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            for Isabella Grace at twenty-one months





Because you were sleeping my arms,

Gene Autry’s “Guns and Guitars” on the radio,

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 others,

Of ashes, decay & the other thousands of fragile passages.


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 paper

Or stomp off naked in red cowgirl boots

To see the first green in the aspen.



Denver to San Francisco

1 January 2005




My Video Game


            for Andy Clausen: translator of the Songs of Bo Baba


Search and destroy, search and rescue, securing anonymous

Candidates holding anonymous elections, securing the curfew,

Locking down cities, locking down the populace, locking down

The sacrilege & blasphemy, though the gods are everywhere.


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 Muslim bakery,

Video games of a TV repairman giving strawberries to a leper,

Video games of a monk sitting in a cave for years on end,

Video games of a woman opening up an orphanage

where trees stand quiet once again.


The mission isn’t the vaporization of wives & lovers disguised

as terrorists.

The prize is not to crush and burn the entire global insurgency.


In my video game, we make amends with our victimage,

In my video game, the leaves are sixty colors & peace rejoices.

In my video game we free ourselves from these lifetimes of

reappearing samsara hellworld demons within.



Cotati, CA

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 grain,


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




Black Soldier 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 news.

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



around you

 just happens

to be there.


It is like

waking up

& finding yourself

            in a mass grave.


Everything is

very specific,


the way it is,


It is


you planned

on experiencing.


Whatever is there

is just there

and so

are you.


It is a

precise & unfamiliar

way for which there are

no painkillers.


There’s no running

behind railroads

and fields

            full of poppies,


Only these

forms of war

and arms & hair

            made of ritual.


It is the sense

not of

not being

the center of it all,


But of

a peace

that surpasses

all understanding.



4 February 2005




Al-sh’ir 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)

Initiate el-oghniya 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 lives


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 victims

Liberty––a 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 paperbacks

said George “I was consciously trying to make a record

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 killed

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 visit

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 bodies

you began to wonder why meter is important

the poets captured backstreets of Fallujah

tattooing (daqq) magical tattooing practiced secretly


A sofa cushion thrown in the Tigris

Chadors hitched up XXX hotel room films

by men dressed as US servicemen


A woman gave birth to a baby girl

We named her “Elections”



15 February 2005




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



21 February 2005






It was a shocking waste of blood and treasure.

They crushed their own freedoms.

Even the ones that had nothing left but dreams.


I never saw the great sacred teachings

As so simple-minded to suggest

I should try to be good, fighting bad.


After military victories and moral standards

For others it refuses to apply to itself,

The nation settled for a battlefield mentality.


It required only the subjugation

Of our own and other’s faults

& the elimination of negativity.


All these people killing each other,

Tainted, burdened by the belief that what comes

Into contact with the disgusting acquires the capacity


To disgust–– they do not even see the

Bankruptcy that settles over everything.

And whatever words they settle on,


Rightly understood, supports their position.

But if you work in accordance

With the insignificance of what is,


This kind of solemnity in people

Making such a big deal about things

Has no value at all.



30 May 2005