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Williams, Hahn & Moser

Vultures that Stalk Children

by HEATHCOTE WILLIAMS

 

In the southern Sudan

Near the village of Ayod,

A tiny, naked

And wizened infant

Crawls across dusty scrubland.

 

Her face is hidden;

Her despondent head

Has fallen limply forward;

Her parents aren’t here,

They’re hoping for food

From a food drop in the bush.

 

A couple of yards

Away from the child

A vulture stands, silently

Waiting to benefit

From man’s lack of care.

 

A photographer, Kevin

Carter, captures them

And those who see the photo

Flood the paper with queries,

‘Where is the child now?’

 

Editorials

Attack Kevin Carter for

Wasting precious time

In “Finding the right lens

To take just the right frame of

Her suffering”. They say

The photographer,

“Might as well be a predator;

Another vulture.”

 

These papers, of course,

Had published the photograph

For their own profit

Then it won prizes,

Which Carter couldn’t enjoy,

“I’m really sorry

 

“I didn’t pick the child up,”

He’d tell all his friends;

Telling anyone

Who’d listen until Kevin

Carter killed himself.

 

*

Profits from war

Are a greater threat

Than overpopulation.

Most of the bullets

Tearing Africa

To bits add to her entrenched

Inequalities;

All of them are increased

By high-yield arms investments

That cause migration,

And mass disruption,

And unuseable land.

Divisions are worsened

By commodity

Speculators; by

Gamblers on the price of food,

Financing cash crops

That help feed no one.

 

Gold, diamonds and oil

Are prioritized.

Bling, bling and black gold –

The bullets protect

Such investments:

Investments that grow

While people shrivel;

Bullets that say, ‘we’re not sharing’.

The bullets that protect

The bulging portfolios

Of corporate land-grabbers

Who silently bide their time,

Indulging their economies’

Bestiality,

Whilst in their hunger

For Africa’s resources

They starve the unborn.

 

In 2006 the U.S.

Spent $4 billion on international aid

And $680 billion on weapons,

War and military research.

 

Hypocrisy rules.

Those who tacitly support

Warfare States with their taxes

May express disgust

At seeing a lone bird recycle

A corpse their State has made –

Yet man’s nature is

As red in tooth and claw

As any vulture.

 

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.

 

 

Geopolitical Cartoons of the Old World

by S.C. HAHN

 

1. November 1918, somewhere in Berlin

The former Kaiser confessed to spinning a globe three times and landing his little finger on the coast of lowest Batavia. His thumb plunged, meanwhile, into the North Sea and caused a catastrophic tidal wave on the southwestern Jutland coast. Herring fleets were destroyed; famine loomed.

 

2. The 1930s

Hitler goose-stepped into power after the Party voted to abandon the duck-walk. Blizzards of eiderdown snowed upon the Sudetenland and drifted northeast, to clog up the sewers of Danzig.

 

3. The Future (or somewhere in The Past, for that matter)

Unrest ceased on Europe’s map after the district of Pyritz in Pomerania was at last shaded in with the correct color, but it had taken over 400 years and several billion liters of pale lime-green paint. Even at that, some remote forest villages are reported to have been left tinted a pastel blue, which gives Foreign Ministry analysts cause for pessimism.

 

S.C. Hahn lives in Stockholm and can be reached at konkarong85@yahoo.se.

 

 

Traveler

by D J MOSER

 

Traveler—ambling slipshod on the heels of time,

immune to hurry, the mechanized scramble to wait

impatiently to retire from a life spent cutting

cookies, stars sprinkled with glitter, uniform and flat,

small lumps of pastry dough to accrue in the belly

like coins massing in the hollow of a pig—lead on.

 

Li Po awaits us by the water that caresses the moon

he holds in his drunken gaze, swaying blindly,

unblinking, drinking wine like the dew of moonbeams

spilled by a shooting star. The echo of his chant will

guide us. Come, before the wine is gone. I know no better

remedy for bottled silence than a popping cork.

 

Mirror of our pooled gazes, old man that I have followed,

old man I would become, spry from restive movement

along a path fresh trodden, resting in the ripples

circling my calves, barefoot, blissful, destitute, alone.

My song has no words, but still I hum my gratitude

to gods who restore to me my image as dawn comes.

 

D J Moser is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, DC. He can be reached at dajamo@verizon.net.

 

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!

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