FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Wakoski and Smith-Ferri

by POETS' BASEMENT

“Frisked For Butterflies”
by DIANE WAKOSKI

It felt so frivolous to be patted down,

not for weapons or drugs,

but for some hitchhiking Lepidoptera, who might

cling inside our coats,

tucked restless under a collar,

nestled into an end of winter cuff or boot top.

Passing her wand over us as if she were smoking bees,

the Butterfly Guide could not help but smile

as she explained how a foreign species might get loose and change

Michigan’s eco-system, how coming from

the immensity of jungle,

dense hesitation and slow watchfulness of green,

we might not be aware

of how a small thing could change the world,

but I was aware

of how unchanged in beauty we were,

how unlike huge-winged blue moths emerging from cocoons.

Instead, I thought she might be smiling,

as I was, that such care was given here at the Butterfly Habitat,

in contrast to a world that we both knew

had never before in history

been careful. Not careful of systems or species–

destroying or transplanting

Passenger Pigeons,

Buffalo,

Native Americans.

That, in fact, some historic attempts to keep

systems pure

become, in fact, holocausts or genocides.

But perhaps she

was thinking of Loosestrife, Michigan’s most common and

certainly one of its most

beautiful wild flowers, pink spikes of it glowing

or blazing in marsh and field.

Loosestrife is an escapee and invader, a non-native,

some say,

crowding, overwhelming, taking over from some other less

flashy, local species. We all had smiled, being patted down, but I left

feeling a little sad,

empty,

knowing I was carrying nothing with wings,

nothing wingèd,

no menace of escaped beauty to invade my

pale life.

 

“Helmets of Bronze”

by DIANE WAKOSKI

 

“And on their heads they placed helmets of bronze, gleaming terribly, and the blood-red crests were tossing. And half of them rowed to turn, and the rest covered the ship with spears and shields. And as when a man roofs over a house with tiles, to be an ornament of his home and a defense against rain, so they roofed over the ship with their shields, locking them together.”

 

p. 175, THE ARGONAUTICA, by Apollonius Rhodius (Jason and his sailors preparing to fight the battle against the birds of the island of Ares)

 

He doesn’t know that the freeway he rode

with his father twice a week

after his parents got a divorce

is an American highway offering

mythic adventure, that

little boys in our time

don’t grow up to be cowboys or soldiers or even

mullet fisherman. He’s

got man parts, but he knows no more than that little boy

riding in his father’s Chevrolet with the windows rolled up, even

in summer; he likes to talk, has little to say, but his eyes like

Frisbees, throw their glances across the room — a game or missles? — he tells

us of the kid games he played

in that car, driving the regular route,

hating to leave his mother

but wishing that he could live with

his father. They are so damaged, these boys,

not even interested any more in toy soldiers or plastic

guns. Walk or ride, he doesn’t know

what journey he could take

unless it’s standing on a stage with a microphone and lots of girls

yelling his name. Why should he read poetry or think about

the voyage of the Argonauts? He thinks getting famous is what

it’s all about, not the wisdom acquired

when we see kings and heroes fail.

I could tell him he’s wasting his time,

but even that he should somehow

figure out for himself. Surely all those trips

in his father’s car, retracing the route between Detroit and

the suburbs, represents some kind

of modern journey?

Sometimes I see him, like a rooster, his hair a crest, coxcomb, a macho

target for others who are old enough,

failed enough

to carry

weapons.

(–from ARGONAUT ROSE, Black Sparrow Press)

Diane Wakoski is one of the pillars of the Beat Movement in American Literature.  Hers is a major voice in contemporary poetry.  Her next collection of poems, “Bay of Angels,” will be published by Anhinga Press.

 

“After-School Class: Kabul, Afghanistan”

by DAVID SMITH-FERRI

Every day the children come

in threes and fours

holding hands,

linked like drops of water moving downhill

and pooling in the makeshift classroom

on the ground floor of this house

in western Kabul.

The children of war,

some of them defying gravity

flow up the stairs

to pulse and pool around Abdulhai,

pulling at him,

trying to carry him off.

They climb Boqir like a tree

and nest in his arms, on his shoulders,

sample the fruit of his smiles, his laughter.

They sprout like flowers at Hakim’s feet,

gather themselves into bouquets for Firhas and Faiz.

 

Every day they come like late-afternoon rain

to this desert,

and we drink—

like rainfall in the dark when there is no other sound,

and we listen—

like oxygen-rich air to this mountain city,

and we fill our burning lungs—

like a sea breeze across this land-locked country,

and suddenly we stand on shore

looking out over great distances of salt water.

We see a far-flung horizon

and take its measure.

David Smith-Ferri has been an active member of Voices for Creative Nonviolence since 1999. He has traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Jordan to build bridges with ordinary people, to investigate the consequences of US military actions, and to report from the region. The author of two books–Battlefield without Borders (2007) and With Children Like Your Own (2011)–his new book of poetry, Where Days Are Stones, is due out in November.

 

Guest Editor: Gary Steven Corseri has taught at universities in the US and Japan, and in US public schools and prisons. His books include collections of poetry, novels and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been performed on Atlanta-PBS, in university venues, and elsewhere. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum. His prose and poems have appeared at The New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook Magazine, Georgia Review, Counterpunch.org and hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide. He “chose these poems because they capture the Zeitgeist and because they are eternal.” Contact: Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.

 

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

NOTE: Our regular editor, Marc Beaudin, is on vacation. Much thanks to our guest editors!

Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us as http://www.facebook.com/poets.basement.

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 files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within two months (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 http://crowvoice.com/poets-basement. Thanks!

 

More articles by:

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting) Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us ashttp://www.facebook.com/poets.basement. 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. Expect a response within two months (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions). Submissions not following the guidelines may or may not receive a response. Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology. For more details, tips and links to past installments, visit http://crowvoice.com/poets-basement. Thanks!

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

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
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail