Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Two by José M. Tirado


Lamentations in Times of Peace qnd War



Part 1. American Snapshots: The Blinking Lost



On Sundays, the drive-by church frenzy awakens

evangelical Jesus diving, divining, dying to save,

desperate to stop one otherwise metastasizing idea

lurking in the background of tongue talking, hop-skip dancing services-

to sneak out and dream celebrity dreams.

Here, Wal-Mart thin pastry shell patriotism possesses

dying towns tightly along with the dead who still live there.

Meanwhile, plentiful are sermons for a worn-down nations´

pimped-up ride to Heaven.


Inside Echo Park, it’s the little things, thin, half-dead forgotten,

like cavalier 80s rap songs embraced by would be thugz,

a blast, some bling, a fragmentary slip-up resulting in injury or death,

3 shots, the red blood, the cries, the cowardly rush for

celebrity recognition

(there it is again.)


Stale chips, salty dry and cardboard crisp: the default dinner

beneath the bridges ringed by smoke and LA exit signs;

dust wraps its legs ´round the wire carts winding their way

through the city night until morning calls a temporary halt and

carmelized smiles, in carmelized bodies break wind

in pressure popping bursts, begging for bread.


In vacant eyes fixed upon blue screens, an open mouth

agape dreams wii fii and Nintendo war circuses.

A grim hum, encased in 10 gigabytes, 3 pitches deep behind the desk.

In front, strained 12 year old eyes rubbed raw; others write that

these children hate you and all you are, leaving nothing

in them but the dry contempt of an already forgotten



Near Iowa, corn is given a second life: chemical filled resilient strong,

GMO´d and plasticized, never decaying,

while heartland Obama stickers fade fast with motion-filled exiles now

claiming for their own, American heart, lands:

Lopez, Singh, Thupten, Abdul.


On the yellowed sands and tabled mesas topped

with shimmering clear blue dry skies,

another lifeless monster squats deep into the beaten ground

below, waiting. A thousand booms, sand to glass here,

a billion cancers gingerly rot their way to water

where generations will draw to drink, bathe children, and wash up

at the end of the day.


Along South Beach, new Disney nights light up.

The balmy pass and cocaine charm still work well here,

hand in hand with the zombie smiles of the pasted wasted.

Silken waifs resemble nothing less (and little more)

than Amsterdam storefront bargains, lacking even the latter’s straightforward

red-light exchange rates.


On the long road out, the eyes are wet, the water bitter,

travelling aimlessly, lost for direction and

stricken mute against the coalescing forces

marking a new Reich,

this land, awash in rage and fear,

these tears, blinked back for a past, shunning the future.


Part 2. Something About Harry


Harry dreamt in video, lanced his

bitterness till it soaked through

the chinos,

then danced the last ache he felt alone.


The lance didn’t hurt as much

as the pin-prick silence he heard eating

breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the same chair

at the same time, in this same room, each day.


One of these things these days, said

Harry, will have to change …  I

            don’t know which or how or what but

            it seems an awful lot to just stay the same.


It was right that Harry’s cut off life

was cast in the bellows of America’s

toilet-soiled Constitution, amid torture and

wars of lies openly taught and openly believed.


Harry believed once, too, though now sought

any hole to drive his head in since,

the screams and headbang´d games Valhalla´ed

boy-men like him into video-monsters mad,


plus Harry paid his Fallujah´d fucking life

for early discharge and an Idaho grange;

fourteen quiet guns and black girdled belt

were played before his mirror nightly to


Pick the little ragheads off (he lightly sang),

And drew so fast, like Wyatt fucking Earp,

that his bushy spit-slobbered-´stache twitched

like those dead A-rabs he once saw.


Along the road long before Boise, Harry stood

naked and saw the lemmings stream down

towards their onion temples, calculating carefully,

from here, it wouldn’t be tough


So Harry entered the long line of the pitiful

few who cut the hope-filled legs of America at the knees

while others wail and weep to Heaven

that banning a gun show was illegal.


Part 3. With Raw Cod Eyes, 2022

With raw cod eyes, we remembered that summer:

He watched, steely tight, purse-lipped cold

without a word to the slender dark ones passing,

some legs exposed,

brow wet; desire burning resentment, burning…

This was too much to take in.

In bitter sweeps he dismissed

them, a gruff wave of the hand:

“Send them back”, and the

Long Walk South began through borderlines known only on paper.

Summer brought the madness, too.

“Patriots” and Patron molded death collusion to turn one frightened people into monsters of the modern day.

Close to Brownsville the anencephalic see with bird-like nervousness

and willing openness, meanwhile,

we saw the trains disappear beyond the hills.

In smoky despair, we heard the cries and said nothing.

It has happened before.

It will happen again.

Masses (re)moved, celebrations of worn-down whiteness echoing along hills

named for the brown-red inhabitants long taken away, too.

Along the roads, chicken plants and dirt ranches, service centers, Taco Bells,

emptied shells of aluminum framed businesses;

meat packers now Migra packaged themselves

move, bouncing hot in human waste, sweat wet, but waterless otherwise

choking air tight.

In dry gullies the faithful turned out

to see them off,

stones and spit regaled the miserable lot in showers

infrequent otherwise.

The tracks limped, sullenly taking unwashed and unwanted home,

the dried out hopes for a better chance once dreamed.

Glinty sheriffs glad for any humiliation to mete, watched stone-faced,

guarding those precious (invisible) sand lines,

guarding their precious land, guarding tight that passing

and fading White.

And when the last service in Spanish ended, running with raw cod eyes,

“El Lobo” and Manolito both, behind the factory outlet’s truck doors open

saw opportunity in new light:

there will always be markets for sneakers.



Revolutionary Grammar



There are words

and words…and words

and whispers of words

which roll off the tongue, or press,

and travel,

mind to mind to dream,

to action (at times)

and breed worlds

A softly added “L”, yes,

but, significant enough to draw

links – inks to links –

(as well we see here the connection.)

It’s finally up to us – all up to us –

up to all of us (there it is again, you see?)

and words make worlds if someone is

diligent enough to take




and just add

something to the

Goddamned mix.


Rev. José M. Tirado is a poet, priest, psychologist, and political writer living in Iceland. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Dissident Voice, The Endless Search, Op-Ed News, and others. He can be reached at


Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us as

To submit to Poets Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at 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 two months (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 Thanks!

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017