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New York Glow Scape (C) 2002 by Daniela Gioseffi. All rights reserved.
Part II: Poems Selected by Daniela Gioseffi
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown . . . re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency.
Walt Whitman: Preface to Leaves of Grass
PALMS AND HANDS*
jerked up his palms
to mimic a certain dictator:
"I take no part.
I love everyone.
Do not involve me."
But Bill shoved out his palms
like his mechanic father
(with cuts and grease):
"Dont let these be yours."
Unknown, of course,
to Lydia and Paul
on their magazine
"warm and capable
...see here it is--
I hold it towards you."
mouth, eyes, and ears
shut with palms;
or His nailed palms;
or "Hands up!"
as the Saturday matinee
cowboy or soldier
lifted his life-lined,
rested her shorn
skull in her palms
(her German lover
dead in Nevers)
and someone raised
the knuckles of his splayed hand
to his eyes, walking
backwards out on
Hiroshima Mon Amour
against the concussion
of the shock wave
of the firestorm.
* A slightly different "Palms and Hands" first appeared in Poetry
Hugh Seidman was born in Brooklyn, NY. His poetry has won several
awards including two New York State poetry grants and three NEA
(National Endowment for the Arts) fellowships. His first book
Collecting Evidence (Yale University Press) won the Yale Series of
Younger Poets Prize. He has taught writing at the University of
Wisconsin, Yale University, Columbia University, the New School
University, and several other institutions. His last book Selected
Poems: 1965-1995 (Miami University Press, Oxford, OH) was named among
the best books of 1995 by the Village Voice and by The Critics
Choice. A chapbook entitled "12 Views of Freetown, 1 View of Bumbuna"
(Half Moon Bay Press) will be published in 2002. His other books
include: People Live, They Have Lives (Miami University Press),
Throne/Falcon/Eye (Random House), and Blood Lord (Doubleday).
When terror festers in me
and my eyes open at a strange noise
in the midst of night
frightened of my coming death
or what my childs life will become,
I go to the woods to listen for the loons call on the lake
and sit by the lull of the lapping waters, glistening
where the great blue heron fed in the day.
I come alone among the peace of the wild world,
and realize that birds and fish do not upset their lives with politics
or imagined grief to come.
I sit lulled by the lapping water of the deep lake and listen
to the tiny songs of insects,
until I feel the stars reaching down to me as I reach up to them
amidst the vast mystery of endless space
full of the smell of burning stars--
and I know that many stars I see millions of light years away
have died long ago
and been seen by lovers longer than I can ever live.
In the presence of boundless creation,
I feel the confinement of my spirit left behind in my bed,
and wait for the great sun to rise.
I rest awake in the immense grace of the world and Im free to be
in my small moment without pain or regret,
breathing deep of the dark pines
as my soul sings with the gurgling leap of a fish.
Even the owls feathery swoop
and the mouses scream as its gulped
seems in its place
and at peace.
Living in the Bull's Eye--for Arundhati Roy of India
We live in ballistic bull's eyes of nuclear missiles.
Shall I flee New York, shall you flee New Delhi?
If we run away, our friends, children we love, gardens
we've planted, birds we've watched at our windows,
neighbors we greet each morning,
homes arranged as weve wanted,
books lining our shelves,
will be incinerated and who, what shall we love?
Who will welcome us home to be who we are?
So, we stay huddled in our homes near beloved children,
friends, gardens, trees, and realize how much we love them.
We think what a pity to die now. We put the dire threat
out of mind until the macabre becomes normal.
While we wait for the weather report,
justice at last for the poor, or nuclear winter
we listen to TV news of "first and second-strike capabilities"
in Pakistan, India, Russia, America, as if a game of checkers
is discussed or the baseball scores.
We prophesy and shake our heads, appalled. We talk
of documentaries on Hiroshima, Nagasaki.
A huge fireball, white flash, burnt bodies clogging streams,
a crying child with skin seared off, head bald, eyes glued shut by heat,
breathing mothers, fathers, babies bodies smoking black,
poisoned water thick with oil, scorched air, cancers implanted everywhere,
a malignant death sent to the unborn, sealed genetically in seed, sperm, ova.
We remember the woman who melted onto the steps of a building.
We imagine ourselves melted onto concrete, our whole being
a mere stain on a sidewalk. We imagine future children, sickly, deformed,
pointing at the stain that was our heart
saying, "that was a poet!" Not "she," but "that!"
I see my husband reading his newspaper by the lamp--
his thoughts the product of millions of years of evolution
vaporized out of mind or touch.
I know a Calico cat who runs along the street,
hiding under this or that step. Will she be a radioactive stain
orange and black on the walk? Oh, each exquisite iris, rose, leaf
of the garden, puffed away in a flash of smoke! Ash
in an instant! The people of our cities have no where to hide.
How can there be a peace movement big enough when for most
"peace" means a daily struggle: for food, water, shelter?
Nuclear war is outside the realm of our daily imagination.
Few can afford to think of what even a small nuclear bomb can do.
Should we be grateful most , as they struggle to live,
have no notion of the terror?
Yet their sweet ignorance lets nuclear weapons exist.
"Deterrence!" what a ghastly joke! How brave we have to be
to believe non-violent protest can work!
Our politicians fly around on their "peace missions"
selling armaments to warring allies.
Why do we allow it?
Why do we salute the flags
that hold us hostage to instant fire and endless ice?
Why tolerate the death builders
who blackmail our entire race,
our Earth and all Her bounteous beauty?
How shall we write another poem,
when all the music and art of history
mean nothing to our fools, our fiends who run our world?
We live on hair-trigger alert--all of us--
my beloved daughter with her long red curls,
my husband with his newspaper, the Calico cat ,
irises glowing purple in our gardens,
trees giving breath,
you, Arundhati with all your brilliance,
there in New Delhi,
me, here in New York,
in the bulls eyes of omnicidal despots, hoping
they will spare us and all we love.
Daniela Gioseffi is a poet, novelist, editor, literary critic, and activist who has taught and lectured widely throughout the U.S. and Europe. She publishedf Women on War, winning an American Book Award, (Touchstone/ Simon & Schuster:1990.) A new edition appeared from the Feminist Press: NY, 2003. Her early works include, Eggs in the Lake (BoaEditions, Ltd., 1980) which won a grant award from The New York State Council for the Arts in poetry, and a novel, The Great American Belly, (Doubleday/Dell/New English Lilbrary, New York, London, and Zagreb, 1979.) She won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, 1990, for "Daffodil Dollars," and has read her work widely appearing on numerous NPR and BBC radio and television stations. A treatise on the woman's dance of birth, as counterpart to the male war dance in folk cultures, Earth Dancing: Mother Nature's Oldest Rite, is related in theme to Women on War. During the 1980s, she served as president of her local New York chapter of the National Peace Action. On the nominating committee of The Olive Branch Awards, she served with The Writers and Publishers Alliance for Nuclear Disarmament. The Ploughshares Fund, an independent peace foundation, awarded her grants for Women's Leadership Development. She was the U.S. Keynote speaker at The Feminist International Book Fair in Barcelona, attended by Petra Kelly and Grace Paley among numbeorus other writers and activists for world peace. Active in the Civil Rights Movement in the early l960's, she came, in 1993, to publish On Prejudice: A Global Perspective (Anchor/Doubleday.) She edits PoetsUSA.com, this website which incorporates .WiseWomensWeb--nominated for Best of the Web, 1998. Her latest books of poetry are Word Wounds and Water Flowers and Going On, from VIA Folios @ Purdue U.1995 and 2000, and Symbiosis: Poems 2002 from Rattapallax Press: NY-- available electronically from BookSurge.com on the internet. Her verse has been etched in marble on the wall of the newly renovated PENN Station, 2002, in New York City where she makes her home.
LAST-MINUTE MESSAGE FOR A TIME CAPSULE
I have to tell you this, whoever you are:
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly where everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn't be lost forever--
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshiped the Truth Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.
That swain in Shakespeare, penning ballads
to his lady's eyebrow: if just once
he could have seen my sweetheart's breasts,
he would have written epics. Oh,
they are so springtime sweet and summer-lilting,
those twin blossoms, I should have found
a painter intimate with tender shades
of pink and cream
to immortalize their harmony.
up there on the seventh floor
they are cutting one of them away,
the one we touched last week and felt
the poisoned pearl.
Now the knives are working, working,
I feel them stabbing through my flesh.
She will come back gray, remembering
to smile, the bandages weeping blood,
her beauty scarred,
her life saved.
I will love her more
Philip Appleman, an Air Force veteran of World War II, and a former Merchant Marine seaman, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University. He has published seven volumes of poetry, including New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996 (University of Arkansas Press, 1996) from which "Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule" comes. He has also published three novels, including Apes and Angels, and several non-fiction books, including the Norton Critical Editions of Darwin and Malthus' Essays on Population. He lives with his wife, the playwright, Marjorie Appleman on Long Island, in New York and Florida. James Wright and Amy Clampitt praised his work for its "Voltairean verve and clairty," as well as" its smoldering brillance." Appleman has won many prizes and plaudits for his work.
Ten years back in National Geo-
graphic: Cattle afflicted
with anthrax went
up in fiery spittle.
This year, to a pulse of new eyes
in old ditches, the photo-
graph reinstates heads
without hair, flakes
for teeth, speechless
survivors bodies offered
as souvenirs to grain-laden
no limbs could sustain.
I want to say, O lips that quench
the dead thirst or
design of divine intention
gone wrong. But my lines
are bathetic. Even art
such as Grecian gold-
smiths make has a way of imitating
nothing. Whether low-techno, high-
resolution, or high-know-how, low-
behind the eyes of science,
that moaning loco-
motive of Goebbels the Organized,
has been rolling unchecked
into the age of bullet-
train and passenger jet
since these "golden years"
were first envisioned,
joining more and more lives
to the moving target
of advancing equipment,
the living mechanical
on what was that city over the mountains?
London, Dresden, Hiroshima, Seoul,
Saigon, Baghdad, New York, Kabul. . .
Through the shattered lens of night
our children gaze back into, history
obscures us where we lie:
Fresh Kills are what some of us
are up for, but I really wouldnt want
to find what I sought there
in pieces. (Am I cutting an epitaph
for myself?) Some piece
a dismembered leader
together, one Ascending
from the depths of a developing
negative. Some ghostly
consolation for not
living always hides
in the background waiting
for us? Maybe so,
But cant I arrive
at that place within
myself that lies
in the stars without
another unending sigh
another flood of gas,
my ashes rising
from this building?
Stephen Massimilla has published poems in The American Poetry Review, Tampa Review, Descant, Sonora, Salt Hill, The Southern Review, Hawaii Review, High Plains Literary Review and many other journals and anthologies. He completed a B.A. at Williams College and Cambridge University, a term in the Graduate Writing Program at Boston University,and an M.F.A. at Columbia University, where he is now pursuing a Ph.D. in literature. His awards include The Grolier Poetry Prize from the Ellen La Forge Memorial Foundation, a Van Rensselaer Prize in poetry, a prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Art Institutute of Chicago literary award. He teaches at Barnard College and Columbia University. In 2001, he won the Bordighera Poetry Prize for bilingual publication of his book, Forty Floors from Yesterday by Bordighera Press, 2003, http://www.ItalianAmericanWriters.com/
Copyright © 2002 by the authors. All rights, including electronic, reserved.
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