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Benedetti, Halle and Orloski

by POETS' BASEMENT

From a regular contributor to Poets’ Basement:

On 9/11, there will be the flag-waving and the speeches, the hoopla and memorials, pledges by politicians to maintain the “War on Terror”–wrong preposition there!  Should be “of”!—pundits pontificating and celebrities trying to cerebrate.  Few Americans will pause to reflect on the 9/11 of 1973, when the CIA-engineered coup against the most democratic government in South America—that of Chile—resulted in the death of President Salvador Allende, the establishment of the 17-year-long dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and a reign of terror that saw the immediate imprisonment of some 40,000 “political enemies”—i.e., democratic opposition—in Chile’s National Museum, widespread torture and terror for almost 2 decades, and, in a nation with about 1/20th the population of the US at that time, at least 3,000 deaths—about the same number of Americans and others as died on 9/11/2001.

I was reminded of these horrors recently when, to my surprise, my newly hired “house-painter” engaged me in a conversation about literature!  I mentioned my enthusiasm for certain Latin American authors, and Oscar asked me if I knew the work of the Uruguayan writer, Mario Benedetti.  I confessed my ignorance, Mr. Gonzalez passed on a book of Benedetti’s collected poems; I wrestled with the Spanish, but understood enough of the poem about Allende to suggest to Oscar that we attempt a co-translation.  [The original Spanish version may be linked to here: http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/mario-benedetti-allende.htm© Fundación Mario Benedetti, Uruguay; c/o www.schavelzon.com.] The following is the result of our dialogue, and our humble tribute to the brave souls everywhere who struggle against corruption, deceit and tyranny. – Gary Corseri

 

Allende

By MARIO BENEDETTI

 

(translated by Oscar Gonzalez and Gary Corseri)

 

in order to kill the man of peace

to strike his forehead clean of nightmares

they had to become a nightmare

to defeat the man of peace

they had to congregate all hatreds

and planes and tanks as well

to batter the man of peace

they had to bombard him and turn him into flame

because the man of peace was a fortress

 

to kill the man of peace

they had to untie the turbid war

to vanquish the man of peace

and to silence his modest and piercing voice

they had to push terror to the abyss

and kill more just to keep killing

to batter the man of peace

they had to assassinate him many times

because the man of peace was a fortress

 

to kill the man of peace

they had to imagine he was a troop

an army a fleet a brigade

they had to believe he was another army

but the man of peace was just the people

and he had in his hands a rifle and a mandate

and they needed more tanks more rancor

more bombs more planes more shame

because the man of peace was a fortress

 

to kill the man of peace

to strike his forhead clean of nightmares

they had to become a nightmare

to defeat the man of peace

they had to join themselves forever to death

kill and kill more just to keep killing him

and condemn themselves to blinded loneliness

to kill the man that was the people

they had to lose the people.

 

Oscar Gonzalez was born and raised in Uruguay, immigrated to the USA, with his parents, as a teenager. This is his first published work. Gary Corseri has posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including CounterPunch. He has published two novels, two collections of poetry, and edited the Manifestations anthology. His dramas have been produced on Atlanta-PBS, and his play, Sam Clemens in Purgatory: Mark Twain in the Gilded Age, has been posted at Hollywood Progressive (http://hollywoodprogressive.com/sam-clemens/). He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Contact at gary_corseri@comcast.net.)

 

 

Living Epitaph

by JOHN HALLE

 

Mario Savio

In 1964

 

Said that “the machine”

By which he meant

The capitalist system,

Made him so sick at heart

That he could not take part

In its operation.

 

I agree though

I never liked the speech much.

 

But now

Looking back at a half century of conscious life

 

I realize that those were words to live by.

For the machine has gotten more and more odious

And we are all so sick at heart

 

And they were words we lived by.

 

Although we did not often

Throw ourselves on the gears and the levers

 

We did opt out,

As much as we could.

 

And led lives which

for better or for worst

 

Kept us away from

The gears and levers of the machine.

 

So as to not

“even passively participate”

In its operation.

 

And we even managed

On a few occasions

To throw some sand in its gears.

 

And so at this point in our lives

We are to be judged by our mark on the world.

 

And, truth be told,

it hasn’t been much.

 

But that’s the bed we’ve made

And lying in it

 

Feels OK right now.

 

John Halle teaches music theory at the Bard College Conservatory.  He is a former Green Party Alderman from New Haven’s ninth ward.  He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu.

 

 

Lucre, Spared-change & Ammunition Millenniums Later

by CHARLES ORLOSKI

 

Dial 9-1-1, collect,

Scranton Police please come quick,

I need to tap into root of all maple syrup-evil,

need money for a fishing license, car tires,

Pennsylvania Cash 5 jackpot’s at $750,000.00 –

Time to buy a ticket for Gina-Lola & I?

she needs new kidneys, sex getting run-down,

wars ain’t lowering cost of gas, & there’s no signs

popping-up around town proclaiming,

“C. Orloski & Lee Marvin Campaign Out-raising

Romney & Obama tenfold.”

 

I don’t find Moneychangers hostile,

I beat shit out of them if they don’t fuss-up 25%,

I still have Goldwater-Miller 1964 buttons,

they make good skipping-stones in deep waste wells  –

Clicking-America should have lit-up Kremlin then,

those days had buckshot & Land ‘O Lakes butter,

Caspian oil would be mine, bring back Gremlins, 

Ayatollahs wearing stylish Shah-sandals

‘stead of Buster Browns kicking round debacle sand.

 

Baptized in Goldwater, such spirit whispered to me

more than O Brother Carter where art though (?) ever would.

Roots minus evil?  No, no… too many disappointments,

sad habitats everyday, I want Devil’s Manifest Destiny (+) interest,

full employment, “busy hands happy hands…down in delta-dumps?”

Need someone to lean on?  call 1-800-NASDAQ 9-1-1.  

Had Jesus got Himself together, finished Canaan U. M.B.A. –

maybe I’d give His Daddy’s 2nd term a refinancing go?

 

Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pa.  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 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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