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State of the Union 2004



worms sing flesh into the bleached skull's bones

where eyes once peered into sermon'd stones


where feigned peace blasts the aging parents' dreams,

imperators croon skipping lines to bind their silent screams


when earthen fire bleeds in the ape king's quick smiles

flag-draped howlers silence cries with guns & bibles


then await disease & fire wafting over bowing heads,

find thirst among the sewer'd waters & floating dead—


then blame & rage crowd that land where racing wheels

burn the earth beneath & reduce all love to deals


so they inherit the flames they sow as glib-tongued peace

& bring their own bullets in as entré to the feast—


pass over despriz'd lovers they account least.



Previously published in Long Shot: Beat Bush Issue, Volume 27, 2004.





Abu Ghraib



the prisoner wears a black pointed hood; he stands, arms

              extended as in crucifixion, wires attached to his hands:


who set him up like this?  who set him up?  what childhood,

              what parents, neighbors, knew those who could snap this


memento from the cage?  & here, a grinning man, arms crossed,

              a woman leaning forward, laugh over prisoners jammed


together naked, heads in hoods.  this man and this woman-

              what hearts did they have as they returned to silent rooms,


alone?  or this young woman who smiles, thumbs up, fingers pointing down

              at the cock of a hooded prisoner, hands tied above his head--


already she claims she was forced, others were responsible, yet

              now the prisoner cannot live in his own home town; shamed.


here, the corpse has a bandage under his right eye, agony stamped

              in his dead face:  he is wrapped in cellophane, packaged in ice.


in congress, rumsfeld stammers & stalls, suggesting darker

              tales to come:  what is it, now, to call oneself American?





Desert Serenade



even in shadows of death by fire, one dreams lost

lazy July rivers, loves lock'd in memory's starry kiss,


the long envision'd trip home, tearful parents—

time's illusions stripped bare now in the blinding sun,


the sudden crash beyond the vehicle in desert dawn

brings one back &  here she sat—2 RPG duds thudding


20 feet behind—lock & load, & there, not 30 yards away,

one ran for life as another furiously loaded another round,


aiming at her as she aimed at him—so easy to take down

black silhouettes, so unlike the living man beyond one's sight—


their eyes met, & then he turned and was gone

(she shouted down later for not pulling the trigger).





October Surprise:  An Absurd Reverie



in october may banjos, guitars, & violins serenade the clouds

& open the heavens that the blasted & broken dead may rise

from mass graves & sing again in voices unscarred by war—


in october Pablo Neruda will return in his centennial year

& sing again the heroism of peasants, that they labor sans layoffs,

that they have sunflowers & sweetpeas before their windows


& songs rising from their lost bedrooms in the starry night

where the moon shines over the sea, that the lost dead

thrown from airplanes may return, that Pinochet may wake


in his own nightmare & sigh, that Allende may rise from the sea

& proclaim victory.  may George Bush & Osama bin Ladin

kiss long & lustily, make up & dance a duo in tutus


by moonlight; may Sadaam Hussein & Donald Rumsfeld

exchange their grinning skullfaces for the faces of angels

& may they learn the ways of angels; may they learn to sing—


may unknown genius rise in the land & discover energies

not tied to black gold pollution; may the cartels fade away

& the armies lose their weapons.  may soldiers awake to find


themselves naked in the sand & recall the hours of sandplay

when they first discovered their nakedness & their hearts

beating to a tune not devised by the musicians of hate.


in october, let there be a surprise so absurd none may dream of it

in earnest:  let the lovers emerge from the corolla of sorrow & may

they proclaim at last a free song that heals planet & heart altogether.



Written for Ed Sanders' Woodstock Journal: October Surprise, 2004.