June 01, 2003
Leonard Schwartz: Occupational Hazards

                Palestinian Transfer

Of olive groves spread out across soft hills the people despair: everything here has been marked, and everything marked is lost.

Transfer isn’t necessarily a dramatic event.

The telephone just keeps ringing and ringing. Something like a stethescope against the breast. Clinical.

In this way three children break an afternoon curfew and are mortally wounded.

The current situation calls for a swift and speedy effort to control all forces: not only as freedom struggling with its conqueror, refusing its reification and its perverted image, but as the being of groves spread across the hills, raising their fruits like tiny fists, by some unimaginable patience holding back the punch that would provoke the conqueror further.

The ruined, arid land, the neglected trees, testify that promises nourished from afar didn’t create an organism strong enough to withstand the assorted - well, you know all that already. Like a stethescope against the chest.

To show how and why a non-violent person, like myself, becomes violent. Not that I have become violent.

Uneasy rapprochment, for the sake of others. That explains the contradictory character certain states of mind are charged with, a clap of thunder when no storm is visible.

As for the psycho-social trance I would like to say one last thing about Steven Biko.

Festering wounds ask questions of their father. Like a refrigerator that groans from its own inner cold. The telephone just keeps ringing and ringing.

                The 36

It was while the army demolished a neighboring house, belonging to the family of a militant from Islamic Jihad, that the wall fell on the Makadmah family.

Opposition came swiftly from the 36 hidden justices.

There they are, you will have to go a long way around if you want to avoid them.

I would like to stroll within range of your rifle. I’m that angry.

Then an explosion, and the wall fell on the assembled family.

The name might be derived from a root meaning “to come” or “be present”: or possibly from another one meaning “to bruise”.

The last child the father and his neighbors found, scratched but alive.

Beauty is enhanced by this single moment of peace, and his hand which clutches the rubber ball, and Being never at any time running its course with a cause and effect coherence.

That our predicates do not contain untruths but are simply claims gone unfulfilled in our contemporaries and in ourselves. Being-in-the-thick-of-it.

When the building came down I felt a disconnect, a complete loss of apperception, as well as a completely leveled perception of things.

Mountains of night creep away without ever again yielding to barest day.

With ambulances blocked from reaching the scene, Mrs. Makadmah, 41, died while neighbors were carrying her to a clinic.

Her name might be derived from a root meaning “to come” or “be present”, or possibly from another one meaning, “to bruise”.

Expect no trial.

Except in every single action we are engaged in.

Possibly mixed among our neighbors, the 36, hidden and just.

Concentrated within themselves they go unrecognized by their fellow men.

Mrs. Makadmah was known as an excellent cook who often made cakes and cookies for her children.

The Israeli Army expressed regret.

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            Essential Services

Essential services in several critical areas, including health, education, water, electricity and law enforcement could no longer be provided.

What good would running to the Occupied Territories have done, what good running away ?

The bridge, much like the airport, the border crossing or any other entry point, is a place of enduring humiliations - homologue to the denial of history.

The fiancee arrived, surrounded by her brothers and sisters, all seven of them.

This quarter 17 killings were carried out that were almost certainly assassinations.

My grandmother and grandfather go to the rail of the boardwalk and look down at the beach.

If you throw even a cursory glance at the past you will observe that in the continuum of colonial control apartheid and peace have never been coextensive.

After his village was razed the Leper approached the soldier cradling his Uzi.

The ocean is becoming rough; my grandmother observes that the waves come slowly, drawing their strength from far back.

With pious and gentle resignation the persecuted ones suffered such intolerance (though later, in the Warsaw Ghetto…)

If the Law is texture, that texture must have changed. Been smoothed out by its “triumphs”.

To cope with interruptions and delays all schools in the West Bank begin to make up classes, when possible, during off days and holidays, as if by the sheer quantity of hours the circumstance could be overwhelmed.

The power of redemption seems to be built into the clockwork of life.

Out of stasis and paralysis, symptomatic of ghettos in general, I decided to run there and not to run there.

A stone    roars    like a    bird    Slaughtered
Tahseen Alkhateeb writes from Amman.

Not genocide, not ethnic cleansing: a name has yet to be conceived for what is undergone in these curfewed quarters.

Certainly not “The Question of Settlements”.

The Argentines speak of “the annhiliated” but that isn’t it either.

Redemption and its blasted clockwork.


She set up a great loom in the main hall, started to weave a fabric with a very fine thread. And every night, when the wooers had fallen asleep, she would unthread that day’s work.

Penelope transfers her strength to the medium of her subjective expression, in order to then subordinate herself to that medium, more than subjective, in the act of destructive defiance.

On the other side: only eight outposts established since 1996 have been completely dismantled. Many see this expansion as positive.

Weaving done in oneself insures that one won’t spill a drop of another. Then one undoes one’s own weaving. This is not just a ruse.

The awesome power of sacrifice. I tracked its meaning, never examining the sources of power that allowed me to make my own tracks, and thus, erasing them in the process.

Every day I would weave my father-in-law’s shroud, and every night by torchlight I would unweave that same web.

At least let her finish her weaving before you possess her. No. The bulldozer kept coming.

I’m no expert but I think I see a problem here.

If Palestine is Penelope, Penelope has already waited more than 54 years.


The first haiku’s task is to achieve exemption from someone in purdah walking on your street.

The second haiku’s task is to achieve exemption from someone in a tallis walking on your street.

The real haiku has no task.

Redemption and its blasted clockwork.


Other tales there are to tell, almost as sad, said Odysseus.

Words gather inside those exiled from space, those receding into time. Treat the person in whom they gather as if that person were their own sick child. Like parents made magically young in the tending.

You seek a homecoming as sweet as honey, since once every soul and soul-root had its special place in the pleroma. All instantiations of the return prove false. All fixed images of home prove idol.

Yet contagious as laughter or yawning there remains an unfathomable quality that frees language from something like description. Which remains undescribed, tantalizing.

Every day I would weave at the great loom; every night I would tear my work to shreds.

My guiding light, said Penelope, is the Israelites: they waited two millenia.

Under the name Reb Areb the poet Jabes offers: “Jewish solidarity is the impossible passion one stranger can feel for another.”

Penelope, calm and straightforward: “death will surely come to the suitors.”

He stripped off his rags and revealed himself as who he really was: a seed in the celestial granary, the perfect tension between particularism and universality, the voluptuous pleasure of silence fusing with anger.

Penelope one’s waiting, Odysseus one’s wandering.

Odysseus always no more than Penelope at her loom, weaving the future.

He her thought now, she thinks, in one guise or another, for more than two millenia.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 02:52 PM
May 12, 2003
Brian Kim Stefans: n epic

[Here's a poem I wrote several years ago, probably about 1997, that appeared in my book Gulf, and which seems more relevant in the aftermath of the "war" than during it. I'm not sure that it expresses anything more than a mood, but it's a bad mood! My father never brought back shoes from the war.]

(It is nothing like revolution, it is more like de-
volution.) (Rabbits in the patch dying
from artificially induced suffocation for law and limp
order.) (Shore leave or compromise, all
the same in the hyperbolic star of an
infant with nipple needs.) (They keep the borg
tape-mouthed, wrists cuffed in the
                 1. And fomented emigration
to the city births an anemia, crock issues won't
desist; able and willing (presaging a
deformity / of country codes) valors and
creativity - take it to the mountains, and sleep
on soles. 2. Hiccough under prose, slack averting
of the verbatim, shy guy slumping
in a corner, hair greasy, attitude unadjus-
ted to society, puns. 3. It's all just a loose-
lipped (we'll weep about it later) calibration
of poetry; two socks mismatched, and the
strumming of a lyre. 4. Marks the air before his fore-
head with an index finger, shaping a
colon, paratactic similitude of cogent theorem,
puns. 5. No panic attacks, the mind stays easy,
strays free in Symbolist "white space," re-
turns, always, to the assurance of mean-
ings - policies that park. 6. Pun only semi-in-
flectional, not "intended" (but indented) streams like
shit of meaning. 7. So that the sun settles
in its pocket. 8. Strategies to choose from
are presented by court ardor - the mayor resents but
greets the categorical crowd of half-
baked, irresolute plangent reformers. 9. Sum-
mer and evenings, by the ocean, face
blended with the winds and palms of some stereo-
typic entrapment - there is little here
that speaks. 10. The position is empty / of a grown
man without envy.
11. The party dances
on, without him, crass comedic urges that he
has, connections still being made
in the lights of syntax that is sobriety; the pairing
of lovers slalom forth on the "accurate
impulses" of undebatable relevance. 12 Watch-
ing from the gables and attics, children with pro-
lix complaints and commitments; suburbs
are theory of the wide-eyed preter-adolescent, stuck in
shoes Papa brought back from the war.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 12:39 PM
May 06, 2003
Hugh MacDiarmid: For Daniel Cohn-Bendit

[Daniel Cohn-Bendit is the present-day Green politician who became known as spokesperson and leader of the May 68 revolutionary activities in Paris. Hugh MacDiarmid is the famous Scottish-nationalist, Marxist poet who early in his career created "Synthetic Scots."]

On the occasion of his candidature in Glasgow
University Rectorial Election, 1968

No man or group of men has any right
To force another man or other groups of men
To do anything he or they do not wish to do.
There is no right to govern without
The consent of the governed. Consent is not only
Important in itself, and as a nidus for freedom
And its attendant spontaneity (clearly valuable
As the opposed sense of frustration is detrimental)
                                 But the sole
Basis of political obligation. There is nothing
Supplemental to or coequal with consent itself
And even if we had not the lessons of all history
-The endless evidence of 'man's inhumanity to man'
And overwhelming proof that all power debases
And that no man is good enough to have it
Or can exercise it without doing far more harm than good -
The contention is utterly indefensible - sheer humbug! mortmain!
That 'so long as the exercise of certain powers is good in itself
Or a means to the good... these powers are right
Whether or not anyone is of the opinion that they are,'
The time-dishonoured formula that attempts to conceal or excuse
All the hellish wrong of human history,
The fraud and loss inherent in all Government,
That age-long monstrous distortion of the faculties of man
It is the great historical task of the working-class
To eliminate today, no matter at what cost,
That human life, no longer wrenched hideously awry,
May spring up at last in its proper form.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 08:27 AM
April 29, 2003
Shufu Theater: Interview -- Iraq

[This is the second of the Shufu interview plays posted here -- a short explanation of what these are have already been posted as a preface to the first play, "Interview with a Civilian".]

"Interview with an Expert"

A TV Studio
November 2002

Two people sitting.

Hi Akie
Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you too

Your clothes is very nice

Thank you

How do you feel

I’m a little nervous
It is my first time
To be on
Such a big program

No don’t worry about


You spend
Your house



Make yourself at home

Oh! Okay

                The EXPERT relaxes.




What time
What time
What time
Does this program start?

Thirty seconds
I’m nervous

Don’t worry about it

Start. Okay.


                THEY wait.

                The "Camera" starts.

Hello this is Kyoka
I introduce audience Akie
Akie is specialist in


Arab region

                THEY laugh.

This time
We think about
The United States versus Iraq
So Akie
What do you think about president Hussein

President Hussein

Do you think he is
Hero in Iraq

I guess he is hero in Iraq


I don’t many things in Iraq
I saw
I watched TV about Iraq
Many Iraqis
Agree with his policy


It is my opinion
We should know
We should know
Many politician policy
United States policy
And Iraq’s policy
And third government policy
What should I say
Third world world policy
President Hussein is a little bit


He seems des
He seems despotic o me but
I guess he
He had anything
So Iraqis
Agree with him.
I guess

Do you think Iraqis need
Strong leader like President Hussein
Because so many Arab countries
Doesn’t have
Doesn’t have
Natural resources
And ah…
In the future
They don’t have oil

Doesn’t have
They want to


The sea

Iraq is not an affluent


Not rich country
Want strange leader
I guess
For example
In North Korea
In Afghanastan
In Afghanastan
It’s different I guess
He is terrorist
Osama Bin Ladin
If these country have many food
or many

                Looking up in dictionary.

Or many resources
They won’t they don’t have
Which can kill many people
For example biological weapons or nuclear weapons
But they want to
Food or money or anything
But they cannot have them
So they
They run
They use armed force
To rich country or
They want to get them
So they use armed force
Against another country
So they need
They need
Strange hero

When Iraq attacked Kuwait

Iraq’s religion
Is different between
Different than Kuwait


What do you think
This point?


Some Islam religion
Islam religion
Doesn’t agree
Another religion
So somethings
They attack
Country for example


                THEY laugh.

I’m sorry

I guess
I guess
Iraq attacked Kuwait
Because they don’t
Many oils
Because they want
To get
A lot of money so
Every want to get
Many money and grow up
In strange country
Strange country
Expand their country
I guess Iraq want to
Get sea
For oil

So Iraq get natural power
They want to get more natural resources

To build up national strength
Iraq attack Kuwait and get seat
And they want to build up
National strength


Wjay do you think of
The U.S.’ policy to Iraq?

I disagree
I disagree the United States and its support
Will attack Iraq

Do you agree


-Disagree with US policy

Because using armed force


It’s my opinion
I guess using arm force
Give birth to terrorism


I guess
People in
People in
The world
Every people in the world
Have a
Have a
Have plenty of food
Or everything
If every people in the world
Have plenty of food and everything
We will
We won’t
We won’t have war



If every people
Of the world
Have plenty of food and everything-


                THEY laugh

We won’t have war

I think so
What do you think?

Few Arab countries agree with the U.S,
Why did they agree with the U.S. policy

Because they
They want to
They want to
Another oil field

I’m sorry
What do you mean?

If one of them
They have-

They want

The United States’ money

I agree with your opinion

The last question
Do you think the U.S. government like to interfere
In other countries

Yes I think so that

Why do you think so?


The United States
We need
We need leader
But the United States
A little bit


A little bit
The United States interferes too much
I guess
But too much

What should I say?

I wish we have another way
Out of using armed force
I don’t know that because
I am not genius
But we have another way
I believe

Thank you

Your welcome

Posted by Brian Stefans at 11:04 AM
April 28, 2003
Shufu Theater: Interview with a Civilian

[This is not technically a "poem" but a theater piece in verse-like format. Madelyn Kent has been creating a series of "interviews" with her collaborators -- female Japanese students of English -- by asking them to research topics and speak about them, recording their words with some of the grammatical eccentricities intact. These plays are performed in a very slow, suspended pace that resembles butoh in its stillness, but also, to my mind, parts of that Werner Herzog film Heart of Glass for which the actors were all hypnotized.]

"Interview with a Civilian"

April 9, 2003


I think

His action


Too soon
He should have
Waited until
The rest of the world
The United States
Before he acted
He he


With military action


An Iranian
Living in
I was born in Iran
And my family
Kinda rich


My family was living happily
And enjoying


Our country is
Was getting modern


My father
My father owned company of carpet









That circumstances were changed


People hated
People suddenly
Showed hatred


Something related to America
Or Western country
And our family was seen


As enemy
And when
At that time I was sixteen
And it’s good time
And my father said it’s good time to go
Abroad to study
So I went to Britain to study


I’ve never gone back
To Iran


But someday I will go back to Iran
I want to go back


Now I teach
I teach

                Hand out.

At school
I also
Some volunteer work
In Morocco


Our students
thinking about Bush as a


Selfish leader
And he is




One of my student
Is thirteen and
She came from
And her father was
Soldiers, soldier
A soldier
And was killed in the war
She said
She hated President Bush
And she said
Wanted to show the real vision
Of the war
Because she thought
President Bush has never
Has never known


It was like
The battlefield


I think
There must have been something

                Hands crossed



                Hands together.

He felt he was weakling
And felt
Inferior to other people
We see
He just want
To show his




And he really we think he really wants
To win
Just not only for the war
But everything


I think
Including his life


I think he
He has never
But other people see he
Wants to be
Someone who
Who knows everything about the world
and he thinks
he knows everything


I wish
I wish
All the country
Countries which
Has have
Weapons and
I mean nuclear or some other weapons
I want those countries
Get together
And talk


I hope
My country
Some main role
To lead the region


The situation
I mean I think
mmm... (head side)
I don’t think it’s getting better
Because the war happened
And we see
I mean the Arab’s see
Our people has
Have been
Looked down
And some people feel
Those feelings
some people
act wrong things
like terrorist attacks


Maybe it’s difficult
To ("verb")
Democracy in my country
I think
We going to happen
But United States shouldn’t
Shouldn’t do
Shouldn’t force their way
To us
But we should take time to
(Hand pats)
bring bring


We have to
We have to
By ourselves
We have to learn
Step by step


I don’t want people
To become
Like America
We are not America
So we
We should
We should make
Our own style
Of democracy


I want
I want to
Who want


And I just
What could I do
I can’t

Information that people
Don’t know yet


People don’t know
The outside of the world


I miss
I miss about
Crowded market


I touched that


is in
many many
there were many many sacks
In the street
and there were
small birds
gathering the grains

I want
I want to buy some
It smells like
Mildew (thinking)


The birds
It looked like


But they were not beautiful


They looked

(looking up)


Their feathers looked
I saw
A bird
It was


Hard to


One grain that
It might like


It was
It was
It was
Small and
But I couldn’t
But I couldn’t
Help watching

(hands together, namaste)

and then it
jumped in
the sack
so I felt
I felt

(Hand on heart)

I felt good.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 10:51 AM
April 16, 2003
Tom Raworth: Listen Up

Why should we listen to Hans Blix
and all those other foreign pricks:
the faggot French who swallow snails
and kiss the cheeks of other males:
the Germans with their Nazi past
and leather pants and cars that last
longer than ours: the ungrateful Chinks
we let make all our clothes; those finks
should back us in whatever task--
we shouldn't even have to ask:
and as for creepy munchkin Putin...
a slimy asshole-- no disputing!?
We saved those Russians from the reds--
they owe support. Those wimpish heads
of tiny states without the power
to have a radio in the shower
should fall in line behind George Bush
and join with him and Blair to push
the sword of truth through Saddam's guts
(no need for any ifs or buts)
we'll even do it without the backing
of UN cowards and their quacking--
remember how we thrashed the Nips
and fried them like potato chips?
God's on our side, he's white and Yankee
he'd drop the bombs, he'd drive a tank: we
know he's stronger than their Allah
as is our righteousness and valor!
We'll clip Mohammed's ears and pecker
And then move on to napalm Mecca.

Tom Raworth is a British poet. His most recent book of poems is Tottering State. He submitted Listen Up to the PoetsfortheWar.org website, hoping to sneak it past the censors. To date, they have not published the poem. However, late word comes that the site's proprietor, Charles Weatherford, has offered him a position as an "organizer" in their movement. (Counterpunch)

Posted by Brian Stefans at 11:20 AM
April 15, 2003
Allen Ginsberg: Wichita Vortex Sutra (last part)

      Cars passing their messages along country crossroads
            to populaces cement-networked on flatness,
                                          giant white mist on earth
            and a Wichita Eagle-Beacon headlines
            "Kennedy Urges Cong Get Chair in Negotiations"
The War is gone,
      Language emerging on the motel news stand,
                                          the right magic
            Formula, the language known
      in the back of the mind before, now in black print
                                                daily consciousness
Eagle News Services Saigon-
      Headline Surrounded Vietcong Charge Into Fire Fight
            the suffering not yet ended
                                          for others
            The last spasms of the dragon of pain
                        shoot thru the muscles
                  a crackling around the eyeballs
                  of a sensitive yellow boy by a muddy wall
Continued from page one             area
      after the Marines killed 256 Vietcong captured 31
      ten day operation Harvest Moon last December
                                                Language language
      U.S. Military Spokesmen
                              Language language
                                                Cong death toll
            has soared to 100 in First Air Cavalry
            Division's Sector of
                              Language language
                  Operation White Wing near Bong Son

Some of the
      Language language
                        Language language soldiers
charged so desperately
      they were struck with six or seven bullets before they fell
                  Language Language M 60 Machine Guns
                              Language language in La Drang Valley
                  the terrain is      rougher infested with leeches and scorpions
                              The war was over several hours ago!
Oh at last again the radio opens
      blue Invitations!
            Angelic Dylan singing across the nation
                  "When all your children start to resent you
                  Won't you come see me, O~een Jane?"
      His youthful voice making glad
                              the brown endless meadows
      His tenderness penetrating aether,
            soft prayer on the airwaves,
                        Language language, and sweet music too
                        even unto thee,
                              hairy flatness!
                        even unto thee
                                          despairing Burns!

Future speeding on swift wheels
                  straight to the heart of Wichita!
Now radio voices cry population hunger world
                                    of unhappy people
                  waiting for Man to be born
                                    O man in America!
      you certainly smell good
                                    the radio says
      passing mysterious families of winking towers
      grouped round a quonset-hut on a hillock-
            feed storage or military fear factory here?
Sensitive City, Ooh! Hamburger & Skelley's Gas
                              lights feed man and machine,
      Kansas Electric Substation aluminum robot
            signals thru thin antennae towers
            above the empty football field
                                                      at Sunday dusk
to a solitary derrick that pumps oil from the unconscious
                              working night & day
& factory gas-flares edge a huge golf course
      where tired businessmen can come and play-
Cloverleaf, Merging      Traffic East Wichita turnoff
                              McConnell Airforce Base
                                                nourishing the city-
      Lights rising in the suburbs
      Supermarket Texaco brilliance starred
                        over streetlamp vertebrae on Kellogg,
                  green jeweled traffic lights
                        confronting the windshield,
Centertown ganglion entered!
                  Crowds of autos moving with their lightshine,
                  signbulbs winking in the driver's eyeball-
            The human nest collected, neon lit,
                                          and sunburst signed
                  for business as usual, except on the Lord's Day-
            Redeemer Lutheran's three crosses lit on the lawn
                                          reminder of our sins
            and Titsworth offers insurance on Hydraulic
            by De Voors Guard's Mortuary for outmoded bodies
                                          of the human vehicle
                  which no Titsworth of insurance will customize for resale-
So home, traveler, past the newspaper language factory
      under Union Station railroad bridge on Douglas
      to the center of the Vortex, calmly returned
                  to Hotel Eaton-
Carry Nation began the war on Vietnam here
                              with an angry smashing ax
                                    attacking Wine-
      Here fifty years ago, by her violence
began a vortex of hatred that defoliated the Mekong Delta-
      Proud Wichita! vain Wichita
                  cast the first stone!-
                                          That murdered my mother
                  who died of the communist anticommunist psychosis
                        in the madhouse one decade long ago
      complaining about      wires of masscommunication in her head
                        and phantom political voices in the air
                                    besmirching her girlish character.
      Many another has suffered death and madness
            in the Vortex from Hydraulic
                  to the end of 17th-enough!
The war is over now-
      Except for the souls
                        held prisoner in Niggertown
still pining for love of your tender white bodies O children of Wichita!

February 14, 1966

Posted by Brian Stefans at 06:04 PM
April 10, 2003
Kit Robinson: April Fool's Day / Rae Armantrout: Thing

April Fool’s Day

As we thumb through the world news pages
We feel like we're back in the middle ages
Some Christian soldiers with God on their side
Now have the whole world terrified

Our young men and women in uniform
Was it for this that they were born?
They are beautiful strong and brave
They should be at work or in school not trying to save

The reputations of a few old men
Whose arrogance goes back to when
The federal government took Indian lands away
And put the people on reservations to live out their days

The Indians are a great warrior race
And many still serve in the military today
But once again they have been betrayed
As the U.S. Armed Forces penetrate

The sovereign nation of Iraq
In an unprecedented, unprovoked attack
“The outcome is certain,” the President said
I wonder what put that in his head

No outcome is certain, this we know
Except that the ranks of Al Quaeda will grow
With the pain and suffering of ancient Baghdad
Loss is the lifeblood of jihad

While generals scratch their heads and think
In Basra there’s no fresh water to drink
“We didn’t plan in our war-game drills
for irregular enemies,” General Wallace spills

We thought we’d be welcomed with open arms
As liberators removing the people from harm’s
Way when in fact since 12 years ago
They’ve mourned their war dead and suffered under embargo

Meanwhile where are the WMD’s we went to war about?
We know they exist without a doubt
Why? Because Saddam made ‘em
With stuff he got from Rummy and Reagan

Bush Younger thought he could get carte blanche
From the UN Security Council to launch
An all out attack but this miscalculation
Has led to America’s isolation

Having squandered the whole world’s sympathy
After 9-11 we are now seen on TV
From Kamchatka to Madagascar
As a dangerously out-of-control aggressor

So much for diplomacy, Mr. Powell
Should throw in the proverbial towel
While he still has a shred of credibility
Meanwhile if we love life and liberty

There is something each of us must do
Sooner or later you’ll say so too
War may be short, occupation, long
And bitter and bloody and totally wrong

As we see all this happening before our eyes
It is not too early to organize
To bring our young men and women back
U.S.A. out of Iraq!

--Kit Robinson



We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,

for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles

and it is far
to "balanced reporting"

though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.

--Rae Armantrout

Posted by Brian Stefans at 01:18 AM
April 09, 2003
Allen Ginsberg: Wichita Vortex Sutra (another slab)

Here's another bit of the poem -- almost done. When I have the whole thing formatted I'll create another entry with the entire thing. I start this with an excerpt since initially it doesn't seem to do much with the site, but clearly the long passages of looking at the sky, revelling in erotic bodily pleasure, etc., play the non-abstracted self against the seemeingly otherworldly machinations of the Congress. The rhetoric still seems too self-consciously Whitmanesque to me

"I lift my voice aloud,
      make Mantra of American language now,
                  I here declare the end of the War!
                        Ancient days' Illusion!-
            and pronounce words beginning my own millennium.
Let the States tremble,
      let the Nation weep,
            let Congress legislate its own delight
                  let the President execute his own desire-
this Act done by my own voice,
                              nameless Mystery- "


I'm an old man now, and a lonesome man in Kansas
      but not afraid
            to speak my lonesomeness in a car,
            because not only my lonesomeness
                  it's Ours, all over America,
                                    O tender fellows-
                  & spoken lonesomeness is Prophecy
                  in the moon 100 years ago or in
                        the middle of Kansas now.
It's not the vast plains mute our mouths
                        that fill at midnite with ecstatic language
                  when our trembling bodies hold each other
                        breast to breast on a mattress-
      Not the empty sky that hides
                              the feeling from our faces
      nor our skirts and trousers that conceal
            the bodylove emanating in a glow of beloved skin,
                  white smooth abdomen down to the hair
                                    between our Legs,
      It's not a God that bore us that forbid
            our Being, like a sunny rose
                        all red with naked joy
            between our eyes & bellies, yes
All we do is for this frightened thing
            we call Love, want and lack-
      fear that we aren't the one whose body could be
            beloved of all the brides of Kansas City,
            kissed all over by every boy of Wichita-
      O but how many in their solitude weep aloud like me-
            On the bridge over Republican River
                  almost in tears to know
                        how to speak the right language-
            on the frosty broad road
                  uphill between highway embankments
            I search for the language
                              that is also yours-
            almost all our language has been taxed by war.
Radio antennae high tension
      wires ranging from Junction City across the plains-
      highway cloverleaf sunk in a vast meadow
                  lanes curving past Abilene
                        to Denver filled with old
                                    heroes of love-
                  to Wichita where McClure's mind
                        burst into animal beauty
                        drunk, getting laid in a car
                              in a neon misted street
                                    15 years ago-
      to Independence where the old man's still alive
      who loosed the bomb that's slaved all human consciousness
                  and made the body universe a place of fear-
Now, speeding along the empty plain,
            no giant demon machine
                  visible on the horizon
      but tiny human trees and wooden houses at the sky's edge
            I claim my birthright!
                  reborn forever as long as Man
                        in Kansas or other universe-Joy
            reborn after the vast sadness of War Gods!
A lone man talking to myself, no house in the brown vastness to hear,
            imaging the throng of Selves
                  that make this nation one body of Prophecy
                        languaged by Declaration as Pursuit of
I call all Powers of imagination
      to my side in this auto to make Prophecy,
                                                all Lords
            of human kingdoms to come
Shambu Bharti Baba naked covered with ash
            Khaki Baba fat-bellied mad with the dogs
Dehorahava Baba who moans Oh how wounded, How wounded
      Sitaram Onkar Das Thakur who commands
                                    give up your desire
Satyananda who raises two thumbs in tranquillity
      Kali Pada Guha Roy whose yoga drops before the void
            Shivananda who touches the breast and says OM

Srimata Krishnaji of Brindaban who says take for your guru
      William Blake the invisible father of English visions
      Sri Ramakrishna master of ecstasy eyes
            half closed who only cries for his mother
Chaitanya arms upraised singing & dancing his own praise
      merciful Chango judging our bodies
            Durga-Ma covered with blood
                  destroyer of battlefield illusions
            million-faced Tathagata gone past suffering
      Preserver Harekrishna returning in the age of pain
Sacred Heart my Christ acceptable
            Allah the Compassionate One
                              Jaweh Righteous One
                        all Knowledge-Princes of Earth-man, all
      ancient Seraphim of heavenly Desire, Devas, yogis
                        & holymen I chant to-
                              Come to my lone presence
                                    into this Vortex named Kansas,
I lift my voice aloud,
      make Mantra of American language now,
                  I here declare the end of the War!
                        Ancient days' Illusion!-
            and pronounce words beginning my own millennium.
Let the States tremble,
      let the Nation weep,
            let Congress legislate its own delight
                  let the President execute his own desire-
this Act done by my own voice,
                              nameless Mystery-
published to my own senses,
                  blissfully received by my own form
      approved with pleasure by my sensations
            manifestation of my very thought
            accomplished in my own imagination
                  all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
      60 miles from Wichita
                              near El Dorado,
                                    The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
      houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward
                                                      in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord-
      Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
                  where Florence is
                        set on a hill,
                  stop for tea & gas

Posted by Brian Stefans at 11:43 AM
April 08, 2003
Allen Ginsberg: Wichita Vortex Sutra II (excerpt)

Three five zero zero is numerals
Headline language poetry, nine decades after Democratic Vistas
      and the Prophecy of the Good Gray Poet
            Our nation "of the fabled damned"
                                    or else . . .
      Language, language
Ezra Pound the Chinese Written Character for truth
            defined as man standing by his word
                  Word picture:      forked creature
            standing by a box, birds flying out
               representing mouth speech
      Ham Steak please waitress, in the warm café.
            Different from a bad guess.
                              The war is language,
                                    language abused
                                          for Advertisement,
                                    language used
                              like magic for power on the planet:
Black Magic language,
      formulas for reality-
            Communism is a 9 letter word
                  used by inferior magicians with
the wrong alchemical formula for transforming earth into gold
            -funky warlocks operating on guesswork,
                  handmedown mandrake terminology
                                    that never worked in 1956
      for gray-domed Dulles,
                              brooding over at State,
            that never worked for Ike who knelt to take
                        the magic wafer in his mouth
                                          from Dulles' hand
                                    inside the church in Washington:
Communion of bum magicians
                  congress of failures from Kansas & Missouri
      working with the wrong equations
      Sorcerer's Apprentices who lost control
            of the simplest broomstick in the world:
O longhaired magician come home take care of your dumb helper
      before the radiation deluge floods your livingroom,
                              your magic errandboy's
                                    just made a bad guess again
                        that's lasted a whole decade.

      Time Mutual presents
            World's Largest Camp Comedy:
                        Magic In Vietnam-
      reality turned inside out
            changing its sex in the Mass Media
            for 30 days, TV den and bedroom farce
Flashing pictures Senate Foreign Relations Committee room
      Generals faces flashing on and off screen
                                          mouthing language
      State Secretary speaking nothing but language
      McNamara declining to speak public language
            The President talking language,
                  Senators reinterpreting language
            General Taylor Limited Objectives
from Pennsylvania
                        Clark's Face Open Ended
                              Dove's Apocalypse
                              Morse's hairy ears
      Stennis orating in Mississippi
                        half billion chinamen crowding into the
                                                      polling booth,
            Clean shaven Gen. Gavin's image
                                                imagining Enclaves
                        Tactical Bombing the magic formula for
                        a silver haired Symington:
      Ancient Chinese apothegm:
                              Old in vain.
            Hawks swooping thru the newspapers
                  talons visible
            wings outspread in the giant updraft of hot air
                              loosing their dry screech in the skies
                                                over the Capitol
Napalm and black clouds emerging in newsprint
      Flesh soft as a Kansas girl's
                        ripped open by metal explosion-
      three five zero zero        on the other side of the planet
            caught in barbed wire, fire ball
            bullet shock, bayonet electricity
      bomb blast terrific in skull & belly, shrapneled throbbing meat
While this American nation argues war:
            conflicting language, language
                              proliferating in airwaves
      filling the farmhouse ear, filling
            the City Manager's head in his oaken office
            the professor's head in his bed at midnight
            the pupil's head at the movies
                  blond haired, his heart throbbing with desire
                  for the girlish image bodied on the screen:
                                    or smoking cigarettes
                                    and watching Captain Kangaroo
                                    that fabled damned of nations
                                    prophecy come true-
Though the highway's straight,
      dipping downward through low hills,
      rising narrow on the far horizon
            black cows browse in caked fields
                  ponds in the hollows lie frozen
Is this the land that started war on China?
      This be the soil that thought Cold War for decades?
      Are these nervous naked trees & farmhouses
                                    the vortex
                              of oriental anxiety molecules
      that've imagined        American Foreign Policy
            and magick'd up paranoia in Peking
                        and curtains of living blood
                              surrounding far Saigon?
Are these the towns where the language emerged
      from the mouths here
                  that makes a Hell of riots in Dominica
      sustains the aging tyranny of Chiang in silent Taipeh city
      Paid for the lost French war in Algeria
            overthrew the Guatemalan polis in '54
      maintaining United Fruit's banana greed
                                          another thirteen years
            for the secret prestige of the Dulles family lawfirm?

Here's Marysville-
      a black railroad engine in the children's park,
                                          at rest-
and the Track Crossing
      with Cotton Belt flatcars
                  carrying autos west from Dallas
      Delaware & Hudson gondolas filled with power stuff-
      a line of boxcars far east as the eye can see
                  carrying battle goods to cross the Rockies
            into the hands of rich longshoremen loading
                                    ships on the Pacific-
            Oakland Army Terminal lights
                        blue illumined all night now-
Crash of couplings and the great American train
                  moves on carrying its cushioned load of metal doom
      Union Pacific linked together with your Hoosier Line
                        followed by passive Wabash
                                          rolling behind
                        all Erie carrying cargo in the rear,
                  Central Georgia's rust colored truck proclaiming
                                          The Right Way, concluding
      the awesome poem writ by the train
                  across northern Kansas,
            land which gave right of way
            to the massing of metal meant for explosion
                                          in Indochina-
Passing thru Waterville,
      Electronic machinery in the bus humming prophecy-
            paper signs blowing in cold wind,
                        mid-Sunday afternoon's silence in town
            under frost-gray sky
                              that covers the horizon-
That the rest of earth is unseen,
                                    an outer universe invisible,
                              Unknown except thru
                                                            magic images
or prophecy of the secret
                              heart the same
                              in Waterville as Saigon one human form:
                        When a woman's heart bursts in Waterville
                                    a woman screams equal in Hanoi-
On to Wichita to prophesy! O frightful Bard!
      into the heart of the Vortex
            where anxiety rings
                  the University with millionaire pressure,
            lonely crank telephone voices sighing in dread,
      and students waken trembling in their beds
            with dreams of a new truth warm as meat,
            little girls suspecting their elders of murder
                  committed by remote control machinery,
            boys with sexual bellies aroused
                  chilled in the heart by the mailman
            with a letter from an aging white haired General
                  Director of selection for service in Deathwar
                  all this black language
                                    writ by machine!
                        O hopeless Fathers and Teachers
                        in Hué     do you know
                                          the same woe too?

Posted by Brian Stefans at 04:36 PM
The Common Sky: Canadian Writers Against the War

I've scanned in a few poems from this anthology, just out from Three Squares Press, edited by Mark Higgins, Stephen Pender and Darren Wershler-Henry. I tried to keep the selection very small since I don't want to traipse on their copyrights, but there's a lot of good stuff in there. As a teaser, I've only taken an excerpt from one of the longer poems, by Marion Quednau -- never heard of her before, but she's in B.C. Here's a full list of authors. Darren has already posted his contribution, a collaboration with Bill Kennedy, elsewhere on Circulars.


Daphne Marlatt


thirty-five thousand hearts
mob the streets here

             MAD COWBOY

two million feet beat
NO NO in London


mad love for
ammunitions this


ease unease high moral
wartalk (on our
behalf) BLU bomb DU anti-
tank weapons talk
hi-tech attack talk

heart for a river of refugees’
thirst hunger tiny organs
born with holes malformed
irradiated earth Iraq

a human dump
centuries from now

Wakefield Brewster


Manifest Manifesto
My chest gets blessed yo
When I pull a test blow
Of some new herbals like verbals mix with verbalistics fix lyrical empirical intrinsic forensic ballistics

Call da P0-lice
I rob rhymed your mind blind
Brung da tongue
Twist out ya tongue now it's mine

Like nothing is belonging to one or even many does anybody have?
A second question about the mental suggestion causing social indigestion

There is something that moves us
Proves and improves us
Containing prophecy and philosophy
Silence and cacophony
You will know the sleep of soma when comes to coffin thee

There's da rippin fabric trippin find da spot commence da slippin

I took a deep dive into a shallow black whole
I carried pain like a residential school soul
And then found the key to da secret of time
Between midnight and 11:59:59

'Tis in here we bear witness to da bedlam of mad, mad dimensions
Where justice beats down truth with a gavel into gravel
And the futile defense of a true mastermind is foiled
I leave contractor's condo developments despoiled

As my own designs are tin
Da matriarch
Da matriarch
Why is it dat she doan run tings?
When my goddamned fool-stupid bleeding heart sings?

For out of da blue rains sheets of murder
Death wets de earth and paints it red
And up springs a sadness both mean and green
I scorch the land wit a fiery hue
Eat da blackest seeds of a white-hot fruit
Then crouch and slouch as I sleep on da couch-again

There has to be more than this
Living in paradoxical dualities and trialities
Looking for salvation in someone
Not da one

I'm a failure as a millionaire
And a well-accomplished human
I picked out den kicked out my mental slavery shackles
I built my blast shield outta thirty snake rattles
Sticks and stones encased my bones
I became hard like a lover's face
Saw four rooms become four walls
Felt da lack of cleanliness like public bathroom stalls

I'm gonna jack-in den black-in da box
Leave it splintered and splintering
This denizen pigpen
And it's so true I so do know who
Da swine really be
Tellin us all dat we can't be free
Enslavement by pavement
They talk it
We walk it

I travel on a surface of gears and cogs
May I warp and bend the threads and spokes until they all look like hideous starfish

I'll make dem all know who I be
By fucking up their technology
I'm a flow em den show em
Dat no tech tree can wreck me
Doan try to inspec me
Goan never disec me
Stop shining your demon beacon light into my soul
Doan study me like I be in a Petrie dish fish
Bowl em down and split em like pins
Dis here is where da revolution begins
And where we start clockin wins

Like Megatron
And mediate the ones who claim to openly debate
For their language is straight ahead complicated and confusing
So they can simultaneously have your brain and pocketbook losing

The only means to make you count in this world
But on my first test blow
The truth was unfurled
To me the friendly stranger
Is like their baby in a manger
Blessed I see is da chest in me
Am walking, talking danger

Cause while dey feel dey got me on my belly snake slinking
I'm hidin back in da black like my namesake-


Steve Venright


The guy at the customs booth on the American side of the bridge asked us where we lived.

"Turrawna," we chimed proudly

"What is the purpose of your visit?" he inquired.

"We're just comm' over to shoot a few people then going right back," I replied.

'Are you bringing over any citrus fruit or pornographic literature?"

"No sir, we just have some raw beets and a copy of the Surrealist Manifesto."

He jutted his crocodiian head a little closer and I halted my reflex to close the window using the automatic button.

"Is that the First or Second manifesto?" he demanded.

"The First," I lied, remembering the ideological rescissions Aragon and Sadoul were forced to make when Communist Parry officials objected to aspects of the Second Manifesto during their visit to Moscow

This seemed to satisfy our sombre interrogator, but it was evident he had at least one more good question for us.

"Do either of you have any narcotic substances in your possession?"

"No, indeed," asserted my companion.

"Thanks anyway-feeling kinda shitty today" he confided. "Okay you folks have a nice visit."

"Don't you want to check our trunk?" I offered.

"No, not right now"

At last we were on our way again to the symposium on consciousness and the brain. We weren't really going to shoot anyone, of course, but felt it best to conceal the true nature of our visit. Even a former president and his wife thought it was okay to have a brain-in fact they dedicated a whole decade to the thing. But the subject of consciousness, we knew, was another matter entirely

RM Vaughan


1. God Bless America
Celine Dion with The Boys Choir of Harlem. Arranged by David Foster
2. Boom! There it iz! Stealthy Style
LL Cool J and Lil' Kim and Lil Bow Wow
3. 1991 (we gonna party like it's)
Prince and the New Power Generation
4. Savin' Da World Bitch at a Time
Tony Bennett and 50 Cent. Recorded live at the Aspen Music Festival
5. The Charge of the Light Brigade
The Boston Pops Orchestra. Narrated by Kevin Costner
6. Ahab The Arab (Bag-da-dad remix)
Ray Stevens. Remixed by Moby
7. Putting Out Fires With Gasoline
Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson
8. Axes To Axis
Nickleback with James Brown
9. Sultans of Schwing! (Love Theme from Desert Storm II)
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
10. That's What Friends Are For (USA-UK mix)
Oprab Winfrey and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Arranged by Quincy Jones.
11. 'Round Midnight At The Oasis
Mariah Carey and Winton Marsalis
12. Over There/I'll Be Seeing You/New York, New York Medley
Liza Minnelli (featuring The New York City Fire Fighters Choir)
13. God Bless America Muthaf**kah!
Celine Dion and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott

nasser hussain


A merica,
And whamerica,
For shamerica,
O say can you seemerica
the eternal flamerica:
for J.F.Kmerica
the kkkmerica
Such monomaniamerica-
no cure for amnesiamerica,
forevermerica and evermerica, amen.

Margaret Atwood


Starspangled cowboy
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face
a porcelain grin,
tugging a papier-mache cactus
on wheels behind you with a string,

you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.

Your righteous eyes, your laconic
people the streets with villains:
as you move, the air in front of you
blossoms with targets

and you leave behind you a heroic
trail of desolation:
beer bottles
slaughtered by the side
of the road, bird-
skulls bleaching in the sunset.

I ought to be watching
from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront
when the shooting starts, hands clasped
in admiration,

but I am elsewhere.
Then what about me

what about the I
confronting you on that border
you are always trying to cross?

I am the horizon
you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso

I am also what surrounds you:
my brain
scattered with your
tincans, bones, empty shells,
the litter of your invasions.

I am the space you desecrate
as you pass through.

Marion Quednau


     This September just passed
a clutch of old friends dropped by, unannounced,
masquerading as limpid newscasters
     out of sync with raucous foreign voices,
and I fell prey to equally moribund
habits: saw pale, pleading omens-comets' tails
and plummeted birds with red wings-
heard a slavish sound like the long-promised
     gnashing of lions' teeth, woke up nights
weeping like an old woman,

           Now it is Thanksgiving;
     there are plainly no pilgrims
on our high plateau, and I have greater presence
           of mind. The devout
are mostly on roads leading to and from
Macedonia, Uzbekistan
     and that clever, shifting place
called Hell, that even the Pope
won't confess to being more likely a threat
these days than a mood already arrived.

           Yes, some actually died, their paper planes
and mothers, brothers, fathers, gone to ashes,
but many more
           have been frightened to death
and are still among the living,
                 now bombing
all manner of ancient metaphor
on the Afghan desert, where people thin
                 as rakes are hiding in slant tents
and honeycombed caves, the proverbial
                 bushes still burning as brightly
on the charred horizon as in arch parables
sworn by lean-mouthed prophets.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 08:08 AM
April 02, 2003
Allen Ginsberg: Wichita Vortex II

As I wrote earlier, I'm not able to convert my scan of Wichita Vortex Sutra into HTML and post to this blog.

Formatting it even as much as I have is pretty tedious and I'm only getting about 3 pages of the poem done at a time before getting bleary-eyed. Here is an HTML version in a separate section of arras if the first pages of part II, and here is a nice printable .pdf version.

I'll make an effort to get the rest of it up in a 2 more installations, and then do the whole thing as one entry. Enjoy.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 03:37 PM
April 01, 2003
Allen Ginsberg: Wichita Vortex Sutra (part 1)

Thanks to the idiots at Microsoft, I'm not able to convert my scan of Wichita Vortex Sutra into HTML and post to this blog. The special Word coding -- more complicated with every new version and requiring a special degree to figure out -- gets in the way of the blog formatting.

I'll put an HTML version on a separate page of the site, and here is a nice printable .pdf version. Please don't tell Harper Perennial I'm putting these up. If you find any typos, please email them to me and I'll make corrections. The much longer part II of this poem is on the way.

Ginsberg's poem has been referenced frequently elsewhere on this site, especially in the comments section to Barrett Watten's War = Language piece, where David Perry has posted many lines from the poem already.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 02:26 PM
March 29, 2003
Good Day

Jason Christie, currently of Calgary, Alberta, ruminates on world and personal issues in the following poetre-mail transmission.

Good Day

When I woke up today. The phone rang. My friend said you can't use the word punctilious in a poem. It has most certainly been tity-one mondays since we last discussed Stompin' Tom Connors. That it was the phone when it rang. What I've been trying to say. Is that you can't use the word poem in a poem. Anymore, or over the phone early in tehe morning; that certain prisoners of war are or once were our friends, bastards, themselves outshined by the sun, even the sun that now shines through my bedroom window, past the little bonsai leaves and rubber alligator, over the blue sheets, the dark bluee sheets, the dark blue sheets which you have pulled up over your head and it is at least seven am.

Good Day

Our hands were so tired from changing the lightbulbs that we saw above all those people's heads. Donald Rumsfield won't even be a name we'll recognize in an hundred years. Not even Americans. With their eye flashes. It happened when you threw the lard into the frying pan, the third degree burns all up and down my arms. And that makes my hands tired too, I guess.

Good Day

Today it ruins. You've got 48 hrs without Nolte and Murphy. Black droplets; tears rend the sky into what appears to be a beach replete with driftwood. Our hour.

Good Day

Once is has passed upon a time, cloaked Wagner, quick institute bellows our youngsters, gifted or otherwise accidental. No one was badly hurt. Control blasts across the room and the weather chinooks it should be said. Beasts rifle the pages and further the blue on blue aphasia. How come your legs work. Against understanding in such plain talk as this. Rooms move past confederate Canadians, evolution beyond mourning: one against many should reveal itself as a Bruce Willis sort of construct and therefore false; a storm out of nowhere, see how semi-colons work, that is, a reading...

Good Day

Spin it clicks awake, and the blue as in sheets, rewind, that it said humble returns, eternally yours, and the kerning got all fucked up so fast between us. The US and the rest. That's them's the breaks I guess. This windows platform expertise makes lines break, little green hashes advance up the column till they drive from dark green, evergreen, central intelligence to red, bright red, with a little element to heat it all up from the center, between the screens, those blue screens. A several thing. Multifold. Many are folded into a discussion of kitchen sinks and their relationship to poetry, the porcelain wasn't always nontoxic. Who doesn't have a problematic relationship to such an overwhelming colonizing force? The english language? What we do is squat, rent some ideas, turn the sound down, enliven. The green movement against the whalers. Interviews would suggest that even the grass is fed up with growth because of the latent incorporations of so many natural metaphors by business. Add vert i sing. The fundamentals changed teams. Damn carpet pulled itself out from under my feet. To sleep at some point later. Find William Carlos Williams' Pictures from Cavanaugh under my pillow since my girlfriend has a group project on his poem the fall of Mike Harris. It goes unnoticed. Bellows in the annals of history. While the market seems to be on an upward swing. Technologies on the front lines aching for just a few more feet of desert. In advance.

Good Day

Mannerists matter mostly to muttering mothers on mondays. My mother. It was around this time that her mother died from complications that arose during some 'minor' surgery. My grandmother. Chrome graves risen, stand the blades of grass above the stiff; caught in the wind that also moves the elm's leaves far above. Scarborough to Capitol Hill. A granite key scrapes between the lines on my front door for you to let yourself in, and in hindsight you made breakfast before I even got out of bed around noon. That sentence is dead. Money is information. Water doesn't have a wallet. Or a shed. Something like language. You said be patient and I probably muttered something like I will if you are the doctor. If I could go back, I'd make breakfast before you got to my place, and I'd also most likely not say that thing about you being a doctor. It is all economics at our feet, the rubble of war over the airwaves, where I discover even you have succumbed to the dynamics of pressure, water wears down, erodes, new lines of slight, it builds on all of our shoulders, that snow as if flakes to the ground again, through the goddamned streetlight that slipped itself right into the poem by virtue, by virtue of it having no idea about the war, or about this poem, or about the fact it is unnatural; a mockery even of the UN in all of its patience. Standing tall out of the clouds, those clouds that roll across the ocean, charging steeds, steelheads billows sails out front over the wild drops, deep wells between the waves, deep wells somewhere and then gone. Gone just as fast between the ebb and flow of what my mother said the other day about leaving her husband; the graveyard is the brightest landmark back home, in Milton. Then there's this wind again. You find the key between the lines at my front door, let yourself in, and to my belated surprise make blueberry pancakes, some coffee, wake me softly out of a deep sleep asking whether or not I slept well through the night, through the storms.

Good Day

I watched television at work today and wanted to scream at CNN and BBC world news that they were capitalizing on the suffering of millions. But then, why is this poem any different?

Posted by a.rawlings at 02:55 AM
March 28, 2003
Antonin Artaud: To Have Done with the Judgement of God

kré                                                 puc te
kré               Everything must             puk te
pek               be arranged                  li le
kre                to a hair                      pek ti le
e                   in fulminating               kruk
pte                order.                    

I learned yesterday
(I must be behind the times, or perhaps
   it's only a false rumor, one of those pieces
   of spiteful gossip that are circulated between
   sink and latrine at the hour when meals that
   have been ingurgitated one more time are
   thrown in the slop buckets),
I learned yesterday
one of the most sensational of those official
   practices of American public schools
which no doubt account for the fact that this
   country believes itself to be in the vanguard
   of progress.
It seems that, among the examinations or tests
   required of a child entering public school for
   the first time, there is the so-called seminal
   fluid or sperm test,

which consists of asking this newly entering
   child for a small amount of his sperm so it
   can be placed in a jar
and kept ready for any attempts at artificial
insemination that might later take place.
For Americans are finding more and more
   that they lack muscle and children,
that is, not workers
but soldiers,
and they want at all costs and by every possible
   means to make and manufacture soldiers
with a view to all the planetary wars which might
   later take place,
and which would be intended to demonstrate by
   the overwhelming virtues of force
the superiority of American products,
and the fruits of American sweat in all fields of
   activity and of the superiority of the possible
   dynamism of force.
Because one must produce,
one must by all possible means of activity replace
   nature wherever it can be replaced,
one must find a major field of action for human inertia,
the worker must have something to keep him busy,
new fields of activity must be created,
in which we shall see at last the reign of all the fake
manufactured products,
of all the vile synthetic substitutes
in which beautiful real nature has no part,
and must give way finally and shamefully before
   all the victorious substitute products
in which the sperm of all the artificial insemination
will make a miracle
in order to produce armies and battleships.
No more fruit, no more trees, no more vegetables,
   no more plants pharmaceutical or otherwise and
   consequently no more food,
but synthetic products to satiety,
amid the fumes,
amid the special humors of the atmosphere, on the
   particular axes of atmospheres wrenched violently
   and synthetically from the resistances of a nature
   which has known nothing of war except fear.
And war is wonderful, isn't it?
For it's war, isn't it, that the Americans have been
   preparing for and are preparing for this way step
   by step.
In order to defend this senseless manufacture from
   all competition that could not fail to arise on all
one must have soldiers, armies, airplanes, battleships,
hence this sperm
which it seems the governments of America have had
   the effrontery to think of.
For we have more than one enemy
lying in wait for us, my son,
we, the born capitalists,
and among these enemies
Stalin's Russia
which also doesn't lack armed men.
All this is very well,
but I didn't know the Americans were such a warlike
In order to fight one must get shot at
and although I have seen many Americans at war
they always had huge armies of tanks, airplanes,
that served as their shield.
I have seen machines fighting a lot
but only infinitely far
them have I seen the men who directed them.
Rather than a people who feed their horses, cattle,
   and mules the last tons of real morphine they have
   left and replace it with substitutes made of smoke,
I prefer the people who eat of the bare earth the delirium
   from which they were born
I mean the Tarahumara
eating peyote off the ground
while they are born,
and who kill the sun to establish the kingdom of black
and who smash the cross so that the spaces of space can
   never again meet and cross.

And so now you are going to hear the dance of the T U T U G U R I.
                                  Antonin Artaud (1947)

Trans. by Helen Weaver


Posted by Alfred Schein at 02:43 AM
March 19, 2003
Drew Gardner: Your tax dollars...

Your tax dollars are now being used to bulldoze idealistic 23 years-old girls from Olympia to death.

I guess people will get used to this way of answering idealism.

Maybe the reason fish are speaking in New York state is that people want the end of the world to happen? Does it make them feel important when they're there to see it, and to help it along?

By the "end of the world" I mean, of course, the mass killing of civilians by the United States. It's important to conceive of war crimes as being "inevitable" just because some maniac millionaires will personally profit from it. It's actually the begining of the world, not the end -- what world?

I guess it's not hard to get used to bulldozing girls. Get used to unprovoked invasions of foreign countries. Get used to detainees who never get trials. You get used to it.

The largest and most unified and peaceful anti-war protests in the history of the earth have produced this reaction in our leaders: Fuck you. I'm going to kill whoever I like. You're damn lucky you live in a country where it’s hard to just kill you for speaking your mind, because that’s what we’d like to do to you.

Sitting in the coffee shop on Ave. A before going to work this morning. People dressed sharply for their work day.

Carpet bombing of civilians.

Maybe there's some intrigue or gossip at work.

Destruction of water systems, food distribution, and communications.

Maybe people aren’t working or are working part time or have artistic goals they are trying to achieve.

Backing the bulldozer up over the body of the 23 year old girl after running her over once.

On the stereo they played a nice Indie-rock ballad I didn't recognize. I had an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and a large coffee.

"The mother of all bombs."

Rachel Corrie was working on wells for drinking water.

Maybe the talking fish in New Square was really protesting the war. Maybe he knew about the well water -- maybe he understood that working on water systems was a good use of one's energy and resources -- unlike the production of depleted uranium weapons.

Fish know the importance of water after all.

The guy injured himself trying to kill this fish.

I wonder who ate the fish.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 07:29 PM
February 28, 2003
BKS: A Mini-Anthology of Anti-War Poems

[I've just received in the mail the O Books anthology enough, a collection of poems and statements assembled in the wake of 9/11. I'm sticking five up without permission because I like them, but also as advertisement for the book, which is available at Small Press Distribution. I regret not being able to include a longer piece by Ibrahim Mahawi, a Palestinian-Scot, but it is three pages of prose.]

Rod Smith


So there’s this episode of Mary Tyler Moore where Ted’s trying to get a raise & after finagling and shenaniganizing he puts one over on Lou & gets his contract changed to non-exclusive sos he can do commercials which is not cool WI Lou & the gang because Ted’s just a brainless gimp & it hurts the image of the news to have the anchorman selling tomato slicers & dogfood so Lou gets despondent because the contract can’t be rescinded but then he gets mad & calls Ted into his office & says, you know his voice, “You’re going to stop doing commercials, Ted” & Ted says “why would I do that Lou?” & Lou says ‘Because if you don’t I’ll punch your face out” & Ted says “I’ll have you arrested” & Lou says “It’ll be too late, your face will be broken, you’re not gonna get too many commercials with a broken face now are you Ted?” & Ted buckles under to force & everybody loves it that Lou’s not despondent anymore he’s back to his brustling chubby loud loveable whiskey-drinking football-loving ways. Now imagine if Ted were Lou, if Ted were the boss. You know how incredibly fucking brainless Ted is, but let’s imagine he understands & is willing to use force. That’s the situation we’re now in as Americans.

Joanne Kyger


                        For this you get a degree in the government
                                    of My World My Rules
                            Here’s some of the buzz words —
                                    Foolhardy and Inexplicable

                        The current president has been called
                                    ‘a craven coward’
                            by the female senator from California
                              and it’s only May 2001!

                                       And now    still
                        almost a Constant Sense of Outrage
               Corporate capitalist oligarchies own the war
              Feel Terrified? The ‘war’

                 Can go where it wants, when it wants
                          with bizarre expansions
                                      Endless war fear hysteria. Great

There is NEVER an end to profit.    There is NEVER enough
There are no ‘acceptable losses’ when it means more ‘money’

There is no end to profit    There is NEVER enough
That said again, do we enumerate the stunningly horrible

            ‘My Way or No Way’ direction of the Bushies
                 in the world
                              and start gnashing teeth and going ga-ga

But there’s the voice of the people’ isn’t there?
            I hear articulate political observation
                        that hasn’t collapsed into goofy anxious patriotism
            that informs and lifts      the veil of secrecy

                                    ‘The state of the union is none of your business’
                                         says the Vice

                                                  Evil Terrorism   or   Live Rebellion?
                        always just out of reach except for the kid from Mann

                        Terrorist weather yesterday heavy frost and snow
                            collateral damage to the lemons
                                       and baby Bok Choy

                                                But what about all the hot air produced?
                                                   At least I enumerate with outrage
                                                      At least I must articulate
                                                                At least I know what’s wrong

Read the Tao
February 27, 2002

Harryette Mullen


My large magnetic card flag proudly displays Old Glory
as I drive to Family Dollar for the makings of a Fourth of July picnic.

I pledge allegiance to my MasterCard
that is honored in more stores than American Express.

Oh beautiful, those spacious aisles stacked with seasonal items!
My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of Lipton instant tea!

I cut out a great recipe I found in the Sunday paper. A Betsy Ross
rectangular cake covered with strawberries, blueberries, and Cool Whip,
with a coupon for the Cool Whip.

On Independence Day, our all-American front porch shows our true colors
With patriotic bunting and bows, only $3.99 a yard (reg. $4.99).

Our backyard guests sit at our holiday picnic table,
thematically decorated with 10 oz. Stars and Stripes plastic tumblers,
matching table runner, paper plates and napkins from Dixie Cup.

As my hubby grills the red meat and toasts the white buns under a blue sky,
our son shows the neighbor kids his World Peacekeepers Patriot Soldier,
a twelve-inch fully poseable action figure that plays the national anthem.

Tom Raworth


when someone in virginia
looks at an image from a drone
over afghanistan programmed
to seek males over six feet two
where they shouldn’t be
in farming country
presses a button
and blows them to jelly blobs
you know the safe u.s. warrior
in that hi-tech exoskeleton
is not seeing beneath nightscope gaze
its bootlaces being tied together
by tiny naked hands

Fanny Howe


When the cold-blooded are proved right —
judgment secure — case complete
we will first see a tangle
of close-ups — gourd and gold

and apples still rotten
rugosa roses down to three petals only
and each holocaust will be an ant-heap

All the little wrongs will come into focus

But who will be glad about this?


Even the bigamists
who thought they were splitting
each lie into fragments
too small to be located

might find their trail is following them

And the short-sighted whose faces
are a blur of glee
may begin to establish shapes
around pockets of light and air
in the thicket they are part of

but they won’t sense the force
that gathers those shapes

into actual consequence
until they themselves can’t go forward

And neither will the hesitant
experience their weakness
as an ability
until it gathers into a body
of uncertainties that has influence

When the one big cruelty comes down on us
out of a seeming emptiness

it will be a helium packed with the force
of freely given evasions

so if some still believe
that the cold-blooded alone are responsible
for this power
how will they show that it came from elsewhere

Nothing has increased

Posted by Brian Stefans at 01:26 AM
February 27, 2003
Apostrophe: You Are All Hat and No Cattle

you are a card-carrying member of the john birch society, the ara, and the "kill a freak for jesus" chapter in your town • you are sure that judge bork got a raw deal • you are 40 years old, and have never dated, let alone been married, because you're saving yourself for margaret thatcher • you are god • you are in the "top 1%" income bracket • you are going to be someday, somehow • you are too drunk to fish and too dumb to hunt • you are in favor of cutting taxes on investments, even though the only investments you ever made were in lottery tickets, because, someday, one of them suckers will pay off and then you'll be rich too! yee-haw! • you are sure that one day you are going to hit the jackpot and be one of them • you are glad to see things back to normal • you are still mad because "rummy" rumsfeld & dubya won't let you play with their guns • you are on medicare, need prescription drug help & still voted for the village idiot • you are going to burn in hell for hypocrisy & self-righteousness • you are convinced that the voice of god is charlton heston • you are short-sighted in decision-making • you are deep-down jealous of bill clinton's sex life! • you are angry that the cleaners lost your swastika arm band • you are lost in the middle of nowhere • "you are going to save social security, my friend, that's all hat and no cattle," mccain said of bush's plan • you are going to talk about a man's record, talk about the whole record • you are one of them • you are not alone • you are one of those who would like to merge your work with earning a living, how do you go about doing it? this is the sort of question financial planning should address • you are right now compared to those doing what you want to do • you are going to pay for travelling from here to there • you are going to burn in hell for hypocrisy & self-righteousness • you are convinced that the voice of god is charlton heston • you are short-sighted in decision-making • you are deep-down jealous of bill clinton's sex life! • you are angry that the cleaners lost your swastika arm band • you are of him • you are frying fish on the beach • you are you're the first thing i think about and that's how the morning starts it seems like everything i say and do is all about me being in love with you twenty-four seven you're the only thing that matters to me twenty-four hours girl, every day seven long days a week i'm in heaven, heaven twenty-four seven you're the only train of thought on my one-track mind going ninety miles an hour baby all the time twenty-four seven you're the only thing that matters to me twenty-four hours girl, every day seven long days a week i'm in heaven, heaven twenty-four seven i'm in heaven twenty-four seven twenty-four hours girl, every day seven long days a week i'm in heaven, heaven twenty-four seven twenty-four seven girl e-mail this lyric to a friend! 0 comments posted for this song • you are skilled in network design and engineering • you are a communications specialist, you can earn a ccip or ccie, or you can get one of several specialty certificates to show you are competent in one particular area of cisco networking • you are expected to know everything there is to know when you walk through the door on the first day • you are allowed to drive any type of car that is manufactured

(written by the internet • conceptualized and built by Darren Wershler-Henry and Bill Kennedy)

Posted by Darren Wershler-Henry at 12:08 AM
February 25, 2003
Daniel Bouchard: White Death This Exit

From the AP wires: "There remains an off-ramp," the press secretary said. "The off-ramp will be taken or not taken as a result of Saddam Hussein's actions."

This poem, "White Death This Exit," was first published by The Capilano Review (Vancouver, BC) in January 2002.

The commentary, by Increase Mather, following the poemis printed with permission.

- daniel bouchard

White Death This Exit


Silver light posts arc over the road, white glare
beside a swift congruous river of red lights.
The moon is muffled but full. In storm,
or close to it, everyone going somewhere still.

Northbound highway is promotion and egress:
tree lines, hip roofs, glow of holiday lights
strung on houses, strung upon shrubs, candles
burn or electric candles “on” behind windows,

votives and voices, dashboard speakers.
Rational voices from national radio.
A view of office towers, advertising, the
roads that lead to steel and glass plazas.

A close storm, around Xmas, everything
will close when it strikes. Seventy
per cent of tomahawk tip oxidized
and aerated. A sort of exit. A wooden

shaft 2 ½ feet long, stone tip
sharpened at one end. Air raided.
Sortie. Mufflers wrapped of an evening.
Poison belch into “crisp” air.

Two planes of chimney meet: west side
snow-covered the north side only wet.
To blow tomahawks: to kill or cut.
He “sunk his hatchet into his brains”

tho the victim was his kin. A terrible night
the sky and the noise seeming like the cries,
the glare of flintlock by firelight. Trigger.
As thunder. Surgically bombed.

Latin, from stem of mittere, to send.
Patriot, from Andover: “war means jobs.”
Snowfall covers the jagged, busted glass.
Savage, cling, clung or stick

lintel amid brick piling
obsequious in lit corners, rub
panes scratched with a wet branch,
frozen-bristled, rigid in wind.

The natives nationalized livestock and corn.
Clams free for the raking. Slush streets a sleek
frozen surface, a sluice on Sunday, next day
the papers repeat: tougher on Iraq, tiny

frozen drift, spittle, white ragged drop, like ash.
Vaporization and dust. A black star shot
and smeared, the man’s ground body,
only the head remained, eyes shut looking up.

Endicott in Connecticut
waged a brilliant terror campaign
destroying crops of Pequots.
Bush’s band of grim men.


Light refractory highway
moon muffled by cloud gap
hurtle its mist, blackness
of valley held under the surface,

blue twilight obscured
against the shade of those hills.
Thru it a seamless snaking of road,
brilliantly lit, surging or greased

in docility, treatment, a capable
reckoning violence, its sandstone
canvas uniform, photographs in wallet.
What makes a land promised?

Predestined spasms of nation
in their rhetoric, in their ears;
indelible units of folk
pre-packaged creed and wrap,

meta-tyranny, weaponry steep
flails with purpose against non-peoples,
strategizes consent, shoveled deep,
crumbling piles; resembles to a child

a reasonable iceberg to place
some plastic figurines
of classical cowboys and Indians;
contemporary Arabs and Marines.

A leader elected, steeped in oil, its politics,
education, a polity, wanting severe, civility,
the education president, schooled at Yale,
he said of King Philip “we cannot

reward an aggressor” and gathered allies,
potential allies, Xtian converts at Natick,
praying Arabs. This is Increase Mather
speaking: “it will not stand.”

Able to kill several hundred Pequots
with only a handful of losses to
themselves. “With one blow of his
hatchet dispatched him.”


Victory: highly respirable;
dermal, oral, pulmonary portal.
In wounds, burns, retained in lungs,
ingested, absorbed in blood.

No one ever calls the president “asshole”
on television, on radio, in newspapers;
nor murderer, expediter, pieface,
nor bootlick, saver-of-face, executor

of that which is opportune; in terms
of scandal or flattery, enjoining the nation,
rejoining it “to heal.” Why don’t they
say what it is like to be bombed

by the United States for ten years?
Let it be said with the persistence
of a semen-stained dress. Ten years
without potable water, an infrastructure

destroyed, its reconstruction blocked
until you rise to kill
your own brutal dictator?
If you agree to murder
your own cruel ruler,
why stop there? And not quash

the pre-fab “democracy” in packing crates
awaiting installation? Jet engine scream
on tarmac. Stuck in nimbus of brick,
blew in the fired walls: today,

a view from the bridge, palisades
collapsing as they flee from the fort.
Savage, merciless, tomahawk.
This is Peter Arnett, bleeding from the head,

in the Great Cedar Swamp of Rhode Island.
The musket balls will burn for a billion years.
Just a whiff of tobacco before it ends
and they sunk a hatchet into his brains.

Shot face down in wetlands, sold
overseas, with crumpled bill of sale
in hand: sarin, soman, anthrax. Waving
flag and gun for god and justice.


Gone the white fat flakes that fell
scraped apogee in afternoon’s saturate
gray; fine and few the snowfall now,
the airlines failed to cease. Light

increase, surge and falter, flicker,
a filter to pitch. Winter evening of
New Hampshire. On ground the grain
in the water the bits and from the sky,

primitive in ideology, flint for flaking
fire, the flack, residual facts
esophagus tissue lined with sand.
Watch now. Something stirs.

Satellites reel graceful ellipsis.
Baby incubators Wampanoags
unplugged you can see them
from the frontier of your yard

or fence the world is so small,
able to launch or lob like a hand toy
a parcel bearing a rupturous gift.
Scorched ruins to witness from your frontier.

A swamp that is long, wide not so deep
a horde cannot traverse it carrying
trappings on their backs beside giant trees
that have died here, remain, bare boughs

hold a heaviness of osprey nests in thick clusters.
Just as Mistress Rowlandson is about to quit
for fatigue Metacomet slips up and
offers his hand. She does not refuse.

So the Wampanoags learned death, a private property.
Ferocity in warfare—in kind—outwash Pleistocene till
crumbling since the “Indian Wars” behind a Mobil.
Non-fissionable nuclear attacks clear disasters for centuries.

Walk patches half melt. For civilians,
veterans: four and a half-billion-
year half-life. Promised peace for surrender
but sold as slaves out of country.

Marketing appeal, everyone calls upon God.
Vietnam Syndrome negated, Gulf War
Syndrome created. One symptom of one
syndrome is conscience; the other syndrome

attacks the nervous system. Clouds troop
over office towers. Leaves fallen forcefully
in storm. It must be quite a storm. Sinister
light in blue bursts. A powerful thrust.

Daniel Bouchard
Cambridge, Mass.
January-August, 2001


History is strife. But the Study of history can be made with much Profit. The War of Philip was about Human Rights. Indian Heathen, constantly killing and maiming one another as an Amnesty International report during the Narragansett War between the Mohegans and Pequots revealed, were capable of appalling Atrocities; the more powerful the Army, the more Blatant and Savage the atrocity.

The Puritans, in both the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, had no quarrel with the Wampanoag people. In Fact, for many years Philip (or Metacomet, his Heathen name) had been our Ally, as his Father Mattapoisett before him, and his Brother also before his untimely succumbing to Sickness while at the house of a Colonist in Plymouth. By the time of his Attacks on towns, Philip had in fact become as bad as Hitler.

Our enemy was Unfaithful and we desired their Disarming. Puritan leaders demanded the Wampanoags be disarmed. Corn had been stolen from the settlers. Myles Standish (we named a public park for him) acted immediately, seeking out Sachems in the area and in the course of Conversation killed Several of them with their own knives. Buoyed by his success, he dispatched Assassins throughout the neighborhood to destroy every native with a pair of Scissors in their possession. He called it Operation As-God-Is-My-Witness.

The Pequot war (1630s) had been standard police action, seeking to address the rampant spreading of a kind of Micro-nationalism among the native Populations: self-determination and rejection of Christian doctrine (essentially an Economic affair) resulting in what colonial governors began calling Pequot War Syndrome, till the actions of Indians provided enough ground for Fetid Propaganda, the coming onslaught of anti-Indian sentiment (never low in standards or quantity) and demonization of their Leader. The poor, dumb Beasts. Colonial governors called it “Pequot War syndrome” and fretted when proper invocations failed to produce encouraging Turnouts in the militia.

One Rhode Islander was brought to Plymouth to bear testimony before the Elders. She was young, the daughter of a minor Official. She told how the Indians had captured and terrorized the Villages of a New England frontier town. The heathen Invaders tore Infants from incubators in a local hospital. This roused the common ire. It proved to be Fiction, the proof less reported, and so the ire remained. Dissent was Trivial, and trivialized; Sympathizers for the miscreants. A proclamation was issued to Cauterize the natives. Philip was motivated not by policy nor reason, but Malice.

Meanwhile, the sachem Awashonks called council to dance. In turn, the elders issued immediate bans on particular popular Ditties: “Rock the Casbah,” “Killing Me Softly,” and, most certainly, “We Can Work it Out.” I was, myself, a Licenser of the Press. I make no apology for wanting to adhere to the commandment of God, to exterminate the Natives as the Amalekites.

After the war we wanted most to Forget about the war we had won but not really and what did winning mean? The Reviled man was dead, his Wife and son sold into Slavery ending, perhaps, in North Africa or the Middle East. We were less encumbered to expand our Properties which had been a major Cause of the original tension and inability to tolerate one Another, the manifestations of mutual Intolerance bearing out in sporadic but increasing bouts of Violence. I was a great Opponent of expanding the Frontier too quickly. It is the Church needs be in the Vanguard of Expansion, and not cheeky Trappers who would cavort with the Natives at their own Peril.

The Puritan Elders rejected Agreement to a war crimes Tribunal for fear that English soldiers may be subject to Prosecution. We wanted to forget except in the instances where convenient facts of our Victory were assets in propaganda to support current official policy or advantageous popular feeling. The severed head of the Dead man was placed on a pike in the capital’s main thoroughfare.

In Boston the Governor denied the Indians medicine, wary that the natives would convert it to spears, calculators, floppy disks, and nuclear warheads. See the Decennium Luctuosum, or “Woeful decade,” of my son, the Reverend Cotton Mather.

Of Mr. Bouchard’s Poem (I know not whether he is Himself a Christian), I have little to say about the mere Conflating of two distinct Trials of the Christian race in rarefied Imagery. Literary effort is best meant to promulgate the Gospels. The poet here makes no use of that sacred Text, and therefore his effort is Bereft of Truth.

—Increase Mather

Posted by Daniel Bouchard at 11:45 AM
Bob Perelman: Against Shock and Awe

[Bob's revised the poem, and it has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer since first appearing here on Circulars.]

              We may not have chosen to live inside Dick Cheney's mind, but we do.
              Wyoming, I read somewhere, is the safest place in North America.
              No tornados, no tsunamis, no earthquakes, no monsoons, or floods. No major airport: no big planes crashing in the sleet.
              But if living in Wyoming is so safe, living inside Dick Cheney's mind, though it was formed there, is not safe at all.
              How do you get from Wyoming to Shock and Awe?
              Getting from Love to Hate, that's easy: Love, Live, Give, Gave, Gate, Hate.
              Love comes before life, and since newborns don't survive on their own, life at the beginning involves giving. It has to: breast milk, protection, language, diapers made out of whatever, some sort of attention before you crawl or walk. Everyone living was given some of that somehow.
              That gets us up to Give. Gave comes next because giving is tiring. You give and give and what thanks do you get? Nothing. Or worse. They think they're entitled; they're madder than ever; they sulk in their rooms, they throw rocks.
              So much for giving. The next logical step is to build a gate.
              But gates creak at night, they leak, they break, in fact, gates concentrate whatever's on either side, they distill hate.
              Love, Live, Give, Gave, Gate, Hate: Q.E.D.

              But getting from Wyoming to Shock and Awe?
              "Shock and Awe"? That's the Pentagon's current battle plan for Iraq: 300 to 400 cruise missiles the 1st day (more than in all of Desert Storm), 300 to 400 the next, to demolish water, electricity, communications, buildings, roads, bridges, infrastructure in general. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before," a Pentagon official told CBS. "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad." Harlan Ullman drew a parallel to Hiroshima: the Iraqi people will be "physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted"; it will be "like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes." The point is "to impose [an] overwhelming level of Shock and Awe, to seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary's perceptions and understanding of events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance."
              This is Shock and Awe, remember, not Wyoming.
              But it gets hard to tell them apart: overwhelming levels seizing control, paralyzing perceptions and understanding.
              That works for Wyoming and just about anywhere in the United States.
              That's the problem with living inside Dick Cheney's mind, whether we've chosen to or not.

              What's the point of Shock and Awe?
              To free the Iraqi people.
              Problem: "No safe place in Baghdad" contradicts "To free the Iraqi people."
              Rationale: Since the Iraqi people are enslaved inside Saddam Hussein's mind that mind must be destroyed. That means destroying Saddam Hussein's body, which means brushing aside Baghdad to find him to free the Iraqi people trapped inside his mind.
              But dead people are only free in the most limited way. Not much bang for the buck there.
              Deeper rationale: It's an adult world. Shock and Awe is adult political theater for a world audience. To reach an audience that big you have to project. That's the point of Shock, the sheer size of which has never, etc. Otherwise the audience won't be struck with Awe.
              What's the point of Awe?
              Awe kills two birds with one stone. For the right Arabs, it inaugurates democracy, or something, somehow. For the wrong Arabs, Awe will . . . what? Awe will awe them into submission.
              I can hear Dick Cheney arguing that Awe worked at Hiroshima.
              But Japan was at war with us, and Awe, or at least Instant Submission, didn't work outside Japan. The Iraqi people are not only not at war with us, we're rescuing them from Saddam Hussein's mind. And as for working outside Baghdad? Destroying it will awe al-Qaeda? That's a stretch. There are more al-Qaedans in London or Berlin than in Baghdad. Maybe we should get Berlin first.
              No matter how big you make Shock, you can't get to Awe.

              Forget it: We'll never know the exact route from Wyoming to Shock and Awe.
              But Shock and Awe is already halfway here: Here, Baghdad and Here, Wyoming. We're half "physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted"; our "perceptions and understanding" are half "overloaded."
              But even half a mind is enough to do the math: We're half capable of resistance.
              The shocks are gigantic, disgusting, but at least they're not shocking, once we give up our imaginary safety.
              The other half, Awe with its ersatz religious capital letter, we can resist.
              The weapons are huge and thoughtless, but they don't deserve a shred of awe.
              A small victory, but it's one weapon destroyed, the one they always use first.

[The Shock and Awe language comes from web sites found on Google under "Shock and Awe."]

Posted by Brian Stefans at 10:55 AM
February 24, 2003
Kent Johnson: Basra Exceeds Its Object

Come off it, Tha'lab, you faker, you kadhib,
yes, very funny, but for goodness sake, just
put back those purple bowels in your tummy,
you'll be late for work!

Make haste, Safia, you little scamp, you pig-tailed qasida,
put that fat flap of scalp back on your crown,
now's not the hour for teenage pranks,
it's time to go to school!

Ah, quit moaning Miss Al-Sayab, you muwashshara,
we know that fetus hanging from your bottom is a rubber trick—
we're not stupid, you know, so cease being crass,
and get ye to market!

Cut the crap, Nizar, you iltizam,
pick that torso up and put it back on your dancing spine—
we know that old box and mirror trick,
now get thee to prayers!

Hey, Rashid, you al-nahda,
we know you love the special effects of Hollywood movies,
but it's not safe to make yourself into a geyser of fire—
and anyway, you're supposed to be accompanying the inspectors!

Say there, little Samih, you shirnur,
six-month-olds aren't supposed to be able to fly—
so get down from those power lines and gather
your legs and head on the ground here, you naughty child!

Listen, Tawfiq, you tafila,
OK, so you're a sorry-assed academic with a Ba'ath mustache,
but put your brains back into your head, you can't fool us by calling in sick—
it's time for class and your students are ablaze!

Yo bro, my main-man Bashad, you tardiyyat,
you're as if dead and white as marble, but there's not a scratch on your body—
quit fucking around, the mosque is rubble,
make the siren light flash and spin on your ambulance!

Greetings Ahmad, you badi-kamriyyat,
put your face back on and also that water pipe hose thing back into your belly—
you've been a joker since you were five,
but now you're a father, so pick up that basket of combs and gum!

Good morning, Mrs. al-Jurjani, you madin,
author of four essays on postmodern currents in American poetry,
what are you howling and wailing like that for, hitting your skull
against the flagstones like a mechanical hammer?

A horse is a horse, and if a horse is dead, a horse is dead—
More so, you are naked, which is unbecoming of a lady your age and standing.
Like Hamlet, your emotion is unconvincing, for it exceeds its object.
Therefore, we beseech you: Put a plug in it.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 05:08 PM
February 13, 2003
W.H. Auden: Epitaph On A Tyrant

[I'm sure you've seen this one before, but I came across it again last night and it literally sent chills down my spine.]

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Posted by Brian Stefans at 01:06 PM