Ten Poems by Raymond Nat Turner

and Fiction Exposing the Rape Culture

Vol. 29, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring-Summer 2013



The new issue and some political problems

Here we are, finally, with a new issue of Struggle! The fund-raising campaign was quite successful; you, the readers and writers, came through splendidly with enough help to finance this issue and half of the next one. Well played! And I finally managed to get an issue together. About time!

This issue has two prominent features. One is a series of ten poems by longtime contributor Raymond Nat Turner. Raymond has been on a roll lately, excoriating imperialism and its collaborator, the Black bourgeoisie, with poem after poem filled with sharp wit, striking wordplay and a deep sentiment for the Black masses and the working class in general. Other works of his can be seen on the web site Black Agenda Report. We are very pleased to feature him here.

The other prominent feature of this issue is a series of pieces attacking the oppression of women and especially condemning and exposing the rape culture. Some of these are very vivid; some of them link the rape culture of capitalism to U.S. imperialist aggression, notably in Vietnam. The issue of the enabling and commission of rape has come into focus especially sharply of late in India and Egypt, but it is typical of patriarchal capitalism, including here in the United States, where the Republican Party has blazed an ignominious path of rape-approval. The Democratic Party condemns rape while joining with the Republicans in an austerity campaign that will dehumanize the masses further, sowing the seeds for more rape. And abroad the Democrats simply murder thousands of people, many of them women, with Obama’s deadly drones.

We want to comment on three political issues. The first is Obama and the sequestration. This is a bipartisan (first suggested by Obama in fact) trick to make cuts on the benefits to the poor appear to be inevitable, out of the hands of both capitalist political parties. In the midst of this, Obama, the liberal's darling, declares – once again! – his desire to cut Social Security and Medicare. This is the goal he shares with the Republicans. No matter that the wealthy 1-and-a-few-more percent are wallowing in dough robbed from the workers! The Democrats cower before the banks, in lockstep with the Republicans! You Obama fans need to wake up and recognize that we, the workers and the poor, face a two-headed monster of capitalism dedicated to crushing us, and its commander is your darling Barack Obama. Massive struggles are going to emerge against this blatant robbery. The top trade union leaders and the prominent liberals are just as much a part of the capitalist machine as are Boehner, Ryan, Issa and Rush Limbaugh.

The second issue is what it means to be anti-imperialist. Many on the left think it is sufficient to simply oppose everything the U.S. government does in foreign affairs, whether the U.S. is in conflict with the working masses of a victim country, or with an upstart bourgeois dictator in such a country. These people think it is good to side with an upstart tyrant, like Libya’s Ghadafy or Syria’s Assad. But they are the murderers of the workers and poor in their countries! To side with them is to approve their atrocities against the people. This is what we in the Communist Voice Organization (see “Leninism and the Arab Spring” at www.communistvoice.org) call NON-CLASS ANTI-IMPERIALISM. In fact, because it abandons the masses, it is not anti-imperialism at all; it amounts to siding with the little mafia against the big mafia. Pox on both their houses! Side with the workers and the poor! That is what Lenin and the Communist International in its best days called anti-imperialism, and we should too.

The third issue is the environment. Activism is rising on this, and our great deceiver, President Obama, is expressing “concern” about the issue, after failing to raise it in the debates with Romney, even though Hurricane Sandy placed the issue firmly on the table (along with a whole lot of water). All the measures touted by the green establishment are impotent; they all rely solely on the capitalist market to solve a problem caused by the capitalist market. The market has no brain; it does not plan; that the market will make the best decisions is a fraudulent myth propagated by the neoliberals (which include both the Republicans and the Democrats). Market-environmentalism has accomplished absolutely nothing. CO2 levels are rocketing, along with other environmental atrocities such as fracking, oil pipelines and mountain-top removal in Appalachia. And nuke plants are degenerating, leaking and threatening disasters. The only answer is a mass working-class environmental movement. Only a mass struggle can force the capitalist government to take direct action against the polluters; and only a working-class movement can prevent those measures from becoming simply another way to rob the people by passing along the costs of regulation to the consumer.

For a working-class anti-imperialist movement and a working-class environmental movement!

Fight both of the parties of the rich, the Republicans and the Democrats!

Dare to struggle!

* * * *

The griot

like a coal train
asserting our humanity


By Tim Hall



Ten poems by Raymond Nat Turner

(Raymond's work can also be heard and seen at www.upsurgejazz.com.)


Fiscal Cliff BLUES

Politicians all crowin' 'bout the "fiscal cliff"
Politicians all crowin' 'bout the "fiscal cliff"
But it don't smell right, once we get a whiff

Smells like wolves on the cat food committee
Smells like wolves on the cat food committee
Stealin' Social Security's their real nitty-gritty

Head-fixers all screamin' that same tired riff
Head-fixers all screamin' that same tired riff
Beggin' the big, big question of: "What-if?"

Jail banksters and stock traitors in cahoots
Jail banksters and stock traitors in cahoots
Or, "re-package" thugs in orange jumpsuits

Stop war profiteering and other hanky-panky
Stop war profiteering and other hanky-panky
Jail Tiny Tim Geithner-Osama Ben Bernanke...

"Entitle Meant"

Entitle meant we worked our asses off
Like good guide dogs trained by Pavlov

Entitle meant us drippin' pearls of sweat
No Swiss Bank Accounts, yacht, or Learjet

Entitle meant we worked our asses off
With no "bailouts" at the corporate trough

Entitle meant we slaved from nine to five --
None of that bankster "too big to fail" jive

Entitle meant we lived from hand-to-mouth
A lá the good ol "right to slave" South

Entitle meant terribly skewed ratio --
Like 400:1 pay, worker to CEO...

Entitle meant more fiscal hanky-panky --
Tiny Tim Geithner-Osama Ben Bernanke

Entitle meant thugs makin' their bones
Off of derivatives and sub-prime loans

Entitle meant big bribes for political actors --
Like cost overruns of Klep-tractors

NO to their "fiscal cliff" and other shams
NO to extortionists runnin' Madoff scams!

Neo-Confucian wisdom in
The Age of...  Austerity

Confucius say, pimp-slap, kick to curb
He who blame China for Detroit...

Confucius say, pimp-slap, kick to curb
He who call you middle-class, but
Block six-figure future...

Confucius say, pimp-slap, kick to curb
He who come with grand bargain
Smelling like clean coal...

Confucius say, pimp-slap, kick to curb
He who come with talk of entitlement --
Entitle meant you work
Ass off, punch-drunk, punching in and
Out; almost square meeting more
Than four corners...

Confucius say, pimp-slap, kick to curb
He who say let Merrill lynch, let
Goldman sack, for one day he
Urinate on you from fiscal cliff --
And call it trickle-down....



Mayday, a million militant Mexicans
Strapped on wings and flew
Over the City of Angels, scaring
To death rich devils ruining it...

A December Night In Tunisia,
Burst into Be-Bop regime change
Flames, masses heard and jammed
To in Egypt, North Africa, the world over...

A quarter million militant
Wisconsinites caught Spring
Fever flowing from North Africa,
Experienced seizures of capitol, town,
Imaginations, conversations -- even
General strike plans -- forward…

Mindful gangs of youth occupied
Wall Street, hearts, minds, dreams and
Talk of the town for two months, metastasizing
Like crazy cancer cells, clear across the country…

Ephemeral, proletarian internationalist moment,
Tens of millions of anti-austerity activists, workers,
Students and supporters, downed tools, seized
Streets and shut down Europe for a day...
These tiny tremors continually reminding US,
That like scorching magma, class struggle
Bubbles, just beneath business as usual...

A million miles from reality... Cloud Nine Negroz
See what they wanna see in 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue, Psychedelic Shack where big Negroz go
Under COINTELPRO; a Psy-Op where lil' Negroz
Have their fortunes told, and chase after fool's gold:
Solidarity with a Wall Street-vetted, Madison Avenue
Messiah, bequeathed by J. Edgar after Medgar,
Malcolm and Martin were shot for inconvenient truths
Nothin' but a Democratic party in Cloud Nine Negroz
Psychedelic Shack, belting, "Don't Worry, Be Happy!"
"Extraordinary Rendition's" 'bout when Motown dropped
"Grapevine" on Gladys & Marvin # 1, the same year, & “Black
Sites" are spots where you can go and get your groove on.
In Cloud Nine Negroz Psychedelic Shack, their mountain top,
Disco ball and all, debate orbits around burning questions of
Sub-contracts, franchises and what dare they wear to their king's

In what furs, with what flag sizes, or
Lapel pins, will they be seen, on TV?
In what clown suits and silly hats
Will they Happy Dance for Hell-
Fire Missiles on family farmers?
In what stilettos will they Electric Slide
On thin ice, above fiscal cliffs of foreclosure,
Joblessness and poverty?
What will they wear for their Fuhrer?
Will they mimic his corporate coat
Of many logos, his crown of five
Hundred jewels for Fortune 500
Companies – same thugs peddling guns,
Wars and gang-raping Mother Africa?
Will they come wearing coltan
For their king, or just show up
Looking like lewd lieutenants,
Lap-dancing, licking his boots,
Complicit in his bombing and
Burning babies in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Gaza?
Will they come dressed as jackals, with
Tuesday kill lists of "haters" in hand?
Maybe they'll dress down in vintage
War crimes and crimes against humanity,
Like deputies in the dock at Nuremberg?
Surely they'll accessorize in South
African gold, diamonds and platinum
Set luxuriously in Steven Biko's bones?
Perhaps they'll anoint themselves and
Their king in Ogoniland oil, expertly
Blended with blood of Ken Saro-Wiwa?
Should their Messiah suggest suicide
Vests, bet on a bunch of busy tailors...
Nude, or prancing like peacocks, fully
Festooned, they'll arrive in five, feting
Their emperor, making a mockery of
Militant tradition birthing Ben Davis,
Du Bois, Ida B., Hubert Harrison and
Fanny Lou Hamer in the crucible of
Class struggle…


Drone man

If I could croon like
Nat King Cole, I'd
Sing my sleeping people
Awake: "It's a Barnum-Bailey
World, just as phony as
It can be..."

Or, like Lady Day
Would say, "Hush,
Now, don't explain...."

Or, Chairman Fred even said
Somethin' 'bout "explanations
That don't explain conclusions
That don't conclude...."

Here's a multi-decade charade,
A neo-con narrative with Pat
Tillman twists, unraveling every day
From weight of its cast of killers
As crooked as Lombard Street...

Then, again, there's Drone Man,
Posing as mild-mannered,
Family man – of the Gambino,
Boeing, Lockheed-Martin,
Lucchese type --
Compassionate professor of
Constitutional law, defender
Of free world, truth, justice,
The Amerikan way: fighting for
Troops, bases, oil and empire
Drone Man's heart goes out
To victims of "senseless violence,"
Not those of coolly calculated
Corporate violence...

Drone Man's prayers comfort the
Fallen in Any Town, USA, but not
Wedding parties in Pakistan, some-
What inconvenienced by multiple
Missile strikes...

Drone Man decries despots
Drenching their "own people"
In crimson showers, but shrugs
His shoulders about beating and
Gassing Occupiers, under stars and stripes...

Drone Man calls for soul-searching
From the faith community, following
Free-lance bloodletting, then "nominates"
"Militants" for his signature strikes, plus
Posthumous pardons -- in heaven...

Drone Man is aided and abetted by
Harlequins, his Ringling Brothers
Of Rhetoric:  Al Charlatan, boob tube
Pit bull bringing Arthur Anderson
Accountability to Drone Man's scampaign...
The Slutty Professor, spittin' sesquipedalian
Stink bombs, "left" flank, while lap-dancing,
And rubbing elbows with the 1%...
The Vacillating Professor, injecting Jesse
Gibberish, demanding the masses "Protect,
Respect and correct" Drone Man, so
Vacillating Professor can play Frederick
Douglass to Drone Man's Lincoln -- h'm,
Tattoo to his Rourke, Tonto to his Lone
Ranger, or Toto to his Dorothy, perhaps?
Then, there's Steppin' Fletcher, et al,
Churning out their prone position papers,
Their Manifestos... calling for resistance:

-- February 31!


Slick Willy rides again!

Don't know if the Bible
Said it, or if Confucius
Said it -- or if I just made
This shit up: “Beware of
The one riding in bareback,
Facing backwards on an
Ol' mule, for he is an impostor."
Lo and behold, Great White
Foundation father, Vice-
Roy of Haiti and Harlem, nurse-
Maid of NAFTA, demon of de-
Regulation, did just that at
Offal offices of tobacco
Country stables of the DNC
Repeating like Coltrane licks from
"Out of This World," unrelenting
Hermeneutics of suspicion swirling
Through my mind like some steroid-
Driven dervish:  I NEVER trusted
The M$%#-F@*!... silvery-tongued,
False-fingering saxophonist from
Arkansas -- even as an ass-kissing
Arsenio showed the candidate
A Love Supreme...  I NEVER trusted
The M$%#-F@*!
I saw through the saran-wrapped
Charlatan who would imprison
Nixon numbers of Black men and
Women; dismantle welfare with
Workfare from Reagan's wet dreams;
Bomb Bosnia; bless derivatives and
Deconstruct Glass-Steagall
During his "peacetime" presidency....
But, Negroz, who've become
Fat and flabby from high fructose
Corn syrup years of Black faces
In high places --
Black faces whose aspirations
Go no further than leather chairs,
Corporate boardrooms and
Cash to stash in Cayman Island
Accounts, or their freezers...
Shouted how "Slick Willy" was
"Masterful," “hitting it out the park!"
Him was masterful, all right, him
Still a master after all, ain't him?
But we in the fields are keeping
Gazes fixed firmly on the Drinking
Gourd, the North Star found just
Over picket signs, on picket lines...



What would the ancestors say?

I know
I know
I know...
Harriet Tubman didn't slide
In and out of the slave south
Nineteen times, $40,000 reward
Hanging over her head like a
Scimitar, or Samurai sword;
Medgar didn't die in his driveway
Like a dog put down in the pound;
Malcolm didn't die on floor
Of the Audubon Ballroom;
King didn't die on chitlin' circuit
Balcony of the Lorraine Motel;
Fred didn't die in his bed, under
Hooves of Chicago death squads
For tomfoolery -- nappy-headed
Foolishness -- Negroz shrinking
To plantation Rip Van Winkles
Hung over on Ol' Massa's
Jim Jones Juice (January '09)
The eve of world revolution...

I know
I know
I know...
She would be leveling her pistol,
Leaving at least a half dozen dead
Negroz, after commanding "Forward,
Or die!"

I know
I know
I know...
He would be tongue-lashing
Negroz with his Harlem-tinged
Tough love: "You've been had,
You've been took, you've been
Hoodwinked, you've been bamboozled!"

I know
I know
I know...
He would be intoning in African,
Baptist, baritone strains:
"I've been to the mountaintop,
But this is not even the mountain,
No, and I'm concerned that if you
Continue traversing this treacherous
Trail you're on, during the dark and
Difficult days ahead, not only will you
Not get to the mountaintop, you will
Find yourselves descending to depths
So low that it will require you taking an
Elevator up eighty-six floors; climbing
Forty flights of stairs to a sub-cellar of
Sin, standing on a step ladder on your
Tiptoes, just to suck the Devil's dick --
No, I'm afraid I can't be your drum
Major on this one --
The drones must be stopped,
The satanic wars ceased, and
The barbaric killing of other peoples'
Babies ended -- forever...."


Better break away from
the Judas Quisling class

Franchises and sub-contracts filling them with desire
Returns on investments setting their souls on fire
Rousing the heavens, harmonizing their theme song --
A Motown Classic from Berry and Barrett Strong

Showing no love for us poor and working masses
Telling their rich masters we can kiss their asses
Kwame, his mommy, O, Corey, and "Long Dong” --
Following these Quislings is sick and all wrong!

Better break away from the traitorous black bourgeoisie
Holding on to them is like clutching hot-buttered TNT
Better break away from the brazen black bourgeoisie
Those Negroz are hostile to you and to me!

Blinding ol' fools, isolating young Douglass agitators
With sophistry and their toxic talisman: "haters"
Shutting our movement off, turning our volume low
Struttin' their stuff, lettin' Hennessey, Cristal flow...

While we're hurting, they're livin' large and hearty
On corporate dollars from their Democratic Party
People, we're in a desperate, desperate situation
In the deadly grip of class differentiation...

Better break away from the traitorous black bourgeoisie
Holding on to them is like clutching hot-buttered TNT
Better break away from the brazen black bourgeoisie
Those Negroz are hostile to you and to me!

Time to take off our old, ultra-black, tinted glasses --
To begin seeing Judases in both colors and classes
Seeing the nitty-gritty, demystifying naked mystery --
Spring-boarding up from our fighting history!

Better break away from the traitorous black bourgeoisie
Holding on to them is like clutching hot-buttered TNT
Better break away from the brazen black bourgeoisie
Those Negroz are hostile to you and to me!


Harriet Tubman tests?

Now, I can see and hear the
Music in my ear from my first
Teacher, the militant I called
“Mommy,” rising at some school
Board meeting and launching into
What she called her “nut role,”
Asking, as only she could, “Since
You’re ‘teaching to the test,’ are
The tests you’re teaching to Harriet
Tubman or Sojourner Truth tests?”
After the laughter and applause
Subside, she might add, “Someone --
I won’t say who -- said pork barrel
Pedagogy you’re peddling is like
Selling blankets bearing smallpox --
Blankets smothering spirits and
Crushing minds of black and brown
Babies, like cigarette butts beneath
The boot heels of billionaires….”
Then, she might even ask her grand-
Son, the professor of education, grand-
Daughter the parent-teacher, or son
The poet, to second that emotion:
In the Race to the Slop,

Legato laughter, staccato shrieks of
Gleeful play, keep fleeing fire fights
Forbidding imagination, frowning on
Free-thinking, disallowing discovery and
Putting dreamers to death with magic
Bullet, single-shot solutions leaving all
Children behind, caged, crippled or blind.
In the Race to the Slop,

There are Green Zones, dubbed “Work-
Force Development Systems” by white
Knights of the Business Roundtable, killing
Fields where sage, seasoned teachers keep
Falling like dried rose petals, under frantic
Fusillades of child soldiers pointing No. 2
Pencils like M-16s -- elite bubble snipers
Suffering PTSD: Post Test Stress Disorder…
In the Race to the Slop,

Schools are troughs, full of juicy
Green apples -- business banquets
Spinning stress into gold; pureeing
Plays, poems, songs, paintings,
Dances and children into super-
Sized, hollowed-out, spiritually
Emaciated men and women, comfortable
With collateral damage in multiple, serial,
Video game-like wars, for persons
Having Big Brother, but no heartbeat
Or blood count….



Caffie’s kitchen

“I’m not afraid to die!”
An eighteen-year-old
Loudly, proudly proclaimed
In the built-in blender, toaster in
The wall, ultra-modern, copper-tone
Kitchen of Caffie Greene…
Legendary L.A. activist, Caffie was
“A brilliant organizer,” so said Sanford and Son
Regular, “Shady Grady,” Amen Corner actor,
Whitman Mayo --
L.A.’s Sentinel called her a “political dynamo”
But, that was back in ‘45 -- she’d organized picketing
Of Bank of America and Kress, organized mass meetings,
Marches and rides to stop legal lynching of Willie Francis,
A Louisiana lad of sixteen, framed for murder…

Yet, Caffie was being challenged
By an eighteen year-old who
Loudly, proudly proclaimed,
“I’m not afraid to die!”

A pregnant pause – she let an eternity elapse,
A rest, Miles Davis-style ellipsis… like Old Folks

Caffie, Organizer who embraced struggle, not as a sprint,
Through minefields of Harding, Hoover, Coolidge, Roosevelt,
Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson…but a marathon with baton
That must pass on…
Organizer who worked it, like the Jazz she loved,
Like a jam session where one masters the music
Wrestling within rhythms of the band, rescuing harmonies
Sounding like solidarity, playing changes
Organized like conversations from crowded lil’ bandstands…
Organizer, who organized as she cooked, knew just when to
Add black pepper, or cayenne, studying, mastering culinary
Arts, owning a café frequented by preachers, politicians, pimps
Prostitutes and police… she knew when to sauté, simmer, steam,
Boil -- when to chill, when to freeze…
She savored smells of 381 days of bus boycotting, blended into
Teach-ins, folded in freedom rides, sprinkled with sit-ins and
Pinches of armed resistance: Watts, Detroit, Newark, and 125
Cities in ’68, after MLK’s murder by contract killers for mass
Murdering weapons manufacturers…

Yet, Caffie was being challenged
By an eighteen year-old who
Loudly, proudly proclaimed,
“I’m not afraid to die!”

A pregnant pause – she let an eternity elapse,
A rest, Miles Davis-style ellipsis… like Old Folks

Caffie, organizer who spearheaded struggles
For public transportation servicing South Central
Organizer who told prominent preachers they’d “never
Preach in L.A. again,” if they failed to show, flocks in tow,
And march, defying LAPD dictate against protesting
Police murder of Leonard Deadwyler, twenty-five-year-old
African-American, executed rushing his pregnant wife to the
Hospital -- twenty miles away -- Pig Latin, or bovine dung
Sprung from killer-cop, Bova, “ the car lurched forward”
Causing his service revolver to “accidentally discharge”
Organizer who blew in to meetings, like a legend and
Called out undercover LAPD infiltrators – she knew ‘cause
She had confidantes in the DA, Sheriff’s Department, LAPD and
Mosque 27 where Ronald Stokes was slaughtered ’62…
She knew about the 50’s hearings, “testi-lying,” and “war bags,”
Organizer who, sometimes, substituted,
“If you wanna know who I am, ask the FBI” for
Bios and intros on panels and commissions…
Organizer of the Teen Post that morphed into the Radicals,
Nucleus of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party,
After she hired Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter – straight out of Soledad --
As her Assistant Director…

Yet, Caffie was being challenged
By an eighteen year-old who
Loudly, proudly proclaimed
“I’m not afraid to die!”

A pregnant pause——she let an eternity elapse,
A rest, Miles Davis-style ellipsis… like Old Folks

Caffie, organizer who came with it, following 65’s flames ,
Telling CIA operative McCone and his commission how a
Hospital, not hearings, was needed…. Did she tell of being
Trapped on a 103rd St. office floor with six-year-old daughter
As National Guardsmen fired indiscriminately into spaces
Like Rosewood, Greenwood, or Black Wall Street?
Organizer who met more than some senators, wore out phones,
Marched her shoe heels off, as a founder, defender, of Charles Drew
Post-Graduate Medical School, Martin Luther King Jr. General Hospital
Organizer who knew in the calcium of her bones, her DNA,
That no matter how confused, demoralized, lost, lazy and
Looking for leaders to incite, excite – or guide them, like
Scintillating North Stars, the millions are makers of history --
Not red, white and blue-blinded generals, or Fortune 500
Politicians, their assets, enablers, imbedded in blood of toilers….
One morning, Caffie rescued the eighteen-year-old from “routine”
LAPD harassment, as he exited his car and cops followed him on
To the porch, Caffie cut in on their ancient square dance:
“Do you have a warrant?!”
“Do you have a warrant?!”
Ancestral rage gushing from Truth-Tubman-Wells
Caused startled thugs to sheepishly stammer, “No…”
“Well, get the fuck off my porch!”

Yet, Caffie was being challenged
By this eighteen year-old who
Loudly, proudly proclaimed
“I’m not afraid to die!”

A pregnant pause – she let an eternity elapse,
A rest, Miles Davis-style ellipsis… like Old Folks
Allowing her to Speak Low, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
Enlightening the eighteen-year-old: “Anyone can die…
I wanna know that you’re not afraid to live…”

By Raymond Nat Turner


They never gave out any extra trays

Thirty days in the hole and nineteen of it was over with. But those nineteen felt like twice as much; the scorching heat outside with absolutely no air circulation inside drew out each minute from every hour for every creeping second it was worth.

And God did it make him hungry. It was early Saturday morning and breakfast was sure to be pancakes. Sunday mornings were French-toast. Weekday mornings were biscuits and gravy. He liked the weekend breakfast dishes the best. It seemed like a week had passed since the last meal which had actually been about twelve hours ago, but as awful as that meal had been, and with the small portions that were given anyway, it really didn’t amount to diddly. He’d been awake for most of the night. Not that he wanted to be, he just couldn’t sleep for the heat. He’d lie down and in no time the air seemed to suddenly thicken and then the sweat would go to trickling down his sides, feeling like little bugs crawling over his skin. He’d maneuver himself around, trying to find the slightest bit of comfort any way he could, spreading arms out this way, legs out that way, distributing body heat evenly out and away all the while his unrelenting stomach giving him constant reminders that it was running on E. But no matter how hard he tried he would eventually succumb to the inevitable (unless he’d become so exhausted that he would pass-out), he’d raise up, sigh in frustration and aggravation, and longingly wonder if this would ever end.

His cellmate was asleep on the bottom bunk. He somehow was able to sleep most of the time without a hitch, and was so large that he couldn’t pull himself onto the top bunk if his life depended on it. His celly was at least three times his size, around four hundred and fifty pounds of pure-dee lard. He often observed his celly’s obese body while he slept. He thought it amazing how someone could actually become so big. His legs were huge things with rolls of cottage cheesy fat hanging over his knees and ankles, his belly was like a gigantic walrus’s, his arms were smaller resemblances of his legs (but not by much), and his head was like a swollen melon with jowls full of gooey dough. He never missed a meal.

His celly had seen the prison doctor a couple of weeks ago about his back, an injury prior to his imprisonment that was now causing him a lot of trouble. The doctor had given him a full exam and his final diagnosis was that most of his problems stemmed from his obesity (shocker), which also made him a heart attack waiting to happen if he didn’t try to lose some weight. How was he to lose weight? he asked. Cut down on your food intake and exercise daily, the doctor said. Blasphemy! he thought. Cut back on my food intake and exercise daily? Yeah, right, he might as well have asked him to stop breathing.

And so here he was, a heart attack waiting to happen with a bad back, the days and nights' heat never disturbing him, and slumbering so peacefully while no doubt dreaming of his next meal. He was a good celly, though. Although he was huge he was never in the way in their small cell because the only time he got up and moved around was to use the toilet or to get his food tray. He didn’t talk much and when he did it wasn’t the average riffraff that didn’t amount to squat. And aside from a typical fart ever so often he didn’t stink all that much.

As for himself, this was his umpteenth time in the hole and he’s had just about every kind of cellmate one can imagine. It was getting old and tiresome, though. He had only another two years to do in the pen and he didn’t feel much like spending it all in the hole. It was his first time in prison and he would be sure to make it his last. He’d come across a lot of guys talking about doing the same old dirt when they got out, but not him. No sir. The straight and narrow was the sure path he would be traveling down from now on. What was he in the hole for? Well, this took the cake: for smoking a cigarette. Yeah, that’s right, smoking the ole woodgrain. Most joints have outlawed tobacco within their facilities, so if an inmate gets caught with any type of tobacco product they could lose all privileges, lose good time which will set them off from going home anytime soon, and they could get thrown into the hole. And the same guards who did the busting were the same ones who snuck around, smoking up a storm wherever they could and bringing in the contraband in the first place. So, who’s the real criminals?

A hunger pang hit him. He could nearly taste his backbone. Where was that food cart? He went to the bars of the cell door and listened. The only sound was of a couple of sleepers in neighboring cells, snoring away. He’d tried to talk the guards into giving him an extra tray, even on the days when they were serving some real crap and others would pass it up, but they would never give him one. Like the guards actually planned on eating the extras themselves after serving the inmates or something. They denied him and everyone else who asked out of spite. The way these guards acted about certain things killed him sometimes.

Out of boredom he once again observed his celly’s beastly body. Three people in one. Geez. He could actually be a good skin-graft donor. He snickered at the thought. Don’t know what they’d Scrub ‘em out, maybe.

As he looked on and considered more beneficial uses this large specimen could provide he noticed something peculiar; there was no sound coming from him nor a rise and fall of his massive chest and belly as he breathed. He couldn’t remember ever noticing it before but he sure did now. Curious, he came a little closer to him, looking for the slightest bit of movement. Closer still to see if he could hear his breathing. Now he got real close, so close that he might be able to feel his breathing. Yet nothing.

He grabbed his peep mirror, an essential item for prisoners to watch the comings and goings of guards and their happenings out on the tiers, held it over his celly’s open mouth for several seconds, and looked closely for the tiniest hint of breath-fog. Nothing. More quizzical than concerned he tapped him on the arm. He shook his arm. He shook his arm very roughly. No twitch. No sound. Nothing!

Suddenly understanding what happened, he stepped back as if his celly’s condition were catching. He went to the bars and just before he was about to holler out for the guard he heard the food cart pull into the tier, and the first tray of the morning sliding through the bean hole into the first cell. His stomach growled and he froze.

If he alerted the guards about his cellmate’s sudden demise they would then cease passing out trays as they awaited the arrival of nurses from the infirmary to extract the whale of a man from his cell, which could take a very long time. But on the other hand, his celly did appear to be sleeping soundly, so if he were to hold off he could actually get away with receiving an extra tray. He wondered just how long it would take for him to start stinking, because if he waited a little longer he could get an extra tray for lunch and dinner also. And French toast was tomorrow morning and he really liked French toast.

Yes, he’d wait, because he was hungry, and it’s not like his celly would have minded anyway, he would have understood. Because after all, they never gave out any extra trays.

By Jeremy Mac


7 X 7 X 7

Prosser crooned a blues chorus,
wailed for a New Richmond. hanged!
betrayed by house Judases.

Vesey beat the ju ju drums
for mass uprising to come;
betrayed! hanged like fresh deer meat.

Cinque rebelled through noble blood
of forebears. The Amistad
freed! a bold new star at sea.

Walker's Appeal breathed black flames;
slave masters cringed like crazed beasts!
poisoned by masters' blood hounds.

Nat wielded Christ's holy sword,
blood gushed under sun and moon!
hanged. he stands by Michael's side.

Garrison's voice was thunder;.
shattered "christians'" peace of mind;
he stood like a moral rock ,

Garnett's words were lightning bolts
to strike dead all slave masters,
through divine revolts like Nat's!

Sojourner's truths were sheets of
hail rained from Northern sky posts;
the North girded its loins.

Parker's sermons were brimstone
showers scorching South's chattel
sins. prayed for blessed civil war!

Harriet was divinest
"Moses". aura of psychic
breadth. slave catchers dumbfounded!

Fred'rick was ex-slave turned "prince",
his hot language damned slave masters;
embraced the "Old Man" -- John Brown.

Dred Scott! less freedom than beasts;
slave property anywhere;
Supreme Court whipped up cyclones!

Brown in white skin with Nat's soul!
fired blessed bullets at Harper's
Ferry. hallowed the gallows!

Noble lives! I dedicate
Satchmo's powerfully hot
classic -- "King of the Zulus".

By Tashunka Raven


It still goes on
(dedicated to Billie Holiday)

The roadside cafe,
sign out front
"breakfast served all day,"

entices me off the dirt road
I am driving. I settle in a booth,
flip open a menu.

The waitress glares at me
with eyes that say
"you don't belong here."

My pulse quickens.
I order.
She returns fifteen minutes later,

with my
"breakfast sitting all day."
I chew and swallow.

At the counter,
I pay the bill-
tip included.

On the way out,
I pass the waitress
and calmly inform her:

It isn't polite to stare.
The ghosts of Strange Fruit
stare back at me.

By Cathy Porter


How does it feel's?

One of Hukumu's visit she asked Night Wind:

“How does it feel to just be sitting up waiting on others to make decisions on your life day after day, year after year?"

Night Wind took a drink of his soda, lean back in his chair. His eyes suddenly became slightly slit.

“You know the answer to that question Hukumu, whatz up?"

Fuck & Shit, thought Hukumu, it wasn't her intentions to start anything with Night Wind, even early that morning. Wrong told her not to ask the question. But since it's now out in the open Hukumu felt ,"What the hell go fo it."

She said:

"I don't know shit but what you tell me, and I'm force to believe it because of who you are to me. But it's how figure it, is why should any person, any person, Night Wind, should have to sit up and allow a group of people make a decision on their life."

Night Wind now had a attitude.

"Hukumu, " he said, "You just started some shit.”

Hukumu just laugh saying, “Well come on with it."

Night Wind said, "How does it feels to just sit up on a Death Row, waiting on others to make decisions on my life, day after day, year after year. That's your question right?”

He looked at her for a good 30 seconds.

“Huh, Hukumu, is this what you ask me?”

She was stun by the stress that just tooken over Night Wind in his voice, and face. "On and off," she thought, but she answer, "yes."

Night Wind, said, “This is how it feel's."

And he begin to cry a horrible cry, out in the visiting room. Hukumu was struck dumb. Night Wind cried a trouble man's cry, one that needed to be done, everyone was looking at them ....

Neither Hukumu nor Night Wind cared.

Night Wind, wouldn't stop bawling, The Guard came over told him to hold it down. Night Wind stood up, placed his hands behind his back. River of tears stream down his face. His wet Black skin was of pure beauty, his eyes dreamy grasp. He looked at the Goddess Of Judgment. His continuous crying spoke volumes.

Hukumu sat planted in her seat for the first time she truly felt emotional pain, as well how Night Wind felt.

Another Guard came to let her out, he smirk and said, “Well that's, that for the cry baby huh?”

Hukumu smiled back at him and responded, “Shut the fuck up you punk. He will always be more man than you will ever be in this life and even the after life.”

She looked at the Guard. He felt fear knew better than to say anything else.

Hukumu left the prison that morning feeling very sadden for Night Wind and his world. She said as she step outdoors,

"There will never be any yellow brick road for Night Wind.”

She looked up at the wonderful sky, the sun beamed on her beauty, and she waved up to those who looked down upon her.

And It Begin To Rain.


By Freddie L. Taylor
4EY53  San Quentin Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974


Yet they call me a criminal

I'm ashamed of myself,
The depths to which
I've been reduced,
Where 26¢ an hour is
Considered a good wage
And I'm willing to
Sink to such God-awful
Depths to get a few
More cents an hour.
The desperation disgusts me,
Knowing that it doesn't
Have to be this way,
Is forced on me, by
Those controlling
Every aspect of my life,
And to them I'm scum,
Not deserving of compassion,
Nor even humane treatment.

By Harlan Richards
100 Corrections Dr.
Stanley, WI 54768


A circus of injustice

Have you ever found yourself in a nightmare situation,
a role reversal, in the government, and your relation,
that has you coming up with solutions,
defending the Constitution, in an out of control system,
that's turned into retribution?
I object, and question the relevance, and the prosecutor's
intelligence, I moved to suppress the evidence,
because of the illegal search of my residence,
But the judge was drunk off Miller Lights,
and must have forgot the Bill of Rights,
I'm facing 20-to-life, for a non-violent drug crime,
and the DEA knows none of these drugs are mine,
Special Agent Love-Lying, caught him in a lie
three thousand times, and even though the penalty,
is up to five years in prison, and $250,000 in fines,
for perjury, the judge was too busy lynching me,
I was wrongly convicted, and sentenced to a quarter century....

By Roderick O. Williams
FCI, Victorville
Box 3725
Adelanto, CA  92301

The mornings are quiet

The mornings are quiet
Because the prisoners are afraid to awake in a nightmare
And the afternoons are noisy
Because they fight the pain of being incarcerated
But the nights are more relaxed
As they look forward to the freedom of sleep
Where in dreams they find peace
And are recognized as a part of the human family
I too share the burdens of the prisoner
Being one myself
Considered as worthless by an ignorant society
Who placed me upon a prison shelf
As human cargo
Being shipped from one prison plantation to the next
The same way my ancestors were treated
Having their spirits vexed
Nevertheless I will continue to fight for our freedom
Against the poisonous venom of racism which is lethal
Until we all awake into the reality of justice
And are treated as equals.

By Min. Howard Cosby III
#233397 N.C.I., 3-east, Cell 121
Box 665
Somers, CT 06071


The prophetic voice of García Lorca in New York

Spanish poet Federico García Lorca was in New York for one year, at Columbia University, from 1929 to 1930. He was 30 years old. Reading his poems written in Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York), the reader can only imagine the anguish and loneliness which inspired such a surrealistic book, impossible to translate into English. There are many translations, including internet versions, of these famous verses, but none can give an idea of the nightmare the poet suffered in order to write this incredible book. I don't dare to translate his poetry into English, but I will interpret some of the verses necessary to explain his torment, and at the same time, some of his solidarity with the black people of the Harlem.

In "El rey de Harlem" (The King of Harlem) he mentions his closeness to New York "negro" and how important it is to understand this character in opposition to the white man whose business is to oppress the "gran rey prisionero, con un traje de conserje" (the great king dressed as a porter). And he declares:

Es preciso matar al rubio vendedor de aguardiente,
a todos los amigos de la manzana y de la arena

(It is necessary to kill the blond firewater seller,
and all friends of the apple and sand)

In fact, García Lorca was more than a poet when he wrote Poeta en Nueva York; he was a prophet, as in so many examples of his verses. He describes the women in New York, white, Jewish or blond in the consequence of their scorn:

Es la sangre que viene, que vendrá
por los tejados y azoteas, por todas partes,
para quemar la clorofilia de las mujeres rubias,
para gemir al pie de las camas ante el insomnio de los lavabos
y estrellarse en una aurora de tabaco y bajo amarillo.

(It is the blood that comes, that will come
by the roofs and flat roofs, by everywhere,
to burn the chlorophyll of the blond women,
to moan at the bed's feet facing the washstand
and to shatter into a dawn of tobacco and low yellow.)

The cruel segregation and the condition of black America was denounced by the Spanish poet; his denunciation took the same direction as his prophetic compositions about the gypsies and their persecution by the Spanish
Civil Guard in the verses of "Romancero gitano".

In the poem "Aurora" (Dawn) Lorca presents New York in an eternal night, the morning light struggles to come out, but no one is there to receive it. The light ends up buried under terrible things, enemies of the morning hope:

La luz es sepultada por cadenas y ruidos
en impúdico reto de ciencias sin raíces.

(The light is buried by chains and noises
in the immodest challenge of sciences without roots.)

The book Poeta en Nueva York was published complete in 1940, four years after Lorca's death. Lorca knew all the time he was a prophet. First he thought the violent city was going to kill him by sadness. Then, during the summer, he spent ten days at the Lake Eden in Vermont, and he wrote the "Poema doble del Lago Edem" (Double Poem of Lake Edem) in which he predicts again his death and declares he is a prophet:

Quiero llorar porque me da la gana
como lloran los ninos del ?ltimo banco,
porque yo no soy un hombre, ni un poeta, ni una hoja,
pero sí un pulso herido que sonda las cosas del otro lado.

I want to cry because I want to
like the children of the last bench,
because I am not a man, a poet, nor a leaf;
but I am a hurt pulse that probes the things on the other side.

The most sad prophecy of Lorca was his own death. He said in "Canción de jinete" (Song of the rider):

La muerte me está mirando
desde las torres de Córdoba.

(Death is looking at me
from the towers of Córdoba.)

Federico García Lorca went back to Córdoba. It was his destiny to be assassinated there in 1936.


By Teresinka Pereira



Hunger, is something that you proud powerful Americans
don't read about in the media,
or see on ABC, NBC, or CBS,
unless it's a brief "Feed the children" commercial.
It hurts me, seeing mama serving us beans and rice to eat,
for the umpteenth time this week,
because she decided that buying meat isn't cheap,
when the price of beef
is higher than five pounds of beans and rice,
that'll feed her five hungry younguns with an appetite, twice.
I've experienced hunger, became content with hunger,
and eventually surrendered to hunger,
so I remember hunger, and the days
that we ate "Miracle Whip" mayonnaise sandwiches,
and a hand full of potato chips,
with a big glass of water,
to quench the pains of starvation,
that continue to plague the same unseen faces,
that you don't see on TV,
or read about in your daily newspaper.
The United States allocates billions of dollars
for war technology,
but politicians dodge this hot topic,
that has long been forgotten in their policies,
that supply budgets for wars,
while people are starving and dying of hunger ....

By Greg Nixon


Just maybe

I stood in line to buy a lotto ticket
Just ahead was an attractive older black lady
She turned around and smiled at me
I saw the one tooth that remained in her mouth
I thought of the dentist for whom she worked
His yacht, weekends on the Sound, country club membership
And she who cooked his meals
Cleaned his baby's bottom
And couldn't afford dental care
Yet she smiled like all was well
Maybe she'll win the lotto
And fix her grandkids' teeth

By J. Glenn Evans



the education of tom smith

the secret of education is respecting the child
ralph waldo emerson
twelve years old in the
sixth grade i relearned
the hard lesson that life is
not fair it frequently
cheats those who least
deserve it

the last day of school
before christmas break
everyone excited
talking loud happy

the esteemed extremely
well respected principal
came in to say a few
parting words
everyone continued to
talk loud happy

in the front row sat tom smith
money poor from
the wrong side of town
well behaved from the
wrong side of town

he sat alongside boys from
the right side of town some
well behaved some not

the principal accustomed to
obedience to being listened to
when he spoke demanded silence

everyone including students who
sat in the front row from the wrong
and right sides of town continued to
talk loud happy

then the principal's eyes
turned wild with rage he drew
back his hand a loud smack
rang out he struck tom
squarely deliberately in
the face

no one else was touched
the room became dreadfully
quiet no one said a word no one
dared to move

shocked not knowing what
might happen next tom's face
turned scarlet with the sting of
the principal's slap and with
deep humiliation in
front of his classmates he
struggled to hold back tears
afraid to look up he sat
motionless in his seat until
the merciful bell rang

in time a new elementary school
was named after the esteemed principal who
needed to be honored in a special

tom always well behaved but from
the wrong side of town never
finished high school

By Nancy Bruner Wilson


Backward justice

He was born deaf in a world full of insensitivity
he learned to read lips and was normal in every way
he drove a car, and was very independent
a gentle giant with an infectious smile
he had no enemies everyone loved him
then one day the reality of evilness crossed his path
a group of men noticed that he was deaf
they started making fun of him
they tormented, taunted and teased him calling him a big dummy
they laughed and thought it was funny
the big dummy was no dummy, he read their lips
and knew exactly what they were calling him
after being tormented and ridiculed
his emotions exploded and instead of tears he hit one of them
someone called the police and they arrested him for "assault"
his mother panicked and was sure the TRUTH would free her son
he had been the VICTIM -- not the perpetrator
he hit the man in self-defense during the process of a HATE CRIME
the prosecutors did not care -- the only fact they saw was the
man's response
his mother spent thousands of dollars for attorney fees to defend him
the case was postponed over and over again
prolonging the torment and costing more and more money
the case went to trial and he was found "Guilty"
he asked his mother, "Why are they doing this to me? I am not
a criminal"
she knew he wasn't and everyone who knew him did too
he would have never hit the man if he had not been tormented and
felt that he was in danger
how far would they go if he had not stopped them?
MATTHEW SHEPARD was teased and taunted the same way
for being GAY -- before he was left to die on a fence
if he would had reacted and hit one of HIS tormentors
he also would had been arrested as the perpetrator:
HATE CRIMES are allowed to happen WHEN COPS ARREST THE
and prosecutors prosecute them without mercy or justice

By Simonne Liberty


The ghosts of Westinghouse

We used to watch them, my brother and I,
as they clenched their lunch pails and waited for the light
to enter the factory, their breaths ghosting skyward.
Time held them tight; strong arms meant money.

One time, a small man slipped on the ice.
Someone caught his metal pail mid-flight
while two others, laughing, hoisted him in the air
and carried him kicking and swearing through the gate.

That factory pulsed and beat and throbbed,
pounding out ovens, fridges, jet engines.
Its black clouds descended over our town
like giant umbrellas with broken spines.

My brother and I would leave to build snow Alamos,
then return to watch them leave, trace the proud
exhaustion in their breaths, wait for the
eruption of their engines as they tore for the bridge.

Our father came striding last, nodded,
let us carry his lunch pail. We huddled
over it in the back seat, dreaming
of the day when we too would be gods.

By Sean Lause


The reincarnation of hands

"This is how you hammer,"
my father said.



"No. Like this."



"Let's see your hands. There. That's why.
You haven't got your hands yet."

Haven't got my hands?

My hands trembled, not knowing how to become.
I plunged them deep in my pockets
to hide their shame, those pale spiders,
a boy's hands, incapable of love or plunder.

Should I beat them into shape with hammers?
Then they might resemble my father's hands.
Dark, hard, lined, pocked, bleeding...
Cracked open at times, from the cold,
like the skin of an overdone potato.

I watched the railroad workers at rest,
hands browning in the sun like young animals.
The farm boys, their hands throbbing suns,
thrusting pitchforks, snagging hay bales,
the wheat fields weaving brushstrokes of their pride.

Then one day I was forty and building,
and I glanced down and there they were,
my father's hands in mine,
strong, confident, toned and free.
I watched them yank boards, slam nails,
making the house speak back to the winds,
watched them hold my wife, caress my son's soft hair.

"This is how you hammer," I told my son.
And my hands were the flesh of my father's words.

By Sean Lause



Paternal mornings

Every morning,
labor-hardened hand
rapped against
our bedroom door
while darkness still peeked
through the blinds' empty spaces
singing slumber's gray lullaby
I'd watch his faded
old army jacket
clothe itself in shadows
quieting the echoes
of his footsteps –
I never knew what he ate
or if his mornings
even began with
something so trivial
free-buses never
did wait on breakfast
I carried his eyes
struggle stained hating
the solitude of
our ritual departing –
Still my eyes searched
for sun-scarred hands
from youthful mornings
the weary hands that
wore nightfall in the
jingle of his keys
the labor-hardened hands
that rapped at our door
with love's quietude.

By Steve Bernal T-53154
SATF – P.O.B. 5246
Corcoran, CA 93212


Old warrior

You stand in line for your Thanksgiving dinner tonight
For only the second time in your life, old warrior.
And this will be for the first time as an old man....

There will be no more rich and poor in this world
You once came to believe,
Back in the 60s,
When you were young and idealistic, and true brotherhood
Was just around the next corner....

When the shots rang out at Da Nang,
And the explosions happened all around you
That first night,
It was intense, but a temporary experience,
Brought about largely by the weaknesses of other men....

The world would become right,
And great,
And a man was backing down a ladder onto a heavenly body;
And the Age of Aquarius was very near.
A warm and loving day was coming soon to
San Francisco....

The lone dove of peace would soar high above,
This night, stand strong on those legs, old warrior.
For the front of the gravy and turkey line is
Nearly at hand.

By Tim Petrof


What matters

What will they remember
about me
when the stream of time
takes me to the other side?

Wearing horseshoes
my feet go on crossing
entire countries
breaking the anguish
of silence with tears
in my eyes.

What matters

is that they don't forget
about this love
plowed in my bones.

By Teresinka Pereira


Short circuit

Joshua at 21 falls off his bike, stops breathing,
His pacemaker short-circuited.
The company that makes the item
Under FDA pressure reports two dozen cases.

That morning the salesman is having Special K for breakfast.
He kisses his wife and two daughters goodbye.
Short circuit? The one time he asked about it
His manager assured him it was just office rumor.

And the doctor? Can't expect him to know everything.
Look here just a bunch of small lies,
And where do all the small lies go?
Oh, not so tiny you say, somebody died?

But at a distance, in the papers,
On the radio, the TV. And at a distance
The lie shrinks, and speaking of distance
I'm just about ready to stop except....

That young man dying off his bike
His girl just ahead turns around
Reaches for him and cradles his head
His heart gone, her heart racing.

By Greg Moglia


The hoi-polloi

We are a class below.
We are a refutation of you through dark jaded glass,
not quite human in your eyes,
unrepentant, unredeemable ... like children
to be ruled over, spoonfed your knowledge,
your beliefs. We are the lifeblood, the
sufferers -- we are the many, you are the few.
We are the Hoi-Polloi.

We are the waste products, the refuse of unrelenting
supply and demand,
betrayed by Darwinian law, condemned by our "commonality"--
by laws unwritten but metamorphically enforced... to
live in the soiled, encumbered bowels of the
city, far, far below the silent fettered heights,
to toil in your factories, your sweat shops for
our sustenance -- left to pray in our churches, in chambers
on the Sabbath for our salvation ... our imaginary emancipation.

By Anthony Szlosek


Invisible man

Walking along 12th St.
when I was 17,
I saw a man, sitting in the middle
of boxes and boxes of possessions --
No Man's Land,
yet his only world --
steam almost swallowing him
from the grated iron below.

Suddenly the hideous truth of it all
was freshly exposed to me --
stinging like a newborn's first wound,
or the shock of birth --
and I shook my head,
wanting to turn it all way,
wanting to run away, wanting to cry.
I ran a few steps in vain,
then slowed down to reality,
my eyes barely dry.

That man could be dead tonight, I thought;
It would be a public execution.

By Catharine Otto


Don't cry for me, Mom, 'cause I don't have a grave
It's the ones you should mourn are the ones you kin save
Never thought I was lost till the day I was found
In a pattern that spread 'cross an acre of ground.

Don't hate for me, Mom, they don't know what they do
It's enough for a lie that it brightens the truth
An' the cause that you died's not so special as what
When you gave 'em your life you believed that it was.

So I send you my love and I send you my tag
And a handful of teeth, some remains in a bag
An' I wish there was more of me left I could give
But the Man took it all with a grin.

I was raised to believe that my country was best
We're the hammer of God -- and the nails are the rest
I was taught to obey an' I learned how to kill
If deceased to the truth then alive to the thrill

Of expendable blood running hot through my veins
Never thought that the Man never heard o' my name
But I channeled my wrath: I was sanctioned to kill
E'ry sandniggered raghead with jelly to spill.

So I send you my love and I send you my tag
And a handful of teeth, some remains in a bag
An' I wish there was more of me left I could give
But the Man took it all with a grin.

By Christian J. Weaver
ONLY, TN 37140


Apples and spinach

The foul odor of scarred flesh.
The reeking decomposition.Bodies once animated, once so alive, 
now strewn across the moist ground.The surgical strike.
The pin-point accuracy.
The smartest weapons, 
to decimate the bad guys.
Black and brown people, 
More often than not, 
Pummeled to a pulp, 
Black and blue.
While LCD screens miles away, 
Surveil and scan for potential targets, the unknown other.
The evil doers, as mothers and daughters, 
Pick out apples and spinach
in a market-place in the cross-hairs.

By Azfal Moola, South Africa


Night clouds over Mobil Oil

Refinery flares
showcase hidden, lurid wars,
Iraq's funeral.


Post-Valentine, veteran daisy

Plucked from a dumpster,
it now decorates the flap
of an empty sleeve.

Two by Wm. Meyer


Kite flying

The children fly kites
the blue sky’s almost turned gray.
They run to the wind.
They fall in the poppy fields,
tumbling, they slip into dreams.
Parents are talking
in the garden, mother plants,
father talks of war.
Overhead, an airplane flies
breaking the conversation.
The next day’s rubble.
Elsewhere, there’s talk of revenge,
Glenn Beck on Fox News.
The wind has all but died down,
taking the last kite away.

By Zoe Broome



inserted in vietnamese vagina
March 16
pulled the trigger

rape and torture and murder
shit and intestines and blood
splattered over
the american dream
and you wanted to know
we were against the war

Lieutenant Calley
My Lai
life at hard labor?
commuted to ten years?
NO !

three years house arrest?


and his commander, Captain Medina,
didn't even serve one day
for what happened
at My Lai
March 16

american gee eye killers
american gee eye dream
M-16 on March 16

maybe we should ask
Himmler or Goering
about following orders
or, better yet,
Colin Powell and LBJ
about how an M-16
inserted into a woman's vagina
blew away the facade of the dream
along with her guts and eyes and ass

see american gee eyes
see german es es
"only doing their job"
and laying to rest
the american dream
of being the world's savior

a false requiem
for a false dream

By R-7


The Voice of America

We do not fumble when we rape.
There are no embarrassed moments.
Buttons flee before us. Clothes
Are to us like the huts of natives

That we bomb. The village dies.
We do not fumble. When we rape
There are no cops to stop us.
We are the cops. The body’s mouth

That we are raping screams. And is
Not heard. We throw her back.
The others hold. Her clothes come off
Like village roofs beneath the bombs.

We are inside her. It is pleasure
To see her squirm. Her mouth is stuffed.
Just then we have a thought: perhaps
She has a brother! who will be

Vengeful, mighty: who is near.
But we forget. Our cock is in her
And we are coming, like a blast.
We do not fumble when we rape.

By Tim Hall, 1966


Homage to Vo Thi Mo

The wilderness surrounds the jar
where mama lives.
No alternative.
The wanderer

Trips through the holler
hungry and give.
Her daddy died of black lung
in the hole, black lung
in the hole way down below.

My daddy always said
he'd leave a union
when he goes.
Only he left me
swimming inside her womb.

Next thing you know
I'm on my way to Vietnam

where I have a sister
in the tunnels of Cu Chi.
She is Viet Cong.
By god she's angry.

After all her country
the U.S. has destroyed
she has killed her share
of American boys.

Once upon a mission
a search and destroy
me Juan and Fred
a brother from Detroit
decide we'll search
and avoid.

We find a safe area
lay our weapons down
light up a joint

pass letters round
and photos of our dead.

Vo Thi Mo
peers from her spider hole.
We're sitting ducks
in her rifle sight.

Vo Thi Mo
takes aim from her lair
she just can't fire
through all our tears...

She was tried for treason
and for treason she was tried
and for some odd reason
Charley let her slide.

We fought against fellow workers
we fought for them that worry
justice is an accident
waiting to happen.

Last night I dreamed of water
traps in tunnels
and fighting for air.
Thought I was still there.

By Randall Spinks


On the day rushing to the metro already a little late on my way to ballet I nearly skid on acorns, catch myself

I think of Malala, maybe rushing, never
wanting to think her name means "grief
stricken," as I've written a poem about
becoming what you're called. Maybe
she was humming a song she heard once
on TV before the Taliban banned it or
was watching leaves drift from the bus
or giggling with girl friends. Maybe
she was thinking of being a doctor
and coming back to treat young children
in her region, her swat. Or maybe she
was hoping to see a certain boy with
licorice eyes and a smile who always
made her giggle. No longer able to wear
school uniforms, told to wear plain
clothes, Malala wrote in her blog,
Instead, I decided to wear my favorite
pink dress. Maybe the last beautiful
thing she saw as the bullet entered her
mahogany curls until later she woke
up in the hospital's cone of light.

By (name unavailable)

(Malala Yousafzai, a young teenager from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkwa province. A socialist, she is known for her education and women's rights' activism where the Taliban had banned birds from attending school. On October 9, 2012 she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus. She recovered in a hospital in Birmingham England and has returned to Pakistan.)


County Road 232

The first day of my summer job. The job entailed cleaning ditches, cutting brush, picking up trash, and general labor for the County Road Department.

I reported to the supervisor at the County Shops. He introduced me to the rest of the crew then assigned the day's work to be performed in various parts of the county.

The table in the assignment room was loaded with pop bottles, beer bottles, and returnable milk bottles.

"You'll be riding with me today," the supervisor said. "Show you the roads you'll be working on this summer. Grab those bottles and put 'em in the cab of my pickup."

We drove to the northern end of the county. Here the dirt roads were nothing more than cart trails.

"It's all politics," the supervisor said. "Not many people live out here. That's why the roads are in this condition. Not enough votes. It's not right but that's the way it is."

We came to a small country store and turned.

"Officially," he said, "this is County Road 232. Unofficially, it's Annie's Road. It's about a mile long and ends at her place."

As we slowly traveled the rutted and pothole-laden road, the supervisor said to throw out the bottles.

"What?" I said.

"Throw 'em out. One at a time. I'll explain later."

I pitched the bottles until we reached Annie's, a small run-down aluminum trailer accented by overturned cars, strewn scrap metal, and used up tires. There was a hodge-podge of yellowed rotting newspapers, old splintered lumber, broken bricks, and twisted pipes randomly dumped and forgotten. Three sad-looking mongrel dogs stared at us.

An ongoing battle is being waged here. A campaign between the rubbish and the indigenous plants. The flora is winning. Long vines of wild cucumber climb through tires and snake over cars. Up one side of the trailer, morning glories thrive. Their purple flowers look down on the melee much as generals observe their wars while others do the actual fighting. Quack grass, thistles, cockle burrs, and black-eyed susans; privates, sergeants, lieutenants,
and captains. A maze of trails threads its way through the unchecked growth and rubbish. One leads to a door-less outhouse. Another, to a covered well with a hand pump. A third meanders its way to a meticulously kept garden. The Great War does not come here. Jungle growth and jumbled refuse are not tolerated.

"Good," said the supervisor. "She's not up yet. Likes to work her garden in the early morning, take a nap, then head for the store to catch the noon-time news."

On the ride back to the store, I threw out the remaining bottles. We turned, drove about half a mile, turned again, crossed a creek, and came to a very well-maintained paved road, lined with expensive homes.

"Let's stop for coffee," the supervisor said.

We parked and poured coffee from our thermoses.

"This house we're parked in front of belongs to the county Commissioner," the supervisor said. "That one across the road, to Judge Martin. They say he's going to run for Senate next year."

Over coffee, he pointed out other homes. Lawyers, doctors, prominent businessmen. The financial hierarchy of the county.

"They're all trying to get their hands on Annie's place. She doesn't want to sell. Eventually they'll get it. They'll see to it that the county road gets rebuilt
and punched through, opening land they own behind Annie's. They've tried everything. Say she's incompetent to live alone. Told her, if she'd sell, they'd get her a nice place in town. Yah. The old folks' home. Annie doesn't get any kind of pension. No food stamps. No welfare. Says she's always done for herself and doesn't want government handouts. Says there's always 'strings attached' with government programs."

"How old is she?" I asked.

"Don't know. Maybe late seventies. She almost lost her place eight, ten years ago. Back taxes. Hell, her taxes ain't but twelve bucks a year. Unimproved land they call it. She used to let building contractors dump their waste. Brought in a few dollars for her. Then the county caught wind and put a stop to it. That's when me and the boys came up with an idea. Annie's always scouring the
road for bottles she can sell at the little store. Not much traffic out here, so we bring returnable bottles from home and salt the edge of the road. She complains to the store owner about people littering her road and how she'd like to get her hands on 'em. Annie doesn't know we're the litterers. We try to lay out ten, fifteen bucks worth of bottles a week."

The second Monday of August, Annie didn't gather bottles. The funeral was attended by the maintenance workers and the owner of the country store. Annie was laid to rest at the county cemetery, her dogs taken to the pound. And yes, the county confiscated Annie's place for reimbursement of services. There are always strings attached.

Two weeks later, County Road 232 was pushed through.

By Richard J. Bowne


The deer and the cross

Daddy and Mr. Kracker tied a deer to a stick. They tied her front legs to one end of the stick and her back legs to the other end. Her head's hanging down. Her tongue's hanging out of her mouth. It's red.

I think she's dead. But her eyes are looking at me like she's trying to tell me something. I'm scared. I'm four years old. Blood is running down her side.
It's dripping on the ground. Making a puddle. Now the blood's moving on the ground. But I can't move.

Daddy's smiling and saying to Mommy the deer is from the Everglades.


Mommy and I are at Mrs. Jane's house. She's my teacher at St. Rose School. That's in South Miami.

Mommy asked Father O'Brien if he would let me and my sister, Barbie, go to St. Rose School even though we don't have much money. Father O'Brien is
very nice.

I don't know why we're at Mrs. Jane's house, but I'm glad we're here because I love Mrs. Jane. She's pretty. Jane isn't her real last name. She doesn't use her real last name 'cause, Mommy says, first graders wouldn't be able to say it.

I'm sitting next to Mrs. Jane on a soft beige couch. Mrs. Jane has long red fingernails. She's running her fingernails along the back of my neck while she's talking to Mommy. I'm not used to being touched like this. Mommy and Daddy don't touch me.

Mrs. Jane's fingernails give me the shivers. Good kind of shivers. I hope she doesn't stop. She's telling Mommy about the test I took. I remember that. It
was fun. She said the test showed I was a genius. I'm not listening any more to what they're saying. I'm feeling Mrs. Jane's fingernails running along the back of my neck.

On the way home I ask Mommy what Mrs. Jane said about me and the test. She says, "Mrs. Jane said me and your Daddy shouldn't give you any special
treatment. "

I say to her, "Am I a genius, Mommy?"

Mommy says, "Mrs. Jane said that'll go away with time."


It's the end of the school year. I got First Honors. That means I had the highest grades in the class. I'm at Mass with Mrs. Jane and my classmates. Father O'Brien is calling my name. I'm going up by myself to the altar. I'm smiling. I feel very proud. Mommy starched my blue uniform so it doesn't have any wrinkles. Father O'Brien's giving me a statue. It's a little deer with a blue ribbon around her neck. I love it.

I'm home now. I'm still smiling. I'm sitting at the dinner table with Mommy and Daddy and my sister, Barbie. Mommy is saying to Daddy, "Jessica
got First Honors in her class." Daddy isn't saying anything. He's stabbing his pork chop with his fork.

I feel very close to my deer. I'm going to put her on the nightstand next to my bed so I can see her as soon as I wake up in the morning.


Mommy asked me to chop nuts. She's making Thanksgiving dinner. I've never chopped nuts before. I'm not sure how to do it. I'm sitting at the kitchen table. Mommy's putting a brown cutting board in front of me with pieces of walnuts on it. She's handing me a big knife. Now she's going back to the stove. Daddy's sitting across from me. He says to Mommy, "You know what she's going to do, don't you?"

Mommy's not saying anything. She looks at me and then wipes her hands on the black and white apron she's wearing over her gray dress. Then she goes back to spreading butter over the turkey.

I'm suppose to chop the nuts. I know what chop means. It means hitting something. I'm holding the big knife over the nuts and I'm chopping them. Some of the nuts are flying off the wooden board and onto the floor. Daddy's saying to Mommy, "I knew it." Mommy's walking over to me and taking the knife out of my hand. I say to her, "You said I should chop them." Mommy says, "That's not the way to do it." I feel ashamed.

"You're a dummkopf," Daddy says to me.

I'm going to my room. I don't know what I did wrong.

My daddy looks like a movie star. His hair and eyes are as black as the snake he caught in the backyard. His skin is brown from being outside, chopping
trees and wearing just blue dungarees. He has big muscles on his arms from swinging his ax.

My Mommy's pretty but she doesn't smile very much. Mommy has eyes and curly hair the color of the bark on the pine trees in our yard.

We're eating dinner now. Mommy's trying to get Daddy to talk about his job. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't like tarring roofs.

Now Mommy's asking me how I like my second grade teacher, Sister Marie Joseph. I say, I love her. She's nice to me. I think she likes me. My big
sister makes a snorting noise.

I'm reaching across the table for a piece of chicken. Oops. I knocked over my glass of milk. I didn't mean to. The milk is running across the table and
soaking Daddy's napkin. Daddy's standing up. He's yelling, "Dummkopf!"

He's hitting my head! I'm falling on the floor! He's hitting me again! Stop! Please! He's yelling, "Dummkopf!" He's grabbing my hair. He's pounding my head on the floor! Stop! Please! I'm peeing in my pants! I can't stop it!

Daddy's yelling, "That'll learn you! Now get in your chair and wipe up that milk." He's yelling at my sister, "Wipe up that pee!"

My pants are wet and my head's hurting. But I have to do what he says.


Mommy said since I got First Honors in second grade Mary Ann can spend the night with me tonight.

Mary Ann and I are looking at the statue Sister Marie Joseph gave me because I had the highest grades in my class. The statue is called the Infant of
Prague. That's Jesus when he was a little boy. He has a red cape around him and a gold crown on his head. This is a more grown-up statue than the little deer.

Now Mary Ann and I are sitting at the dinner table with my family. Nobody's saying anything. Nobody's saying anything to Mary Ann. I feel afraid.
I don't want Mary Ann to say anything. I'm afraid Daddy might hit her. He hits me all the time. Sometimes I don't know what I did wrong.

Dinner's over and we're going to the Florida room to watch Walt Disney. I'm taking Mary Ann by the hand to get her to sit next to me on the rattan couch to keep her away from Daddy. Walt Disney is starting but I keep glancing over at Daddy to see what kind of mood he's in.

Walt Disney's finally over. I can't even remember what the show was
about. Mary Ann and I are taking baths and putting on our pajamas. Mary Ann
doesn't look very happy. I don't think she had much fun with me. I feel sad. I
didn't talk much. Mary Ann'll probably be glad when she gets to go home.

I'm lying on my back on the couch in the Florida room. Mommy made up beds for us on the two couches here. I'm looking out the jalousied window at the sky. I can see one bright star. It's a beautiful star. It makes me feel better. I'm looking at the star and making a wish. Someday, someday.... I don't know
what I'm wishing for.

I like caterpillars. I like the way they feel when they crawl up my arm. They tickle. I have one that has yellow, black and white rings on her.

I'm putting her in a glass jar the way Mommy told me to. I'm putting special green leaves in the jar for her to eat. I know the kind of leaves she likes
because I watched her eating in the back yard.

A caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself -- all wrapped up like it's in a blanket. And then it sleeps for a while. But Mommy says it's changing. And then it pops out of it's cocoon. But it has wings 'cause it changed into a butterfly. I think of it like Cinderella coming out of her coach -- so pretty, all dressed up.

I'm going into the utility room now to see if I have a butterfly. I'm picking up the glass jar. I do! She's beautiful! Orange wings with a black border with white polka dots. I'm going out the back door into the back yard.

I'm looking at my butterfly. She's trying to fly. But she's trapped in the jar. I want my Cinderella to be free -- and fly – fly away as far as she wants to fly.
I'm unscrewing the lid on the jar and taking it off. Cinderella is crawling to the top of the jar. She's holding on to the edge. She's looking at me. Now she's letting go. She's flying. She's in front of me flapping her orange and black wings. Now she's flying away, up to the branches of the pine tree. Goodbye, my Cinderella. I wish I was flying away with you.


Mommy says now that I'm nine years old I have to help clean the house and do the chores. It's Saturday, and I'm folding clothes in the Florida room.

I had to scrub the kitchen floor this morning after Mommy left to do her waitress job. Our kitchen floor has green and white squares of linoleum on it. I
had to scrub it on my knees with a wet cloth, one square at a time and dry it afterwards. It took a long time. My knees are red.

Now I'm folding our clothes. I don't want to fold my sister's clothes. I'm mad at her. She called me beany, like in bean-pole, because I'm skinny. She's
standing by the French doors. I say to her, "I'm not going to fold your clothes." She says, "Yes you are, beany."

I hear Daddy coming. He has loud footsteps. He's pushing my sister out of the doorway.

He's saying, "You're not gonna fold 'em, huh?" He's coming at me. His black eyes look crazy. He's clenching his teeth. He's grabbing my hair. It hurts!
He's pulling me out of the room by my hair. He's dragging me down the hallway and into my bedroom. He's throwing me onto the bed. He's telling me to lie down on the bed. I have to do what he says. He's pulling down my shorts and panties. NO! He's taking off his belt and putting it into a loop. NO! He's
whipping me! Stop! Please! Help me! Please! He keeps whipping me! I'm peeing in my pants! I can't stop it! I'm crying.

Daddy stopped. It feels like fire's shooting through my body. Daddy's yelling, "That'll learn you! Now get out there and fold those damn clothes!"


I finished folding the clothes, and I'm going out into the woods behind the house. I can't sit down. I have red marks across my bottom. It hurts to sit.
I'm lying on my side next to a bean tree. I like being in the woods. I don't hear yelling and screaming. I only hear the mockingbird singing and the whistling sound the wind makes when it blows through the pine needles. The pine trees are my friends. And I like looking at the blue jays. I want to live out here in the woods.

I don't want to go back to that house. I hate that brown house. I want to run away. But I don't know where to run to.

I'm getting hungry. I'm looking at the back door. I don't want to go through that door again. The sun's starting to go down. They might start looking for me. Or maybe they won't. Maybe they don't care. But I'm hungry. I don't know where else to go. I'm getting up now. I'm brushing the brown pine needles and leaves off my clothes. I'm walking back to that house real slow.


I'm blinking my eyes a lot. I can't stop blinking. Mommy hates it. She says she's going to make me stop. Every time I blink my eyes she slaps my face
hard, so hard she knocks my glasses off.

I don't know why, but I'm pulling out my hair. I pull out a hunk and watch as the wind blows it away. I haven't told anyone about it but you. Mommy took me to Dr. Allen. He says I have ringworm because of the bald spot on my head. But you and I know the truth. I pulled out my hair. Somehow it makes me feel better. When I watch it flying away in the wind it reminds me of my Cinderella butterfly flying away.

I'm standing on the sidewalk next to the parking lot at school. Class is over. I'm waiting for Mommy to pick me up. She told me this morning she's
going to be late. My sister's talking to her friends.

I don't care about school any more. I was standing in line with my classmates before school this morning, and Maureen asked me a question about
geography. I said, "I don't know." I heard her say to the girl behind her, "Didn't she use to be smart?"

I'm in the fifth grade now, and I've learned about the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Stations of the Cross.

I'm going into church now. It's right next to the parking lot. There's no one in the church but me. It's quiet. I smell incense and candles burning. It smells good. I love the church. It's so peaceful here.

I'm walking over to the Stations of the Cross. The pictures of Jesus are along the wall. I love Jesus. I think I know how he felt -- at least a little. I cry
because of what Jesus went through. I feel very close to him.

One of the Sorrowful Mysteries is the scourging at the pillar. When Daddy whips me over and over on my bare skin I scream in pain!

I'm at the first Station of the Cross. It's "Jesus is condemned to death." Daddy keeps telling me he wants to kill me. For little things, like trying to change the channel on the television.

The second Station is "Jesus bears his cross." I feel a heavy weight pressing down on me. I have to carry it. I have to go on.

The third Station of the Cross is "Jesus falls the first time." When Daddy beats me I fall to the floor.

The fourth Station is "Jesus meets his mother." One time when Daddy was whipping me, Mommy grabbed Daddy's arm. He shoved her across the room. After that she just watched. I go to my room afterwards to cry, but Mommy never comes into my room to make me feel better. I don't know if that's because she's afraid of Daddy, or because she doesn't love me.

The fifth Station of the Cross is "Jesus is helped by Simon." I have friends sometimes, like Janet. She asked me to go swimming in her pool. It makes me forget about Daddy for a while. But I think I drive my friends away because I seem so sad.

The sixth Station is "Veronica wiping blood from the face of Jesus." When Daddy whips me and I go to my room to cry no one comes into my room to make me feel better. I have to wipe my own tears.

The seventh Station of the Cross is "Jesus falls a second time." One time I thought Daddy was finished beating me, and I tried to get up to run away, but
when he saw me move he hit my head and my shoulders, and I fell back down.

The eighth Station of the Cross is "Jesus speaks to the women." My sister and I talk about Daddy. We call him the Gorilla. Sometimes we pretend the
Gorilla is on the other side of the bedroom door. And we lean against the door while the Gorilla is beating on the door, trying to get at us. We feel very happy because together we're strong enough to keep the door closed.

The ninth Station of the Cross is "Jesus falls a third time." After Daddy beat me back down to the floor I tried to get up, but I couldn't, I hurt too much,
and I fell back down.

The tenth Station of the Cross is "Jesus is stripped of his garments." Daddy pulls down my panties to whip me.

The eleventh Station is "Jesus is nailed to the cross." When I'm around Daddy I feel very stiff. I feel like I'm tied up with invisible rope.

The twelfth Station of the Cross is "Jesus dies on the cross." Daddy hurts me. I can't get away. I don't talk to anyone but you. I feel dead inside. I'm in the sixth grade now. I'm standing in the kitchen. I'm holding onto the back of a kitchen chair. I'm saying to Mommy, "I don't think I can go on."
She looks at me, but she doesn't say anything. She keeps turning the chicken over in the frying pan. I wait a while to see if she's going to say anything, and then I go back to my bedroom.


It's after school. I'm walking with Jill to her house. She's my best friend in seventh grade. We've been best friends for about a year. She's talking about
her father. They seem to have fun together. This shocks me. I never thought about girls liking their fathers. I never thought about girls doing fun things with
their fathers. She's saying to me, "Why don't you ever talk about your dad?"

I don't know what to say to her. I don't know how to explain why I never talk about him. What am I going to say? About how he beats me? And terrifies me? I'm thinking, if only Jill knew that right now, underneath my skirt, there are red welts on my thigh from Daddy whipping me last night. I'm too ashamed to tell her about it.

Last night my sister and I were arguing about whose turn it was to wash the dishes. I said it was her turn. I was afraid I wasn't going to have enough time
to study for a test.

Mommy was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a scotch with her legs propped up on a chair, reading The Carpetbaggers.

Daddy heard my sister and I, and he came after me with his belt. I didn't let myself cry this time. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction. After it was over he yelled, "Just wash the fuckin' dishes!"

I say to Jill, because I don't know what else to say, "My father's not Catholic. He doesn't have much to do with me and my sister."


I just put my contact lenses in. I don't wear glasses any more. Mommy's trying to help me look pretty now that I'm a freshman in high school. She had my ears pierced, so now I wear gold button earrings all the time.

I'm going to the Florida room to watch TV with my sister. Daddy's standing in the kitchen, blocking my way. I'm trying to walk past him, but he's
grabbing my arm. He's pulling me to his chest and holding me tight. I'm not used to him hugging me. This is strange.

Now he's kissing me on my lips. I don't know what's happening. I'm afraid to move. His lips feel like they're moving. Or maybe it's his tongue. I'm
keeping my lips shut.

He's gripping me harder now with one arm. He's trying to get his hand into my shorts. I'm trying to pull away, but he's holding me tight. He's sliding his hand down my underpants. He's pressing his mouth on mine, and I can't say anything. My sister is right around the corner.

I'm trying to push him away, but it's like being in a vise. He's forcing his fingers between my legs. I'm jerking my head to get away from his mouth. I'm
pushing my hands against his chest. He's laughing. He's trying to stick his finger into my private parts. I'm trying to push him away.

Now he's letting me go. He's laughing. He's saying in a sing-song kind of voice, "I touched it."

I hate him.


My classmates call me Noisy because I'm so quiet. It's like a guy being called Tiny because he's so big.

I'm at a cheerleading try-out at our brother-school -- St. Joseph High School. I'm wearing a sleeveless top, shorts and white sneakers.

Mary Ann says it doesn't matter that I'm quiet because I'm pretty, and she says it doesn't matter that we're only sophomores. She says just follow the
movements of the cheerleading instructor.

The instructor is showing us the steps. I feel a little stiff and nervous, but I'm following the pattern. People are watching, but I'm concentrating. It's a
challenge. I like challenges.

Now we're doing another routine. "Push 'em back, push 'em back, waaaay back!" I'm moving my arms around, making pushing movements. I'm
doing it. "Beat Beach High! Beat Beach High!" This is easy. I'm smiling. I think I'm doing it good.

The instructor stopped. It's over. Now she's calling out names. She's calling Jan and Mary Ann and -- Jessica. Yay! That's me! I'm jumping up and
down like a kid. And people are clapping. They want me! They think I'm good. I'm going to be a cheerleader! Mary Ann's patting me on my back. I hope my parents will be proud of me.


It's ten o'clock on Saturday morning, and I'm still lying in bed in my white nightgown. I'm exhausted. Last night the cheerleaders went by bus to Key West to cheer the football team. We didn't get back until really late. I don't want to get out of bed.

The house is quiet. Mother must be at work by now. I can hear the bedroom door creaking like someone's opening it. I'm lifting my head to see
who's there. Daddy's standing in the doorway. He's just standing there and staring at me with a weird grin on his face.

Now he's coming into my room. He's coming towards the bed. I'm rolling on to my stomach. He's giggling. He's jumping on top of me! He's
pinning me down! I can't move! I can feel his breath on my cheek. It's hot. He's panting. Now he's forcing his hands inside the top of my nightgown. I'm
grabbing his hairy arms and trying to push them away from me. But he's strong. His muscles feel like rope.

He's sliding his hands underneath my breasts. I'm grabbing his hands and trying to tear them off. His hands are like suction cups. He's laughing and
digging his nails into my breasts.

I'm yelling, "Stop it! Stop it!" I'm so angry I feel strong. I'm raising my body up to roll him off me. He's letting go of my breasts and laughing. He's
getting off me, off the bed and walking out of the room, giggling. I'm rolling onto my back. My nightgown is wet and smells like his sweat. I'm exhausted. My breasts are stinging. I'm raising my head. I'm lifting up the front of my nightgown and looking at what he did to me. I see gashes around my breasts from his shovel-shaped fingernails. Blood is oozing out of the slits. Dear God, help me. I'm letting my head fall back onto the pillow. I feel blood trickling down my side. I'm staring at the ceiling. I see a deer. She's hanging upside down. Her feet are tied to a long stick. Blood is running down her side.

Someday.... someday . . . . . I'm going to get away from him.

By Rosalyn



When the emperor was shuttled out to speak

When the water rushed over Japan
A river of white vehicles pushing
Their way through orange-roofed homes
Which themselves were spinning in dance
With trees and electrical towers and
People, although one could not see them
As they could not see what took them, either
When the power plants began to tremble
And explosions lit the reacting skies
Which swallowed the gray smoke, belching
Watching from above nature's love
of meltdown, of colliding plates, receding
ice, mercury and aluminum from coal clouds
When the Emperor was shuttled out to speak
The radiation was witnessing itself leaving
with clean air on gentle breezes

By Michael S. Morris



Limp limbs

Goose bumps encased my body, as shingles enclose a frozen house during the blistering winter. Blinking back petrified tears as I look down upon my fate. Each stair looks like a pointed boulder. I am frozen, a corpse I could become. This life is no longer mine; he holds the mercy of my existence in his fists. I hear noise; a sentence hangs in the hollows, as my body hangs from the banister.

"Do you want me to drop you? Huh? Do you?" The voice is angry, almost murderous.

Scribbles of crimson red cultivate both of our arms and legs. Mine are from the mistakes I have committed; his are from the fight to live, that I had lost in the past minute. The knot in my abdomen was churning, as I imagined landing at the foot of the staircase.

"No ... please ... stop!" I felt myself scream, although it breathed out as a murmur.

As I lay lifeless in his arms, just waiting for the plummet, I replayed the rising events. How did things go so wrong, on a first date?

I had only arrived at his house an hour earlier, my father dropping me off at that white picket house. I walked toward the door, giving myself a pep talk.

"All right Caiti, don't mess this up. This is your first date and first time being with a boy that is not friends with your brothers. Don't ruin this for yourself. Everyone will like you so much better if you just kiss someone. Your first kiss Caiti, just suck it up." I couldn't bear to be the only girl that hadn't been kissed. I mean everyone was doing it, right?

"She's here, Duell." Stepping up to the front door, a woman began to bellow inside. The voice was sweet and soft, but yet I heard it through the shut windows.

My fingers reached out to strike the flap. The door swung up before the tips could finish a knock. Duell stood there, in his Hilton football t-shirt and black gym shorts. He motioned me inside, as his mother walked past me to her car. I take in now the fact that I should have requested her to hang about.

The clasp of his fingers pinched my ribs as I let out a screeched, pulling me back to reality, before I drifted back out.

Duell led me to the television room, as we began to watch his football highlight tapes. We remained on the couch perpendicular to the flat screen, which was presenting a field goal being kicked. We continued to sit and watch the games he had played against the Athena Trojans and the Arcadia Spartans. While watching him be a football star, he made us a snack of peanut butter and Oreos. The thought had not crossed my mind, that I was alone in a strange home with a boy.

"Would you like to see my trophies?" he questioned me, shifting toward the stairs.

I nodded my head in agreement, as he took my hand and led me to the trophy room. My eyes fixated on his masculine knuckles that were now laced with my delicate fingers. The foolishness that I personified was outrageous. How could I have let this happen?

"This one is from junior year, when I won Most Valuable Player, in the game against Livonia," Duell stated. He was doing an adequate job of impressing me.

Before I realized there were only a few trophies, he had pulled me toward him and he began to kiss me. I tried to go along with him, despite the shock as things grew out of hand. I finally had had enough, thrusting him backwards with all of my strength. He stumbled and hit the wall, the battle had begun.

Duell came flailing toward me, with his arms and hands grappling. As he dodged for my arms, I zigzagged for the exit. Heading toward the steps was when I grew weaker. He caught up to me and thrashed me forward. I smacked into the ground as a moan of pain escaped my body.

"Awwwooohhhhh," echoed the house.

I had bruised a rib but I needed to survive. I rolled over, scratching his calves as he flung me over his shoulder, my nails scarring his arms along the way.

"Do you want me to throw you or will you do as I say?" He had given me a decision to make, one that would either result in life or death. Could I conjure up enough will-power to fight?

As I flashed from beginning to end, I realized I had landed. I opened my eyes to find myself in the front seat of my father's car. How had I made it out alive?

"Daddy, where are we going?" I whispered toward the driver seat.

"We are going to the hospital," my father said with tears in his eyes.

As I saw a drop trickle from his eyes, I looked in the mirror. The image was horrifying. My hair was disheveled and my eyes were blood-shot. Four nails had been broken off and much of my torso was exposed to wounds.

By Caitlin Stenglein



Driving south

I am driving alone from Washington to Atlanta in my '95 Ford Hatchback Aspire to visit my family and old college chums whom I haven't seen for a while.

Darkness is coming up fast. The radio announces that a heavy fog will descend soon, something I don't want to drive in. I've read about those fifty-car pile-ups in California, drivers like lemmings unable to stop their forward motion until they slam into each other. I warn myself I'm not going to get into that kind of smash-up. Sometimes madness takes over, though unpredictable. Errors in judgment occur even if we are trying to avoid them.

Shall I call it a night and stop at a motel? A luxurious evening in a Holiday Inn Express, an evening of cable and a sausage-and-egg breakfast with unlimited coffee sounds to me like a welcome diversion. Maybe the fog will dissipate, or perhaps it is just covering the low-lying areas in North Carolina and I'll drive out of it before long.

My eyes are riveted on the bowl of light framed by my headlights. There are no lights anywhere that I can see. Stretches of desolation are frequent through these southern states. Now there is just the glow of my headlights and the stretching darkness beyond. It has been some time since I have seen another car. One did zoom out of the darkness and then blackness developed again. I'm encased in my hatchback, isolated from the rest of the world. I reach for my thermos, slow down to pour a cup of coffee and set it in the cup-holder, more to eliminate boredom than to have a stimulant. I do feel secure even though alone.

A car pulls up behind me, illuminating my car and me in the driver's seat. I glance in my rearview mirror. The driver seems content to stay behind me, maybe a guide for them in the darkness. The sky is blue-black, no stars trying to penetrate the fog. The car behind me is proceeding at my speed, neither slowing nor increasing. We travel alone together. Then it makes a move to pass. I glance over as the driver draws abreast. It's a man with a hat on driving alone. He doesn't seem to be in a hurry to pass. He drives even with me and gets away with it as no other traffic is coming from the opposite direction. Then he speeds up and passes and moves into the right lane in front of me, then slows a bit.

I won't accommodate his lessening speed, I don't want to drive this slow, so I decide to pass him. I relax and proceed at my old speed. I glance in the rearview mirror. He is riding my tailpipe. What is he about? I ask silently.

We are alone together in the darkness, illuminated only by our headlights. There should always be three car lengths between cars moving in the same direction. His hat stands out in my lights. The brim is wide, an unusual headgear for summer. There are freaks of all dimensions everywhere. I try to avoid them whenever possible. I slow down so he can pass, if he wishes, and glance in my rearview mirror. He has slowed down, staying the same distance from me. I slow even more. He decides to pass and comes around. There he is in front of me, and resuming enough speed to stay ahead. Why do I now, in this darkness, have to contend with a nutty driver?

A flash of insight strikes my mind. Fear flashes through my brain. Has he a plan that I'm just catching onto? After all, if I can see him silhouetted, he can see me. He is alone. I am alone in the darkness. Without thinking of any motivation, I check the locks on my car. He is staying with me no matter what. How many times has he passed? I decide to pass him, and zoom, I pass and move ahead, out of sight. He stays at my tailpipe. The soupy fog has embraced my car; nothing is out there but him and me. What if he bangs into my car? What if he pulls in front of me and comes to a dead stop? Do I have a weapon? Does he? Just moments ago I had no worries. Now I feel vulnerable and alone in this vast soup.

A car suddenly appears coming from the opposite direction. Maybe the driver behind me isn't thinking what I'm thinking, but then why is he playing games? His attention is directed toward me. I know it in my bones. Can I outrun him until something appears -- a gas station, anything, a house?

I push the pedal to the metal and tear up the road. He is right behind me. Do I have anything to defend myself with? I usually carry an outsize wrench but I don't think I put it in the car this time. What a thing to forget! Strength turns any battle if you don't have a weapon, and a weapon almost always guarantees victory.

This is not a road in the desert. It is a well-traveled road in North Carolina. Surely, something is bound to appear soon. Perhaps it has already but hasn't been visible to me in this soup. I warn myself against undue apprehension and imagination that can sway action when none is justified. But can his behavior be judged in any other way? Women sometimes think they are going to be raped when, in fact, that act is farthest from the suspected mind. I feel more vulnerable when he is in front of me than when he is in back, like he is in the driver's seat and controlling events that will require me to react quickly and suddenly.

Is he a killer? Is he a serial killer of women? There's no doubt that his interest is directed toward the occupant of this car. I have this intense desire to blast my horn at him, and no sooner has this idea come to me than I do just that. I lean on my horn and receive in reply a horn blast in a plaintive note from a car coming from the opposite direction. The man wearing the hat remains stoic.

I think I see a light in the distance. Maybe a house. I don't dare get off the main road into something secondary with this man as my companion. I can see myself stuck on a dirt road locked in my car. He could easily break a window and have at me. How did I get myself into this mess? It's not my fault. I was a happy warrior before this creep appeared. Well, I have to outwit him, but the question is, how can I hope to get out of this soup by driving on? What will happen? I watch his actions carefully. He doesn't seem to be doing anything but driving. Am I the one who is nuts? I could see myself on the witness stand being asked questions like, What action did he take that made you suspicious? Well, what action was it? Flummoxed by my own inquisition. A defense counsel could chop me into little pieces. How can he think this if nothing has happened? But what if it does?

It's the soup; it's making me crazy. The man with the hat is driving alone just like I am. Probably I am the last thing on his mind. The trouble with women is that they always think they're victims of men. There's nothing that makes you think like a victim more than being a victim.

My mind goes into defense mode -- aggressive defense at that. He is still sitting on my tail. Suddenly lights appear in the distance -- a lit area! Relief sweeps through me. Will I get out of this apprehension and travel in peace?

Then the highway lights up, a gasoline station appears on my side of the road. I finally find the turn-off, despite the fog, and move with squealing brakes into the station. Men are working in a garage opening, several bending over and under an automobile. I park my car and leap out, hurrying over to them. That's when I notice that my tormentor has pulled in and is parking away from the light.

"Help me!" I yell. "Someone is trying to get to me."

A man under a car is doing some kind of work. I repeat my call for help in an anxious tone. No one moves or pays attention to what I say, so I say it again. Then I note that my tormentor has gotten back into his car and is driving back onto the highway. He disappears into the darkness. There I stand; still; no one even looks up. Do I speak a foreign language? Why do none of the men pay heed? I expect chivalry, but none is forthcoming. There I stand in front of working men, alone in my outcry.

My tormentor is gone. What should I do? I walk back to my car, get in and drive back onto the highway and into the foggy darkness. I lock my doors, increase my speed and head for Atlanta.

By Darlene Yarborough



A waitress and a waitress

Two jobs. Two kids.
One mobile home. One ex-husband.
No health insurance. No child support.
No time to help with home work.
No friend to stop by and check.
No money for shoes.
No energy for healthy food.
No happy surprises.
No skate board.
No brand-name clothes.
"No." She said to the grab-ass customer,
"It's not on the menu."

By E.P Schultz



They had no ox

It was certainly no surprise to Aranya when she saw the man in the ornate oxcart as he came over the horizon. He looked soft and pudgy even from this distance, and he wore clothes that must have come from the city, complete with the funny, formal-looking hat.

And it may have been the same man who had come the other two times she knew about. Her parents, of course, had said nothing to her about this, and she looked at them with the contempt that had grown from this whole advent of their lives.

The material signs were very clear: they had had two oxen for a season; then they'd had one; this year they had tilled the fields without an ox. The crops were lean, with little grain materializing from the plants in the worn-out soil.

When the crops did not pay, an ox was needed to pay the rent. But her family had no ox, and the rent was due.

She had slowly come to realize that this had happened before. There was Ling, her older sister, one of only two people who'd ever really mattered to Aranya. It was Ling who had always, even in her earliest memories, been a source of comfort and security. When Aranya stumbled in the fields, it was Ling who picked her up; it was Ling who somehow managed to come up with sweetmeats, even in the long, dull times of deprivation. Distant from the parents who ignored her prattle, the staid couple she was never allowed to question, Aranya found Ling a beautiful beacon of warmth and belonging.

Then, in Aranya's eighth year, Ling was gone, just disappeared. Aranya had seen the oxcart, but had not realized that Ling was in it.

This was hard to understand. There was no funeral, no mourning, and no weeping from the parents. They never even mentioned it.

Aranya, risking a thrashing, asked her mother about Ling.

"Ask not, Child. This does not concern thee. She is gone!"

This lack of explanation caused Aranya much grief, even unto nightmares.

Comfort in this age came with a friend in a nearby hovel. Morac was the same age as Aranya and the two often found themselves working together in the fields. When things were very busy, they still found time for child play, and when work was slight, the two invented their own little games.

Then Morac left when Aranya was barely ten. Aranya watched as the oxcart carried her friend away. She managed to play a little with some of the other girls – it was not allowed that boys and girls should play together -- but it was not the same as with the special friend who was Morac. For over a year, Aranya's misery and loneliness were severe.

And then Ling came for a visit!

She was elaborately adorned, perfumed, urbane. She brought lavish gifts for her parents.

This caused quite a stir. All manner of people, men and women, even children, came around just for a glimpse at her.

But Aranya saw another side of the picture by watching the grimaces of her parents and by hearing their remarks, like: "She should never have come home! Can't she imagine how this hurts the family?"

Moreover, she noticed that Ling did not accompany them to the temple, no doubt because her parents did not want her to.

Ling's stay was very short, and Aranya knew it had been painful for her. For the second time in her life, she confronted her parents. They were seated at the kitchen table, no doubt discussing Ling, when Aranya entered uninvited.

"I am hurt. Were you not glad to see Ling?"

A long silence followed.

Aranya spoke again, "Ling is my sister; I love her! Were you not glad to see her?"

"Be quiet, Child; you offend!" her mother retorted.

"But I must know! I had thought her dead, and she came back to us. Why did you treat her as one who is not of us?"

The mother stood up. "Shut up, you little fool! You know not of what you speak!"

Aranya was indignant and determined not leave this argument unfinished. She sat in a chair and stared alternately at the two of them.

The father finally spoke. "Child, you know not of this world, of how we must live. And it is better that you do not know of some of these things before you are required to. Life here is very hard. Sometimes we must do what we would not. Ling is not with us; it cannot be helped. We are very poor; we did what we had to do."

"Father, I do not understand. You sent Ling away? This is because we are poor?"

"Daughter, you know we have rent to pay; every year this hangs over us. We plant; we tend; then if the harvest is good, we pay the rent. If the harvest is very good, we buy an ox. If the harvest is bad, I sell the ox to pay the rent. We do what we must.. .. "

" …We had some good years. We paid the rent. We bought an ox, then another. Then crops failed. We sold an ox. Then we sold another. Still the crops failed. The landlord demanded payment. We had no ox. What were we to do? If we are put off this land where we were born, where are we to go? To beg in the cities? To starve in the woods? Oh, I hated what we had to do, but there was really no choice!"

"That's what happened to Ling? You sold her?"

"Sold? It was her duty to go; by turning her over to the landlord's agent, the rent was excused. When they took her away, we cried!"

''But, Father, took her away to what? To where?"

"We could not think of that; it was too painful. We just hoped for the best for her. Now, stop concerning yourself with her. You saw her; why worry about her? She is in another world now!"

''But when she came, did you welcome her? No! It was as if you were ashamed of her!"

"Of course, Daughter. The kind of life she leads now! No, she has no place with simple farm folk like us .... "

"What kind of life does she lead?"

"She has men... but we can't talk about that to you, child.... "

Aranya stared at her father, then left the room without saying anything more, her very heart filled with hatred for this couple who were her parents.
Her mind was muddled. Having been kept from playing with boys and formally knowing so little about the male sex, the “she has men” was something she had to ponder.

Of course, Aranya knew that men, even boys, liked to play with girls. When she walked by men in the village, she was often lightly fondled. And the boys who worked in the fields, some almost grown. All this had meant nothing really ominous to Aranya -- men grabbed and played; that was just a way of life.
But Ling and Morac were gone, and a strong suspicion grabbed Aranya: what men and boys did to girls – could this be the center of what had happened to her sister and her friend, the two who had meant most to her in her lifetime?

Even friendless and alone, she felt driven to learn all she could about what men were about when they grabbed girls. This, she felt sure, was the mystery that had sent her two favorite people away.

It was some months after the confrontation with her parents when she was able to get her brother, Fattan, alone. The boy, some two years her senior, was a sullen, aloof, unkempt lad who held his little sister in very low esteem.

She accosted him in a thatch well away from their home, where he was hiding lest his father should give him some work to do.

"Fattan, there are some things I would ask thee!"

"Little cow, do not raise thy voice; if we are heard, surely some task for us will be found!"

"I will not take much of your time, but I must know: what do men do with women?"

"What a question! A man takes a woman so she will work in the fields and cook rice .... "

"Oh, that I know. But there is something else -- like why do men grab at girls all the time? What are they after?"

"A brazen one you are! You do not know? Really? You do not know? Ha!"

"Would I ask if I knew? Get off thy throne and tell me!"

"Ah, this is a lark! You do not know? Well, men take women to bed!"

"Take women to bed? To do what?"

"You are not just jesting? So that I tell you this so you can scream and tell that I have insulted, that I have been crass – and with mine own sister?"

"Nay. This thing I do not know, and I feel I must!"

Fattan looked all around to reassure himself that no one could be in observance.

"Well, men enter women!"


"Yes. Go inside."

"I do not understand!"

"Do you want me to show you? And no screaming?"

"Yes, please show me -- I will not in any wise scream .... "

Fattan took her hand and led her further into the thicket and up a small hill. At a choice spot, he stopped and once again questioned her. "You agreed: no screaming? Anyway, from here, no one will hear thee."

He lifted his shift to his waist and exposed himself to her.

"Here, silly one! This is what enters .... "

She stared in amazement, looking carefully at the instrument he exposed.

"That? It enters? Enters where?"

Without another word, he lifted her shift. "This is where entry is made, where babies come from ... "

She was more confused than ever when she left her brother in the thatch. Did this mean that Ling and Morac were sent away so they could make babies? If so, why didn't Ling bring hers when she came for the visit?

Because of her situation, it was more than difficult to get any more information on the matters that had her so troubled. However, an opportunity came with a maturational change in her growth: Aranya was twelve and developing; this meant she would now work in the fields with the older girls.

Days went by as she made observations to determine which of the girls in the fields with her would be most likely to give her the most of the information she sought. She never really had to make this choice, though, because when she was taking a little respite from the labors, she was approached by one of the girls, a big, very ugly girl named Sarac. And from the very first, it seemed that this big girl knew much of the world, and also knew something of Aranya and her family.

"You won't be with us all that much longer, will you, little one?"

"I know not what you mean. Why not?"

"How old are you? Twelve? I thought as much. Ah, they will be after you before long. If not this year, then the next!"

"Still I do not understand. Who will be after me? And why?"

"You are too pretty to stay here. What? To become a woman of one of the farmers? Nay! You will become something else entirely."

Sarac looked her over carefully. "Good skin. Even teeth. Not bad bones. Hard to say which way you'll go, but you won't stay here. I can see that. And how I wish they'd come for me!"

"Forgive me, Sarac, but I simply do not understand all of this. Could it be that I must go away to make babies?"

"You are very ignorant, are you not? But, then, I suppose no one has ever talked to you about any of this, so how could you know? Well, you could possibly have babies, but that is not what they really want of you...."

"You are right, Sarac; I am very ignorant. If they do not want me for babies, then what? Please tell me. I beg you."

The big girl mused for a moment, perhaps thinking she could get something in exchange for the information everybody else knew, then realizing that this child really had nothing to give in exchange.

"They will come for you... take you somewhere, I'm not sure where ... But they will look you over. A man came to my family once and saw me and said he would not take me.... But they will take you. Now, the very plain ones become house servants -- they may have babies, because the master of the house makes use of such a girl.... But as I look at thee, I think it will not be thus: you will be given to a man as his mistress... "


"A man who has a wife may keeps another woman in a separate house -- sometimes the wife even knows of this, I am told. He would have to be a rich man to have two houses…."

"Like taking a second wife?"

"That could be, but if he should tire of you, he would sell you to a brothel."

"Tell me what a brothel is."

"It is a place where women stay. Men come to use them, you know, in bed."

"You mean to enter them?"

"Yes. The man goes to a brothel and pays money to spend a time with a woman. Little of the money goes to the woman, since she has been bought by the brothel. Your sister was here, wasn't she? She had the bright clothes, was all painted.... She must be in a brothel. Did she talk to you about it?"

"I did not get to talk to her... my parents did not allow it..."

"I saw her; she was so beautiful! And she looks so well treated. Would that I could get into such a place.... I'll be taken by some old farmer when he becomes a widower.... "

The conversation ended and Aranya had much to ponder. The beautiful Ling had indeed been painted and was in bright clothes. Where was she? Could Sarac be correct, that Ling was in a place where men came to enter her? Did she make money doing this? Such could explain the gifts she had brought, but Aranya had a fierce disgust from the images of her sister's being entered by men.

It was many days before she was again alone with Sarac. By then some very definite lines of inquiry had formed in Aranya's young mind.
"Sarac, I mean not to offend: I am most grateful for all you told me that time. However, might I ask how you came to know these things?"

"There was a woman. She slept in the woods, came out to beg for food. And men visited her."

"Did you know her? Was she an old woman?”

"She did not look as our women who grow old working in the field...

But certainly not a young woman.... "

"And she told you these things?"

"Yes. She told several of us all these things and more. She had been taken away by an agent many years ago... was a man's mistress for a few years, until he sold her so he could get another young girl. Then she spent many more years in a brothel. Then they had no use for her -- the men who come there only wanted younger women. Then, she said she tried to find work to feed herself, but nobody wanted her, not even as a servant, since it was clear she'd been in a brothel.. .So she came back here where her family was.... "

"And her family? Did they take her in?"

"Nay. Her family lives some leagues away... they stoned her! She wandered in the woods.... Some men brought her food if she would lie with them... and some of us brought her food if she would talk to us.... What I told you is from what I heard from her!"

"Could I speak to her?"

"Ah, no, little one; she died some time ago…. Some say she was killed by the wife of one of the men!"

"I thank you for telling me all this, Sarac…. I now know what must happen to me ... I only wish I could find my sister. Nothing you have heard could help me find her, could it?"

"I think not. The agent comes for the girl; she is taken somewhere so they can look at her and decide for what she may bring them most in monies. I have heard of a place in the city just beyond The Great River, a place that looks like a palace ... where the women are very beautiful…. Your sister could be there; she was indeed beautiful .... "

Aranya spent many more days in fields with Sarac, talked to her many times, but never got any more useful information. But she had enough to give herself a picture of what would unfold.

And she had had no doubt about the purpose of the man in the oxcart from the moment she had seen him clear the horizon. Work stopped in the fields, and people slowly gathered in front of the house of Aranya's parents.

Her mother and father came in from the fields and stood with the small crowd, trying desperately to appear as if they knew not what all the ado was about.
As the man drew very near, it was the mother who spoke to Aranya. "Daughter, you must leave us now. Thy belongings have been made ready. When the man gets here, you will go with him. He will take care of you."

Aranya stood there before the house and said nothing. The man stopped near the house. He said nothing.

The father entered the house and brought out Aranya's few items of clothing wrapped in a cloth. These he put in the back of the oxcart.

The mother pulled her aside. "Aranya, your sister should not have come here when· she did; but, other than that, she has been a good daughter. She has sent us some of her earnings all these years. You must do the same, for, after all, we brought you into the world, and we have looked after you since you were born...."

"Tell me, truly: would you not send me now, even if we had an ox to give for the rent?"

"What, daughter? You are still talking this nonsense? We only do what we must... And, truly, it is best for you to get away from here now... "

"Best for me? Best for Ling? Yes, I go now -- I have no choice... And I promise I will never return to this place... nor can you expect to be receiving anything from me... no matter what I earn!"

She climbed into the cart without looking back at her parents or any of the crowd of watchers.

The pudgy man in the dark city suit made a wide arc with the ox to turn the cart in the opposing direction. He had said nothing.

She studied the man lightly, taking in his bloated features and his strange formal clothing.

The only decision she had to make for herself was whether to approach him before or after the horizon -- on how one gets to the city just beyond The Great River.

By Roy Hammond



The eyes of all, wait

Ibtisam, young girl,
shot, scooped up in soft debris,
in early summer.

By Wm. Meyer




Our launch-day Helens (0 lovely once)
are admirals' women, come north
to Bath Iron Works to swing champagne
magnums like barroom brawlers
on the snouts of warships.

Athene presides, a strategist's
aide-de-camp, sprung whole
from the Pentagon's mythologists
as she was from Zeus's brain.
They cannot rule the world

without her warning stare and hiss
of rigor mortis.... Wine to water,
down she slides, an offense-defense,
free-ranging shield and quiver:
the goddess's US Navy

destroyer aspect,
her Aegis-class
supersensible missiles
dispatched and guided

by satellites roaming
like mythic helpmeets
the thin inhuman air
of nowhere: the Q'Kane,
Kidd, Nicholson, Mason:

one by one, year by year,
they glide the glassy Kennebec,
past Fiddler Reach, Popham Beach,
out of the Republic's mouth
into the Empire.

By David Campbell




To the marchers

I am your victory,
you wade through my blood.
Even on England’s perfect cliffs,
you manage to condemn me.

My ancestors spoke the tongue
you spit out. It grates your guts.
They’re as dead as your white horses.

Your battles were won against natives,
you didn’t surrender your right to reign
over what (after all) was their land.

You always remind me
I’m a poet, a rebel fighter.
March softly through my people’s blood,
we might drown you.
By Zoe Broome


The occupation of Wall Street

Living in a grip of courage through the storms of love, hunger and pain.

With the breath of death breathing its fire-like tongue on your every move, victory being on the horizon along with an oasis in a treacherous thunderstorm.

To the fields of battle shall we evolve and become whole people, the most advanced beings, as we stretch our wills to the bounds of limitness that only raw audacity brings! As we enter our long march to freedom let our fired visions ring of justice and raw truth.

Throngs of people march on corporate greed, a bankrupt system that exploits international needs, from sea to sea occupation builds like a crescendo of millions of bucket drummers performing to the same tune.

The graveyard of capitalism exists on Wall Street where it its last gasp it sees the people resist its fusillade of oppression.

By José H Villarreal




Dusk washes over
an earth sutured
with metal railings
tearing into the
soil of our
disconsolate hunger
with ravenous teeth –
A gray fog descends
obscuring the faces
lining this tent-city
hoovervilles for this
millenium failing –
so easily numbered
people have become
people and numbers
so easily exchanged
like commodities
and currency
stripped of dreams
until we dream
the sinecure dreams
of numbers for
their bone pulpits
preaching hell-fire's
perfidious words –
Poverty's a virtue
so virtuous this
world has become
for we the world-movers
who crafted the stars
in infinite beauty
churning mortar into
life sacred and present
with stomachs pained
by emptiness and
pockets that never
knew the value
of their worth –
New arms battered
by sun and labor
interlock for new battle
to resculpt this
barren landscape haunted
by minotaurs armored
in riot great and
plexi-glas shields –
the earth trembles
beneath our feet
trepidation hangs in
the air heralding
the condemned's
death-march forward.

By Steve Bernal T-53154
SATF – P.O.B. 5246
Corcoran, CA 93212



We shall always be many more!

We shall always be many more,
we who roast in your designer factories,
our brows dripping with our salty sweat,
we who may forgive but shall never forget.

We shall always be many more,
we who reek of cheap moonshine,
we who stagger and often stumble,
we whose stomachs never cease to rumble.

We shall always be many more,
we who polish your fine bone china,
we whose pay gets docked if one cup is chipped,
we who fight your wars, and off to battle get shipped.

We shall always be many more,
we who clean up after your pretty children,
we whose kids are hungry, naked and get swept
into the bowels of desolation, as mothers' tears are wept.

We shall always be many more,
we who do your dirty work each day,
we who you treat like vermin, foul and rotten,
we whose trampled dignity is always forgotten.

We shall always be many more,
we who will rise up and seize the light of hope,
and reclaim what is ours for our daughters and sons,
though we will always be in the cross-hairs of your guns.

We shall always be many more,
and there shall be many more of us still to come,
to rid you of your smug arrogance and endless greed,
for we too have children whom we have to feed.

We shall always be many more,
“and the meek shall inherit the earth,”
or something like that though we no longer care,
for we shall rise up one day to demand our rightful share.

We shall always be many more!
By Azfal Moolla



News about Struggle writers


Paris Smith's third book of stories, Undercurrents, is available from Penknife Press, 1837 North Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60707-3315. Especially noteworthy is the long story “The Blood of Saints and Martyrs “…. Billie Louise Jones has a wonderful book of stories out, Sunbelt Gothic, available through Struggle at $17 a copy.... Doug Draime has published his selected poems, More than the Alley with Interior press. Order at: https://www.createspace.com/3936904

Teresinka Pereira circulates poetry and essays of writers from many countries. Write her via Struggle to get on her mailing list.... Cathy Porter has published a book of poems, A Life in the Day, for $14 from www.finishinglinepress.com. Her poems that we have seen are brief and biting attacks on poverty and racism.... Michael S. Morris has a book of poems out called Because the Road of the People Asked, available from Happy Rock Publishing, 820 W. Spain St. #13, Sonoma, CA 95476. A subtle poem of his graces this issue..... Nancy Scott has a stunning poetry collection out, Down to the Quick, from which we hope to publish a selection in our next issue. It is available from Plainview Press. Box 42255, Austin. TX 78704 or at www.plainviewpress.net.... Prisoner subscriber Joseph Rodriquez has published a book refuting the charges against him. Entitled Entrapment in Blood, it is available at www.Amazon.com/kindle for 99¢ download, ISBN# 9781937992071. A poem of Joseph's appears in this issue of Struggle....

Struggle subscriber and ardent revolutionist, poet and writer, Marilyn Buck, passed away from cancer on August 3. 2010, after spending much of her adult life in prison after her conviction for armed actions against the rich and the government in the 60s and 70s. Marilyn became renowned within prison and outside for her poetry and other writings and her efforts to develop solidarity among the oppressed of all ethnicities, men and women. A long-time subscriber to Struggle, in December 2009 she sent us a message: “Dear Tim, May the new year bring steps forward toward the world we wish to see. I do hope Struggle will continue to come out. The economic situation is drastic, the class and race situations are drastic. I do hear voices ringing out. Now that folks just look past false hopes. The Chicago School still rules. I will send a small donation to the journal as soon as I am able (my counselor will be gone on Xmas vacation... after that....) Be well, carry on! In solidarity, Marilyn Buck” A tribute to Marilyn appears here: http://marilynbuck.com/

Yes, Marilyn, unfortunately the Chicago School (the neoliberal, free-marketer capitalists) still rules, but we continue the struggle, in your honor and in the honor of all the martyrs of the working class and oppressed peoples. Here are the final lines of Marilyn's poem, “Wild Poppies”:

I survived, carried on, glad to be like a weed,
a wild red poppy, rooted in life.