FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Held and Ramsey

by POETS' BASEMENT

For Hamza Ali al-Khatib

by PELEG HELD

 

            A thirteen-year old boy tortured and killed in Syria. He kept homing pigeons.

 

From my father’s roof I rise, circling

the loss I cannot gather with these permeable wings.

 

The bridge from pigeon to dove,

the broken body of a child.

From obedience to unruly honor,

the broken body of a child.

 

From this day forward the words

I carry will be mine alone,

home or elsewhere.

Words lifted into fury,

legs folded and burned but

still unbanded.

 

 

Colony Collapse Disorder

by PELEG HELD

 

The sun is going down, beautiful winged sister.

But this night you will not look toward the hive.

This night, spread out in an isolation

conducted by fate, nectar and the wind,

you and yours will spill a testament into the wet grass.

 

Alone from her chamber a queen will wander

out into the desert beyond hierarchy, and die.

 

I will stay with you for a while.

Tell me of empty combs.

I will tell you of powerless words.

 

Compañera, they no longer read what we write upon the walls

as the centrifuge spins our sweetness against the steel.

The smell of a vacant hive hangs about our words.

We have forgotten how to worry power.

 

I will pass this night with you sister

until you speak deep surrender into the soil,

though it is hard to see you end.

Your rage unspent.

Your sting — bayonet sharp — unused.

 

When you have passed and the dawn comes I will go back.

I am not ready to lie with you just yet.

Rage unspent.

Words — bayonet sharp — unused.

 

Peleg Held was a former member of Voices in the Wilderness as well as several other failed campaigns for basic human decency. He is a carpenter in Portland, Maine where he lives with his partner and children, (primate and other).

 

 

To Kill the Bees

by JOSEPH G. RAMSEY

 

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.”

            –Albert Einstein

 

Dressed in camouflage,

Like soldiers,

We hunted bumblebees in the back yard.

We would chase them

From the cement basement lip of the little red house

where my parents tried to grow strawberries,

all the way across the clover patch that lined the driveway.

I guess it was only a few adult steps, really.

But to us it seemed like a wide stretch of terrain:

A battlefield occupied by the enemy.

My best-friend Andrew and I—we shared the very same birthday, us two—

We’d gather up rocks and sticks that felt like logs

—like battering rams in our child hands–

And we’d gather our giddy kid courage, hiding behind the gutter-pipe:

a commando team on a mission

to kill the bees.

 

We’d count to Three and then we’d yell “Charge!” and aim as we ran and we’d throw our load clumsy in

the general direction of the bee-speckled clover, our sticks and stone bombardment tumbling into the

air buzzing with adrenaline and we’d keep on running—breathing hard—right back behind the house

and across the yard, far away and safe from bumblebee counter-attack.

 

“Did we get one?”

Recovering, huddled, keeping our distance

We’d squint to survey the damage.

Then we’d scour the woods, to gather more sticks and stones.

 

I can’t confirm that we ever actually killed any.

Maybe we did. Maybe we didn’t.

We certainly tried.

We didn’t count the corpses.

But crouched against the house we convinced ourselves that

we had at least sent those bees a message,

one those intruders would not soon forget.

 

High on a weird kind of hunter’s rush.

We were warriors,

Committed to the cause: defending home.

 

The bees, of course, always came back.

I think we assumed they would.

This was a war that would go on forever: kids and bees,

 

like Indian and buffalo (though we weren’t out to eat them).

 

Somehow we never got stung.

Nor did we break any toes.

The bees tolerated our childish, silly game.

Or maybe we just got lucky.

 

But ever since, I’ve had the creeping feeling that the bees

would have their revenge.

 

*****

 

The sound of apocalypse, the scientist says,

may not be that of a meteor hitting the earth, after all.

Not a volcano erupting in downtown LA.

Not a giant wave crashing on all coasts at once.

Not a hundred hydrogen bombs exploding.

It may not be a sound at all

But a silence

where the buzz of bees wings

used to

be.

 

For it’s not just little kid hands and little kid weapons anymore;

The biggest of the big adults are in this campaign:

With bottom-lines for battering rams

and blow-torches to light up their blind forward charge–

Crouching at desks beneath green-smiling logos

they’re armed to the teeth

with genetically modified pest-repellant corn

to feed the cattle,

and real estate contracts sharper than any stick.

Their workers idle home tearing through burgers on stalled highways,

radios buzzing, tail pipes locked in traffic;

Pumping out: Progress.

 

Caught in the electromagnetic maelstrom,

The worker bee, famous for her sense of direction

Loses her way.

 

Left to queen and drone,

Colonies collapse.

(Hive temperature goes haywire, infestation spreads, pupa starve.)

 

Three decades on, the forces have shifted:

 

Bees don’t always come back.

 

And they have the message for us.

 

**

 

A battle still rages in the clover patch…

 

This time I’m on the side of the bees.

 

Joseph G. Ramsey is a teacher, writer, scholar, and activist who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.  He co-edits Cultural Logic: an Electronic Journal of Marxist Theory and Practice, www.clogic.eserver.org, with a special issue on “Culture and Crisis” due out in June 2011.  Joe is also a participant in the Kasama Project, www.kasamaproject.org, and can be reached at jgramsey@gmail.com.  Selections of his writings are available at www.ramseythewriter.wordpress.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 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!

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail