for Isabella Grace at twenty-one months
Because you were sleeping my arms,
Gene Autry’s “Guns and Guitars” on the
I held you up to this tragic nation.
Because we were riding horses made of rain
We’ll learn by our mistakes and the mistakes of
Of ashes, decay & the other thousands of fragile
Because the fabric of moss seems at one with your face
There’s nothing this poor man can show you.
Everything in the mirror is the same.
Because your fang tooth is coming in
Like a fogy pool of light through the window
And later you might have a rap sheet a mile long.
Because in the beginning you didn’t use toilet
Or stomp off naked in red cowgirl boots
To see the first green in the aspen.
Denver to San
1 January 2005
My Video Game
for Andy Clausen: translator of
the Songs of Bo Baba
Search and destroy, search and rescue, securing
Candidates holding anonymous elections, securing the
Locking down cities, locking down the populace, locking
The sacrilege & blasphemy, though the gods are
Why don’t they make video games of mountain meadow
tipi shining sunsets?
Video games with Allen Ginsberg calming police
into putting away nightsticks,
Video games with chickadees pecking at the window of a
Video games of a TV repairman giving strawberries to a
Video games of a monk sitting in a cave for years on
Video games of a woman opening up an orphanage
where trees stand quiet once
The mission isn’t the vaporization of wives &
The prize is not to crush and burn the entire global
In my video game, we make amends with our victimage,
In my video game, the leaves are sixty colors &
In my video game we free ourselves from these lifetimes
reappearing samsara hellworld
3 January 2005
The Return of
Stagger Lee (Inauguration Day)
Rolling down Pennsylvania
Avenue on tsunami wheels,
A hatless Stagger Lee rides in on a giant wave
To wake the poor in empty cupboard kitchens,
Fishermen grieving for families swept out to sea,
The post-September 11 suicide at Ground Zero,
Survivors walking highways crushed by oranges.
After terrorizing the capitals of the underworld
Till Satan himself fled for his life
& the thought-police who never think twice about
Arresting anybody on any dark argument against the
Stagger Lee steps out of the wind & rain,
Blocking the motorcade carrying the re-elected president,
Opening the route so that the common folk can watch
Him avenge the holiness within every being.
20 January 2005
Recites Free Verse While Guarding Iraqi Polling Station
I hear my girl’s sweet voice
Even as bullets whiz by.
When I pick up the pieces of a body
I smell her skin of rye and orchids.
In my dreams heads float past.
I wish these burned out cars
Would turn into bouquets of roses
But I know the unwritten law.
I’ve seen enough of one side
Being played against the other.
Civilians and prisoners spit in my face.
Our own interrogators dress as whores.
They use those sex tactics you’ve seen in the
In the sand of this sad republic
The mouths of shells gather silence.
The hands of my heart move
In a mustard yellow cadence tilting up from
City parks stricken with broken-down serenaders
Filled with the gorgeous dark blue aroma
Of jewelry-like rush-hours.
With your name on my lips
I walk the last mile
Remembering when I made you cry.
Something told me as you walked away
That time would make me miss you more.
29 January 2005
You Are, Perhaps,
The Tenderness That Deciphered Nothing
It is like
& finding yourself
in a mass grave.
way it is,
Whatever is there
is just there
It is a
precise & unfamiliar
way for which there are
There’s no running
full of poppies,
forms of war
and arms & hair
made of ritual.
It is the sense
center of it all,
4 February 2005
Al-hur (Free Verse) Iraq
You know, I can’t think of a single verse.
I mean, I wish I could.
GWB (interview with Cal Thomas, February 2005)
Free yourself from “declarations of virtuous
intent by world leaders” (Chomsky)
el-shababeya (youth song) King Farouk Generation X
(Ironing Man) tackle the war in Iraq
all with zero voice zero looks
(Bloodied Girl) weep your
parents killed American soldiers
fired-on automobile despite
warning shots, Tal Afar
There was a moment in our
And say to the believing women and men
(All men and women are believing)
emotion draws around itself all the various
counteridentity oppositional claims
disputed comments language of incitement & division
Notice contradictory calls for compassion for the
more general or universal sense of compassion
“They are not free not blue and Saudi crepe”
Hear the vacant empty Basra
flowers of cholera & shrapnel
Cosmopolitan Jacket Walmart this end of the graveyard
Larks sing clear sweet voice 18 hours without power
You didn’t mind being different because Babylon
perceived it was connected
with creativity Rimbaud Baathist haiku recycled
said George “I was consciously trying to make a
that would make a certain type of person
not feel alone I wasn’t targeting the whole world
I wasn’t trying to make a hit record”
Slimming for the beach
At night, the refrigerator
chilled air cold water
that pale yellow light across
the darkened kitchen
Afternoon mosque wake
the door a woman of
punctuation our reinforced towers
Three from Sunni Al-Anbarhad
by their families after coming
out of Abu Ghraib pregnant
Intelligence officers keep
videotapes to blackmail the female
detainees the nudity technique
returned to their home town
committed suicide notebooks
thesis CDs and computer honor crimes
Outsiders have not grasped the
depth and extent of the suffering
are as beautiful as Sulaymania
city of Mahmoudiya her sister a nurse
in local hospital mostly women
their inked finger tips cut
off by the. . .
who were angry at their taking
part in the voting
Many lost confidence in media
returning corpses of the enemy
burning vehicles and broken
you began to wonder why meter
the poets captured backstreets
tattooing (daqq) magical tattooing practiced
A sofa cushion thrown in the Tigris
Chadors hitched up XXX hotel
by men dressed as US
A woman gave birth to a baby
We named her
Language Is Not
My Ho, Language Is Not My Bitch
if i hadn’t gotten knocked up she said
calm as che guevara among the lepers
i’d still have my glamorous jelly house
i’d still, life tenant, write open letters
to white egrets parked on top of cadillacs
what i wanted to say was red toenail polish
is infinitely less than shortcoming
to do “not” what are you good for when
“project child” came along
and said running naked
in & out of the sea
was a shocking waste of blood and treasure.
crushed their own freedoms.
the ones that had nothing left but dreams.
never saw the great sacred teachings
so simple-minded to suggest
should try to be good, fighting bad.
military victories and moral standards
others it refuses to apply to itself,
nation settled for a battlefield mentality.
required only the subjugation
our own and other’s faults
the elimination of negativity.
these people killing each other,
burdened by the belief that what comes
contact with the disgusting acquires the capacity
disgust–– they do not even see the
that settles over everything.
whatever words they settle on,
understood, supports their position.
if you work in accordance
the insignificance of what is,
kind of solemnity in people
such a big deal about things
no value at all.