28 January 2011

28 January 2011

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

Born in Munich of an American mother and a German father, educated and graduated from Harvard in 1909, Ernst Hanfstaengel later became one of Hitler's first financial supporters; even hiding him in one of his country homes in the Black Forest after the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. The two men remained close and in 1937 Hitler appointed Hanfstaengel Foreign Press Chief of the Nazi Party.

After a dispute with Goebbels, he was informed in March of 1937 that he was in danger of being murdered. He fled to the United States and was employed by the Office of Strategic Services as a political and psychological warfare adviser in the war against Germany.

Recent Freedom of Information Act releases of ex-Nazis in our Intelligence apparatus reveals the extent to which the US used techniques and rhetoric the Nazis developed; and it remains with us today. From the Big Lie used by the Right Wing, to calling torture enhanced interrogations, "this country has moved so far to the Right," as Spiro Agnew gushed in the 70's, "you won't recognize it."

But we recognize exactly what has been going on. Will we continue to fight it?

At This Precise Moment of History

1. At this precise moment of history
With Goody-two-shoes running for Congress
We are testing supersonic engines
To keep God safe in the cherry tree.
When I said so in this space last Thursday
I meant what I said: power struggles.

2. You would never dream of such corn. The colonials in
sandalwood like running wide open and available for
protection. You can throw them away without a refund.

3. Dr. Hanfstaengel who was not called Putzi except by
those who did not know him is taped in the national
archives. J. Edgar Hoover he ought to know
And does know.

But calls Dr. Hanfstaengel Putzi nevertheless
Somewhere on tape in the

He (Dr. H.) is not a silly man.
He left in disgust
About the same time Shirley Temple
Sat on Roosevelt’s knee
An accomplished pianist
A remembered personality.
He (Dr. H.) began to teach
Immortal anecdotes
To his mother a Queen Bee
In the American colony.

4. What is your attitude toward historical subjects?
—Perhaps it’s their size!

5. When I said this in space you would never believe
Corn Colonel was so expatriated.
—If you think you know,
Take this wheel
And become standard.

6. She is my only living mother
This bee of the bloody arts
Bandaging victims of Saturday’s dance
Like a veritable sphinx
In a totally new combination.

7. The Queen Mother is an enduring vignette
at an early age.
Now she ought to be kept in submersible
decompression chambers

For a while.

8. What is your attitude toward historical subjects
Like Queen Colonies?
—They are permanently fortified
For shape retention.

9. Solid shades
Seven zippered pockets
Close to my old place
Waiting by the road
Big disk brakes
Long lights stabbing at the
Two together piggyback
In a stark sports roadster

Regretting his previous outburst
Al loads his Cadillac
With lovenests.

10. She is my only living investment
She examines the housing industry
Counts 3.5 million postwar children
Turning twenty-one
And draws her own conclusion
In the commercial fishing field.

11. Voice of little sexy ventriloquist mignonne:
“Well I think all of us are agreed and sincerely I my-
self believe that honest people on both sides have got
it all on tape. Governor Reagan thinks that nuclear
wampums are a last resort that ought not to be re-
sorted.” (But little mignonne went right to the point
with: “We have a commitment to fulfill and we better
do it quick.” No dupe she!)

All historians die of the same events at least twice.

13. I feel that I ought to open this case with an apology.
Dr. H. certainly has a beautiful voice. He is not a silly
man. He is misunderstood even by Presidents.

14. You people are criticizing the Church but what are
you going to put in her place? Sometime sit down with
a pencil and paper and ask yourself what you’ve got
that the Church hasn’t.

15. Nothing to add
But the big voice of a detective
Using the wrong first names
In national archives.

16. She sat in shocking pink with an industrial zipper spe-
cially designed for sitting on the knees of presidents in
broad daylight. She spoke the president’s mind. “We
have a last resort to be resorted and we better do it
quick.” He wondered at what he had just said.

17. It was all like running wideopen in a loose gown
Without slippers
At least someplace.

-- Thomas Merton

26 January 2011

Voices and Soul

25 January 2011

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

When the first photos of torture at Abu Ghraib were distributed online; photos of dogs barking at naked, hooded prisoners, while guards smiled at the camera with thumbs-up gestures of a grand accomplishment; many of my more law and order acquaintances argued it wasn't torture; that the allegations of such abuse, the use of dogs, of fire hoses, of solitary confinement wasn't torture because it was common in our own prisons here in the states; that in fact, guards like Charles Graner, had been prison guards stateside, that their tactics and procedures would never muster a legal challenge, let alone rise to the level of a crime. They maintained that Graner was a hero doing a tough job overseas, a job he had done stateside in the same fashion for years without incident; he was perfectly trained for Abu Ghraib and they saw no problem.

I spoke to a few of those acquaintances after reading Deoliver's essay Sunday on Bradley Manning and the prison industrial complex. They continue to see nothing wrong with solitary confinement; our supermax prisons, they reminded me, even have weekend long cable shows devoted to the practice.

"So I guess that makes it ok," I replied sarcastically.

"The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation," they continued to remind me, "it is a big business and not going away any time soon. But even so, we don't torture; and we certainly don't abuse prisoners. All practices and procedures have been approved by medical professionals."

Plus, it's all on TV.

Charles Graner Is Not America

Let’s get this straight: Charles Graner
is not America. America would never
hold a knife to his wife’s throat, then say
when she woke that he was considering
killing her. And America’s wife in turn
would never call her husband “my own
Hannibal Lecter.” Am I right, or what?
Charles Graner may be Hannibal Lecter,
but he is not America. America is not that
kind of husband. Nor would America email
his adolescent children photos of himself
torturing naked Iraqi prisoners and say
“look what Daddy gets to do!” Am I right?
America is not that kind of father. America
would never torture naked Iraqi prisoners.
Let’s be absolutely clear about all of this.
And America’s ex-lover and co-defendant
would never whisper to the sketch artist
at America’s trial: “You forgot the horns.”
Charles Graner may or may not have horns,
but America is horn-free. America does not
torture prisoners. America may render them,
fully clothed, to Egypt or Syria, for further
interrogation, or to men like Charles Graner,
but America is not, ipso facto, Egypt or Syria,
and Charles Graner is not now nor has he ever
been America. And don’t talk to me about
Guantanamo. Please! Let’s get this straight.
You and I know who America is. We know
what America does and doesn’t do, because we
(not Charles Graner!) are America. Am I right?
Is this all clear? Tell me—am I right, or what?

-- Geoffrey Brock

19 January 2011

Voices and Soul

18 January 2011

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

It is the parade of indolent progress; it is a parade of influence marching across islands and continents; a flotilla churning across oily-foamed seas and jet-set through nitrogen-acid skies; it is a procession of killers and victims stumbling across the black pavement at the corner of Main Street and International Blvd; it is a march of wardens ordering leg-irons and yokes to weigh down the hopes of our better angels, while assuring a cheap labor force for the Captains of Industry as they guide the Ships of State in a firing line outside the Bay of Sugar and Blood.

Miss America pontificates from a platform behind the curtain on the NSA, It's A Small World Hay Ride Monster Truck.

The Oligarchs and the Generals ride in a bubble-top convertible, supplied by medical companies saving dollars and commonsense selling diluted milk powder and super-charged bacterial water to the victims of earthquakes, hurricanes and famine.

It is the parade of indolent progress; it is a parade of influence marching across islands and continents.

Affekt Funereal / Affekt Jamboree

(as on TV)

Welcome to this
special edition

double cortege for
Galbraith, Kenneth—
Friedman, Milton—

ssstately cortege...

like your kids teeth—

...such ├ęclaircissement
on this beautiful morning

(kids, that’s Latin, we mean to say

...directly behind the caskets—is that
—it’s the Macy’s Rat (in mid-air)...neat, real neat...

in front
the lead-coated horses don’t seem to mind the officers’

is that a gigantic molar,
with worms popping out?
—such a variety of colors!

...look, some Teamsters
are in a tussle with some scab teletubby over on
23rd St. and Madison

...ok, now, now they’re under arrest...

if you look carefully you’ll see there’s two pre-funeral exercises for
Fukuyama, Francis—
Soros, George—
on 24th

—not, not as stately...

a delegation of mainstream poets!

and behind them, this year’s NPR security-clearance

ya, they’re rather new at this but...wait—

there’s a lone guerrilla girl
running through the crowd now


she’s managed to get the Cultural Studies delegation
to strip and

dress up as

squeegee-bearing babushkas it looks like

...it’s 20 degrees so, that’s rather—ok, she’s, she’s
under arrest now...

...those are neat, those little plastic thingies, aren’t they?...

The Bill Gates (My Charter) High School Marching Band!

The Steve Case (My Charter) High School Marching Band!

behind them
the post ’89, post-historical
acrobat academics

on mini-lawnmowers...

that’s smart...

The Yucky’s!

The Yucky’s, yeah, they’re an interesting group...
they do things like suppress that
Sidney Poitier
is the best American actor ever

...oh look, the Fahd ibn Abdel Aziz al-Sa├║d

...the F14’s behind him are real

...now, that’s smart!

...I think he just waved at me

...who’s that man with the Moocle grabbing his—

that’s Mister Modernist!

he’s been a regular at these events for over 90 years now

...Saga of The Blank Page float
a real favorite...

ooh, he just dropped his—wait

a babushka—her, her boot’s—


oh, that’s, that’s not good...but

—did you know that
these are the first
100% soy
ever made?

some people have actually run up to nibble at them...

kids, if you’re watching this...

make sure you never think of any other social arrangement
other than one that

Militarily Has To Dominate Three Quarters of The World

-- Rodrigo Toscano

17 January 2011

Voices and Soul

14 January 2011

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

On the evening of 4 June 1968, at the age of thirteen, I accompanied my father to the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. For several years, he had been writing policy and research papers for the California State Democratic Steering and Platform Committees. I had walked precincts and volunteered at the Kennedy Campaign Headquarters in the San Gabriel Valley for the preceding two months, so as a sort of reward, I was allowed to stay up past my regular bedtime to go with my father to what was, we were certain, to be a victory celebration.

Dad and I had been at the Ambassador since around 8:30 p.m. It was a huge and boisterous crowd. Normally, I retired before 10 p.m., so by the time Kennedy entered the ballroom around 11:30 p.m., I was pretty bushed. His speech would be broadcast on the radio, so Dad and I headed home. On the way, we heard Kennedy and five others had been shot.

I was at a department store near our home, in the television department when the news of Martin Luther King's assassination was broadcast on 4 April 1968. Dad had been teaching his history classes at Cal State Fullerton that day and evening; and had not heard the news, so my revelation was the first he had heard of it. I never had seen my Dad cry, but he teared up when I told him. At that point, I had been a Eugene McCarthy aficionado, but I changed allegiances after listening, with my father, to Kennedy's speech in front of a black audience in Indiana, informing them of MLK's assassination.

Kennedy is reported to have questioned earlier, when informed of King's killing, "When will this violence stop?" It is a question that is still shouted to high heaven today.

So it is in Tucson, yet again more people are maimed and dead in a political shooting; and damn! When will it stop?

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay


12 January 2011

11 January 2011

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

Out of the tragedy in Tucson over the weekend, the invocation of false equivalencies was trumpeted from mountain high and valley low; the shooter was propelled to his act by the rhetoric of violence from the Left and the Right; or that he was an insane loner just like John Schrank, so politics had nothing to do with the act. Marshmallow Liberals fell to bended knees, as is their long history, to scrub any surface of the stain of calling a bigot a bigot; TeaBirchers fingered their guns and demanded we apologize for accusing them of intimidation.

What drove the shooter to commit carnage on that Saturday morning will be debated for years. What is obvious, is the irresponsible acts of the Right is rearing its ugly countenance and finding form in the insane among us.

It is true that a pound of lead and a pound of flowers, when dropped from the roof of a building, will strike the heads of pedestrians below at the same time. But whereas the lead will smash the heads of the pedestrians with life-ending force, the flowers will dissipate in a forceless explosion of color. They are not equivalent.

And the utterances of the Palins, the Becks and the Limbaughs do indeed have...


I. Of Choice

Despair is big with friends I love,
Hydrogen and burning jews.
I give them all the grief I have
But I tell them, friends, I choose, I choose,

Don’t make me say against my glands
Or how the world has treated me.
Though gay and modest give offense
And people grieve pretentiously,

More than I hoped to do, I do
And more than I deserve I get;
What little I attend, I know
And it argues order more than not.

My desperate friends, I want to tell
Them, you take too delicate offense
At the stench of time and man’s own smell,
It is only the smell of consequence.

II. Of Love

People love each other and the light
Of love gilds but doesn’t alter,
People don’t change one another, can scarcely
By taking will and thought add a little
Now and then to their own statures
Which, praise them, they do,
So that here we are in all our sizes
Flooded in the impartial daylight sometimes,
Spotted sometimes in a light we make ourselves,
Human, the beams of attention
Of social animals at their work
Which is loving; and sometimes all dark.

The only correction is
By you of you, by me of me.
People are worth looking at in this light
And if you listen what they are saying is,
Love me sun out there whoever you are,
Chasing me from bed in the morning,
Spooking me all day with shadow,
Surprising me whenever you fall;
Make me conspicuous as I go here,
Spotted by however many beams,
Now light, finally dark. I fear
There is meant to be a lot of darkness,
You hear them say, but every last creature
Is the one it meant to be.

III. My Acts

The acts of my life swarm down the street like Puerto Rican kids,
Foreign but small and, except for one, unknived.
They do no harm though their voices slash like reeds;
All except one they have evidently been loved.

And down the hill where I’ve planted spruce and red pine
In a gang of spiked shadows they slouch at night.
I am reasonably brave. I have been, except on one occasion,
Myself: it is no good trying to be what you are not.

We live among gangs who seem to have no stake
In what we’re trying to do, no sense of property or race,
Yet if you speak with authority they will halt and break
And sullenly, one by one, show you a local face.

I dreamt once that they caught me and, holding me down,
Burned my genitals with gasoline;
In my stupid terror I was telling them names
So my manhood kept and the rest went up in flames.

‘Now, say the world is a fair place,’ the biggest one said,
And because there was no face worse than my own there
I said it and got up. Quite a lot of me is charred.
By our code it is fair. We play fair. The world is fair.

-- William Meredith

05 January 2011

Voices and Soul

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

04 January 2011

At a holiday gathering, a friend recounted a story told by Senator Al Franken, in which he balanced Liberal and Conservative approaches to the history of the United States. The Conservative, Franken said, loves America and its past like a four year old; whereas, Liberals love America like adults.

The four year old loves mommy and mommy can do no wrong; and woe to those in the sand box who might question mommy's correct and consistent exceptionalism. The adult sees their parents as flawed but noble creatures who did the best they could. Could have been better, but the adult still loves them for the energy in protecting the family, for keeping the family together.

The adult cannot just explain away or ignore the terrible compromises their parents made along the way; the adult will acknowledge and attempt to better their own futures with the knowledge of those ancestral histories.

The Conservative either feigns ignorance or simply ignores the history; or conjures a child-like myth to scare away the bedtime ghosts of our past.

On the Steps of the Jefferson Memorial

We invent our gods
the way the Greeks did,
in our own image—but magnified.
Athena, the very mother of wisdom,
squabbled with Poseidon
like any human sibling
until their furious tempers
made the sea writhe.

Zeus wore a crown
of lightning bolts one minute,
a cloak of feathers the next,
as driven by earthly lust
he prepared to swoop
down on Leda.
Despite their power,
frailty ran through them

like the darker veins
in the marble of these temples
we call monuments.
Looking at Jefferson now,
I think of the language
he left for us to live by.
I think of the slave
in the kitchen downstairs.

Linda Pastan