption
Too high-brow (I figured) for pop press consumption.
But turn up it did, on a blatt’s viewpoints page
Where it went on to garner both pro and con rage
My head hunter pitched it to tanks with fat coffers
And got back a slew of paid thinker job offers.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus, part book barn, part nut house, part bank.

I now have a slot as cushy as jello
I’m called a researcher and visiting fellow
I analyze trends, write books in a gush
All published before being pulped into slush
On TV they love me on talking head junction
A chicken and peas night is my fav’rite function
At fund-raising meets, rich egos I lather
With partisan factoids and scholarly blather.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus, part book barn, part nut house, part bank.

I longed for a place where they pay by the syllable
Where spewing odd visions and ideas is billable
Where the kinkiest, crankiest, odd scheme devisors
Can train to become presidential advisors.
A shadowy power most people don’t see
It now wield by thinkers-for-hire like me
My nostrums are slick, and my come backs are rapid
Just perfect for pols whose own brains have gone vapid.

In the tank, in the tank, in my Beltway think tank
Part campus
Part book barn
Part nut house
Part bank.
Michael Silverstein blogs at http://wallstreetpoet.com.

For Whom the Bell Never Tolled

Not present at Gethsemane,

John Harter remembered Baltimore Catechism,

imagined the weary old Lord blinked

when soldiers arrived, and after sulfur kisses,

he was told to move on, understanding

they had other housing plans for him,


On a hot afternoon, Harter completed

an inspection tour of Muncy S.C.I.,

a place for bad women.

He recalled Route 118’s windy road –

Harter saw tree & animal ethnic cleansing

wrought by Hurricane Irene’s wind.

An ancient oak leaned on cable wires,

a bear cub crossed a road in fear,

it did not seem to understand

it had natural gas in its eyes.


At S.C.I., Harter inspected fuel tanks,

facility fire extinguishing equipment –

As Haz-Mat Specialist, it was John’s duty

to identify potential danger, diesel spills,

chlorine leaks at Wastewater Treatment,

maybe an inmate gone mad,

an angry woman with a knife, guards too late,

blood-covered cafeteria, a severed hand lay

on a plate, Cindy McKinney shackled,

moved into a place of tighter security.


Sanguine –

facility & grounds inspection completed.

Harter assured Safety Supervisor Welsh

he saw it all, he saw everything that could possibly

harm S.C.I.’s environment.

Everything fine, prisoners walked behind barb-wire,

Harter waved goodbye to a haggard old lifer

searching for either Jesus or a carbine

which could set her free to die.

In the wild, a bear cub roamed damaged woods,

it heard a gored pheasant scream in tangled bush,

Harter’s cell phone rang, a Cherokee ring-tone,

& John listened to ailing wife Ann’s bad news  –

“Landlord’s divorced daughter come home  from NYC,

plans to move into our rented double…

we must be gone by Thanksgiving, John.” said Ann.


Where John goes, no one knows –

fourth move in four years, “four more years!”

Harter had no place to lay his head.

He implored Crazy Horse’s help,

petitioned McKinney’s Guardian Angel,

& John shook hands with Mr. Welsh,

returned home insane with fear.

On Route 118, eight mile from Hughesville line,

he saw a detachment of Roman soldiers, 9/11/’11,

they marched a bear cub across a natural gas well-pad.

Harter noticed the thirsty cub tug toward a river,

a place it called home, childhood in Ricketts Glen.


Incarcerated, Jesus heard S.C.I. guards

speak about Jordan River’s sand-bagged shore,

noticed dangerous leaks in black-stone walls,

and a Kapo gave him raw chicken legs.

Jesus saw Harter approach Trinityville Bridge,

washed-out by flooding.

Yellow detour sign indicated he must turn back –

shall he take a leap into swollen water,

take an alternate way home to temporary home?

Animals and trees mourned twister winds,

S.C.I.’s beds were warm, & John Harter understood

how even God got eviction notices, shit-on-shingles.

Charles Orloski at present lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania.   He can be reached at CCDJorlov@aol.com.


Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at counterpunchpoetry@gmail.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx or odt files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

For more details, tips and suggestions, visit CrowVoiceJournal.blogspot.com and check the links on the top right. Thanks!

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