Davies and Bellamy

by POETS' BASEMENT

In the Woods

by ROBERT A. DAVIES

 

In bed last night I smelled like firs

unmistakably

and was in Timber again

no other task than watching.

 

Again I was looking for beaver.

A red-breasted sapsucker meowed

and I answered in kind

as he continued pecking and sucking sap

neat rows of bleeding holes.

A hummingbird in midair stopped.

 

I was waiting for dusk on the longest day of the year.

The beavers didn’t show up.

 

In the dark before I fell asleep

an accusation rang out:

You merely give names to this and that

a particular tree

a particular bird.

You know nothing of the woods.

 

            (Previously published in Windfall.)

 

 

Ethan Tries a Little Introspection

by ROBERT A. DAVIES

 

Sonny is sitting at a desk

an old beat-up one

he found god knows where.

It’s a big surprise but just for a minute.

 

Sonny is boss of receiving and shipping

at the Cooperative’s warehouse.

There isn’t a lot of sitting.

There are only three of us.

 

I’m only 14

but I see it’s a war for his importance.

I don’t betray myself

Doherty’s eyes shine.

 

Doherty goes on binges

but works hard and is wise,

knows the importance of dignity,

of seeming busy at all times.

 

He translates the desperate streets

that I walk after school and Saturdays

through Boston’s South End.

It is 1941.

Don’t expect much of him

the teacher tells my mother

and I’m right there.

I’m still called Cabbage Head back home.

 

After service in one of the wars

and a gradual recovery

and a few ups and downs

I’m now a CEO

sitting pretty

with this puzzling ache in the back of my neck.

 

Robert A. Davies lives in Portland, Oregon. rjdavies3@comcast.net

 

 

Literacy Test (AKA The New Jim Crow)

by HAKIM BELLAMY

 

Any person who shall attempt to teach any free person of color,

or slave,

to spell, read or write,

shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment,

be fined in a sum not less than two hundred fifty dollars.

                                    –from the Alabama Slavery Code of 1833

When they can no longer steal our land

They’ll steal our books

 

Because every genocide

Starts with the mind

 

Since every revolution

Begins with a thought

And heart

 

They will

Will sacrifice

Our freedom of teach

 

And only

By the grace of the laws they created

Can they not

 

Sacrifice our hearts

To stakes

And nooses

Bombs, gunfire and arson

 

But believe me

They’ve tried

 

They’ve tried

To remove our hearts

From our lifeless bodies

But our love never subsided

 

So Plan B

Is to make us

Love ourselves less

 

If burning women at the stake

Couldn’t kill feminism

 

How the hell

They think they gon’ ban Chicanismo?

 

We ain’t scared of a state

That will burn and ban people

Because we are burnt and banned people

 

Won’t even let us keep

The perfect bound papers we got

 

So these hypocrites

Are fittin’ to get THEIR history undocumented

 

Displace pen from paper

Like people from places

 

Remove Mexican-American hands

From the first Catholic Church

Ever built

In Solomonville, Arizona

1887

 

Or the first Presbyterian Church

In Morenci

1889

 

Remove the pictures

Of brown Jesus

Who looks

more Mexican

than Methodist

 

Remove the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church

We built

Because we were tired

Of being forced to listen to mass

In the basement

Of St. Mary’s

 

Erase the deportation

Of a thousand copper miners

On strike in Bisbee

Left on a train car

In the New Mexican desert

By vigilantes

With no food

Or water

 

A government

That so badly wants

The history of how

We “got it”

To be forgotten

They will remove fingerprints

From a crime scene

 

Remove Cesar Chavez’s birth

From Yuma

 

Will Remove

Cesar Chavez

Gloria Anzaldua

Tomas Rivera

Luis Valdez

Martin Espada

Isabelle Allende

Rudolfo Anaya

Rodolfo Acuna and Gonzales

 

Cause they will have us drink Kool-aid

Instead of Cultura

 

No E.S. Martinez

Not even in pictures

 

No mexican white boys

And no women hollerin’ creek

No! Sherman Alexie

 

Just like Pocahontas and John Smith

Thanksgiving and bull shit

The Lone Ranger and Tonto

Will NOT fist fight in heaven

They will hold hands

 

No Zoot Suit

Nobody’s son

Everybody’s “Bro”

No Codexes

Only Rolexes

No black mesa poems

 

Arizona

Wouldn’t even leave

Baldwin and Zinn alone

Said F.U. Rosales

Abu-Jamal

AND Henry David Thoreau

 

No Rethinking Columbus

No rethinking anything

As a matter of fact

No thinking

Period

 

Cause there is no single act

Worse than

The revisionist history they hate

Than removing books

From schools

 

I want to tell America

That bleaching the brown

Off your history

Will not make you clean

 

That there is no way

To separate your guilt

From truth

 

That there IS

An X in La Raza II

 

I want to tell them

It’s too late too

 

Too late to remove “us”

From “u”

 

And just because

Your history

Is unswallowable without milk

And we

Are like water for chocolate

That’s no excuse…

 

So we’ll build

A bridge of banned books

Cross the border

 

And when you find yourself

So far from God

That you need to borrow

That bridge to get back

 

We won’t even ask

For your papers

We’ll just open our history books

And keep track

 

Because the only people

That are afraid of the past

Are people who are afraid of facts

 

You want to remove books?

From our tragically

Underperforming education system

Maintaining “It’s not about race”

When it’s obvious

That it’s not about class

 

How smart is that?

 

This is a

“You are not allowed to have a history” lesson

Where there are only

Closed book tests

Because you don’t want us…

 

To pass.

 

(Written for the Librotraficante Caravan Press Conference in Albuquerque in response to the ban of books & ethnic studies in Arizona.)

 

Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in Albuquerque inner-city buses and various anthologies. Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Re Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and journalist and was recently bestowed the populist honor of “Best Poet” by Local iQ (“Smart List 2010, 2011 & 2012”) and Alibi (“Best of Burque 2010 & 2011”). He is the co-creator of the multi-media Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater

 

 that has been staged in throughout the country. He facilitates youth writing workshops for schools and community organizations in New Mexico and beyond. Currently, Hakim is the Strategic Communication Director at Media Literacy Project. 

 

 

 

And now, here’s this year’s birthday poem:

 

Birthday Poem, 2012

by MARC BEAUDIN

 

Dreams of the Bomb over D.C.

but all we can find on TV are sit-coms

& action movies

 

A trio of swans at the lagoon

disappointed in me for not thinking

to bring them some bread crumbs

 

This picnic table says, “I Heart U”

but I don’t believe it

 

Fresh snow on the Sleeping Giant

glimmers like a new pair of shoes

as shadows are peeled from his face

w/ the plodding round-dance of the sun

 

This is another of those years

where I can’t quite remember how old I am –

it’s somewhere between 43 and Surrealism

but I don’t feel a day over Armageddon

 

Two days from now,

at the Boiling River,

an elk and an eagle will leave calling cards for my soul

& I’ll fair slightly well at being a gracious host,

but then,

there’s that pawn shop bike

I’d like to buy & ride all over town

to get my blood flowing

once again

 

 

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!

Will Falk moved to the West Coast from Milwaukee, WI where he was a public defender.

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