Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.

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Janet Aalfs

46 years old
Northampton, MA

Poet & writer, community peace activist, head instructor Valley Women's Martial Arts. Recent book: Reach (Perugia Press, 1999). Included in A Fierce Brightness: 25 Years of Women's Poetry (Calyx, 2002).

Citizen of a Superpower Sits At Abd El-Hadi's Table

Where I come from, Abd El-Hadi,
we're not encouraged
to listen

to the quiet falling
from a single tree
no longer standing

by your path, or to notice
the acrid breath
of a single calf

led to the slaughter.
We're told
to keep our chins up.

The constant prattle numbs.
Imagine one whole day
Abd El-Hadi

in my country when
no one makes a peep.
Even crying babies

stop as the air
softens and swells.
We'd feel the jolt

of the "Enterprise"
landing in your yard, flattening
the round-eyed cat

and the generous hen
flatter than the moon's
reflection in the pond

now burning.
We'd hear
doors around the globe

into their own
intricate music, and yours,

Abd El-Hadi, oil spitting
in the pan you heat for the
flight crew, weary, unable to speak

as one by one
you crack
your last eggs into the fire.

Note: This poem is in response to Taha Muhammad Ali's poem -- "Abd El-Hadi Fights a Superpower" (Never Mind). Abd El-Hadi is the semi-mythological character of the Fool.


man standing arms
crossed woman crouched
both grinning

for the camera as if
at a carnival where
they've won the

Operation Freedom
bomb toss and now
the prize

in the foreground
a mound where the pair
of soldiers could be

about to plant
carnations though

it is a pile
of naked bodies a green
bag over each prisoner's head

even at a great distance
in a sunlit kitchen
holding this

silent gasp
scent of coffee
and warm bread

breathing not
breathing a single
white tulip opens

in the yard    wind
bending the tender
stem    petals' thin

red veins like
lines on a map
I follow    barely

beginning to imagine
where they lead


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