Martello’s reading 9/20/13

No Enemies

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor,
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes.
If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never set the wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight.

-Charles Mackay (26 March 1812 – 24 December 1889) was a Scottish poet, journalist, author, anthologist, novelist, and songwriter, remembered mainly for his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

A Protest in the Sixth Year of Qianfu (A.D. 879)

The hills and rivers of the lowland country
You have made your battle ground.
How do you suppose the people who live there
Will procure firewood and hay?
Do not let me hear you talking together
About titles and promotions;
For a single general’s reputation
Is made out of ten thousand corpses

-Ts’ao Sung (c. 830-910) Translated by Arthur Waley in A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (1918), London, Constable & Co. Ltd.

Pre-War Jitters

I scream, I make noise,
I put my head under water, I mute
the television, I
change the channel.
I do anything to not hear
the lies, the grotesque misuse
of language, the prepared statements,
the speeches
written by literate professionals
to make the idiot look smart.
He isn’t smart, he isn’t wise,
he lacks compassion, foresight,
insight, any sight.

Corrupted by power, he leans into
the cameras and puts on his serious face,
eyebrows up, a stem lip and struggles
to form the words, remembering
the intensive training to speak
and pronounce each word correctly.
But they are still lies, it is
propaganda, the propagation
of untruth.

Our fearless leader will lead us
into a war based on lies.
He will sacrifice American, British, Iraqi
soldiers. He will kill
women and children, women and children, women and children
thousands will die, more will suffer.
Women and children, babies,
infants, innocents.

George W. Bush is the only criminal
in this war.
He will act without impunity,
he will maim, starve, choke the life
out of a whole region
of the world.

And then he will suckle
at the great oily tit of civilization.
Feeling satiated, he will move on,
a playground bully,
to terrorize
another part of the world.

Who will stop him?

-JM 3/18/03

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