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Salamanders on the North Border Road

Two salamanders are crossing the North
Border Road. Sluggish and indifferent, they
Creep under the borderline barbed wire. I stop
The patrol. Above the ravines and fields,
Silence suddenly drops for a moment: we watch
Their orange backs, a poison colour, their tails
Striped black, and their evil aura darkens
The morning light. I feel the danger,
And give an order, but even helmets and
Bullet-proof vests can't help when your terrain
abruptly explodes: in the orange glow
I can see the creatures: evasive, lazy, innocent,
As if they don't carry on their backs
Marks of fear and mortal hints.

By Elisha Porat
Translated from the Hebrew by the author and Ward Kelley
8th-Feb-2017 01:00 am - Grace Ellery Channing, 'Qui Vivo?'
Qui Vivo?

Qui vive? Who passes by up there?
Who moves—what stirs in the startled air?
What whispers, thrills, exults up there?
Qui vive?
“The Flags of France.”

What wind on a windless night is this,
That breathes as light as a lover’s kiss,
That blows through the night with bugle notes,
That streams like a pennant from a lance,
That rustles, that floats?
“The Flags of France.”

What richly moves, what lightly stirs,
Like a noble lady in a dance,
When a man’s eyes are in love with hers
And needs must follow?
“The Flags of France.”

What calls to the heart—and the heart has heard,
Speaks, and the soul has obeyed the word,
Summons, and all the years advance,
And the world goes forward with France—with France?
Who called?
“The Flags of France.”

What flies—a glory, through the night,
While the legions stream—a line of light,
And men fall to the left and fall to the right,
But they fall not?
“The Flags of France.”

Qui vive? Who comes? What approaches there?
What soundless tumult, what breath in the air
Takes the breath in the throat, the blood from the heart?
In a flame of dark, to the unheard beat
Of an unseen drum and fleshless feet,
Without glint of barrel or bayonets’ glance,
They approach—they come.
“The Flags of France.”

Uncover the head and kneel—kneel down,
A monarch passes, without a crown,
Let the proud tears fall but the heart beat high:
The Greatest of All is passing by,
On its endless march in the endless Plan:
Qui vive?”
“The Spirit of Man.”

“O Spirit of Man, pass on! Advance!”
And they who lead, who hold the van?
Kneel down!
The Flags of France.

By Grace Ellery Channing
Paris, 1917
Vive la France!

Franceline rose in the dawning gray,
And her heart would dance though she knelt to pray,
For her man Michel had holiday,
Fighting for France.

She offered her prayer by the cradle-side,
And with baby palms folded in hers she cried:
“If I have but one prayer, dear, crucified
Christ—save France!

“But if I have two, then, by Mary’s grace,
Carry me safe to the meeting-place,
Let me look once again on my dear love’s face,
Save him for France!”

She crooned to her boy: “Oh, how glad he’ll be,
Little three-months old, to set eyes on thee!
For, ‘Rather than gold, would I give,’ wrote he,
‘A son to France.’

“Come, now, be good, little stray sauterelle,
For we’re going by-by to thy papa Michel,
But I’ll not say where for fear thou wilt tell,
Little pigeon of France!

Six days’ leave and a year between!
But what would you have? In six days clean,
Heaven was made,” said Franceline,
“Heaven and France.”

She came to the town of the nameless name,
To the marching troops in the street she came,
And she held high her boy like a taper flame
Burning for France.

Fresh from the trenches and gray with grime,
Silent they march like a pantomime;
“But what need of music? My heart beats time—
Vive la France!”

His regiment comes. Oh, then where is he?
“There is dust in my eyes, for I cannot see,—
Is that my Michel to the right of thee,
Soldier of France?”

Then out of the ranks a comrade fell,—
“Yesterday—’t was a splinter of shell—
And he whispered thy name, did thy poor Michel,
Dying for France.”

The tread of the troops on the pavement throbbed
Like a woman’s heart of its last joy robbed,
As she lifted her boy to the flag, and sobbed:
Vive la France!”

By Charlotte Holmes Crawford
Children in the Darkness

There are children in the darkness
Who have not seen the light
There are children in the darkness
Who someone will teach to fight

Chalk and blackboards will not be
To this door there is no key
From this life they can not flee
And these children are not free

Could we simply light a candle
Could we give them half a chance
Could we teach them how to read
Could we teach them how to dance

Or will a war consume them
Their body and their soul
Will their life and blood be poured
Down some endless thirsty hole

Back into the darkness
From which there is no flight
Back into the darkness
Into which there shines no light

By Henry M. Bechtold
5th-Feb-2017 02:00 am - Cody McEwan, 'Shepherd'

I found out that not only was the light off,
But it was also broken.
No money for kerosene.
No money for nothin'.
Built my house out of grease cans in the middle of the dump
with the grazing sheep and burning garbage.
I only eat rice and corn chips. It's all I can afford.
I look around for useful things
that other people have thrown away.
I build and make use.
It used to stink here and everywhere
but now I hardly notice.
I long for the once peaceful country under iron fisted security.
Nothin' but cigarettes and death these days.
Sometimes when it's real hot I can smell the bodies
cooking under the trash piles.
I wonder who they are.
Who did they love?
In the winter the floor turns to mud and it's frigid.
My kids are skinny.
My wife is dying.
She's very sick.
I need help, but there is no humanity within a thousand miles of here.
Sometimes thieves come at night and steal my chickens.
Sometimes it seems like our god never loved any of us at all.
Maybe he eats pain like a Sunday snack.
Maybe he keeps all the good feelings for himself.
Or Maybe somewhere in heaven there is a clean little pond
with birds and fish and sheep that reflects a healthier happier me;
with long black hair and a full beard and deep brown eyes
that smile in eternity.
Little, smiling children in the river,
Where we wash our clothes,
Where the sewage flows and their little ribs stick out,
Hugging tuberculosis lungs
all black
from breathing the fire from the tires.

By Cody McEwan
4th-Feb-2017 01:00 am - Frances Green, 'Last Hope'
Last Hope

Homing pigeons have a long history of help in battle:
Genghis Khan used them to keep Asia in order;
the Romans learnt of the conquest of Gaul
from a piece of parchment around a pigeon’s leg;
and a single bird brought to England
notice of Napoleon’s defeat.
We are still holding out…

Over 100,000 pigeons
were used in World War one
with ninety-five percent of birds reaching their destination.
Messages were placed in small containers
and clipped around the birds’ legs.
but suffering gas attack
with their very dangerous fumes.

A pigeon’s great strengths were its extraordinary
homing instincts and the speed at which it flew.
The only natural way to counter them was with birds of prey.
But birds were injured by artillery shells -
during the first World War;
one pigeon carried a message successfully
for twenty-four miles. It arrived with a leg shot off
and its breast shot through by a bullet –
It’s imperative to break off.
Give this urgent communication to Sauville
who’s not answering my requests.

and a number of course were killed in action.

This is my last pigeon.

By Frances Green
3rd-Feb-2017 01:00 am - Rudyard Kipling, 'The Dove of Dacca'
The Dove of Dacca

The freed dove flew to the Rajah's tower --
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings --
And the thorns have covered the city of Gaur,
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove!
Little white traitor, with woe on thy wings!

The Rajah of Dacca rode under the wall;
He set in his bosom a dove of flight --
"If she return, be sure that I fall."
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove!
Pressed to his heart in the thick of the fight.

"Fire the palace, the fort, and the keep --
Leave to the foeman no spoil at all.
In the flame of the palace lie down and sleep
If the dove -- if the dove -- if the homing dove
Come, and alone, to the palace wall."

The Kings of the North they were scattered abroad --
The Rajah of Dacca he slew them all.
Hot from slaughter he stooped at the ford,
And the dove -- the dove -- oh, the homing dove!
She thought of her cote on the palace-wall.

She opened her wings and she flew away --
Fluttered away beyond recall;
She came to the palace at break of day.
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove,
Flying so fast for a kingdom's fall!

The Queens of Dacca they slept in flame
Slept in the flame of the palace old --
To save their honour from Moslem shame.
And the dove -- the dove -- oh, the homing dove,
She cooed to her young where the smoke-cloud rolled!

The Rajah of Dacca rode far and fleet,
Followed as fast as a horse could fly,
He came and the palace was black at his feet;
And the dove -- the dove -- the homing dove,
Circled alone in the stainless sky.

So the dove flew to the Rajah's tower --
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings;
So the thorns covered the city of Gaur,
And Dacca was lost for a white dove's wings.
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove,
Dacca is lost from the Roll of the Kings!

By Rudyard Kipling
2nd-Feb-2017 01:00 am - Edward Godfree, 'Insouciance'

In and out of the dreary trenches,
Trudging cheerily under the stars,
I make for myself little poems
Delicate as a flock of doves.

They fly away like white-winged doves.

By Edward Godfree
'The Return of the Red Baron

You remember that baron flying high in the sky
When Snoopy shot him down with a gleam in his eye
But that baron had leaped from his blood-red plane
Just before it burst into a ball of flame

Snoopy circled back to check his kill
Saw the bloody red baron standing high on a hill
Then he swooped down low
Shouted Curse you red baron!
The German shook his fist you could hear him swearin'
(Ach der lieber!)

Hey watch out little Snoopy
You're really in a mess
You thought you were through with the bloody red baron
But it looks like he's not down yet

Then a cry went up all over the land
The bloody red baron would strike again
But brave little Snoopy said Never fear
As he headed for his plane all the people cheered

Snoopy blazed a trail straight across the sea
Searching in vain for his enemy
Then he found that German trying to fix his plane
A-sweatin and a-cussin about to go insane

Snoopy landed for a pistol duel
The baron was worried
Snoopy was cool
He fired a shot and missed
Started to run
Before Snoopy had a chance to raise his gun

Hey watch out red baron
Snoopy is on your trail
One of these days he's gonna make you pay
And you'll go straight to-
Well watch out red baron...

By Phil Gernhard and Rick Holler (1967)

31st-Jan-2017 01:00 am - U2, 'Bloody Sunday'
Bloody Sunday

Hmm hmm

I can't believe the news today
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

'cause tonight we can be as one

Broken bottles under children's feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

And the battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

How long
How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long

'cause tonight we can be as one
Tonight tonight

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
I wipe your tears away
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)
I wipe your blood shot eyes
(Sunday, bloody Sunday)

Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)
Sunday, bloody Sunday (Sunday, bloody Sunday)

And it's true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday

By U2

30th-Jan-2017 01:00 am - Thomas Kinsella, 'Butcher's Dozen'
Butcher's Dozen
A Lesson For The Octave Of Widgetry

I went with Anger at my heel
Through Bogside of the bitter zeal
- Jesus pity! - on a day
Of cold and drizzle and decay.
A month had passed. Yet there remained
A murder smell that stung and stained.
On flats and alleys-over all-
It hung; on battered roof and wall,
On wreck and rubbish scattered thick,
On sullen steps and pitted brick.
And when I came where thirteen died
It shrivelled up my heart. I sighed
And looked about that brutal place
Of rage and terror and disgrace.

Then my moistened lips grew dry.
I had heard an answering sigh!
There in a ghostly pool of blood
A crumpled phantom hugged the mud:
"Once there lived a hooligan.
A pig came up, and away he ran.
Here lies one in blood and bones,
Who lost his life for throwing stones."

More voices rose. I turned and saw
Three corpses forming, red and raw,
From dirt and stone. Each upturned face
Stared unseeing from its place:
"Behind this barrier, blighters three,
We scrambled back and made to flee.
The guns cried Stop, and here lie we."

Then from left and right they came,
More mangled corpses, bleeding, lame,
Holding their wounds. They chose their ground,
Ghost by ghost, without a sound,
And one stepped forward, soiled and white:
"A bomber I. I travelled light
- Four pounds of nails and gelignite
About my person, hid so well
They seemed to vanish where I fell.
When the bullet stopped my breath
A doctor sought the cause of death.
He upped my shirt, undid my fly,
Twice he moved my limbs awry,
And noticed nothing. By and by
A soldier, with his sharper eye,
Beheld the four elusive rockets
Stuffed in my coat and trouser pockets.
Yes, they must be strict with us,
Even in death so treacherous!"

He faded, and another said:
"We three met close when we were dead.
Into an armoured car they piled us
Where our mingled blood defiled us,
Certain, if not dead before,
To suffocate upon the floor.
Careful bullets in the back
Stopped our terrorist attack,
And so three dangerous lives are done
- Judged, condemned and shamed in one."

That spectre faded in his turn.Collapse )

By Thomas Kinsella

Massacre at Derry ('Bloody Sunday'), January 30, 1972
29th-Jan-2017 03:00 am - Wolfe Tones, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'
Sunday Bloody Sunday

Well it was Sunday bloody Sunday
When they shot the people there
The cries of thirteen martyrs
Filled the free Derry air
Is there any one amongst you
Dare to blame it on the kids?
Not a soldier boy was bleeding
When they nailed the coffin lids!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

You claim to be majority
Well you know that it’s a lie
You’re really a minority
On this sweet emerald isle
When Stormont bans our marches
They’ve got a lot to learn
Internment is no answer
It’s those mothers’ turn to burn!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

You Anglo pigs and Scotties
Sent to colonize the north
You wave your bloody Union J
And you know what it’s worth!
How dare you hold to ransom
A people proud and free
Keep Ireland for the Irish
Put the English back to sea!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

Well, it’s always bloody Sunday
In the concentration camps
Keep Falls Road free forever
From the bloody English hands
Repatriate to Britain
All of you who call it home
Leave Ireland to the Irish
Not for London or for Rome!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday’s the day!

by the Wolfe Tones

Bloody Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972

The Fletcher Memorial Home

Take all your overgrown infants away somewhere
And build them a home, a little place of their own.
The Fletcher Memorial
Home for Incurable Tyrants and Kings.

And they can appear to themselves every day
On closed circuit T.V.
To make sure they're still real.
It's the only connection they feel.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, Reagan and Haig,
Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher, and Paisly,
"Hello Maggie!"
Mr. Brezhnev and party.
"Scusi dov'è il bar?"
The ghost of McCarthy,
The memories of Nixon.
"Who's the bald chap?"
And now, adding colour, a group of anonymous latin-
American meat packing glitterati.

Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
They can polish their medals and sharpen their
Smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for awhile.
Boom boom, bang bang, lie down you're dead.

Safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye
With their favorite toys
They'll be good girls and boys
In the Fletcher Memorial Home for colonial
Wasters of life and limb.

Is everyone in?
Are you having a nice time?
Now the final solution can be applied.

By Roger Waters

(Warning: video has flashing strobe effects from 3:20 to 3:45)
27th-Jan-2017 01:00 am - Randall Jarrell, 'Protocols'
[Birkenau, Odessa; the children speak alternately]

We went there on the train. They had big barges that they towed.
We stood up, there were so many I was squashed.

There was a smoke-stack, then they made me wash.
It was a factory, I think. My mother held me up
And I could see the ship that made the smoke.

When I was tired my mother carried me.
She said, "Don't be afraid." But I was only tired.
Where we went there is no more Odessa.
They had water in a pipe--like rain, but hot;
The water there is deeper than the world

And I was tired and fell in in my sleep
And the water drank me. That is what I think.

And I said to my mother, "Now I'm washed and dried.”
My mother hugged me and it smelled like hay
And that is how you die. And that is how you die.

by Randall Jarrell

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2017

Auschwitz-Birkenau liberated January 27, 1945

Shocking photos show the horrors of the Holocaust
26th-Jan-2017 01:00 am - W.A. Peach, 'Over Again'
Over Again

Why must they lie all day and all night?
Their reasons are feeble, the reasons to fight.
For what have they as humans, done to us?
never kicking up a storm nor making a fuss.
No wrong, no right, no reason to fight
So leave them alone and don't bomb in the night.

Children crying, parents losing such blessed weight
They can't see, the reasons are building, the reasons for hate.
They attack again, at dawn this time.
Nothing's the same or ever sublime.
The excuses they make, no truth or evidence
Vanished from their country any form of eloquence.

Why must they lie all day and all night?
There reasons are feeble, the reasons to fight.
And us ourselves, we also support them
Suck in their lies and further distort them.
Stop them now, before it's too late.
No chance, the world has immeasurable hate
and all the hate received from them
Starts the eternal chain over again.

By W.A. Peach
A Song of Winter Weather

It isn't the foe that we fear;
It isn't the bullets that whine;
It isn't the business career
Of a shell, or the bust of a mine;
It isn't the snipers who seek
To nip our young hopes in the bud:
No, it isn't the guns,
And it isn't the Huns --
It's the MUD,

It isn't the melee we mind.
That often is rather good fun.
It isn't the shrapnel we find
Obtrusive when rained by the ton;
It isn't the bounce of the bombs
That gives us a positive pain:
It's the strafing we get
When the weather is wet --
It's the RAIN,

It isn't because we lack grit
We shrink from the horrors of war.
We don't mind the battle a bit;
In fact that is what we are for;
It isn't the rum-jars and things
Make us wish we were back in the fold:
It's the fingers that freeze
In the boreal breeze --
It's the COLD,

Oh, the rain, the mud, and the cold,
The cold, the mud, and the rain;
With weather at zero it's hard for a hero
From language that's rude to refrain.
With porridgy muck to the knees,
With sky that's a-pouring a flood,
Sure the worst of our foes
Are the pains and the woes
Of the RAIN,
the COLD,
and the MUD.

By Robert W. Service
24th-Jan-2017 02:00 am - Jessie Pope, 'An Over-Lord'
An Over-Lord

Here's a prominent person
I must write a verse on
His ways are so strictly impartial,
His power is great,
His word carries weight
In matters domestic and martial.

He never takes sides,
But rough-shod he rides
Over General, French and the Kaiser ;
Party spirit he shuns,
He hinders the Huns
And makes Tommy sadder and wiser.

When in genial mood
He's so kindly and good
You'd never believe he could vary.
But when out for a grumble
He's rough to your humble
And equally rude to Queen Mary.

Entente and Alliance
Endure his defiance
In mute resignation together.
His name is suppressed,
But you'll doubtless have guessed
That by trade he's the Clerk of the Weather.

By Jessie Pope
23rd-Jan-2017 01:00 am - Lolita Stewart-White, 'If Only'
If Only
for Willie Edwards

If only it hadn’t been 1957
in a wooded area near Alabama, but it was;
or missing black folks hadn’t been looked for less
than missing shoes, and they weren’t;
or if only those Klansmen hadn’t gathered,
intent on finding a black man, and they were,
or if only they hadn’t stopped him on that gravel road,
or beaten him until they could see the white beneath his skin,
or marched him at gun point onto that bridge, and they did;
or if only they hadn’t said, “Bet this nigger can’t swim,”
or hooted and hollered as he fell from fifty feet,
or laughed as he vanished in the river’s moonlight, but they did;
or if only his death hadn’t been ruled suicide, and it was,
or his murderers hadn’t been set free, and they were,
or the daughter he left behind hadn’t had to live her life without him,
but she did.

by Lolita Stewart-White

Willie Edwards, killed January 23 1957
22nd-Jan-2017 01:00 am - Rise Against, 'Grammatizator'

We celebrate the downfall with ticker tape parades
Oblivious to the fucking mess left lying in the wake
"God grant me the strength to let my children starve"
He whispered to the dripping roof into the candled dark
Contemplate contracts of gold
Just wave your hand and relinquish control
Nine lives await to unfold
We bury ten thousand stories untold

First with insurrection batting eyes from afar
In skybox seats or hotel suites, six figure fucking cars
Contemplate contracts of gold
Just wave your hand and relinquish control
Nine lives await to unfold
Bury the stories

Control the heart
Control the mind
Control the hands

To build what they've designed
Lifetimes of silence and apathy
Ensure the prompt demise of our humanity
Contemplate contracts of gold
Just wave your hand and relinquish control
Nine lives await to unfold
We bury ten thousand stories
The stories untold

By 'Rise Against'

21st-Jan-2017 01:00 am - T.A. Girling, 'The Bond'
The Bond

Up from the cheerless billets,
From trenches and listening post,
From huts, and dugouts, and gunpits,
From the hearts of a watching host,
In the dark drear night of danger,
When the soul can hide its pain,
Comes the striving, yearning, longing
For the love of a home again.

Like the misty veil of morning,
When the sun draws back the dew,
The pure, bright, quickened memories
Turn back to home anew.
From lonely hearts of Britain
The love that made them brave,
Returns to seek communion
With those it left to save.

It heeds not the hungry waters,
Nor distance, nor time can pen,
From the longing call of their dear ones,
The love of a million men.
From husband, and father, and brother,
Companion, and lover, and son,
The love of a nation is passing
With the sound of the midnight gun.

In the treasured home of Britain,
In cottage, and villa, and hall,
With glistening eyes of watching,
Is an answer to the call ;
And the truth, and patience of woman,
In the pain that she bears alone,
Gives back to the heart that seeks it
The love that is all its own.

They vaunt of the power to conquer
In the massed and heated guns,
But the matchless might of Britain
Lies deep in the heart of her sons.
The hard, stern road of duty,
The unseen cloud above,
Are one in Britain's glory,
The conquering power of love.

by T.A. Girling
2lst January, 1917
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