Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Poems, My Take, Thank You Canada

The following poem is to appear in the April 2008 issue of Poetry Explosion Newsletter. Thank you, PEN!

by don brennan

When you went
the door clicked lightly

as though disappearance
forever requires
no fanfare

just the click of a dry tongue

slipping into shoes
late at night

a cool depression
in an empty bed

a house full of us
snoring, careening

towards our
new day, our sad

A new SF journal, THE POET'S GALLERY QUARTERLY, has accepted the following for the Spring 2008 issue. Thank you Ana Elsner and Richard Hackett, editors.

by don brennan

circles, galaxies, storm drain spirals
circles with destinations

logical tautologies, mental loops demanding
that we repeat the truth

teach us by repetition: the fire dance may
consume us but not destroy us, destroy us
but not consume us,

teach us the meaning that
belongs to mortality,
that is mortality

the galaxies we have come from spiral
back into their source, the soul a black hole
sucking life out of death
and spitting it back
to be evaporated in the
water cycle, the fertility cycle

the storm drain essential to
tempestuous existence, our ignorance
essential to birth and death,

the repetitive truth, babies stacking blocks
and knocking them down,
creation repeating for every generation

we have spiraled out of the earth, who has
spiraled from all the suns, and they are hers,
she is their storm drain

for a moment, a moment which is only
an eternal repetition,
we are allowed to witness history,
a spiral, a tautology,
a dialectic contradicted
by itself each time one of us
is born into the center
of the galactic storm,needing
a peaceful moment
to observe who we are as the
winds and rains gather,
spiral out of fire

we could use a moment
without injustice, cruelty,

or is that who we are?

MY TAKE on where we are going as a nation, JAN. 22, 2008, Don Brennan:

I'm reading END OF AMERICA (Naomi Wolf) now, and have just finished SHOCK DOCTRINE (Naomi Klien), and I think intelligent historians like the "Naomis" are reluctant to make predictions for good reasons. Marx set a disastrous precedent for predictors. Contemporary historians tend to avoid both apocalyptic and Utopian projections.

That being said, I figure that the US empire is nearing the end of its glory days ("gory days?"), and will probably be replaced on the imperial stage by Russia and China. These two bloated and corrupt super-powers will keep wars against the poor underway no doubt. Or maybe not. They are after all, socialist in principle, but power and greed can obliterate principle. Look at the USA now, today. Pathetic. Millions of our citizens trying to make it on the streets and in prison. The military harvesting recruits from the poor, the uneducated; economic policy driven by corporate lobbyists keeping the youth of the nation poor and uneducated. JFK, a few months before he was shot, said in a speech to the Organization of (Latin) American States that there is no freedom without freedom from poverty. Yet poverty around the world is created by the rich, for profit. Wars are waged by billionaires against working people everywhere, for profit.
Child labor is slavery. Using weapons of mass destruction against civilians is murder. The USA claims to be a free-market democracy, but it is not. Like Russia and China, this nation has become an oligarchy. The essence of oligarchy is class war, which has been known to degenerate into civil war.

I have been wary of what Naomi Wolf describes as impending US Fascism for a long time, and always have my passport valid and within reach. Keep in mind that under our highly touted constitutional government we supported a vicious system of slavery and Jim Crow through many generations, so the US power structure has had plenty of experience at denying rights and freedom. The newest assaults on domestic rights, from Lyndon Johnson through GW Bush are really not new.

Our system of checks and balances has been gasping for air since it's earliest days, born as something of a "blue baby" during Thomas Jefferson's orchestrated wars against the indigenous people of the continent. Jefferson called the theft of Indian land "The Empire For Liberty." What he managed to do in the late eighteenth century was fatten the US treasury by selling stolen property to real estate speculators. Just like our current incursions into Arab and Persian lands, the Indian wars were fought for profit, and quite successfully.

But the socialists have always been with us, struggling and fighting back. They seem to be making headway in Latin America under the leadership of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, not to mention the historical inspiration of Cuba. If Latin American socialism succeeds, US capitalism could be brought to its knees in the West while Russians and Asians eagerly pick its bones clean in the East.

On my gloomy days, I tend to suspect that time is running out for American middle class freedom. As our streets and highways become more chaotic, more violent, "the people" will cry out for iron fisted leaders and jack-booted cops, and the corporations will be more than happy to oblige. Also, I grew up under the nuclear cloud, and can't avoid the notion that greed and fanaticism could combine in a variety of scenarios to unleash global holocaust. But, like the socialists, our pacifists and non-violent activists such as Martin Luther King have also always been with us, struggling and organizing. It is they who inspire my optimism. These are the true citizens of the Earth who, in the words of Jesse Jackson, keep hope alive.

Finally, here is some tangible hope:


SF CHRONICLE, SAT. JAN 19, 2008, pg. A3:

Canada singles out U.S. for risk of torture

Toronto – A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the United States as a country where prisoners risk torture and abuse, citing interrogation techniques such as stripping prisoners, blind folding and sleep deprivation.

The Foreign Affairs Department document, released Friday, singled out The U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. It also names Israel, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

The listing drew a sharp response from the United States. “We find it offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China,” said U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins.


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