Poetry centerfold

by

Fifth Estate # 337, Late Summer, 1991

Cloak of Skin

mick vranich
detroit 1989

surrounded and left alone

more marks that don’t connect

movies with the faces as big

as worlds of flesh in bright

light on the thin screen

i don’t have anything to say

about it really you should

talk to someone else like

the wind working up into a

frenzy in the trees bending

and breaking branches thrown

to the ground like a blanket

made of sticks the ceremonial

fire is raging but no one

is watching maybe a few are

seeing it in the corner of their

eyes the axis is crooked

today the hole is getting bigger

i am nothing really

just the dream of becoming

in this cloak of skin do you

hear what i am saying the

cloak of skin has a mouth

to talk with but there

are shadows here that won’t

go away until they see what

happens to it all what happens

to it all not just a part

because no parts are separate

but i am nothing in this

cloak of skin dragged

through the streets

at the end of a rotting rope

and unnoticed because

the big screen is showing how

the faces should look with

the smiles riveted in place

put behind the glass

examined carefully thrown

in the heap like the rest of the

bulldozed bodies still quivering

still warm

i am nothing really just

this cloak of skin with a

mouth saying don’t kill

everything so soon while you

load your rifles while you

slit a throat while you

fill the lung with poison gas

ravage the earth to the bone

no not to the bone

incinerate the bones to run the conveyor belt

pile up the goods for the ones

who traded in their souls for a shoe shine

equal rights to have everything

they’ve got to sell you

get it so you think you are someone

but it won’t last you think

it will you want it to be this

way you want to have a lot

of things but the things will

shake off your shelf

the shadows will come in

your house at night when

you are sleeping dreaming

about what you can get

next and they’ll see your

dreams and they’ll see how

clean your hands are and

they’ll see how empty your

heart is and they’ll sit

by your bed all night and

when you wake they’ll watch

you get even cleaner

they’ll get in your car with you

they won’t do anything to you

because it already happened

they’re just watching they know

you have no soul left so

it doesn’t matter even if

the TV says it is how it

should be.

don’t talk to me about

what you do because i am

nothing your words don’t

mean anything to me

because you think you are

someone because you have

something a gold watch

a gold car a gold house

a gold chain around your neck

a gold shackle around your leg

a big smile your words

have no meaning to me

I’m nothing but a cloak

of skin with a

mouth saying don’t

kill everything so soon.

No End

M. Rashid

No end to this—

dark with a bright light crossing.

.

The day breaks with countless parts

of broken bodies pushing up,

pointing through the rubble

to a gray sky, false cloud, a piece

of someone else’s sun.

.

Far away in the land of the free

many rejoice in the slaughter,

the vast misfortune of those they

cannot, will not touch or see.

And others watch and watching

acquiesce.

.

This is the way the world continues on and on

with bang and boom,

with screaming and whimpers

and then of course the silence.

.

This is the way, with the powerful ones

from the land of the free

unflinchingly, mindfully

pushing all the new and shiny buttons.

.

This is the way, with strong smiling faces

feigning regret for calculated spots

in the cold camera’s eye.

This is the way, with willing and watching

dark screens with a bright light crossing.

Campfire Talk

Antler

Birds don’t need opinions because they have pinions.

What is the opinion of the pinyon pine on whether Christianity is for or against homosexuality?

A flower doesn’t need a savior to be able to bloom.

A waterfall doesn’t need a guru in order to gush.

A caterpillar doesn’t need a Bible to become a butterfly.

A lake doesn’t need a Ph.D. to become a cloud.

A rainbow doesn’t need a fresh coat of paint every year.

Worms don’t need to study existentialism to exist.

Mountaintops don’t need to kneel and ask forgiveness for their sins.

Capitalism and Communism mean nothing to every tree that alchemizes light.

No whale will ever know who Christ is.

No chipmunk will ever follow Buddha.

No eagle gives a shit about Muhammed.

No grizzly will ever consult a priest.

No seagull will ever become a Mormon.

No dolphin has to learn computers if it wants to get along in the modern world.

No sparrow needs insurance.

No gorilla needs a God.

On Patience

Lone Wolf Circles

Becca wrote:

“Draw the patience of the stones and rocks

into yourself,

that you might share their patience

in having your dreams fulfilled.”

.

I ache for my visions, so vivid,

shining with sweat,

filling me with their sweet smells

and bursting desire.

.

Like a wolf caged,

I leap against the bars

of alleged reality,

until they give way

to freedom and fantasy.

.

I ache for my visions,

the way they throw me on my back,

roughly undress me,

plant feathers in my skin,

and toss me off the cliffs.

.

I taste fear like metal on my tongue,

until my body drains out through my nuts

and I become wind…

.

I ache for my visions, so vivid…

A Commentary on Modern Existence as Noted by a Chicken on the Freeway Near Columbia, South Carolina

Christina Pacosz

I did not cross this road

to get to the other side,

turning chicken-hearted midway

and stopping, a stunned white blur

of feathers crouching on the broken

white line. I tumbled from a truck,

the victim of a broken latch

and freedom is a joke,

my life a cruel hoax

passing before my eyes.

Life on the chicken lager

.

crowded up against a sea

of squawking feathers,

sawed-off beaks to keep us

from pecking at each other

and the profits, thousands

of chicken eyes staring up

at the sky, while rain pours down

and we drown, or the sun bakes us

right where we stand.

Stupid chickens, the verdict,

whatever the weather.

.

The position of the human

in the pecking order,

the rank and serial number

of our respective fates,

raises objections to the term lager

and all its terrible history.

Exaggeration! the counterpoint

to this lament. No matter.

Smack in the middle

of technology’s awful woosh and whizz

no one can hear the question:

.

How long does it take

a chicken to die?

Rescue is a luxury

and the safety

of a quiet coop on a backwater farm

a distant dream.

Helpless as the startled motorists

who speed by,

my only satisfaction:

this death will not

feed them.

A Song of Blissful Ignorants

Steve Izma
Port Vila, 1989

How can we know the rattle and roar

Of the tanks as they conquer the streets?

How can we know the panic and woe,

And the running, the racing heartbeats?

And how can we know the sense of betrayal

By hustlers, politicians and cheats?

For here in the heart of the world’s great wealth

We never fear violent defeats.

.

We’re the ones who have conquered all people and land;

We’re the ones who keep privilege and jobs close at hand.

We’re the ones who collect, who hoard and amass;

We’re the ones for whom life goes on all too fast.

We’re the ones who believe that we earned what we stole;

We’re the ones who are striving for total control.

We’re the ones who for pleasure will spare no expense;

We’re the ones whose possessions have deadened our senses.

.

How can we see the scarred, torn land

Stripped bare in the path of a mine?

How can we see a valley’s last tree

Where once was a forest of pine?

And how can we see the pests and the plagues

That follow a cash crop’s decline?

For here in the heart of the world’s great wealth

The vision of gold makes us blind.

.

How can we hear the moans of the hungry

Where once there was food all around?

How can we hear the sharp cry of fear

From victims the death squads have found?

And how can we hear the dispossessed shouting,

Defending their last patch of ground?

When here in the heart of the world’s great wealth

Our ears ring with money’s cold sound.

.

How can we feel the lush, moist heat

That makes the last rainforests grow?

How can we feel the joy of a meal

That’s gathered from a land made whole?

And how can we feel a lover’s caress

In a passion deep-reaching and full?

When here in the heart of the world’s great wealth

We’ve lost touch with the earth and our soul.

War Poem No. 101
(When Heaven Parted)

William Boyer

Slashing above

The panicking guards

The cascading lies

Knifed through the fog

Igniting the sky

And our troubled faces

Lies so advanced

They were undetected by radar

And could only be seen

Through naked eyes

So untrained

They were compelled to cry

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