Wednesday, November 24, 2010

new american flag

ruby ridge, the last stand off
the sun going down, venus in the west
between two outcroppings of granite
twice the size of a man, gateposts, gaping.

you stand with your comrads, arms
loaded with the second ammendment
rocky style. the facts do not matter
this is for history. you raise your arms
in victory , no surrender to the bullet
ballet thru your flesh; pan in

as one bullet enters the carotid artery
follow the stream of blood out
as it fractals, hologrammatic, across
the space between the posts,expanding
in tinier and tinier droplets, streaking
like  laser stripes
between  border posts.

stop motion. 
red ribbons stretching for the monoliths
  no trees, black rock
waiting for the  benediction
venus winks in the upper left corner
of the frame

going thru the trash

just ripped up two copies of what i needed.
acess denied otherwise.
reminds me of what i say i want
and what you can provide.


water's purpose: slow
gravity down.  my words
are drowning.


i don't quite know
how the velvet
chains wound round my fingers
but here they are, choke hold
on yous and I/s.


the bangledeshi woman
at the indian restuarant says
"we used to be part of pakistan
but we had to leave. no freedom
there." she admits,reluctantly, to being
muslim. muslim
is no place to be in this century's amerikkka.
but there are so many kinds. so many kinds.
why paint the building one solid color?

i was going to edit the poem below
but now first hand accounts
have rendered much of it bullshit.
isn't that the way of writing?
don't confuse the story with facts.


so, at work, they had a li'l humanity.
let everyone go a half

with pay.

you keep trying to convince me
that being your own master
is the best.

i keep trying to tell you
that if i'd been a plantation owner
we'd have grown weeds.

i need the system to kick my ass
i need the system to change--

like the outcome of that
 old hippie bumber sticker:
what if they gave a war
and nobody came--

some things just aint gonna happen.


and so and so.

what about you?
you think you want to leave passion
in the dust. cut the dopamine
cut the romance, cut the kissing cut the ..woah
not the fucking. lol. let's not get all hasty here.

maybe passion has an upside.


i watch the lava lamp's
wax expand as small little
worlds collide and are absorbed.
the lava is white. it looks
so cold inside
like the inside of your heart.

so i turn to the other side
where your heart is the warm
  color of teak decks &
tastes of olives. green and pitted

like irradiated memories
preserved long past all natural
time lines.  i couldn't open
the door no matter which way
the handle turned. you on that side
of the century, me on the other,
watching the moon
become the finger
 become the point


so very small, the differences between us.
all but one, irreversable and drilled ito my skin.

let's send a message
to the gods of passion
on the back of a postcard
saying wish you were

~oh here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

feast of the sacrifice

i heard about the floods a few months back
heard about the crop devastation   rural
washouts, livestock drowned,homes & lives swept

away by monsoon, la nina they say. glacier melt
say others. the big picture is so huge.
8 million homeless and in refugee camps.
riots for the food caravans. i am a poet.
i believe the personal is political. the politcal, personal.

ordinance washed downstream
collected in gullys, recovered
in mud as waters receed. beware
pimples on the riverbed,
close to the surface, ready to explode.

cholera in mingora, malaria rife.
we need forty helicopters to ferry
people caught in the mountains, with no passage
stranded, winter coming on. the wheat is gone
cotton is gone, but futures rise and green up
 specualtion's coffers.

so i thought about what i know about pakistan.
which isn't much. they have shariah law there, don't they?
stone raped women to death, don't they?
taliban trying to win the hearts and minds
same as usa. parthenogenic violence.
their leaders are corrupt warlords
the government
is corrupt, isn't it? aren't all governments?

next door in kabul the american copters take to the skies.
they ferry soldiers to the border, inspectors
but there's no more room for saving flood victims
we got a war to conduct. let the pakistanis and
afghan expatriates find their own way out.

i  swam the indus river last week,

followed the water down from peshewar and mingora
left  giant stone budhas  on the mouontain face
and Rahman Baba called to me as i swirled  by

Sow flowers that your surroundings become a garden.
Don’t sow thorns; for they will prick your own feet.

oh pollywood, i dove as bridges collapsed but i couldn't
stop you, stranded by   the cinema
making love to scores of afghani musicians before the clerics
move in from across the border and silence song again.

a few miles north of here, the rain still falls.
in the canvas tent, farzana is telling mijur "this is how
you clean your baby. this is what causes a rash,
if your breasts are sore,wash them then
rub butter, oil , lard, if that's all you have"  as she
bends over the baby to change her diaper
mijur can see tight folded skin along her temple.
she wants to ask if it was oil that the match found
or lard. wants to know if smoke made her pass
out, or if she felt the flames rising like a river
from her burka to her skin. but she doesn't.
she listens as farzana says"  i know\
there's so much of it now
but you must not drink from the streams,
they carry cholera. try to get the clean
water, try to get the germ killer tablets."
mijur just learnt about germs. doesn't
know whether to believe in them or not.  

i scatter a handful of poppy seeds on the rocky ground
dribble off to a little stream, piece of silt on the move.


pakistan's  a country of contradictions. unlike its surly
neighbor, pakistan's women have more freedom.
sufferage is in the constitution. they have female
allotments in government (10%), even had
a female prime minister. she was
unable to complete her first term 

but  was re elected several years later . oy, but this isn't
a  history lesson. i don't want to lecture.

a country caught between the excesses of the taliban
and the excesses of india. a country struggling
with its past, trying to move into a future sandwiched
between two entrenched systems,  forced into 

being a buffer zone between islam and infidel.  somehow
women have more freedom there
than they do in almost any other islamic  country.
however, there ain't no rape kits.the marriages are mostly
arranged, however, i would like to think

there is, somewhere, love. listen to this pashto poet
and tell me there is not...

"if you give a drop of water to the thirsty
it will become a river between you and hell"

see,  i don't want farzana  to get raped anymore.
i want her to be ok. i want the fire
to leave a lasting mark on her psyche, the way it has on her skin.

i want that message to be "you can do anything you want.
what do you want"



“If anybody asks you, don’t tell them my name; don’t say I had anything to do with it.’ `
farzana's husbands grabs his wife's burnt arms
whispering harshly. she survives
but does  not
go to her husband's home. "i did not want to bring
shame upon my family name" she cries
  in the burn room," i wanted
to be your good daughter, father".  he cannot
meet her eyes. his daughter, disfigured for life
by her own hand. he curses the
medicine for saving her,pays the hospital,
brings her home.

"there is a cousin in pakistan" he tells faranza
"in pakistan,  shiriah law is more lax.
  they educate women. you are not too old."
he sees the fear in her exposed eyes, above the hajib

"allah must want to use you as something other
than mother, since he let you live."

farzana looked dully at her father. "do you mean i will not
see my daughter? "

what do you care for her now?

"i do not want
to bring shame upon my family." she travels
to mingora with her oldest
brother, the husband of her husband's sister.
she sleeps in her cousin's laundry room
and rises before dawn to prepare
breakfast for the family of six.
her father pays for a private tutor
a woman, an engineer in the soviet days
two hours, one day a week. mostly,
they talk of escape. this is how farzana

thinks of the concepts the soviet woman
has her read.  capitalism, communism,

entitlement, fuedalism, rent. 
is  new concept to her. she rolls it around
in her head, folding cousin's laundry, scrubing
floors, grinding sesame and falafel.
 from sun up to sun down,   its taste
on her tongue. a woman may rent her own rooms
in mingora. a woman may go to market
without an escort, a woman may uncover her face
but faranza never does.

faranza remembers the helicopters in kabul
on the journey to pakistan. she asked her bother
what the symbols painted on the sides meant
thinking they were names of the huge black beasts.
their terrible thumping of the air drew
her breath first out of lungs intirely
then forced it back down her throat

when the rains came and came there
was no where for the water to go. farzana
waited on the rooftop with her cousins
huddled under the bedframe's canvas.
together they watched the river

invade the floors of their home.
it marched up the stairs quicker than
something that large should be able to.

she clutches the bundle with her few
possessions.   the books
from the soviet engineer were wrapped
deeply inside her second hijab
she tried to protect them from the water
but the whole bundle fell  as she shakily
climbed the ladder up to the helicopter.
later she wept for the books
but during the climb she wanted to follow them.

nothing good comes from calamity.
when will allah let her die.


on the outskirts of the refugee camp
we have our tent, covered by blankets
we bartered for in the summer

in the one warm room
our family moves in out in concentric circles
to the core of warmth. we all get our turn to be
relaively warm. holding my hands out
to the fire, i give thanks to allah
for the season . it is good to be deprived
it makes the soul stronger.



when they ask for volunteers
farzana ignores her cousin's jeers
walks into the camp adminstrator's tent.

i can read. she says. i studied with an engineer.
i want to help."you can aide the nurses
with the women". the hospital tents
burst with babies, women in hijab  and burqua
but in mingora a woman may wear a shalwar kameez.
farzana admires the open veil, the lovely circlets
of metal and twined ribbon worn atop so many
shades of raven tresses. she will not cover
her eyes anymore, but she draws the hijab
across her scars each morning, and there it stays.

in the world of the helicopters, a woman might.

i am a poet.
i believe the personal is political. the politcal, personal.
i take things to heart


Tuesday, November 09, 2010


yet another poem i wrote on the board
that got deleted by the simple fact
that my isp sux. yet if i'd done the poem
here on blog
there would be a record of it.

no more writing into the box i'm afraid.

the piece was called millions of skins.
it began with the prison planet
and ended with a pakistani flood victim.
but that's ok, i don't have the faintest idea
what it's like to be a flood victim
so that was hubristic and prolly better
that it got deleted. it was all cliche anyway.


will i ever be original again?


Sunday, November 07, 2010

dark, conscious

One does not become enlightened
by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.
- Carl Jung

so let's say the way you responded
to the sorrow evident
is enough to go on,  some fond bred
empathy, reverent.

and let's say you had a dollar in your pocket
for the toll
made of dimes, exact change in the sprocket
and we roll

past   swamplands of cypress, lakes
blue as  eyes
past the corner bakery with cakes
and cream pies

roll into a scene from the great white north
stars behind your head
a crown held forth
as froth  to tread

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

ten minutes

the day soft thru a sheer panel
and i've been silent for a while
contemplating blue   water

tinted by cloudless skies &
the diamond shape of poison, how
refraction equals reflection then the mirror

breaks. i   speak in metaphor
and you in engineer.   the ineffable
persists, like grape leaves after harvest

or credits at the end of a movie. no one's
watching. even the gods have closed their eyes.
feel free to speak in   forgotten hues.