A Poem by Li Po
Last year we fought by the head-stream of the Sang-kan,
This year we are fighting on the Tsung-ho road.
We have washed our armor in the waves of the Chiao-chi lake,
We have pastured our horses on Tien-shan’s snowy slopes.
The long, long war goes on ten thousand miles from home,
Our three armies are worn and grown old.
The barbarian does man-slaughter for plowing;
On this yellow sand-plains nothing has been seen but
blanched skulls and bones.
Where the Chin emperor built the walls against the Tartars,
There the defenders of Han are burning beacon fires.
The beacon fires burn and never go out,
There is no end to war!—
In the battlefield men grapple each other and die;
The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven,
While ravens and kites peck at human entrails,
Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.
So, men are scattered and smeared over the desert grass,
And the generals have accomplished nothing.
Oh, nefarious war! I see why arms
Were so seldom used by the benign sovereigns.
sat assembled, and searched out counsel
how it were best for bold-hearted men
against harassing terror to try their hand.
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes
altar-offerings, asked with words
that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them
for the pain of their people. Their practice this,
their heathen hope; ’twas Hell they thought of
in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not,
Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,
nor Heaven’s-Helmet heeded they ever,
Wielder-of-Wonder. — Woe for that man
who in harm and hatred hales his soul
to fiery embraces; — nor favor nor change
awaits he ever. But well for him
that after death-day may draw to his Lord,
and friendship find in the Father’s arms!
THUS seethed unceasing the son of Healfdene
with the woe of these days; not wisest men
assuaged his sorrow; too sore the anguish,
loathly and long, that lay on his folk,
most baneful of burdens and bales of the night
A Poem by M. Lapin
Death did not find him alone.
There were others surrounding him,
blood in rivers and streams,
fog and smoke, moan and cry.
He felt the bullet tear into his chest,
another into his gut, a third his arm,
and then he felt nothing at all
but blood, and cold, and more blood.
He did not die alone on the hills
near the trees and boiling grass.
No, he fell with others surrounded
by fog and smoke and to much noise.
A Prose Poem by Samuel Ace
How is it you bring me back to the cliffs the bright heads of eagles the vessels of grief in the soil? I dig for you with a gentle bit of lighter fluid and three miniature rakes burning only a single speck of dirt to touch a twig as tiny as a neuron or even smaller one magic synapse inside the terminus limbs of your breath
The fighter jets fly over the house every hour no sound but inside our hands I hear a far chime and I am cold a north wind and the grit of night first the murmur then the corpse first the paddling then the banquet first the muzzle then the hanging the plea first the break then the tap the tap I hear your skin the reach of your arms the slick along your thighs more floorboard than step first the flannel then the gag first the bells then the exhale
I hear a dog who is always in my death the breath of a mother who holds a gun a pillow in the shape of a heart first the planes then the criminal ponds first the ghost boats then the trains first the gates then the bargain a child formed from my fingertip and the eye of my grandmother’s mother a child born at 90 the rise and rush of air a child who walks from the gas
Each poem must have a theme that stresses man’s (or woman’s) inhumanity. Please submit poetry to the following email address: mhbrownstein(at) projectagentorange (dot) com