Three by Elena Carter

by POETS' BASEMENT

Pacifism
by ELENA CARTER

Sometimes you meet a woman
who seeks peace in distance.

Something like that old hermit
who pretends to love wild things
more than people.

The path opened suddenly into meadow
to welcome my new friend and me.

She was talking about reincarnation
whereas I wanted to know this consciousness,
and brought up first time sex.

This is intimacy, for
beginners. Arbitrary as

what’s your favorite movie?

Did I get what I wanted?

I am inventing new memories for her.
There is room for everything:
friends, lawns, soccer, first beers.

Mostly, the voluntary touch of lips on breasts
and a shy unfolding, like the flowers she loves.

I am angry. I want to find this man and ask,
How do you account for the teenage nipples you bit,
for bruised skin over a girl’s wrists?

She’s lived a thousand lives, so
what does one moment matter?

I was fifteen. I was drunk. I should not have
put myself in that position, she said.

Then turned and asked a mushroom,

Who are you? How do I know you?

How have I known you?

An Unfit Guerrilla
by ELENA CARTER

Night to night:
a boy walks toward me on all fours.
Without language or vision, he rises
from where they left him, not far from
a pine tree against which he once sat
smoking a cigarette and feeling romantic.

Say he broke like a diamond
skull, this flat-footed clerk who,
in the beginning,
asked if they gave talks or
held meetings,
as if he was going to some kind of
flower show.

Say he was afraid of slopes, that
to go down a hill he went on his
ass, dragged himself
like an animal, became a liability.

Say he wept, masturbated:
his way of cleaning, a primitive
form of hygiene.

But say too
that he did not fall
on his knees, did not ask
for mercy, and
at the order to fire
swelled out his chest.

Did he feel at all
romantic?

This is how he appears to me:
alternately brave and broken.

He was buried, his grave covered over.
It was part of guerrilla life.

Fifty years later, I am reading a biography of Che Guevara
and wishing I were not pan blanco.

Outside, it is darkening as if to rain.

I am that clerk. I dream orchids.

A Tiny Death is the Saddest
by ELENA CARTER
for Bertolt Brecht

Truman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, a military base .100,000 people, almost all civilians, died. Some eyeless, noseless, lipless lived on, looked space invader, bald play-do heads emphasized low-cut ears, entire faces seeming malleable, brow ridges without brows are Neanderthalesque, suits, dresses marked them male, female, how else to tell? There’s a human in there, there’s a human in there.

Harry Truman won an honorary degree from Oxford University. His memoirs were a commercial and critical success for Doubleday. He lived to eighty-eight, but he died.

Augustus commissioned the Pantheon to commemorate his victory over Mark Anthony. Was it he who hauled the coarse-grained granite? Near death, he said, “I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble.” Whose hands laid the marble? Unremembered, unremembered, but they too walked the seven hills of Rome, admired the quiet cool surface of the Tiber, felt the wind and hot and cold, love and joy and death – more death than love and joy – brutal little wars fought and forgotten. Forgotten they died.

Augustus died to applause, but he died.

What about the Wampanoag and Pequot people? When the Plymouth pilgrims sat down to the first Thanksgiving dinner, none of them were invited. Eleven-foot walls surrounding the settlement kept them out. Nation building myths ensured they would be remembered, placed them at that feast, but they died, riddled with disease if not first massacred. People say what is it about Indians and alcohol, what genetic failings when the answer lies not in genes. Convenient, to say what’s natural, what isn’t – when few things are actually fixed –

But there’s certainty in the sadness of a tiny death.

The Great Gatsy tells of a mysterious green light, represents upper class aspirations, green the color of money, also the promise of new continents, but what room does the short-chinned homeless man have for dreams, parking his bike in front of Starbuck’s, singing songs in his head, dancing, swaying from side to side as if walking a ship’s plank, happy to get a free cup of coffee from a female customer in a sundress out to prove what a good liberal she is – when he dies, there will be no orations, no tears, a discarded bike, a man lying in his own urine on a bench, freshly dead, stiffening. An uninteresting tragedy, his loss a loss of functionality, nothing grander than that. No story written for him.

The pages of history, of literature, tell of big men. The powerful swell like distended stomachs, casting light bright as bombs. The average, those aspiring to average, look on, wait for their lives to begin, but they are living, also dying, their lives, undocumented.

Great men live in prose, poetry, song, film.

Where are our residences?

Elena Carter is a graduate student in the University of Minnesota MFA program in Creative Writing. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area with her parents, twin sister, and various pets. Her poetry has appeared in Zaum Press and Occupy SF-Poems from the Movement.

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
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
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 Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future