The Revolution does not begin

over coffee at the Epicurean,

does not begin over gravy and grits,

in the first joint, the last hit,

the Morning Chron, your morning shit.

The Revolution does not begin

pulling greenchain on the graveyard shift,

or making the welfare line by nine.

The Revolution doesn't begin

in your mind, your heart, your liver,

your prick, doesn't begin

when you clench your fist,

The Revolution doesn't being in 1776,

1917, the depression, the dawn,

doesn't begin with gurus, Cinques,

the news from L.A.  Havana, manana.

The Revolution doesn't begin

with both barrels, at the bottom of bottles,

on the pages of bibles, with the blues.

The Revolution does not begin,

The Revolution has no beginning.

The Revolution is unending.

The Revolution is not like a faucet –

you can't turn it on and off.

The Revolution leaks all the time –

you can’t call a plumber to fix it.

Arcata California U.S.A 1976

The Midnight Special

burrows into the bowels of

the North American nightmare

like a sleek silver tapeworm

consuming the body fat of

the most overstuffed nation on earth.

The rules for travel

are posted at the terminals:

Report all suspicious activities.

Do not leave luggage unattended.

Protect your back at all times

from suicide bombers,

Homeland Security,

GMO corn, AIDS, Anthrax,

The Anti-Christ.

the New York Times.

I scratch out a map

in a wilderness of white paper

that bloodies the nation

with crimson headlines

from sea to stinking sea.

I can no longer parse the horror.

The scales have fallen

from my snake eyes

and the serpent has shed its skin.

There is no one lie

worth dying for.

Ir al lugar de los hechos,

Go to the place where it happened.

That is the first rule of the finding.

They will not want you there

but you will learn much

from their fury.

Write it all down

right away in your head.

Do not let the details leak out

no matter how badly

they beat you.

Do not forget their faces.

Do not believe everything

they say.  Do not believe

anything you read.


Autumn 2004, San Francisco

"…y mis venas no terminan en mi

sino en la sangre unaname

de todos los que luchan

para la vida…" Roque Dalton

They will bloody the new moon

with their terrible daggers,

blunt the horns

of this luminous crescent,

and rip open the night

that mothers us all.

The killers will fall upon us

and all dreaming

will be disallowed.

Only the screams

of the skinned victims

will be acceptable

in this brand-new

Amerikkan nightmare.

We have come here

to this ancient land

to share with our blood

brothers and sisters

the evisceration of hope,

We say that we will stand

between the bombs of Bush

and the cradle of civilization

but indeed this is all metaphor

and pantomime.  Now only

a god who died long ago

can deconstruct the monsters

who plan this genocide.

I am an old man

who has lived

an honorable life

and now seeks

an honorable death –

but I refuse, above all,

to surrender

my beating heart

to these whores of war.

Wherever my soul

shall fly tomorrow,

it will never stop cursing

that bastard who calls himself Bush

and I shall survive

in the flowers of the desert

and the open veins of the people.

Baghdad/March 2nd 2003 (presented at the Iraqi National Theater)


We emerge from hours

days of hours

hours of minutes

minutes of seconds

entombed in darkness

so heavily freighted

with the corpses

of a hundred thousand Iraqis

that we cannot breath

a cavern of horrors

this war

it is with us every second

of every minute

of every hour

this war

weighing like a coffin

upon our pierced hearts

blindfolding us

before the torturers

this war

they attach the cables

to our genitals

jam them up our rectums

searing us with

jolt after jolt

of their imperial

power tools

this war

we are beaten with rods,

with chains, with each other,

our minds are scooped out

by American monkeys

wielding stainless steel spoons

the noise of this rendering

pummels our ear drums

as we watch our loved ones

drawn and quartered

forced to fake fuck each other

in the drizzling gloom

upon Bush's Murder Machine

until our twisted lacerated

corpses can no longer

feel the sensation

or taste the pain

this war

we are frozen

in cryogenic darkness

from which we are

only allowed to emerge

drained and punctured

on the third day

after the crucifixion

resurrected by our rage

and then suddenly

as if nothing happened


as if it was just one more

bad dream


we are in stunning sunlight

above the azure sea

watching the ferries

drift off to Asia

the memory of

this war

a black blot

on the back of the brain

like a paralyzing migraine

that never goes away.

Istanbul June 2005

para Lee Kwang Hai y los y las compas de Via Campesina

Mister Lee had some cows

but he lost them to the bank.

His friends explained sadly

how sometimes Mister Lee

would return to his lost farm

and just sit there

staring at the fallow land

blowing away in the wind.

Times are tough for small farmers

in Korea,

in Mexico,

in India,

in Palestine

in the South,

the North, the East, the West,

he had some land,

he had some cows,

he lost them both

to the bank or the government

or the World Trade Organization,

something bigger than himself.

That was Mister Lee's first death.

After Mister Lee's first death

he flew to Cancun in Mexico

to protest with many campesinos

the WTO,

the banks,

the governments,

the something-bigger-than themselves.

They were angry.

They wanted to sweep them all

into the deep blue Caribbean sea,

and on the Day of their Dead.

the Koreans carried a dragon

to the gates of the Palace

and tried to shake them down.

Mister Lee who was not young anymore,

climbed the barricade

and with a warrior cry,

plunged the dagger

deep into his sad heart.

I saw him teeter and fall,

his rich red blood

spurting into the earth

as he merged with his ancestors.

That was Mister Lee's second death,

The day after

Mister Lee's second death,

a handful of farmers

wearing straw sombreros

and green kerchiefs,

brought candles and white flowers

to mourn Mister Lee

right inside the belly of the beast.

For hours, they marched

round and round

the Cancun Convention Center

laden with their sadness,

so dignified by it

that their authority

caused the officials

of the World Trade Organization

to flinch, an incommong posture

for such great men.

Then the campesinos built an altar,

all candle wax, incense, and white petals,

to remember the lost lands

the lost cows,

the lost dreams,

the dead farmers

spread under the blazing sun

south, north, east, west.

And on the second day

after Mister Lee's second death,

we circle-danced in the street

and sang anthems to the moon

and even the Cancun police

began to weep.

And on the third day

after Mister Lee's second death,

we pulled down the barricades

and Chaac rained down

upon the still-green ground

and we prayed to the gods

that we could all be Mister Lee.

And on the fourth day

after Mister Lee's second death,

the delegates from the poor places

in the south, the north, the east, the west,

took Mister Lee into their hearts

and the talks collapsed into ashes

in the mouths of the powerful

and we all went home laughing.

That was Mister Lee's third death,

the one he liked best,

his resurrection and ascent

into the lost land

from which he would be born


again and again.


September 2003
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These poems are from BOMBA -
available from the author