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Annsfire, Tirado and Dinh

Once

by JOAN ANNSFIRE

 

Once, we were a fact of life, like the ocean or the dawn,

nothing greater than any tribe or family member,

nothing less than a link in the human chain

long before women became chattel,

when culture was ritual

and history simply a story

replete with love and longing.

 

Just as we believed the sun moved across the sky,

the wind blew back the leaves

and the clouds brought rain

we touched each other ardently

or with dispassion, in twos, threes, fours,

numbers lit by the glow

of random imperfection;

we tended to one another’s needs

because all we had was each other

and that was more than enough.

 

No gay or straight existed; no lines to be crossed;

we were all trespassers in uncharted territory

without rules our boundaries

we moved along life’s continuum.

 

Our men wore ribbons and feathers,

our women bore the marks of warriors,

and our gods took the shapes of animals,

sea-creatures and insects,

and this earth was

just a land we shared.

 

Then, by apocalypse or gradual erosion,

it all changed; women became possessions,

children, commodities

and we became invisible,

unspeakable, voiceless, condemned

by a misconstrued and devalued past

to a hopeless and unforgiving future.

 

Old men produced

edicts and proclamations,

locked up wives in rooms with cooking implements,

designated many outlaws and transgressors

and wrote us out

of “their” history forever.

 

Beaten, bullied, abused,

we got lost, forgot who we once were;

we took our own lives,

became an instrument

in our own genocide.

 

Rampant ill-will and hatred reigned;

countries legislated rape, stoning, execution,

ostracism was everywhere

with laws that kept us from our jobs,

our lovers, our children

and our dreams.

 

Today, on the street,

some still refuse to meet our eyes,

cover the faces of their children,

and strike out in anger, not at estranged relatives

but at evil, unfathomable aliens,

beings beyond flesh and bone,

clinging to the mistaken belief

that we have always been nothing more

than strangers.

 

Yet the flame of memory still burns,

as deep and bright as a beating heart;

transporting us back to a time,

before the great unraveling,

when the paths of all our lives

were braided together,

interwoven into one

smooth and steadfast strand.

 

Turn your gaze inward.

 

Remember.

 

Joan Annsfire is a longtime political activist and writer.  She writes poetry, memoir, short stories and non-fiction. Her home is in Berkeley California. She blogs at lavenderjoan.blogspot.com.

 

THE PROMISE OF HOLINESS

by JOSÉ M. TIRADO

 

The promise of holiness

rakes in

stones,

settles the messy,

sets the order

high;

below,

a soft

moan lifts the

grass

raising it’s arms

up!                   high!

praising!          praising!

 

singing the praises of

the damp ground we stand

and walk

and die

upon

and are buried at

last.

The promise of holiness lifts

gray to green

but loamy

is the light

within the working men

on the rusty harbor-fjord,

mottled, wilted

from neglect;

seen from here

their lives smolder-

dark scent earthy,

ground thick, holy too, though

dried-fish rich,

salt-touched.

 

The promise of holiness

eludes the poet today

hands soft, expressive,

he dives,

down,

(in his own way)

he

saddles the paper

scribbles the text

and

looks out the window to

the sea,

and out front, closer, below

the harbor,

the fish men work,

speaking nothing of

the promise of holiness.

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 jm.tirado@yahoo.com.

 

CC FBI

by LINH DINH

As the FBI gutterpunk division entraps

Five guys with crude haircuts, anarchists

Supposedly, because anarchists are always

Guilty of everything, going back to Haymarket,

And beyond, we need a concrete poetry

For the true criminals to bite on. Eat this.

 

Or how about a poem that will explode

In the face of the corrupt, even if it kills

The poet as he’s writing it. Swallow this.

 

As ship lists and drones fly, we

Don’t need poetry as earworm,

But as tasseled cushion for ass

Of Goldman Sachs CEO, to blow

Up his rottenness, we demand

 

Poetry waterboarded onto the lying,

Smug and top-shelf mug of the Prez,

At a White House soiree, and beamed

On well-starved PBS, as foreclosed

Citizens cheer while chewing

Leftover Chef-Boy-a-Poem.

 

Funded by the maker of Prozac and Cialis,

American poetry puts you to sleep with a boner.

I mean, shit, you can’t make shit like this up,

So it’s high time for a John Brown poetry to surge

From the flooded basement of our cranium, as

Real John Browns sally forth to retake the real,

Rout nonsense and reclaim our definition.

*

To think is to act, now, so,

Like any foreign nation, you

Can also be preempted from

Your future crimes. If you don’t

Believe me, just ask the FBI

Agent you’re lying next to,

Under or above. He or she

Can kill you in the dark, in silence,

And that’s no Middle Eastern joke.

 

Well, then, I’m a thought criminal,

A terrorist, since I fantasize always

About neutralizing the bad guys.

Soon as I close my eyes, I see

Skyscrapers being imploded

And freefalling into their huge

Criminal footprints and scattering

Fraudulent investments and mortgages.

 

I fancy myself stepping over corpses

Of tax-dodging and looting CEOs,

War profiteers and propagandists,

The ones who keep feeding us lanky dogs

Dryhumping homing soldiers, but don’t show

Those who are killed, maimed or tortured

By these same guys and gals next door.

 

Dumped from the imperial meat grinder,

They’ll become your police or panhandle

From neocons and libtards, even occupiers,

And though a terrorist, I’ll give them a buck.

“Man, you’ve been had!” If anything, I wish

I was a better fighter, so I could join other fighters

To combat real terrorists, with their real weapons. 

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.

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.

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