Posts from the ‘war and peace’ Category

Flowers of War

 

 

 22 July, 2014….. The Wahington Post:

 

Gaza deaths: ‘ Women and children first’.

For this Ameican Jew, a nightmare…  from which I am trying to make something.

This is a transformation of a well-known Israeli song:

 

 

 

Evening of Warflowers (A Hebrew Melody)

 

Evening and flowers of fire:
Let us go out to the fields,
far from the scent of tank-treads,
metal and burning flesh.

Night is slowly falling
over my glowing heart.
Let me whisper you a song
of lovers that never part.

Dawn and the mourning dove:
your hair alight like phosphorus.
If I cannot lie with you, my love,
then I will lie to both of us.

 

 

 

 

For echoes of other struggles, you can watch performances of the song I disfigured:

Miriam Makeba    

and  Harry Belafonte 

were both dedicated political activists as well as great popular performers.

 

 

That The Washington Post features the ‘kiiled breakdown’ graphic may be a sign of a sea change in “mainstream” perceptions of this calamity. If you want the whole WaPo thing from today, it’s  HERE

  But remember the graphic when you read about Hamas’s intransigence (first paragraph) and Israeli claims that the goal of their assault is “the return of the quiet in the whole of Israel”  (5th paragrap, right after Gaza deaths.). And “weep, for you may touch them not”  as Wilfred Owen wrote just before he, too, was killed in the Great War.

 

 

 

Crimea and I

My  “commentary”  on today’s news:  Crimean war and rumours.

 

 

 

Krim i Moi

             2 March, 2014

 

 

I’m scared. Again.

Not as usual, but again.

 

I want to write “September 1, 1939,”

but really don’t even want to think that.

I’d like to hold a candle to Auden,

but not sit in some dive reflecting

on a newish, dishonest jackbooted cybersnooping

Hellfire droning millennium.

 

Do Putin’s crewcut minions wear jackboots? Overcoats?

(Gogol’s usually there when you need him.)

Does it matter that I’m Jewish

and haven’t made a minyan since before

our Iraq war.

 

I sit in a dive my own dining room.

On the table, by tart coincidence:

Inferno…1939-1945 (My dad was there,

barely got singed, unlike mom’s family —  ashes.)

The Collapse of Complex Societies (Do we have time

to fall apart, for global anaphylactic carbon, or will it be

we dinosaurs, monster asteroid, Sakharov cocktail?)

and This Is Your Brain on Music ( O tempora! O B-flat sonata,

Oh neuroscience and Mercedes Sosa.)

 

Munich Potsdam Yalta (There it is: Stalin-Churchill-

Roosevelt in their Black Sea overcoats, Sochi

Olympics just ended another resort. The human race

courting of last resort but for us and our exceptional

President “endangered species” means the middle class.

How quaint. How fatal. An angle

to make the lovely First Lady obtuse.)

 

Budapest, 1956.

 

Forgive me e.e. Cummings and Allen Ginsberg.

I presume to sit in a dive with you and Auden

crying in my beer for Wilfred Owen.

 

Forgive me, my fellow- humans,

one way or another

refried-beans-to-be.

 

Forgive us our trespasses

as we have forgotten how to forgive

those who have institutionalized

their fear, avarice and violence.

Give us this day our vision within

the translucent scrim of lies.

 

For if we can forgive the unforgivable,

we may also forgive ourselves

for the fathomless wound we have made

and allowed fashionable in our name.

Amen. God freaking damn.

World without end

or otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Praise of Our Torturers

In these troubled times, a crazy-superficial balance can be constructed by marrying two unlikely elements.

Such as the pretext-inspiring Washington Post newspaper and the deeply inspiring poet-songster Leonard Cohen.

Wherefore I offer you the following, provoked by http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-hidden-history-of-the-cias-prison-in-poland/2014/01/23/b77f6ea2-7c6f-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.html

 

.

 

In Praise of Our Torturers

.
What??!!
Am I nuts?

Of course I’m nuts.
I live in the greatest democracy in the history of the known world.
I live in the shadow of the Holocaust, slavery, and those who lived here before us.

I live in the shadow of Franz Schubert and Wilfred Owen.

Wanna come live with me, and be my love?
Or with the folks who got wash boards and surfboards and waterboarding confused?
Who told the soldiers and patriotic geeks that the world was our oyster,
and we’d better crack the goddam shell before bad actors got there,
before it is too late.

It is too late for KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
the “self-declared mastermind” of 911, waterboarded 183 times,
and it is too late for you and I, whether
we want to extract intelligence,
send a message,
crush his soul,
or none of the above.

As I’ve heard,
and Leonard Cohen sang:
Democracy is coming
to the USA.

 

 

 
            -- David Almaleck Wolinsky

 

 

The Map of Syria: Another Graveyard?

In Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a ghostly old couple adopt a baby that has been in desperation left in their cemetary. Thus the dead again care for the living – as we must care for the dead. Neither of “us” have done such a good job.

Such were my thoughts after reading Liz Sly’s brutally comprehensive front-page Washington Post piece this morning. on the history of the “map” – political, sectarian, religious – of the former Ottoman empire. After three years of war and no end in sight, Syria is of course the focus.

Here are some quotes taken, but re-arranged,  from the article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrias-civil-war-tests-whether-borders-drawn-less-than-a-century-ago-will-last/2013/12/26/6718111c-68e2-11e3-997b-9213b17dac97_story.html)

+++

We never had borders…. a long time ago, the French came and drew these lines. —  Mohammed Shamas,  shopkeeper near the line between Syria and Lebanon

If Syria is partitioned, there will be war for 100 years to come. The Alawites will have the coast, the Kurds will have the oil, and the Sunnis will be in the middle with nothing. — Abu Zeid, 37, Syrian refugee.

They made sure when those borders were drawn to maintain trouble between us forever. —  Mohammed al-Jamalhis farm in Syria and Lebanon.

The wars will change, but there will always be wars. — Issam Bleibeh, deputy mayor of Hermel, Lebanon-Syria.

The only solution is to share everything. Abu Zeid.

…it is all very difficult to predict.  Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics.

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Hiroshima, My Love

author’s note;  *On August 6th, 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima , Japan. Three days later, the American B-29 found its primary target, Kokura, covered by clouds. The bomb was detonated on the city of Nagasaki instead.

Kyoto had been removed from the target list by Secretary of War Stimson because of its beauty and cultural significance. Tokyo was scheduled for destruction on August 19, but on August 15 Emperor Hirohito announced the capitulation of Japan.

Nazim Hikmet is the great Turkish poet who wrote “I come and stand at every door.”

The “sisters” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki speak. I wrote this poem as an act of witness — more so than other poems, though all poems are, against forgetting.

Hiroshima Mon Amour*

for Nazim Hikmet

Kokura

Oh no. Oh yes.

Some are vaporized

that others may rest.

That day, the clouds

played lesser gods,

and a B-29,

American Wotan.

We are still whistling Dixie

in the cockpits of F-16s,

while the big boys deploy

the children machines

into targeted Gotterdammerung

like a line of thunderhead engines

rumbling to the end of the line.

(Kyoto speaks):

O my sisters! What can the lovely one say

as she stands in the sun in her tresses and lace?

Yes: In the company of rapists are cultivated men

who would not disfigure beauty. One spared me.

Yes: Before the smiling countenance of the sun

I stood, as bitter fire fell down from heaven

until I longed to throw myself over the bodies

of my spindly sisters upon the violated earth.

And all who did not shut their doors in the face of that day –

boys, graybeards, retired colonels and courtesans, became,

all became, sisters: mute, unmoveable, griefstruck

as oxygen fled from air.

August 19 (Tokyo speaks):

What is it to you

if I do not come and stand at every door

as my little sisters do?

Who is it that cannot see their ghosts?

Sister H., honored in all heavens

and all hells — the eldest, the first —

smooths her torn gray dress.

God has truly blessed

America.

Sister N., forever condemned

to walk in a sister’s fiery shadow,

forever wrapped in sister-love

and the love of all who love the dead,

smooths the isotopes from her faded dress

and stands at your door.

Do you not see them there,

the two sloe-eyed girls?

Do you not have a door?

Do you not have eyes?

I come now to stand with them.

We will stand here forever, and longer,

with our sad eyes and black hearts,

like triplet invisible sunflowers

climbing the steps of the sun.

And you. What are you doing there

in your backyard with its brushed-metal grill,

its razor-wire, its fire, with your progeny

that speed over oceans, brighter than a million suns?

All:

We forgive where there is nothing

We forgive where there is nothing

to forgive. We forget nothing

dead or alive or dead. We live,

a sisterhood of ashes

smearing love-characters

on doorsteps and pale skin.

______________________________________________________________________

The Killers of Children

For those who read “The Right to Bear Airliners” , and just had to get something similar  or anyone else who cares to see this, written in the 1990s and inspired by apologists for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, here is:

The Killers of Children

To stop the killers of children
We will hunt them down
Wherever they are
Destroy their safe houses
And kill them.
We will stop
At nothing. Demolish
The outrage. Stop nothing.
No they shall not hide
Amongst the frail, or behind
The young. No, not prevent us,
They, god-cloaked assassins!
Killers of children!

A Dream Deferred?

Maybe an official of some Asian consulate has read Harold Meyerson’s column on the President’ s untapped army. “A paper tiger,” the bored functionary sighs.

What is... and what should be

What is... and what should be

That reader might be more perceptive than anyone at present realizes.  An e-mail  list is not an army. A year ago millions of people like myself were indeed “fired up and ready to go” knocking on doors,  and telephones,  and credit cards. Electronic networking was a terrific tool for turning ferment  into  political mobilization.  But I believe that Obama’s first six months in office has demobilized —  or at least immobilized — a significant part of his army:

Health care — If a “government option” is the extreme left of the debate (possibly even to be sacrificed through negotiation, and subject to mixed messages from the administration) the battle is already largely lost. Sure I favor single payer, but if it’s not even in the discussion, then the “progressive” side is at the mercy of insurance companies and related forces.

The Economy — The effort and money devoted to saving capitalism from itself dwarfs everything done for everyone else.  ’nuff said on the subject, except that…

War and Peace issues are  proceeding as promised, with a shrinking mess in Iraq and a growing one in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The economics of this “smarter”  superpower warfighting will cripple  progressive domestic initiatives, i.e.,  those that get past the snarls of Republicans, blue dogs, and the lobbyists they pay attention to.

Hope, by its nature, never entirely dies. Obama tapped into and became the symbol of a pwerful impulse. In office, he has blunted it.  Meanwhile the raving Right has increasing become the respectable opposition. This foretells failure at the top and dangerous mass polarization below. I do not want this to happen. But it seems that at this point Obama’s vaunted confidence  has led him into dangerous waters, and perhaps blinded him to necessary corrections of course. Read more…

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