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Moment of Silence
by JARED CARTER
We went back to the old fieldhouse.
The band still plays the National Anthem
before the tip-off, but no Baptist minister
takes the mike to call for a moment of silence –
a time when I can remember the hush
that came over the crowd, the fiddling
with overcoats, the teenagers giggling –
a sound like the twittering at the Zoo
when you enter an enormous glass building
full of birds, that are completely out of sight,
waiting, doing nothing. Back then people thought
that in such moments you could speak to God,
that he listened, that he watched ball games, too,
or the flights of sparrows, that he could tell
sound from silence, and that he was intrigued
by such contrasts. And yet they believed
he cares nothing about who wins or loses
or where the birds land. Though occasionally
he hears them singing in their cages. Sometimes
he looks down and notices young people stolling
hand in hand, sometimes he sees corpses,
piles of them, or cities about to be burned,
or cities that are nothing but ashes. Places
where balls were thrown in the air. Where birds wait
in the stillness. Where there are long moments
of silence. Nothing like that happens now. The fans
sing along, they stand holding their coats, waiting
for the horn to sound, for the screaming to begin.
(First published in Witness.)
by JARED CARTER
It is a man thinking all day of eating ice
because he has no money for anything else.
Is ice not water, is water not free?
Does it not fall from the sky, forming
pools in the street, places where a man
could drink, could cup it in his hands,
pretend it is frozen, it is something
to eat? Could he break it from the ruts
in the road, and drown out the breaking
in his head? But no rain hammers down,
there is only the deluge of plastic cups
and sandwich wrappings, hub caps
and prophylactics, it is only aluminum
that recycles, that pays by the pound,
that gets eaten by some vast machine.
No one pays anything for glass bottles
or steel cans, he must keep searching
for beer cans, for Pepsi and Coke,
looking in rusted barrels and dumpsters,
he must trudge along with the others,
with old men talking to themselves,
pushing their wire carts, with bag-ladies
searching along the highways, combing
through the weeds, with runaways
standing by the entrance ramps,
with veterans out of work, holding up
their cardboard signs, all of them searching
for something, though it be nothing.
(First published in Writers Write On Magazine.)
Jared Carter’s work has appeared in The Nation, Pemmican, Stand, Witness, Wheelhouse, and Animal Liberation Front. His fifth poetry collection, A Dance in the Streeet, has just been released by Wind Publications in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He blogs at www.the-growler.com.
The Wasted Land
by CHARLES ORLOSKI
They say refugees turned back out of shock,
stared at downtown Baghdad blown to bits,
wept, said to Allah, “how can they do that?
Nobody bombs their cities, sanctions their bazaars,
They behave like desert storms, gangs of rich dust,
mean-spirited old wind-bags, who make uranium blow — they shall not want democracy in cloudy heaven.
Hot was the sand she died upon,
a Defense Contractor’s spit-shined boot
kicked her rib, and repulsed, Allah understood,
He reasoned infidels shouldn’t do that to people,
& The True Church knows better.
“Dear Allah: Just send us the invoice for all martyrs, we pay net 90-days.”
With air-cover, walkie-talkies, television cameras,
An Arizona Senator passed through Baghdad streets,
evaluating all the fine restaurants, a 4-Star Hotel,
windows blown, plumbing leaks,
it shall make a comeback when oil rigs begin churning,
varroooom, varrrroooom, swwoosssh,
& it’s evident to Johnny all Iraqi refugees will soon return.
What is that noise? An explosion, camels takes flight,
Purple-fingers in bits, Baghdad diners are hopping,
the Senator is most certain democracy-by-bombing
is a matter of white man’s burden.
Something changed in Fallujah.
Maybe that leveling of a sandal-factory was premature?
An American potentate grew a beard to look Arab.
No more Cassius Clay, he had lots of work to do,
the liberated-dead cling to grievances,
& there must be somebody at mosque-school
like Steve Jobs, who can connect Shiite & Sunni,
turn stubborn street-lights back-on,
get Fallujah on track with Raleigh-Durham, a new start?
one mosque in a pot, a chicken-head beneath every burqa.
“Dear Allah the Merciful: I am sorry our recent check bounced. Maybe we can have lunch at the Rose Garden next time your in town?”
I made no comment, tired, I am too tired.
I work everyday, and I cannot have everything.
Every morning, my nerves are bad, noises,
no explosions, just Section 8 noises too close,
there’s talk about gun control, unleashing hell in Teheran.
I rub my coffee pot, coffee per pound cost keeps rising,
and Jeannie must be either sleeping or on night shift —
she has racial prejudices, and I dream of her achieving citizenship, displaying ass-cheeks in Rome.
Everything changed here in Iraq County, heroin in my veins, Exxon-Mobil built a refinery
where an oasis used to be, Gulf gasoline’s down to $3.39/gallon, and I won’t keep staring-back at what Lot’s wife became, turned into a Bilderberger entitlement.
Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CCDJOrlov@aol.com.
Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)
To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at firstname.lastname@example.org 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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