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Three Poems by Daniel Marlin

by POETS' BASEMENT

Go Back Where You Came From

by DANIEL MARLIN

                   

 In March 2012, Shaima Alwadi,

 a 3- year-old Iraqi immigrant

to El Cajon, California received an anonymous note

which read, “go back to your own country…”

A week later she was found murdered on her

living room floor.

 

Let’s say you took your own advice,

and went back

where you came from,

to the tubercular slums of Glasgow

a hundred and fifty years ago,

 

or the peat farms of starving Galway.

 

Or to Moledetchna,

where Jewish boys

changed their names to dodge

twenty year hitches

in the Czar’s infantry,

 

or to Reggio Calabria

when landowners

had their way with peasant girls,

as they worked their parents

into dry furrows.

 

Try going back, not as a tourist

with credit card, but clueless,

in the humble shawls

your forebears wore

gathering lice in steerage,

 

before they poured off the docks,

to have the long syllables of their names

lopped off by an Immigration officer

checking for signs of palsy,

scanning his list of anarchists.

 

Sail backward,

past ports of departure,

through centuries as soldiers

hiding your religion

or killing for it,

as wet nurses,

unable to feed your own.

 

Back through the winters of the Rhineland,

Bohemia, Piemonte,

along trails of forgotten migration,

down the millennial ladder

to ancient African valleys

where your great mothers

learned to walk upright.

 

–But don’t stop there.

Forage with pointed snout

for grubs among ferns,

beneath the shadows of pterodactyls,

 

re-enter the primal ocean,

before our fins became toes,

and our lungs began

their subtle duty.

 

Become again

the one-celled flares of life

we were,

 

and continue—

 

into elemental stardust,

the whirlwind of the black

invisible hand.

 

 

Instructions, if the Prisoner Insists

by DANIEL MARLIN

 

If the prisoner mourns

the absence of wind and poppies

around her,

remind how these gray walls

keep the ragged streets

from her throat.

 

If, grown old,

she insists on her privacy,

explain that dry river grass

has nothing to hide

from silver water.

 

If she tries

to take her life,

stay her hand –

it is no longer hers,

but ours to end or allow.

 

If the prisoner keens

for her lost son

at midnight,

repeating that old

lie of her innocence,

warn her that

the Lord undoes deception.

 

If she complains of

the light bulb

which never dims, say,

here, for a while,

you are safe from eternal night.

 

 

Nagasaki 2010

by DANIEL MARLIN

 

Rust drips from window corners.

Fingers of moisture

stain white paper screens.

Doors bear the scars of age-

 

but they stand.

 

Shadows come and go

as clouds part and assemble,

objects move,

the sun completes its arc-

 

but no human shadow remains

etched into the wall

by the flash.

 

There are secrets and frustrations here,

mistakes and delays,

yet time remains in the city,

to understand and repair.

 

Cicada, rising with the August dawn,

stoke a metallic roar.

It does not foretell

a cyclone of fire.

 

In summer thirst

no desperate,

final begging

for water.

 

It rains sometimes,

untouched by cinders,

transparent drops.

 

Daniel Marlin lives in Berkeley, California, where he vigils against the University of California’s management of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Laboratories at Livermore CA., and Los Alamos, NM. He is the author of Heart of Ardor, the Paintings of Daniel Marlin, Isaiah at the Wall, Palestine Poems, and Amagasaki Sketchbook, a journal of art and writing based on a decade’s residence in Amagasaki City, Japan. He can be reached at dandotdan@yahoo.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!


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