From “Home/Front” by Philip Metres

What consequence is a body. And if the eye were a lamp.
In the beginning there was a certain darkness, an uncertain
darkness after. I’m trying to piece together something
resembling the sea, in the frail moments before squall. For
passengers to safely reach the stable osmotic. In the sudden
wake, how to see the difference between “or” & “and”—on
which matters of matter & spirit hang. If the eye. If a body a
body none/theless loved by anons & disappeared. If a body
separate & how. MOHAMED v. JEPPESEN DATAPLAN,
incorporated. For passengers to safely reach. Jeppesen:
Transforming the Way the World Moves. If I the see, sea
again. What consequence is a body/a body nonetheless. If
the light in me is gone. Thus I the Doctor with Disfigured.
Thus I the Scribe of Black Hives. If my body full of darkness.

(Source: narrativemagazine.com)

The Semantics of Flowers on Memorial Day by Bob Hicok

Historians will tell you my uncle
wouldn’t have called it World War II
or the Great War plus One or Tombstone

over My Head. All of this language
came later. He and his buddies
knew it as get my ass outta here

or fucking trench foot and of course
sex please now. Petunias are an apology
for ignorance, my confidence

that saying high-density bombing
or chunks of brain in cold coffee
even suggests the athleticism

of his flinch or how casually
he picked the pieces out.
Geraniums symbolize the secrets

life kept from him, the wonder
of variable-speed drill and how
the sky would have changed had he lived

to shout it’s a girl. My hands
enter dirt easily, a premonition.
I sit back on my uncle’s stomach

exactly like I never did, he was
a picture to me, was my father
looking across a field at wheat

laying down to wind. For a while,
Tyrants’ War and War of World Freedom
and Anti-Nazi War skirmished

for linguistic domination. If
my uncle called it anything
but too many holes in too many bodies

no flower can say. I plant marigolds
because they came cheap and who knows
what the earth’s in the mood to eat.

War Photo 2 by Margaret Atwood

Even if you had remained alive,
we would never have spoken.
Suppose we’d shared a road,
a car, a bench, a table -

Maybe you would have offered me
a piece of bread, a slice of lemon.
Or else there would have been suspicion,
or fear, or nothing.

Now though it seems I am asking
and you are answering:

Why is the tree dying?
It is dying for lack of truth.

Who has blocked the wells of truth?
Those with guns.

What if they kill all those with no guns?
Then they will kill one another.

When will there be compassion?
When the dead tree flowers.

When will the dead tree flower?
When you take my hand.

This is the kind of thing
that goes on only in poetry.
You are right to be suspicious of me:
I can’t speak your absence for you.

(Why is it then I can hear you so clearly?)

On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam by Hayden Carruth


Well I have and in fact
more than one and I’ll
tell you this too

I wrote one against
Algeria that nightmare
and another against

Korea and another
against the one
I was in

and I don’t remember
how many against
the three

when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
Harlan County

and not one
breath was restored
to one

shattered throat
mans womans or childs
not one not

one
but death went on and on
never looking aside

except now and then
with a furtive half-smile
to make sure I was noticing.

The War in Iraq is Over and I’m Thinking of Oranges by Stephen Mills

stacked one on top of the other in the bed
of the truck that is barreling down the highway
beside me. It’s a mountain of little round
balls that radiate in the December sun
on this Florida morning. Christmas a week away.
I’m a nervous driver and this truck of fruit
makes me think of death and disaster
like the opening scene of a Final Destination movie.
The back latch falling open. Thousands of oranges
tumbling onto the roadway. Cars going everywhere.
Crashing. Splattering. Combusting. A river
of orange juice and blood flowing into the adjacent
streets. But it would be so beautiful: the sight
of all of those oranges rolling down each other
and out into the open space: free. At least free
until they come in contact with a tire. Mashing them
to pulp and skin. Flat. No longer radiant.
The radio says all troops will be home in a few days
after nine long years. How many oranges
have I eaten in nine years? Probably not as many
as I should have. Definitely not as many as now
lines the bed of this truck. When I Google “Iraq
+ oranges,” I find a series of articles using
the clichéd phrase “apples to oranges.” Most of these
are articles claiming the Iraq War was nothing
like the Vietnam War. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Which really aren’t that different. Both are fruits.
Both grow on trees. Both are the most popular
juices drank in America (I actually don’t know
if that’s true, but I’m guessing). Maybe that is the point.
Close, but not quite. Down the search page,
I find a graph documenting the yield of oranges
produced in Iraq between 1961 and 2009. No oranges
were grown until 1985. The biggest yield was in 2001.
The smallest in ‘09. I guess, things are getting worse
if you’re an orange grower in Iraq. Orange is a funny
word. Frank O’Hara wrote a poem about oranges
and sardines. Now there’s a pair. Quite different.
And Jeanette Winterson wrote a whole novel called
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which is a rather obvious
statement from a very smart lady. A search
on Amazon produces a list of books with “orange”
in the title. Not too many notable ones
and only one on Iraq. A memoir with “orange trees”
in the title. Florida is famous for oranges,
which is why seeing a truck full of them
is really not that odd, but seeing them fall,
rolling in the streets like little decapitated heads,
now that would be something special.

(Source: berfrois.com)

Happy Easter by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam

Happy Easter by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam


architectureofdoom:


Al Jaber, Kuwait

architectureofdoom:

Al Jaber, Kuwait

(Source: zerodrame)

Photograph by Moises Saman"I remember it was a clear, cold night. The moon was the only source of light in this secret section of the Orontes River demarcating the border between Syria’s Idlib province and Turkey. Standing by the riverbed on the Turkish side, the scene had an air of eerie calm — not a sound other than insects and the faraway roar of a vehicle on a Syrian road. Then suddenly I saw two lights and heard the sound of a tractor approaching the Syrian side. Minutes later, the faint sight of a canoe slowly crossing the river toward me, in it a Syrian smuggler carrying a young couple and their baby girl away from the war in Syria and into safety.Looking back, I can’t help but think about the many phases that this conflict has endured. From the peaceful protests of the early months to the violent repression from the regime to armed resistance to all-out civil war. The country is disintegrating in slow motion before the eyes of the world.”Read more: Syria’s Agony in Pictures: War Journalists Describe Their Photographs - LightBox

Photograph by Moises Saman

"I remember it was a clear, cold night. The moon was the only source of light in this secret section of the Orontes River demarcating the border between Syria’s Idlib province and Turkey. Standing by the riverbed on the Turkish side, the scene had an air of eerie calm — not a sound other than insects and the faraway roar of a vehicle on a Syrian road. Then suddenly I saw two lights and heard the sound of a tractor approaching the Syrian side. Minutes later, the faint sight of a canoe slowly crossing the river toward me, in it a Syrian smuggler carrying a young couple and their baby girl away from the war in Syria and into safety.

Looking back, I can’t help but think about the many phases that this conflict has endured. From the peaceful protests of the early months to the violent repression from the regime to armed resistance to all-out civil war. The country is disintegrating in slow motion before the eyes of the world.”

Read more: Syria’s Agony in Pictures: War Journalists Describe Their Photographs - LightBox

Moving Towards Home, June Jordan

“Where is Abu Fadi,” she wailed.
“Who will bring me my loved one?”
New York Times, 9/20/82
(after the 1982 Phalangist/Israeli Massacre of Palestinian Refugees in Sabra and Shatila)

I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
Nor do I wish to speak about the nightlong screams
that reached
the observation posts where soldiers lounged about
Nor do I wish to speak about the woman who shoved her baby
into the stranger’s hands before she was led away
Nor do I wish to speak about the father whose sons
were shot
through the head while they slit his own throat before
the eyes
of his wife
Nor do I wish to speak about the army that lit continuous
flares into the darkness so that others could see
the backs of their victims lined against the wall
Nor do I wish to speak about the piled up bodies and
the stench
that will not float
Nor do I wish to speak about the nurse again and
again raped
before they murdered her on the hospital floor
Nor do I wish to speak about the rattling bullets that
did not
halt on that keening trajectory
Nor do I wish to speak about the pounding on the
doors and
the breaking of windows and the hauling of families into
the world of the dead
I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
because I do not wish to speak about unspeakable events
that must follow from those who dare
“to purify” a people
those who dare
“to exterminate” a people
those who dare
to describe human beings as “beasts with two legs”
those who dare
“to mop up”
“to tighten the noose”
“to step up the military pressure”
“to ring around” civilian streets with tanks
those who dare
to close the universities
to abolish the press
to kill the elected representatives
of the people who refuse to be purified
those are the ones from whom we must redeem
the words of our beginning
because I need to speak about home
I need to speak about living room
where the land is not bullied and beaten into
a tombstone
I need to speak about living room
where the talk will take place in my language
I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men
of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
are not
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home

I was born a Black woman
and now
I am become a Palestinian
against the relentless laughter of evil
there is less and less living room
and where are my loved ones?

It is time to make our way home.

Temporary Poem Of My Time, Yehuda Amichai

Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
Latin writing, from west to east.
Languages are like cats:
You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
The trees bend in the wind,
And stones fly from all four winds,
Into all four winds. They throw stones,
Throw this land, one at the other,
But the land always falls back to the land.
They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
Its stones, its soil, but you can’t get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
Evil men throw and just men throw,
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
Geologists throw and theologists throw,
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
The past throws stones at the future,
And all of them fall on the present.
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
Even God in the Bible threw stones,
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.

Oh, the poem of stone sadness
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
Is there in this land
A stone that was never thrown
And never built and never overturned
And never uncovered and never discovered
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
And never turned into a cornerstone?

Please do not throw any more stones,
You are moving the land,
The holy, whole, open land,
You are moving it to the sea
And the sea doesn’t want it
The sea says, not in me.

Please throw little stones,
Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
Throw limestone, throw clay,
Throw sand of the seashore,
Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,
Throw soil, throw wind,
Throw air, throw nothing
Until your hands are weary
And the war is weary
And even peace will be weary and will be.


Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav

(Source: poemhunter.com)

The Story, Kim Addonizio

The woman came home to find her husband and children sitting around the table
as they’d done so many nights, the lamp on the sideboard casting its usual glow
over the rough wood, some flowers the children had picked in a blue vase,
the youngest daughter’s drawing of a horse tacked beside the window
with its burlap drape. They sat around the table with their severed heads set before them on the woven placemats, and each one’s arms had been lifted so the hands
rested on top of the hair, thick hair of her husband she’d wrapped around
her fingers, fine hair of her two daughters, and the baby’s soft, barely visible wisps
over the small skull the baby’s hands were tiny, they’d had to nail them in place,

and this is where I begin to hate the man who told the story, who made me see
not just their deaths but the soldiers standing around afterwards, the arc
of the hammer as it comes down and drives in what I now can’t forget;
the best I can do is to think of Christ, so I can somehow bear the nails,
so I can carry them to you, and maybe I’m no better than the soldiers to do that.
I’m asking you to walk into your own house, to see a child’s head
bent over her homework as she scissors pictures from a magazine,
the bright or dark hair she brushes impatiently out of her eyes.
I don’t know why I need to say this, or what good or evil it does. I want

the old, acceptable story of suffering, the cross become icon, holy blood
in the chalice. I want not to know what I know as I turn back to my life,
my friends who love me, as I set the table with candles and glasses for wine
and later put my hands in my lover’s hair; he enters me, we fall together
onto the bed, he bites my nipples as hard as I can stand it and then harder,
and still it’s pleasure I feel, we are given this, too; I tell it to myself over
and over as we make love like animals deep in the forest, far from any village,
caring nothing for the world, ravenous for each other, crying out
while workmen slowly hack a road toward us, while the machines come on.

Support The Troops! by Terrance Hayes

I’m sorry I will not be able to support any soldiers
at this time. I have a family and a house with slanting floors.

There is a merciless dampness in the basement,
a broken toilet, and several of the windows are painted shut.

I do not pretend my dread is anything like the dread
of men at war. Had I smaller feet, I would have gladly enlisted

myself. In fact, I come from a long line of military men.
My grandfather died heroically in 1965, though his medals have been

lost. I try to serve my country by killing houseflies. I am fully
aware of their usefulness, especially in matters of decay.
Napoleon’s surgeon general, Baron Dominique Larrey,

reported during France’s 1829 campaign
in Syria that certain species of fly only consumed

what was already dead and had a positive effect on wounds.
I bet when my grandfather was found,

his corpse shimmered in maggots, free of disease. As you can
tell, I know a little something about civilization.

I realize that when you said “freedom”, you were talking
about the meat we will for, the head of the enemy leaking

in the bushes, how all of it makes peace possible.
Without firearms I know most violence would be impractical.

I thank you, nonetheless, for mentioning how soldiers
exist to defend my way of life. I am sure

any one of them would be an excellent guardian of my
house. I admit I have no capacity for rifles or gadgetry.

I cannot use rulers accurately. I realize
the common fly, like the soldier, is what makes us civilized.

And I admit my awe looking on the marine with a talent
for making the eagle tattooed across his back rear its talons.

I realize were it not for the sacrifices of these young boys,
America would no longer have its source

of power. I have given considerable thought to your
offer, but I am simply unable to offer my support.

Those Nights In L.A., Damon McLaughlin

Nothing but laughter those nights
after we closed the studio
and some of us took the Ten to Ocean Avenue
for a stroll along the beach. Others
drove home to wives, families, the six o’clock news
setting the war down in their living rooms
like a guest who would overstay his visit.

But in the Blue Room, we’d laugh and laugh,
nothing could hurt us. Shots
ran through us like water on hottest days,
and our big mouths roared over small jokes
at the other poor bastards in the world, the fucked up
moments of their lives a cacophony of booze,
Angels’ games, Hendrix, white noise
we romped around on like teenaged children
who’d eaten their virgin to her core, juice
spilling over our lips, and the world crumbling into an
    emptiness
that grew as silence grows, quietly, tenderly,
to take our breath away. Those nights

I heard boys in other rooms of our house.
I saw their bodies straighten like reeds along a river
then flatten beside us in the paddy.
An awful wind passed.
I was there when Gale Sweet drug his rag across the empty stools
and unplugged the box, but still
the sound of a thunder, ten thousand whispering
and the walls alive, and the television
flashing through the dark like light through the limbs of trees
though I wouldn’t move, wouldn’t make a sound. When sweat
    dropped
to my thigh with a soft puussssh, I leaned closer. Behind the
    door,
irregularly, my wife breathed. I closed my eyes.

One inch, then another, breath for breath, I slid away
as though gliding under water, the moon above me, the stars.
In the halogen glow of my garage, jug in hand, I heard her
nice and steady,
then poured life through me like a river.

(Source: damonmclaughlin.com)

"Poem" by Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

praxymetry:

If we could imagine for an instant (we cannot) the pain and fear that live around the corner from our own ideas of Freedom, and were somehow willing to envision a time before the military industrial complex began its ongoing campaign(s) to liberate the nations of the world from their leaders and religious traditions, it might be possible to understand this image. Sadly, however, it isn’t possible. Not for you, and not for me. We weren’t paying attention then.

Update: The Subject of Massoud Hossaini’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photo - NYTimes.com

praxymetry:

If we could imagine for an instant (we cannot) the pain and fear that live around the corner from our own ideas of Freedom, and were somehow willing to envision a time before the military industrial complex began its ongoing campaign(s) to liberate the nations of the world from their leaders and religious traditions, it might be possible to understand this image. Sadly, however, it isn’t possible. Not for you, and not for me. We weren’t paying attention then.

Update: The Subject of Massoud Hossaini’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photo - NYTimes.com