centerfold feature

by , , , , ,

Fifth Estate # 330, Winter, 1988-89


Chains Across The Trees
by Mick Vranich

America’s totem is the hamburger

don’t look at me look at tv

chains across the trees

generations bread on cheap meat

glass cars with flashy decals

x this z that magnum force

for minute sight

name a town where the demons

don’t lurk lead heads zapped on crack

it’s just disease we get to see

in young bodies

armed and ready to blow your face off

don’t look at me look at tv

chains across the trees

smell the burning hair

the leather straps that hold the ancient

horn stretch under the weight

of the desperate breath

of the few who still breathe

and walk with careful steps

away from the machine with steel teeth

don’t look at me look at tv

generations bread on cheap meat

and paper hats and stars that never

show up in the night sky

or leave the mirror

stars that live in magazines

stars that haul piles of rags

around on their backs

to show you how to look

when you get there when you

get where the stars live

in the magazines and the sky

is shaking from the light

beyond here don’t look at me

look at tv chains across

the trees startled wings

just before the fire and

spinning blades reach the nest

America’s totem is the hamburger

wrapped in skins of beasts

that run from their homes

in the thick jungle

out into the open plains

to be picked off poached

packaged up and replaced

by the quiet cow grazing

until the water runs out

the soil wears away

and there’s no place to go

don’t look at me look at tv

chains across the trees

If Darwin Was Alive What Would He Say?
by Willie Williams


godders and goddetts

regale in regal laughter

as pheasants and raccoons

return to reclaim

the wilds of this city

flames cleanse

the lands before

forced resettlements leaves

space for

natures natural squatters

darkened ruins

are razed

as echoes of the living

cry out to space

traveling at the speed

of tears and

green colors now

memories and once cityscapes

things keep changing

like Faruk

losing his dreadlocks

and Kofi doing

the fourstep Jabba Jig

in aging York.


(Beware of open

doorways they could

be someone’s home

at night)

for frantz fanon the guevara and patrice lumumba
by Kim Derrick Hunter

Concerning violence


Are the terms of warfare in the event of darkness

The practical application of shadows

The technical aspects of dreams


The role of death

In approaching cease fire

And the liquid embryo sleep


Perhaps it is something

Broken once and betrayed

Some ugly justice

Made to lay out our places

At the table of the world



Some one

Wrestling with death

To avoid torture

Beheading bureaucracy and privilege

And in the process

Killing the bureaucrat and the privileged


The hot slant of a small metal missile

Rips the son the daughter

Both began in the womb

And moved into the world

And were in the process

Of being moved by the world

When the world took note

The homeless unemployed worker campesina native took note

The gay black junkie hillbilly hustler took note

The pornographied field house wife body bag chauffeur invisible spine of the world took note


How will the bullet repay

Our masters for their kindness

How will the flow of blood

That begins with the bloodless refusals

Of even the “good” jobs

Undo the knot of lies that binds us

To early slow death


Who will own the burning necklace

The silencer

When the world is owned by no one


We need a new form

Of cost benefit analysis

To determine the price of the bullet

That will repay our masters’ kindness

For the Stone-Throwers
by Marie Stephens

How to carve an image in the

Stones left scattered here

Scuffle in the streets

Students hoarse with yelling

Tear gas blood and fear

Branded with the tell-tale ink

Running from the tracers

Harder in the smoke

Of burning cities to


The proper line

Easier to gather

Under borrowed banners

Hope, protection, safety

And an order

In the quickly gathered

Counter structure

Better (thought) to

Place their limitless

Good will and trust in

Parties, leaders

Lifting scarecrows from their midst

To battle harpies in the fields

Children torn asunder

In the grappling of nations,

Their stolen bodies now become


Throwing stones and running

The lowest common factor

In the formula of change

Only, once again

No change, no revolution

Only insurrection and oblivion

Or just another nation

An excuse for more atrocities

In vengeance

And the blood of the stone-throwers

Will have been sold cheap

Their deaths, their pain

People will whisper to one another

Trying to remember times

Until invasion, punishment and slavery

Leaves them numb and without memory

Except perhaps

with this brutal truth to live by:

Every nation built on barbed wire

Every boundary

A murder

Every flag

A thief.

A Gentle Rebuke to American Schoolchildren In the Form of a Poem
by Christina Pacosz

Turn off that television,

that sickly electronic light,

for T.V. is a thief

robbing you of your life.


A dangerous drug

making you fearful

of your own imagination

that buoyant, flamboyant eye,

your birthright,

and then you will be lost

when you most need

the bright image,

the dark vision.


Now, in the silence

pay attention, child.

At first you will be bored

and think there is nothing

to do. Remember then

what I tell you now.

Learn to love patience and desire,

for I have heard the children

of the Haitian poor, studying

on the streets of a dark

island in the southern sea

because there was no light

at home to read by.


If you are lucky enough to

to have a full belly

fill your heart

with the blessed names

of the myriad trees.

Study light and how shadows

fall to earth. Learn

to call the bright birds

one by one. Fly

in your dreams,



the song of your own

free name.

Claim it.

I Want My Body Back
by Ron Allen

I want my body back

I want my body back

Where is my body

Did anyone see it dressed

Incognito in some spy movie

Is it being killed over and over

Again in some war

To prove someone’s winning

It was never photographed

And placed on milk cartons

Did anybody see my body

On to selling underwear

Did anybody see somebody

That might be my body

Don’t want anybody

But (my body) back


Is my body in somebodies

Body shop

Sold to replace body parts


Is my body now a centerfold

For the Detroit News

The Detroit Free Press

Or The Metro Times


Is my body now lying

In some funeral parlor

Pumped full of the

Embalming fluid of Reaganomics


Is my body now being

A human error

In thermonuclear holocaust


Is my body now working

In some South African jail

Pushin’ apartheid for both Botha’s

Body and my body

For the body politic

Of white supremacy


Is my body now a paper boy

Carrying the bourgeois rhetoric

Of the news and the free press


Is my body now a rapist

Of women (humanity)

Raping again and again

The body of my mother


Is my body now a multi-national

Stamping the emblem of corporations

On the backs of third world bodies


Is my body now a cigar-smoking

Fat cat pushing dioxin through

His words through

The smoke rings of my body


Is my body now a cartoon caricature

On some Saturday morning propaganda

Sayin’ it’s only entertainment


Is my body now a Contra

Stuffing Iranian money in

The holes of its body

To implement insurrection

To internally intern the innocent

Is my body now a neo-colonial

Missionary blessing the Ethiopian dead


Is my body now a policeman

Turning his back to crack

To crack someone else’s

Mind and body


I want my body so I can walk

The 22 hills lyrics with

My body tappin’ the bass pedal

Sendin’ out multi-dimensional

Flesh songs


Anybody sighted my body

In the jungles of mass media


Somebody put an APB

On my body


I want my body so I can

Dig my fingers into somebody


I want my body so I can

Dig my toes into the natural earth

And walk like a natural man


I want my body so I can

Breathe again


I want my body

So I can fly again


I want my body

I want my body

I want my body