Andy Smolski and Gary Corseri

When the Message is Right


A voice doesn’t always need a mouth

A tongue, saliva, a voice box

Words can be put anywhere

Not just on a page


Resonation is in the mind




Created from sight


People from the bottom know this

Have known it

Reclaiming what was never theirs

But always truly theirs


A wall

A piece of concrete




Material of a built environment


Really, it is all just a canvass

Really, it never has an “owner”

Whatever the hell that is

Or who


And that’s what’s right

Because, don’t you know

Anywhere is proper

For a message

Well needed to be heeded

Even if it’s just scribbled with a shitty can of spray paint


It is a “fuck you”, I can speak!

We can speak!

We have a message that ain’t well crafted

Not put through focus group studies



So you know it ain’t a lie

Cause it ain’t pretty

A sorta, kinda done the best we could

Done all sloppy


Probably by some old lady, maybe 80

On her way home after another 80 hour day

Picks up some black and scrawls on the wall

“Capitalism is inhumane”


So open your eyes and see past the billboards

Cast a glance to the streets and recognize they speak

And not in hieroglyphs

At least, not for us

We, who the message is for




All kinds of twisted

Packaged in a way we can all understand


Disparaged as graffiti

But really the truth

One said invisibly



‘Cause, we speak, but never spoke

The writing

It’s on the walls

For the message folks

It’s aimed at you



16 Instructions


Walk to the corner of Hillsborough and Chamberlain

Bring a sturdy crate

Place crate on sidewalk

Stand on crate

Open book

Turn to page 14

Begin to read aloud

“The First International was the last attempt to realize the solidarity of the species…”

Continue to read louder and louder

“Then, the Spanish civil war aroused this solidarity, which is the driving power of liberation…”

As the crowd draws in, continue unashamed on to page 15

“to drive the class struggle to the point at which the system itself would be at stake…”


Step down

Grab the crate

Walk away

Andrew Smolski is a now-and-then contributor to CounterPunch.


When Kathy Kelly Went to Jail


When Kathy Kelly went to jail,

the land of the free, home of the brave

bent out of shape over deflated footballs;

O’Reilly railed at one of his guests

who dared to suggest that “American Sniper”

was not a really, really good show;

“black ice” blanketed Texas to New England

as 16-wheelers careened and caromed,

haphazardly killing all the way home.


She had tried to deliver:

a loaf of bread

and a letter

to Whiteman Air Force base

requesting they stop sending their drones

over the heads of Afghan kids

(and everyone else for that matter!).


A little past 60, small, with features chiseled

by wind and her will, she has lost count

of numbers assigned to her,

prison food regurgitated, times being ill,

for protesting wars for the sake of the children—

white, black, red, yellow, brown–

all her pretty ones,

forsaken by men pushing buttons in bunkers

at Whiteman or elsewhere;

in serpentine caverns, winding under

Pennsylvania Avenue;

or in boardrooms in London…

haphazardly killing all the way home.


“The mind-forged manacles” Blake wrote about

are what she’s standing fast against—

this wind-chiseled, Irish-Catholic girl,

who took Christ’s messages to heart:

to feed the multitudes with Truth;

to suffer for the sake of it;

to alleviate the suffering

so loaves and fishes multiply.


She cannot help but see

the commonality of life:

a kid walking down a street

in Ferguson, Missouri,

or Kabul, or Fallujah, or Gaza–

walking in a sniper’s crosshairs,

slipping on black ice.


The “summer soldiers and

sunshine patriots”

send boys and girls to kill for them—

other people’s boys and girls.

Ranters rant about 100-year wars,

“bad guys and good guys”

(like children playing video games);

billionaires cavort on multi-decked yachts

while the masses rot under chem-trailed skies;

puffer-fish generals, medals galore,

parade for more money (always more)

before a Congress of stooges

in on the take.

Media meatheads and celebrity clowns

preen for the cameras,

take selfies of grinning,

pancake-make-up faces.


Kathy Kelly, 04971-045, at FMC Lexington–

more than a number stapled to a file;

more than a cog in a Chaplinesque movie,

won’t keep the flywheel grinding

the better angels of our nature down;


she dares to see things as they are

(and ask, “Why?”).

Dares to see things as they still might be

(and ask, “Why not?).


Against tentacled and prying darkness, she

whispers to the crying child: “We are here”;

stands fast, and tells a mortified Authority:

“We are one with those who share

the morsels of our shared humanity–

the leavened loaves of love.”


Kathy Kelly is the co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has traveled to Iraq and Gaza during wartime–to bear witness and give comfort. The author of Other Lands Have Dreams (Common Courage Press), she has been arrested more than sixty times at home and abroad, and written of her experiences among targets of U.S. military bombardment and among inmates of US prisons. In December, 2014, she was sentenced to 90 days in federal prison after she and Georgia Walker had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base. She began serving her sentence on January 23, 2015. (

Gary Corseri has published poems, fiction and articles at Counterpunch, Redbook Magazine, The New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide. He has published 2 novels, 2 collections of poetry and a literary anthology (edited). His dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. He has taught in public schools, universities and prisons. Contact:

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