Chapter 2: CONFLICT
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato
INTO WHAT WILL THE HAND-HAMMERED SHEET OF COPPER BE FASHIONED?
Light tempers mountain to a will
that morning accepts, diffusing knife points
or the quilt which once rivaled sunrise
brazen stripes, cocooned
generations, now muted, threadbare.
They say earth regenerates in a disaster.
Perhaps you know which god answers
to the hammered out.
Antonio Puri, Narcissist, 72" X 72", mirrors, acrylics, inks, beads, rice paper, and gel medium on canvas
The boy with the Nigerian mother says he is scared to go home,
afraid his mother will give him up to the system again.
Being on the streets is better than foster care because
at least you can make a family where everyone is like you.
You get to choose your family, he tells me; it doesn’t choose you.
You are stuck with your real family.
I ask him, “Aren’t you afraid of the other gangs? Aren’t you afraid of getting killed?”
He looks out from under long lashes that curve toward heaven, toward God.
“Afraid of death? The boy I was died years ago. His ghost came back with a gun.”
Yossi Vardan, Pain, Plaster, patina
GODS OF WAR
First Mars and Thor
Mayhem and hammer-wielder
El Cid and Iron Kaiser Karl
Sherman the Horse and
Patton the Tank
Cannon Man and
Fodder of the nation.
The terms are announced:
five of every seven goats slashed
one of three bushels of
wheat and corn burned
rubies buried in brass trunks
bottles of cognac
poured in the sea.
A finger's twitch could put an end
to terms of light, torched
documents could smoke like hangman's
rope and burst into flame
like the grail in hot coals,
children buried in sawdust,
green divisions in
the dark streets
blinking back fear.
America First and American Eagle
poetry by John Curl
Ode to Oaktown
I wired my sorrows into Klieg lights and let them shine all over Oakland,
city of Black Panthers and Hells Angels and General Strikes,
driving from the Bronx in a green Toyota Corolla searching.
Was it freedom, or a film I wanted to make something of myself,
took refuge in Oakland's Lake Merritt, caught breadcrumbs and fish,
a wayfarer dressed in boots and dreams of Fifth Avenue Peace Parades
to a West Coast of two-story buildings and pastel houses
and summers where the sun did not bother to get up until noon.
Okay, I said to myself, you have to begin somewhere. That was my beginning.
Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl.
I sailed a stroller around Lake Merritt and through her Garden Center,
past houses with calla lilies that hugged grey gas meters
even though they were ugly. Oakland took off her clothes slowly
like a woman who wants to know she is loved. I followed her trail in Joaquin Miller
filled with monkey flowers and second growth redwoods,
nuggets of neighborhoods and librarians, the Oakland Museum
surrounded by a moat of golden koi where children entered into culture,
art, and people who hung on walls together.
Let me park my car one last time and walk to the Paramount,
remember old hotels and faded curtains stuck on brass rings,
where restaurants and condos have become the hope of a business community
that wishes for homicides to fade like fog,
a place I've come to know with gunshots and fireworks,
the way my history has been pressed into a new release.
Judy Seidel, Universe, Acrylic on hot-pressed watercolor paper
IRAQ SLIDE SHUTS DOWN U.S. 101
Just when we thought
we could get things rolling
again, with the old invisible hand
guiding us along and our stocks
gaining traction and our popularity
on key web sites assured,
comes this rainy day with
Iraqs thought abandoned jumping
from cliffs along the ocean,
smashing the hoods of our BMWs,
clogging the road forward
with bitter steel and broken concrete,
we all sit here, immobilized
by the plans of fools,
going slow through ruins,
all the while the old slave’s song
by the waters of babylon
running through my mind
and there we wept
when we remembered
Line Of Offense: Washington -- Baghdad
whole fences of lightning
spill over the hills
of course I want to believe
the word is the world
but translations go so awry
and spies roam the libraries
Believe it or Not Marvin R. Hiemstra
painting by Damaris Ruiz
A SOLDIER SPEAKS
(for Robert Dillman, from Iraq)
I could tell you so much more,
but that is for another day.
We barely knew what was in store.
My story's brief but there's much more
of glory and of senseless gore --
wanting to leave and wanting to stay.
My friends, excuse, I'd give you more.
But that is for another day.
© Claire J. Baker
© Squeak Carnwath 2004, Sorry World, Cotton Jacquard tapestry
View additional work at Magnolia Editions
Don't Bounce a Mirrored Ball!
Beg the soldiers to forget
that flashy trick step
in the innocent eyes
of a third year poetry student
the soldiers are about to kill.
Beg the soldiers to remember
the smooth trick step
blissful in a disco with soldiers
from every single country
on the mirrored ball we cling to.
Marvin R. Hiemstra
Today I came across
a black plastic bag
so meticulously folded
into the origami version
of a crow it could only
have been an accident.
Its makeshift wings
fluttered in a soft wind
on an inverted sky
of pliant grass alongside
Sunset: yellow patches
of late summer grass
interleaved with the season’s
Off to the side a monarch
with a clipped wing
flitted its seven-day reign
over a scattering
the mechanism I seek
to make everything
go as planned.
This brings to mind
of yesterday’s crows.
Not so much a murder
as a misdemeanor of them.
The way one’s three caws
resounded in the almost
stillness and seemed
to sustain the earth’s axis
as one of its brethren
fished out the entrails
of a possum baking
in the noonday sun.
flies us home:
sprouts wings where limbs
were forfeited to carry us
past the vagrant remains
of a life we could no longer
recognize if we tried.
© José Luis Gutiérrez
Damaris Ruiz, Birth 2, collage,mixed media, acrylic and oil paint 3X4ft
At the Foot of Mount Sinai
Not temple; not church; not mosque
sun stars moons clouds rain.
Not atrium; inner sanctum; altar; aisle
but walled circle
all sides equal
all beginnings endings
Not doors; gates; windows
but spaces left to enter
one north one east one west one south.
Not cedar; sandstone; marble; stressed concrete
but adobe alone and no higher.
Not designed chosen won architected paid approved
one each brick from every earth
by sweat consecrated
by one sun stroked.
Not statues symbols carvings etchings mosaics
but earth by Who-Gives-Earth
bricks by even-who-has-nothing-other-to-give.
Not services sacrifices rituals rites
but prayers by woman and man
kneeling standing lying sitting
whispering singing chanting shouting:
Not raids bombings hostages heros territories victories
Judith S. Offer
from ONLY THE WORDS
Oakland, California, 1983
"When shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are
all members of one body?"
— Helen Keller
"Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love."
— Mother Teresa
"Even from a dark night songs of beauty can be born."
— Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey
"Love each other or perish."
— W.H. Auden
Submitted by Nasrin Naraghi, San Francisco, CA
In a New WorldIn a new world, lament languishes
fear no longer divides, and laughter splashes.
In a new world, power is not proudly proclaimed
anger is melted down; humility reveals a lighter touch;
vengeance withers, people built statues to forgiveness.
In a new world no one seeks what isn’t needed:
no one takes what they haven’t earned.
Voices direct peaceful resolution; laughter erupts;
freedom no longer lifts monuments to pretended faith
and rivers no longer flow to the other side of ghosts.
© Vince Storti
Jeannie Motherwell, River Run, Acrylic on canvas