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TSE  September 2010

TSE September 2010

Subject:

Re: Before I Start This Poem

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 17:07:28 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (253 lines)

"Do noiot ask for whom the bell tolls."
P.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carrol Cox" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 6:17 AM
Subject: Before I Start This Poem


> In this season of Know-Nothing rage against Migrants & Muslims, the
> following poem seems particulary appropriate. It could be read in
> Churches, posted on the bulletin boards of classrooms, circulated to
> friends and fellow workers. It contains a good deal of history not often
> mentioned. It is a pity it fails to contain a reference to the
> pacification of the Philippines a century ago, which formed the  model
> followed by the Japanese in their Burn All Loot All Kill strtegy in
> China, as well as inspiring Kipling to write his "White Man's Burden,"
> specifically intended to honor the U.S. policy in the Philippines.
> 
> Carerol
> 
> 
> Before I Start This Poem
>      by Emmanuel Ortiz
> 
> Before I start this poem,
> I'd like to ask you to join me in
> a moment of silence
> in honour of those who died
> in the World Trade Centre
> and the Pentagon
> last September 11th.
> 
> I would also like to ask you
> 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 Vietnam--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 Guatemaltecos ...
> None of whom ever knew
> a moment of peace
> 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 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, 11 Sep 2002
> 
> 
> "The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy of the ape." KM, Grudrisse

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