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The Watcher and the Watched, 2012
by HARRIET ANN ELLENBERGER
for Susan Robinson
I send a poem to my friend,
asking her, Do you think it is finished?
My poem speeds off to join internet traffic,
passing through the super-computers of US intelligence
before it reaches her.
If I call long-distance to read her my poem,
each word I say,
each word she says,
travels through the same computers.
This gives me an idea.
What do these super-computers do?
They scan for keywords selected by humans
following the daily threat assessment.
And what do poems do?
They tell the truth of human feeling.
What if the world of poets
scanned the news for probable keywords?
What if we scattered them liberally
throughout our poems and shared our poems
prodigally, far and wide—
would humans who answer to no one
be forced, by the exigencies of their job,
to read poetry?
Poets too assess the real behind the rumour,
and should our keywords catch their ear,
what then—spy to spy—shall we say
to the boys and girls at the NSA?
We’ll say that humans are become
a single suffering tribe,
moving into unmarked territory,
hungry and hallucinating.
We’ll say, here’s a truth of human feeling:
it hurts to be awake out here.
Harriet Ann Ellenberger is an advisor to Trivia: Voices of Feminism www.triviavoices.com and writes for the Return to Mago blog www.magoism.wordpress.com. She lives in rural New Brunswick (Canada) and can be reached at email@example.com.
by KEMMER ANDERSON
Through a pillar of cloud godlike Israelis
Fire by night airstrikes and drone eyes:
Missiles and epistles twitter through the sky.
Children scramble into bunkers, scatter
Through emergency rooms feeding on IV tubes
And shrapnel while rockets burst in the air.
Stones topple, crumbling concrete collapses
Under bomb weight and alliterative artillery fire
From the sea. Words fall apart, dirges and moans
Set syllables stuttering: sentences suture the skin:
Blood drips from the operational pen.
Kemmer Anderson just finished teaching Homer’s Iliad. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by HEATHCOTE WILLIAMS
Israel is the colostomy bag
Of a dying empire, America.
It’s emptied out each day onto Gaza.
Everyone can then settle down
To relax and enjoy
A continuous firework show
Which costs three billion dollars a year.
It is paid for by the IDF
And the US of A.
There are cluster bombs,
Depleted uranium shells,
And white phosphorus –
All carefully choreographed
To light up Palestine’s sky.
These novelties are regularly despatched
To a clientele hungry for pyrotechnics
From the Pentagon Incendiary Company –
Though it has a poor safety record
As its products routinely kill
Anyone who gets too close.
Resenting those who stage this spectacle
Of flying limbs and spurting blood
And tiny corpses with napalmed flesh,
Gaza residents occasionally
Strap home-made fireworks
To their own bodies and leave
Their open-air torture chamber –
This coliseum of exploding sewage –
And put on a display for their captors.
Heathcote Williams a poet, playwright and actor, has made a significant contribution to many fields. He is best known for his extended poems on environmental subjects: Whale Nation, Falling for a Dolphin, Sacred Elephant and Autogeddon. His plays have also won acclaim, notably AC/DC produced at London’s Royal Court, and Hancock’s Last Half Hour. As an actor he has been equally versatile – taking memorable roles in Orlando, Wish You Were Here, and Derek Jarman’s The Tempest, in which he played Prospero.
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