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Because the pen is mightier than the sword, we write to fight. Got words? Email stanfordconverge@yahoo.com

Monday, November 17, 2003

A MOMENT OF SILENCE, BEFORE I START THIS POEM

Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me in a
moment of
silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and
the
Pentagon
last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for
all of
those
who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped,
or killed
in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in both
Afghanistan
and the
U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing...

A full day of silence for the tens of thousands of Palestinians
who have
died
at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of
occupation. Six
months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly
children,
who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an
11-year
U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem, two months of silence for the Blacks
under
Apartheid in South Africa, where homeland security made them
aliens in their
own country Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and
Nagasaki,
where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete,
steel,
earth
and skin and the survivors went on as if alive. A year of silence
for the
millions of dead in Viet Nam - a people, not a war - for those who
know a
thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives'
bones buried
in it, their babies born of it. A year of silence for the dead in
Cambodia
and Laos, victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh .... Say nothing
... we
don't want them to learn that they are dead. Two months of silence
for the
decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they
once
represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,

An hour of silence for El Salvador ... An afternoon of silence for
Nicaragua
... Two days of silence for the Guetmaltecos ... None of whom ever
knew a
moment of peace in their living years. 45 seconds of silence for
the 45 dead
at Acteal, Chiapas 25 years of silence for the hundred million
Africans who
found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could
poke into
the sky. There will be no DNA testing or dental records to
identify their
remains. And for those who were strung and swung from the heights
of
sycamore
trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west... 100 years
of
silence...

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half
of right
here, Whose land and lives were stolen,

In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand
Creek, Fallen
Timbers, or the Trail of Tears. Names now reduced to innocuous
magnetic
poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?

And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence

You mourn now as if the world will never be the same And the rest
of us hope
to hell it won't be. Not like it always has been

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written And
if
this is
a 9/11 poem, then

This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa,
1977
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison,
New York,
1971.
This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and
Newsweek ignored
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:

The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children Before I start
this
poem we
could be silent forever Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us

And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence

Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of
Taco
Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost

Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses
and the
Playboys. If you want a moment of silence,

Then take it

On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my
beautiful people
have gathered You want a moment of silence

Then take it
Now,

Before this poem begins.

Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand In the space
between
bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence

Take it.

But take it all
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. But we,

Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.

- Emmanuel Ortiz 9.11.02
1:50 pm - Feel free to distribute: poem from the SF resistance

No Poetry After Auschwitz

said Adorno, but there are still
poems, in a mark of arrogance or hope,
maybe both.

This is not a poem
it is a rock
through a window--

it is a smash
and run--
it is a broken capitalism machine

150 miles
from Baghdad.
The television is on at the law firm.

There is no business as usual.
The building is surrounded by fences
and riot cops
who are fighting the crime
of free speech, free assembly.
Yesterday they dragged a woman by her hair.
Today, last night, three days ago,
the Anarchists covered their faces
hid Molotov cocktails in the bushes.
On our way to the protest, my friend tells me,
I am not covering my face.
It seems it's one of the fundamental freedoms left.
I have a bandana in my pocket
just in case.
I am trying to find ways
to stem my own anger,
my body a grenade rolling in the street
teeth clenched, handing out flowers
stolen from the lobby of a law firm
to the motorists we delay, thanking them
for their patience
while the U.S. bombs
the fuck out of another country

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