Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Poem by Sarah Page, Rev Poet, activist, and co-publisher of Out of Our magazine


Don't ask me to grieve
for these children only
ask me to grieve for them all.

Ask me to grieve for the 16 million
who go to bed hungry
every night
ask me to grieve for them all.

Ask me to grieve for the 1.6 million
who go to sleep without a home
every night
ask me to grieve for them all.

Ask me to grieve for the six million
around the world who die from hunger
every year
or the 176 killed by US drones in Pakistan
ask me to grieve for them all.

You don't have to ask me to mourn
for these innocents
for I mourn all the children of this world
and I am ashamed
and I am grieving.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New poem by Dee Allen


                 For Lean-Lynn Plante, Matt Duran and Katie Olejnik

You're the latest
Catch in the federal dragnet
To your dismay.
You're summoned before
A cold, insinuating
Set of faces.
Take a seat
On the stand
And you're welcomed
Like the worst possible criminal.

Barrage of questions
Fly at you
Rapid-fire in
These secret proceedings.
Seated target has
No line of defence:
Barristers aren't allowed.
Witnesses are forbidden.
So you do
What heart advises:

Stay silent.

Summoned before the
Grand accusers again.
Take a seat and
Be a target again.
Barrage of questions
Dead aim again.
Probing for names
And certain identities
Familiar to you.
Digging for weakness
Gripping fear
On your part.
The accusers
Count greatly on your
Capitulation, cooperation,
Collaboration and implication
Of nearest & dearest.
And you choose again to

Stay silent.

Taciturn rebel
Charged with contempt
By a jury of no peers.
You feel nothing
For the court
But contempt.
As your punishment,
Buried alive
In grey concrete,
Reinforced steel,
Digital locks, alone.
Even this
Won't loosen your lips
Make you
Breathe a word
Whole sentences and
Destroy a community.
To do so would
Help out the witchfinders.
We know how that shit worked for
Early Massachusetts
Puritan culture.

There'll be no
Drownings or hangings.
Not on your watch.
Keep those lips sealed.
You saw nothing.
You heard nothing.
You breathe nothing.
The quiet can be powerful.
Stay silent.
W: 10.16.12

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

new poem by brigade member John Curl

an exploitation of human labor business
a looking out for number one business
a make your pile and get out business
a boss order abomination business
a whatever the market will bear business
a cheat lie steal business
a do what you're told or else business
a degradation inflation depression toxic wastes business
a hemorrhoids beat your best friend business
a draft plutonium gangster business
an atomic dust imperial world war three business
a business as usual business
where is the honesty of penguins?
where is the justice of sunrise?
must free people be prepared to sleep as well
in garages, under bushes or in dreams?
even at this moment the boardmembers meet
in the condemned sewer to divide our livers
into exacting shares, sealing the fate
of munition profits on
our ability to have children
a rapture stars tumble along your spine business
a fields of orange poppies spread their knees to the mountains of your eyes business
a mass demonstration rubbed with alchemical smoke business
a conch shells withdrawing energy from stuffed ballot boxes business
a lifting the consecrated picket line to the east business
a boycott all businesses business
a submachineguns melt in cops screaming hands business
a collectivizing your boss' business business
an abolishing business
a taking care of business

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New poem by jimmy.mankind

 the beach the sea

The old man strewn prone upon a green blanket when we arrived.   I’d say 11, she 11:30.
She, Marie, a meticulous clock, a camera, voice recorder meme artist supreme, was correct.
The sun-baker began making for us croissants of our bodies.
Avoiding a death wish, small scale, pain at least: at 12 we oiled each other.  At 12:15 the old man rose and waddled w/ gritty determination  was it determinism?
into the older, colder sea
I casually observed at 1st a brave ol’ soul. 
Then a start, while he drove himself relentlessly into the oncoming waves as if he was wading to Japan.   You can walk out here a quarter mile before you have to jump for air.
A refrigerator, probably from Fukushima, glided by him inbound.  It stuck, sunk dumbly into the sand, tired-as-work from the battering trip
(excessive  agitation for a fridge).
It wormed into the sand and began to wriggle into its new continent with each thrusting undulation of its odd friends: the currents, tides, and myriad procrastinations of the sea.
The old man shrank to a mere head-bulb   bobbing alone past the easy shore-breakers.   He was approaching the big ones out past the flats before the solitary floating surfers.   He was their guest now.
You gasped.
“Get him!”  You said firmly.
I grimaced. 
I did not want to tell you this in your innocence:  “Darling.  There are 3 types of people, besides the one type you are.  There are the losers, the winners, and their thugs.   Which is he?”
You hit me.
“Save him!” you commanded.
I remember looking at you as at a goddess, #8886 of the Upper 10,000.  
Prosperity.   Luck.
I rose and started out to sea.
I could barely see him plowing ahead--away--from the swells which rose up like whales beneath my icy belly.
OK.  I’d told you.
But i was not.
i wanted to be with you forever…so bad i left you for Japan.
So bad i left You for japan.


This is the poem I would have read to you so many times before the times when I was hurt and could not think of it within my pain, which was busily teaching me another poem a song of longing to be whole and free/i think now. 
i forget more now.  marie
i know i am too tired to reach japan.
i cannot even see the old man’s head any more.
This is my attempt—a dream of mine as i go now--out to sea as you suggested—to write the very best poem I ever could--so heavy yet so light upon the wings of a swimmer--ever written…as time floats perfectly…
To give to you.
i realize now, how, i barely, if ever did, faintly, know you…
the cold old man,  his green blanket.
the beach.
the sea.

This is the best day of my life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

new poem by Melba Abela

Vertical Judgment,
San Francisco 2012

somebody's mother
holding an empty cup
at a street corner on
Van Ness and Market

somebody's father
rummaging a trash can
by the bus stop at
Union and Laguna

did you see that
did you see that
it makes you puke
the blessedness
of the biblical poor
publicly gleaning
in humble sackcloth

but this is America
you said
that poor man
has a cell phone
that poor woman
has a tv in her room
even genius Einstein
did not own
a cell phone and
magnate Henry Ford
never had
a color tv

poverty in 2012 USA
a huckster’s joke
in an abundant land
of big moneybags
and bigger next social
media money-making

and so you turn
your fresh face away
annoyed that they are
littering your designer
pup’s view
standing sitting lying
in your space (on your
way to that new
fusion restaurant
or that fancy dog spa)

a public place
you paid for and
worked for with
government propped
low taxes while the
prodigals only wait and
wait as you salivate
religiously at the altar of
the ballooning bull
in our sinned
city of brotherly love.

Copyright ©2012 Melba Abela

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

new poem by brigade member John Curl


Overturn a brand new leaf
leaf through a dog-eared book
book the d.a. for felony graft
graft a plum branch onto a peach root
root out the causes of social strife
strive toward revelatory visions
envision the end of bureaucratic dictators
dictate a hundred songs about love
love the work you live
live for wholeness and light
light the fires of forgiveness
forgive the failings of your parents
parent your children to interconnections
interconnect compassion to your world
world consciousness overturns.
Over turning privatized commons
spurning career politicians
churning ownership patents
burning corporate papers
turning over unjust laws.
Now all things American overturn.
Seamstresses unravel socks
carpenters nail their hammers
omelets flip themselves over
houses balance on their roof ridges
tree roots stretch into the air
cumulous clouds billow into back yards
senior execs pull each others’ comb-overs
FBI agents bug each others’ phones
patrol officers club each other over the head
incumbent officeholders change their names
the president’s cabinet put on false mustaches
Chamber of Commerce stuffs a brown paper bag
Secretary of the Interior hides in the closet
head of the SEC slips through the airport in drag
board chairmen arrive in the Cayman Islands
all the payoffs of all the corporate lobbyists
can’t buy a jelly sandwich
citizens declare the two-party system under
arrest for impersonating democracy.
Over turning privatized commons
spurning career politicians
churning ownership patents
burning corporate papers
turning over unjust laws.
Now all things American overturn.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

new poem by brigade member Carol Denney

The Worst Opera

my fifteenth court appearance
was like watching
the worst opera ever produced
the worst libretto
with the worst timing
the most boring costumes
the most terrible singers
no harmony
no instruments
a lot of whispering
the paper rustling was
louder than the actors
the audience was only waiting
for their small part to be over
and then one by one
they would leave

Carol Denney  6/8/2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Casserole" by Gary Hicks


             for laurie

remember that scene in malcolm x
where malcolm and the fruit of islam
descend upon the police station
and particularly that historico-cinematic
moment when malcolm's black- gloved
hand twists rightward and the fruit
does a left-face and marches away
along with all of the masses who came
to the police station?
do you remember that you asked me
if i was crying and i replied that
i had something in my eye?

well, i've always had this problem
of having eye-cinders at political moments
those specs just keep showing up!
the revolutionary peoples constitutional congress
philadelphia labor day weekend 1970
michael cetawayo tabor keynoting in
the indoor gym
the justice department may 1971 when the
d.c.'s black cops in total mutinous disobedience
to their white commanders refusing
to attack a nonviolent demonstration the first legal martin luther king holiday
in san francisco with at least one hundred
and more likely two hundred thousand
marchers coming across the east bay bridge
from san jose on trains reserved by the unions.

it seems that i've had a goodly supply of eye-cinders
to cover my false-shame for disobeying the rule
that men don't cry and now here we are again
another film that of one half million quebecois
students and all of their allies banging pots and
pans and strumming any and all string instruments
and out numbering the total activist pool of occupy
in my country where on mayday in oakland
eye-cinders invaded again to the sight of a mere
seven thousand marchers.

so i'm resigned to having to keep in stock many many
eye-cinders because both rumor and official story
have it that i don't cry.

berkeley ca     6-2-2012

gary hicks

Thursday, May 31, 2012

new poem by brigade member John Curl

American Make-Believe

Lips meet passionate lips
in the nuanced shadows
gorgeous bodies intertwined
ecstatic dance joyful tears
soulful communion
forever whispering
infinite vows devoted depths.

Flip on the lights
giant screen torn and ragged
musty stale popcorn
rancid imitation butter
rows of empty seats
spilled soda
garbage all over the floor
smells like piss.
American make-believe.

Grammas dry their tears
with candidates promises
scribbled on shredded ballots,
nominees all promising
home love integrity prosperity
bouquets of imaginary hot jobs
blueberry syrup avatars
on every cyber maple pancake
belief in change and bereavement,
a young couple on a first date
pulled over by officers
in front of the high-tech playground
for reasons unstated in the report,
find their fashion-statement purse
and plastic leather wallet confiscated
photoshopped evidence
planted in every pocket
their late-model legoland SUV hijacked
every secret digital code of decency
systematically violated
orifices stuffed with sweaty junk
and auctioned to the highest bidder
while the duly-elected mayor
restoring public order
describes the peaceful demonstration
as an organized conspiracy
of arson and looting,
but it’s only American make-believe.

In the wake of three weeks of
indiscriminate bombardment
and revenge killings
leaving the remnants of
the once-stately city
in control of stylish pimps
drugged lieutenants
spitting strawbosses
TV detectives
psychotic anchormen
corrupted weathergirls flush
with sunny gusts in the 10-day forecast
while vomit gas permeates
all the side streets
thousands wounded, unknown dead
removing children's souls
stealing fingers for souvenirs
the masked soldiers
open fire on the hospital,
the crowd scatters, hundreds trampled
she watches her friend’s leg blown off,
they stand for hours in the freezing rain
to exercise their sacred right to vote,
but just kidding,
it’s only American make-believe.

by John Curl

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new poem by brigade member Mahnaz Badihian

Red as Poems of Jack Hirschman in SF

Tell me David* what should I write  
For this last poem before the finish line of my MFA
What should I write so you do not step on its tail?
To do surgery on its limbs or even pull its teeth
Or even give it to Dorianne** to kill it!
In that case there are not many more new subjects
I just have to repeat myself on the subject of
Love, sex, food, lovers, loneliness, exile and Recycled Woman
But I am astounded by the vast number of things we can write about
Like the thirsty flowers in our backyard that no one waters
Or about my little dogs dead mother!
See we can scream in style but we will spell the wrong words again
I may learn the art of poetry, but I have still to learn
The language of poetry that speaks of humanity

We have written so many poems in our life
But maybe not enough about hunger and people who witness
The death of their loved ones due to the lack of food, water and medicine
We have not written enough about the big thieves, the heads of governments
Let my last poem be about more urgent issues than my sexuality
Depicting the unheard voice of people in the world who die everyday
In every land by tyrants and wars

I ask myself sometimes this one big question;
What is the use of our poems if it cannot feed one hungry mouth?
What is the use if our poems are not as red as poems of Jack Hirschman in SF
And we are only trying to pull those nonsense lines from the genitalia of white pages
What is the use if we do not understand other people’s pain in this world and
Our poems only sleep between the pampered pages of North American magazines
You are so quiet and mysterious David that one cannot pass
The dark shades of your glasses to get the clear answer and see your poetic thoughts

I can climb on the vastness of each page repeatedly
 Hoping it will take me to the high tower of poetry
 But only then we can see the difficulty one may have to get close to harmony

Let’s get out of our tight, lonely houses and reach out to the poetry of the people.

* David St.John, Poet
** Dorianne Laux, Poet

Mahnaz Badihian 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

new poem by brigade member John Curl


all who have ever heard the message of the crickets

we call on you

all who have ever felt the wind splashing cleanly in your face

we call on you

all who have ever loved someone of another race

we call on you

all who are, or are descendants of

wageslaves serfs slaves prisoners debtors tenants housewives foreigners

we call on you

all who believe in the inalienable human right of the oppressed to throw off their oppressions and oppressors

we call on you

the night of the shame beyond madness is upon us

the despisers of sunrise

musicians of the ghastly dance

sorcerers grislier than hollywood movies

the night of those whose unquenchable destruction gushes from rivers of self-hate

whose murderous passions warp from the slaughtered children inside themselves

Even as these innocents are cowardly murdered one by one on city streets,

their elder brothers' deaths thousands by thousands on far off colonial shores

are being brazenly plotted in conference rooms,

their families' destruction millions by millions in wageslave pauperdom

is being flauntingly conspired

in those same plush chairs

We call down the spirit of Harriet Tubman and Angelina Grimke

the voice of Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison

the wrath of Nat Turner and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

the heart of Sojourner Truth and Martin Irons

the strength of Thomas Paine and W.E.B. DeBois

the balance of Martin Luther King and Mother Jones

race war . . imperialist war . . . class war . . .

what's it all for . . ?

all who have ever heard the message of the crickets

we call on you

listen to the evidence

all who have ever felt the wind splashing cleanly in your face

we call on you

pass sentence

all who have ever wept at the mercy of spring

we call on you

stand with folded arms as a surrounding wall and carry out the sentence

for the innocents.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

new poem by brigade member A. Nora Claypoole

This poem is from the new poetry collection  
embroidered maps, de los muertos
by a. nora claypoole

a wave was in her*
by a. nora claypoole

for Louise Bryant  and her daughter Anne Moen Bullitt

swept away. a diva by her dad
under the aged bristles of gossip
their was no talk of a mother
there was no talk of her art
there was a quote in the daily news
about father is and god and freud applauded.

forgotten.  the preface
mother is my friend.
mother is a balloon
mother has bird’s nests in her belly
buttoned silent.  buttoned to rittenhouse square
her legacy of banishment was having a daughter
and loving a woman.  the paradox perplexes
the paradox exists
the paradox resists
the mother was a balloon
the mother was owned
by a man, with stolen rings
the mother wrote. her chimes
as  requiem to masses
bolshevik revivals an elixir to his kiss
collected countries in the hem of her dress
a poem was written. 

go to hell

he asked for an epitaph and she laughed
a wave was in her then
it drowned the sins she hoped her daughter
would rename
her daughter
had her name and died inside her
god. as a friend to none
of the little sisters
 of saint veronica
of the assumption
was, she never loved
little sisters,  of mercy
shaved, veiled, chaste
thank her with a statue
 found broken in a box

out west. her first paper.
 writing  about the klamath
modoc indians.  captain jack
her ikon.  hung by whites,
 scalped.  by her own people.
a wave was in her.

not even fathers of the chiefs could save her
legacy is a refrain erased from music sheets
still shuffled on a piano sent East all the way from oregon.

today there is music in the village

* from “My Epitaph” by Louise Bryant

Monday, April 30, 2012

new poems by brigade member Gary Hicks

to a serious inquirer

                              for blindpig

answer your questions
by bringing all that you know
to the fight at hand

all the new issues
will pose all new questions
to add to the old

we're on the rough road
building movements that will fight
until victory

leninism lives
but only as far as we
cease to genuflect

marxism lives too
but please remember lenin
was his disciple

elements of style

                    apologies to messrs strunk and white

first it was grammar all
those terms all those schematic
blackboard charts telling what
kinds of words went where when
speaking or reading  this was
supplemented by penmanship
using india ink and dip into inkwell
pens assuring that my mother
would scream as she tossed
yet another shirt to scrub out
stains alongside my father's
automotive industry leukemia
laden work clothes.

later it was composition also
jammed down my throat  hated
it with every bone in my body
excepting some moments of
fun writing flyers and
press releases for the movement
and discovered i could really
do this stuff if i wanted to.

then writing in prison  letters
to the outside  rapping with
fellow inmates which meant
writing and talking way too
much  it served me well later
in and out of college except
that on campus i rediscovered
my hatred of writing things not
of my own  was i the only one
who realized that fifteen pages
or more typed  double-spaced
footnotes properly placed
was so so tortuous where only
five pages, triple-spaced
could say it all? but we were
training to be real or wannabe
rulers  and i suppose that
it's par for the course to have
so evil a skill to be mastered
the better to mesmerize and
baffle people out of at least two
sides of your mouth

when i discovered that i could
write poetry and proceeded
to do so i finally cut through
all this bullshit  and strangely
years later my writing improved
it was as though i had become
an outlaw fugitive from convention
and upon return was
convention's master by virtue
of knowing what laws to obey
having skillfully broken all of them.

berkeley ca   april 27 2012
on finding an abandoned copy of dreams from my father

                                                    for bill fletcher' jr

beethoven's paean to bonaparte
became an elegy
disguised as majestic symphony
when the general annointed
himself emperor

i am a poet, know not a
word of music but this piece
is eroica, reloaded

all of the sacred words
of the great hope
have become naught
the world which held
its breath, bated
has reclaimed the
sense to exhale

and this poem is elegy
not for him who forgot
the difference between
puddles on chicago's
streets and the swamp
running off chesapeake
aside the potomac.

this is an elegy for
the dreams all our parents
and all who came before
and who one more time
have been betrayed
by a system
about whom
our great hopehad zip to say having
found himself the
latest if privileged
passenger on the
good ship jesus

this is an elegy
for our african
sisters and brothers
and of all who
went before them
mau mau lost the
battle and now
africom* and al qaida
cousins! must be
reckoned with

this is eroica, reloaded
elegy awaiting symphonic
music in four-four time
triumphal people's te deum

*africom..the african command of the united states armed forces
berkeley ca   4-29-2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New poem by brigade member Jim Byron, "The Rules of the Game Have Changed"


When the pawns on both sides of the battle
Have built their own new city
And the bishop to the knight, he exclaims
That the kings and queens could no longer rule them
Wouldn't you say that the rules of the game have changed?

When the queen of hearts realizes
That she had been fooled
And that she too has been captured and enchained
And she sees that it is time to free the people
Then would you say that the rules of the game have changed?

So fold your hand; the jig is up
Take the rest of the wine that is left in your cup
When the game is over, there is nothing left to win
Cut your losses; it is time for a new beginning

When the laughter of all the jokers
Turns back into silence and peace
Hushes over where the swords once clanged
And the chips are left for worthless on the battlefield
Then would you say that the rules of the game have changed?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Prizefight by brigade member Carol Denney

The Prizefight

a friend said he eats
for entertainment
giving me new perspective
on my melon
it was true
it was wildly entertaining
cutting it up
was like a prize fight
there was wrestling
fluids flying
it was exhausting
but I won.
of course, I
brought a knife

Monday, April 23, 2012

new poem by brigade member Sarah Menefee

red ant

that's what I am

a commie red ant

just see what happens

if you sit on me

with your fat 1% ass

that's why they call me

the fire ant

          Sarah Menefee

           written with the Occupy Your Visions
           writer's working group, OccupySF

Sunday, April 22, 2012

new poem by brigade member Mark Lipman, "THE CROWS"

Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Up there they perch
  with midnight beak askew,
  sharpened talons gripping silky bark
  ready to tear the flesh off
  the wayward field mouse.
Eyes translucent black
  they see right through you.
You’d better have grit
  in your heart
  to travel in these woods.
Them crows be always
  one step ahead of you.
That’s cos they got 99
  to the 1 of you.
They may seem fearful,
  stepping back,
  retreating to their branches.
Just be careful overhead
  when you walk beneath
  them ficus.
Crows got a nasty way
  of keeping track of you.
So, don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Now, maybe you think
  you're gonna pitch a tent
  and stay awhile.
See what’s going on
  underneath them shooting stars.
And maybe you think those crows
  will just make way
                   for you …
… well, maybe they may,
  and maybe they won’t …
that really depends on
  your own intentions.
The tree is big
  and its limbs are wide.
There is space
  for all who wish to reside.
Yet, as you climb up high,
  into the thicket of those leafy branches
  do not be too surprised
  if the crows have all absconded
  and flown, now left unable to follow …
You might take the tree,
  but does that make you truly free,
  when their silence
  has stolen your thunder?
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
They followed me home tonight.
I could see their shadows
  lurking above
  stalking my every footstep
  daring me to slow my pace
  pushing me forward
  I ran away
  feet falling fast
  beating damp cobblestone.
I turned towards a darkened alley
  candle light shimmering
  brick cages closing in.
They circled in above my head.
Cawing, their raucous voices
  taunted my path
  unto my very doorstep.
Turning silver key,
  I entered safer quarters.
Collapsing on my sofa,
  I took solace in the knowledge
  that not a moment of this
  would make the evening news.
Officially, they didn’t exist.
Those crows – gazing
  through my window
  pecking at my eyes
  filling my head
  with their social discontent …
  were only a figment
  of my imagination
… or so I am told.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
In winter, naked branches
  stretch out in all directions.
Their spindly fingers
  make nest for a flock of silhouettes.
99 crows have gathered.
They gaze onto the horizon
  watching and waiting
  they bide their time.
The sun sets burnt orange
  down before them.
Twilight marks their feeding time
  the tide is now uprising.
As if a cue had just been called
  they cock their heads
  and lift their beaks
  and though as if exploding
  they burst into the sky.
Streaking black the eventide
  99 crows devour the horizon.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Now, maybe you think you’re a hawk,
  circling overhead,
or the noble and bloodthirsty eagle
  watching from on high,
looking down with ridicule.
  onto the swarming negro masses below.
But let it just be advertized,
  those crows ain’t no doves,
  ready to coo and die.
They’re too experienced for that.
Their lack of attack is based
  more on the intellectual,
  of knowing how and where
  to strike their blows
  to be the most effectual.
With all your speed and strength,
  the audacity of your governance
  you’d never see it coming.
The crows are everywhere,
  they are every one of us.
When we come
  it will be from every direction.
So, don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.
Those crows been
  up in that tree
  longer than you’d know.
Don’t you dare disturb
                 those crows.