Poems, May 2009


5-01-09, 10:30 am


This warring government having lost its people and having exposed its lies and its twists and turns of the knife in the back of all decency,

has only the guns left to keep the people in line in Iraq and here as well, the guns that make people afraid because they can make people dead,

and so when an officer like Ehren Watada from one of the two newest states to be legalized as part of the United States realizes that the war declared by his country is an illegal one, and he refuses to be deployed to Iraq, and is illegally court-martialed,

he has opened a crack in the cage we all are fearfully imprisoned in, and the sun of truth has streamed in radiantly, and hopefully others

today or tomorrow will be touched by the same luminous courage as Ehren Watada’s, and the dominum effect lead to the highest-ranking officer: Peace.

--Jack Hirschman Jack Hirschman was appointed San Francisco's poet laureate in 2006 and released a collection of poems title The Arcanes. Some of his most recent books include Front Lines (City Lights Books, 2002); Fists on Fire (Sore Dove Press, 2003); I Was Born Murdered (Sore Dove Press, 2004).

Poppies lull all pain and anger, bringing forgetfulness of every sorrow. —Homer, The Odyssey

Crossing into California from Arizona, the border guard asks me where I was born. New York, I answer. Say something in English, he says. Something in English, I retort. That's not what I say, staring at his magnificent 9mm Sig Sauer in its shiny leather holster.

Kali/fornia. Blood-orange poppy, the state flower, freshly built prisons and road signs' warnings about hitchhikers. 'Easy does it,' fat-free thighs— mud slide, earthquake, car jack, fire—in California, you'll want to live forever.

Interstate 8 razors the Mojave with the precision of a Hollywood Mogul's line of coke. Sky shot through with bars of color, girlie pink and baby blue. Behind us and closing fast, an avocado- green immigration van.

--Maggie Jaffe Maggie Jaffe's published books include The Prisons (Cedar Hill Publishing, 2001), 7th Circle (Cedar Hill Publishing, 1998), How the West Was Won (Burning Cities Press, 1996), Continuous Performance (Burning Cities Press, 1992).

Work Ethic

When my mother falls asleep he'll rise, step from the house, to hurl the thousand humiliations dealt him by Smurft-Stone, by the faltering union, into the sky, where they burn all night with the stars. Returning to bed, he'll pass his own wedding picture, his young eyes without shadow, his jaw against the white of my mother's dress. He'll lie awake for hours, cramped from the strain of this launching out, but it is the closest he gets to dream, and therefore worth the exertion, night after night, barefoot on the cool patio: to imagine he should be recognized, to imagine a hand beyond the plastic palms of a lobby in a cosmos he has not yet found, serving out good to the honest, forever, like bread.

--Amy Groshek Amy Groshek's poetry has been featured in magazines like Contrary Magazine, Radical Society and the anthology Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other USA.