Held and Ramsey

by POETS' BASEMENT

For Hamza Ali al-Khatib

by PELEG HELD

 

            A thirteen-year old boy tortured and killed in Syria. He kept homing pigeons.

 

From my father’s roof I rise, circling

the loss I cannot gather with these permeable wings.

 

The bridge from pigeon to dove,

the broken body of a child.

From obedience to unruly honor,

the broken body of a child.

 

From this day forward the words

I carry will be mine alone,

home or elsewhere.

Words lifted into fury,

legs folded and burned but

still unbanded.

 

 

Colony Collapse Disorder

by PELEG HELD

 

The sun is going down, beautiful winged sister.

But this night you will not look toward the hive.

This night, spread out in an isolation

conducted by fate, nectar and the wind,

you and yours will spill a testament into the wet grass.

 

Alone from her chamber a queen will wander

out into the desert beyond hierarchy, and die.

 

I will stay with you for a while.

Tell me of empty combs.

I will tell you of powerless words.

 

Compañera, they no longer read what we write upon the walls

as the centrifuge spins our sweetness against the steel.

The smell of a vacant hive hangs about our words.

We have forgotten how to worry power.

 

I will pass this night with you sister

until you speak deep surrender into the soil,

though it is hard to see you end.

Your rage unspent.

Your sting — bayonet sharp — unused.

 

When you have passed and the dawn comes I will go back.

I am not ready to lie with you just yet.

Rage unspent.

Words — bayonet sharp — unused.

 

Peleg Held was a former member of Voices in the Wilderness as well as several other failed campaigns for basic human decency. He is a carpenter in Portland, Maine where he lives with his partner and children, (primate and other).

 

 

To Kill the Bees

by JOSEPH G. RAMSEY

 

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.”

            –Albert Einstein

 

Dressed in camouflage,

Like soldiers,

We hunted bumblebees in the back yard.

We would chase them

From the cement basement lip of the little red house

where my parents tried to grow strawberries,

all the way across the clover patch that lined the driveway.

I guess it was only a few adult steps, really.

But to us it seemed like a wide stretch of terrain:

A battlefield occupied by the enemy.

My best-friend Andrew and I—we shared the very same birthday, us two—

We’d gather up rocks and sticks that felt like logs

—like battering rams in our child hands–

And we’d gather our giddy kid courage, hiding behind the gutter-pipe:

a commando team on a mission

to kill the bees.

 

We’d count to Three and then we’d yell “Charge!” and aim as we ran and we’d throw our load clumsy in

the general direction of the bee-speckled clover, our sticks and stone bombardment tumbling into the

air buzzing with adrenaline and we’d keep on running—breathing hard—right back behind the house

and across the yard, far away and safe from bumblebee counter-attack.

 

“Did we get one?”

Recovering, huddled, keeping our distance

We’d squint to survey the damage.

Then we’d scour the woods, to gather more sticks and stones.

 

I can’t confirm that we ever actually killed any.

Maybe we did. Maybe we didn’t.

We certainly tried.

We didn’t count the corpses.

But crouched against the house we convinced ourselves that

we had at least sent those bees a message,

one those intruders would not soon forget.

 

High on a weird kind of hunter’s rush.

We were warriors,

Committed to the cause: defending home.

 

The bees, of course, always came back.

I think we assumed they would.

This was a war that would go on forever: kids and bees,

 

like Indian and buffalo (though we weren’t out to eat them).

 

Somehow we never got stung.

Nor did we break any toes.

The bees tolerated our childish, silly game.

Or maybe we just got lucky.

 

But ever since, I’ve had the creeping feeling that the bees

would have their revenge.

 

*****

 

The sound of apocalypse, the scientist says,

may not be that of a meteor hitting the earth, after all.

Not a volcano erupting in downtown LA.

Not a giant wave crashing on all coasts at once.

Not a hundred hydrogen bombs exploding.

It may not be a sound at all

But a silence

where the buzz of bees wings

used to

be.

 

For it’s not just little kid hands and little kid weapons anymore;

The biggest of the big adults are in this campaign:

With bottom-lines for battering rams

and blow-torches to light up their blind forward charge–

Crouching at desks beneath green-smiling logos

they’re armed to the teeth

with genetically modified pest-repellant corn

to feed the cattle,

and real estate contracts sharper than any stick.

Their workers idle home tearing through burgers on stalled highways,

radios buzzing, tail pipes locked in traffic;

Pumping out: Progress.

 

Caught in the electromagnetic maelstrom,

The worker bee, famous for her sense of direction

Loses her way.

 

Left to queen and drone,

Colonies collapse.

(Hive temperature goes haywire, infestation spreads, pupa starve.)

 

Three decades on, the forces have shifted:

 

Bees don’t always come back.

 

And they have the message for us.

 

**

 

A battle still rages in the clover patch…

 

This time I’m on the side of the bees.

 

Joseph G. Ramsey is a teacher, writer, scholar, and activist who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.  He co-edits Cultural Logic: an Electronic Journal of Marxist Theory and Practice, www.clogic.eserver.org, with a special issue on “Culture and Crisis” due out in June 2011.  Joe is also a participant in the Kasama Project, www.kasamaproject.org, and can be reached at jgramsey@gmail.com.  Selections of his writings are available at www.ramseythewriter.wordpress.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!

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Masters’ Schedule
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Ron Jacobs
Black Literature and the FB Eye Blues
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender” Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015
Karl Grossman
The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Cesar Chelala
Cultural Treasures Are Also Victims of War
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak