Tuesday, December 05, 2006


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“ Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.

Arsonists, warmongers, wolves hunt down the poet to burn, kill, sink their teeth into him. A swordsman left Pushkin mortally wounded under the trees in a dark and gloomy park. The fiery horse of war charged over Petofi’s lifeless body. Byron died in Greece , fighting against war. The Spanish Fascists started off the war in Spain by assassinating its greatest poet. ( Garcia Lorca )

But poetry has not died, it has a cat’s nine lives. They harass it, they drag it through the streets, they spit on it and make it the butt of their jokes, they try to strangle it, drive it into exile, throw it into prison, pump lead into it, and it survives every attempt with a clear face and a smile as bright as grains of rice. ”

PABLO NERUDA ( 1904-1973 )
Translator Hardie St. Martin pub. 1977

Anyway here is part V of my poem which is a work in progress entitled An Epic For Our Time : A Requiem



1. The Tragedy of Man

There is no end to the tragedy of man
the people jobless & homeless without a country
children throw stones at soldiers & tanks
their homes crushed by bulldozers
old men women children run over by bulldozers & tanks
in the name of national security
in this police state or that
from Ireland to El Salvador to Guatemala
from the miners mowed down at Iquique to the stadium in Santiago
from Argentina to Peru to Cuba to Haiti to Guernica
from the streets of Paris & Chicago & Seattle to Soweto
to Saint Petersburg to Leningrad to the steps of Odessa
to Mexico City to Tibet to Tenneman Square
from the Gulag of Siberia to Quantanimo Bay
to the killing fields of Cambodia & Bosnia
from Wounded Knee to The trail of Tears to My Lai
to the shipyards of Gdansk to the boulevards of Manila
from Fallujah to Bagdad
from Constantinople to Jerusalem
slaughtering in the name of Christendom
from Culloden to Amritsar to Kristalnacht
from the Golan Heights to Hebron
to Palestine a country of sad oranges & uprooted olive trees
their dreams of freedom crushed in a hail of bullets
and there is no end to the tragedy of man -

and there is no end to the Tragedy of Man
while the court poets pay homage to the rulers of the land
to maintain a life of luxury & decadence
and the philosophers use their craft
to give comfort to the new nobility
like sad Aristotle wanting their acceptance
fearing to take a sip of hemlock
as scholars & academics are bought for a few pieces of silver
as petty bureaucrats sign death warrants
and shuffle papers to ensure the trains run on time to the death camps
while claiming their innocence
and the world spins
and its always the same
and there is no end to the tragedy of man -

for a moment the locks are slipped
for a moment some light enters
our dark dungeons
and we have a vision of flowers
squeezing through the prison bars
hope arises in our hearts
as if great changes were about to come
as if the tragedy of man were about to end -

then the wondrous shimmering flowers fade & wilt
and hope is dashed again
like a child’s head dashed against stone
whole families slaughtered just for fun
towns & cities aglow in the night
with boiling tumbling waves of napalm
dropped by our would be liberators
and new jailers arrive
to tighten the bolts & locks
and our hearts are cast into darkness
for there is no end to the tragedy of man -

and every hour of every day
we taste not milk & honey
or manna from Heaven
but the bile of our dark fear
and our desire for revenge & justice
and there is no end to the tragedy of man -


Once in the prison yard I did see
a green shoot & a bud or two
which opened bright yellow
defying the grey stone walls
& the razor-wire fences
and the flower was like the lily of the valley
which does not spin or weave & toils not
and yet once was praised cherished & loved
filling the hearts of men to over-flowing
but now these sweet adornments of the earth are disdained
as useless as a poet who’s not made of steel
who’s heart is not yet stone
who despairs at the tear soaked world
where mothers cry over the corpses of their dead children
who were left to starve in a world of plenty
who were murdered without thought
by police or soldiers to maintain the status quo
who wearing a deadly vest of c2 explosives was blown to pieces
sacrificed for some empty greater cause
for some version of God & country
who were tossed into mass graves
who’s bullet riddled bodies were left to rot in city dumps
who’s mangled corpses were buried in flag-draped coffins
to a twenty-one gun salute while some insincere leader
makes a well-crafted speech filled with empty words
while shedding crocodile tears
impressing the ignorant masses
who just do as they are told
preferring the role of sheep to that of men -


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