The Golem and the Liar
C. Clayton Childress
I spent the first years of my life living in The West Coast Macaroni Factory, a converted industrial building that had been taken over by my parents, a pigeon farmer, and several artists who had mistakenly moved too far ahead of the gentrifying curve into the heart of East Oakland, CA. While most American children grow up surrounded by other families or the bucolic fields of the rural states, my playgrounds were the parking lots of a Safeway milk processing plant and the Van Camp cannery. My paternal grandfather, a West Virginian logger turned MD, and his wife, who shot squirrels in her Oakland Hills backyard with a shotgun until a neighbor called the ASPCA, were hesitant to visit us. They claimed the government had been crop dusting a nearby Latino neighborhood in an effort to quell the spread of “Mexican Fruit Flies.” Additionally, my grandmother's penchant for calling my previously married mother “The Used Jew” did nothing to increase the frequency of their drop-ins.
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By Jirí Orten
Clouds obsessed with blood,
clouds like unsaddled steeds
flow and flow above battlefield mud
where someone harvested future deeds.
At the edge one fellow's lying down
without legs, or a mouth, with lidless eyes,
his hands still crumble the soil as it tries
to soak up a puddle's watery brown
It was a great cleanup of wounds and flesh.
Evening shakes down from a distance fresh
smells under the noses of half-buried corpses
Look, no lindens in the linden copses!
The one at the end's still sniffing the air.
The world is creating from here to there
acrostics of the final sighs;
it still has a name, it's still alive.
A honey bee's coming, sadly buzzing.
There are no flowers to take and hold
only a breast, in place of a sting
a lost breast, and already cold
He is dead, God. He lies there and waits
for you to sweep him through heaven's gates,
when the bugle sounding the last instruction
has drowned out death and the work of destruction
He's dead, the rubbish of his complexion,
rubbish that teaches another direction
rubbish that will search for a cloak and hat
all the way to the vale of Jehosaphat.
Bones rattle there, where high cliffs stand,
there, where the gate is close at hand,
they'll find an emptiness to adorn
so a new beauty can be born
that, stifling, will crush memory to sand
will crush what moves in the living, and
shiver thereafter in eternal dirge,
under a just and righteous scourge.
(translated by from the Czech Lyn Coffin with Leda Pugh)
The Work Of Peace-Taking Poetry to the Streets of Washington, DC: January 27, 2007
by Melissa Tuckey, Events Coordinator, DC Poets Against the War
Here in DC we do not have the opportunity to ignore the news—we live in the heart of it, physically, psychically, emotionally. We are reminded daily of the war's misplaced priorities, living in the city with the highest adult illiteracy rate and the highest HIV infection rate in the nation, where homeless veterans sleep on heating grates and helicopters bring the wounded home to the now infamous Walter Reed Hospital. Our city is a maze of concrete barricades, K Street lobbyists, and crack dealers. All of this and our city of 550,000 still does not have a voting member of Congress. Read more...
Op-Ed By Sam Hamill
Director of Poets Against War
Dear Fellow Poets Against War:
Like most veteran antiwar activists, I'm no stranger to the literature on Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium, the Japanese casualties still mounting more than half a century after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and other long-term forms of murder and misery—all inflicted in the name of democracy. But a January tour of Vietnam with fellow peace-activist-poet-translators from The Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts was an encounter with clear-and-present firsthand reality. Besides visiting a number of Buddhist temples and participating in literary events, we conducted interviews with families ravaged by Agent Orange, learning about second- and third-generation victims born with horrifying physical and mental handicaps and often doomed to early death by various forms of cancer. Read more...