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Poets' Basement

Andres Castro and John Snider

by POETS' BASEMENT

Amiri Baraka Died on the 9th
by ANDRÈS CASTRO

I want to go to the funeral—
it’s right here
in Newark.

My wife
has me booked on a plane—
bound for Madrid—
with her
on the same day.

Now I love my wife—
never seen Madrid—
and never met Baraka—

but I saw him
read.

I read his poems
and plays—black
and white wicked.
Some label him
anti-Semite—
protean provocateur—
breaking
with Ginsberg & Beats
as Black Nationalist.

Some whites doubtless
wished he’d drop dead
early along his way—
man, did he not.

Before Allen died—
as they both hoped—
they were tight again—
more, I have to believe,
since they always asked
for more.

What would you do?

 

 

She Tried to Dream Him Again
by ANDRÈS CASTRO

This is only a poem about a Queens-
born daughter of Arab immigrants,
a promising student of Divinity,

who commits suicide
after tracking every war
on the globe for less than a year;

her small basement apartment
turned to dump of bloody news,
articles stacked in piles,

magazines stuffed in cabinets,
maps taped to walls,
notes scattered everywhere;

having always nurtured
a liking for irony
and dramatic moments,

she chose her birthday,
Christmas Eve,
as her project’s deadline

after frequent dreams
of placing her work in the hands
        of a beautiful weeping Jesus;

tried to dream him again
the night she took her life,
but could not;
the Jesus that did appear
was not tall, blond, certainly
not handsome as expected;

he was just like her,
short, brown, and wooly haired,
ugly she thought, so ugly

that just before laying her thesis
in his hands, he grew into something
demonic, that startled her awake,

wide awake;
and nothing more.

Andrès Castro is listed in the Directory of Poets and Writers and is a PEN member. He is also the founding editor of The Teacher’s Voice, a small press poetry journal for anyone interested in education in the U.S. and abroad.

 

 

On Sarah’s Seventeenth Year
by JOHN SNIDER

Up from the roots,
Seventeen years into the light, climbing
The sound roaring–a male chorus for mating.
As well a bitter chorus of weeping, finding the world unchanged after seventeen years.
The genus magicadia, but no magic, only dark sorcery.
Their veins orange in sympathy for children of another forest
Orange rain. . . . . You’ve seen their faces.
No eyes or eyes bugged out,
Bodies bent in ways that make you forget any geometry you ever knew.
The cicadas would adopt them if they could.
But you too wait for love–
Your lover’s orbit is decaying.
He is falling to earth, burning in the atmosphere
And will light up the sky.
At MIT they served 57 developmentally delayed children radioactive Quaker oatmeal.
William Penn screams beneath an elm, his voice part of the chorus.
And you look to the sky and know your lover will not burn completely.
And you know you will find him and the other children as well,
Lop-sided heads
S-curved torsos
And rows and rows of deformed fetuses enough to make all the carnivals redundant
And a gaze that sees through art.
And then you will know your quest.
And will go to your fallen lover
Go to the children
To do the hardest thingTo do the hardest thing of all—
To love what remains.

John Snider teaches English at Montana State University Northern in Havre Mt. His essays have appeared in The Utne Reader, The North Country Anvil, and The Montana Professor He can be reached at snider@msun.edu

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

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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 files! – use “Save As” to change docx files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within two months (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions). Submissions not following the guidelines may or may not receive a response.

 

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

 

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