Leslie Scalapino, Editor
2004 • 112 pp. • $14.00
Poetry, Art, Anthology
War and Peace includes the works, composed during the current time of the buildup to and the U.S. war on Iraq and its aftermath, of writers and artists. As in Tolstoy’s novel, everything can go on— everything goes on—in war and peace. To see being a form of action.
“To absorb the news like a bitter drink. To create terror, that’s war. To wallow in cruelty, that’s conquest. To burn. To kill. To torture. To humiliate: that’s war, again and again. To try to break the iron circle. To go downtown, at least, to park on Caledonia. To walk all the way to the Walhalla, along the water. Measure the mast of an extraordinarily beautiful sailboat with one’s incredulous eyes.”
“I’m gone away/soul dipped/in fuel/laserlike sloth capabilities/run through”
“Flagrant drift walkers”
“To read a lot of trash mixing the blood of war with business’s stench. To root out any happiness. To go out, and down, and on the road. To hesitate; to go on, and ahead, and back, and up the stairs, and in one’s room. On the way, to notice that the mountain is still there. To lie and sleep, deeply, heavily. To reproduce night’s sleep. To wake up, look through the window at green water, from the Bay to the mountain, and return to one’s self. To remember that war is devastating Irak. To feel pain.”
“the point is/to transform it/beyond recognition/….no heart in such a thing/no such thing as no heart in such a thing/but no such thing as heart/and now you need and seek and beseech one”
“Supposing truth is a/current,/ “,what though the radiance alas/in what wild wood/ traverse what pathless haunts, etc/ “as I said,”/flesh into strips/with a dagger”
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Leslie Scalapino (1944 – 2010) is the author of thirty books of poetry, prose inter-genre-fiction, plays, and essays. Granary Book just published a collaborative book by artist Kiki Smith and Leslie Scalapino, titled The Animal is in the World like Water in Water. Scalapino’s It’s go in horizontal/Selected Poems, 1974-2006 was published by University of California Press at Berkeley in 2008. Other books of Scalapino’s poetry include Day Ocean State of Stars’ Night (Green Integer), a collection of eight years; Zither & Autobiography (Wesleyan University Press), The Tango (Granary Press), Orchid Jetsam(Tuumba), Dahlia’s Iris—Secret Autobiography and Fiction (FC2 Publishers); a reprint of the prose work Defoe (Green Integer); and It’s Go In Quiet Illumined Grass Land (The Post-Apollo Press).
Jackson Mac Low
Stephen Ratcliffe, from CLOUD / RIDGE
circular pink red flower on green passion vine-
covered fence in the left foreground, the bird
disappearing into the upper right corner
on the 44th floor of the South Tower feeling it
move after second plane hits, Neville Brothers
singing “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”
noting Osama Bin Laden quotes from the Koran
urging his men to kill Americans, George Bush
promising “we will rid the world of evil doers”
Mr. Ramsay feeling into his pocket for his book,
girl in boat staring at the shore “whose points
were all unknown to her”
curve of dark green
trees in back of last house on the sandspit,
white line of wave moving across channel
white-streaked chickadee on curved copper bar above the feeder, the circular pink white rose to the right of a red finch on lower left perch
man in red jacket looking up at four black birds on the telephone wire, two more on horizontal
pole to the left
woman from East Setauket noting Bush admits futility of dropping two-million dollar bombs on an empty Afghan tent,
man in black tee-shirt reading the words “DEAD WHOLE WORLD DIED”
Lily Briscoe “thinking again of Mrs. Ramsay on the beach,” girl in the boat thinking people on shore “have no suffering there”
bird turning across grey-white sky, slope of sandstone-colored cliff below it
pink white cloud slanting up across pale blue sky above still dark plane of the ridge, white-streaked chickadee landing on curved copper bar above the feeder
hummingbird darting over top of green rose bush, Rumsfeld naming the new war
Operation Enduring Freedom
noting sky’s “rich yellow fading into pale blue & streaked & scattered over with steady islands of purple melting into shades of pink,” William writing “A violet by a mossy stone/ Half-hidden from the eye”
Lily Briscoe calling Mrs Ramsay, imagining “leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air”
pale blue white haze on horizon,
slope of sandstone-colored cliff in left corner
cross-hatched yellow lines on black moth’s wing against pink rock in the window sill, the white
wall of fog in front of invisible ridge in left corner
man on radio claiming the war will be “unlike wars we have seen before, Bush calling
mobilization of troops a “crusade”
man in black and white checked shirt recalling pushing pencil in Okinawa, white-haired woman adding the liquor there was cheaper then the stuff they put in it
boy in boat thinking about his father, wanting to “take a knife and strike him to the heart”
pale green plane of point below blue whiteness of sky in right corner, wingspan of a pelican gliding above the back of the wave toward it
small grey cloud passing across bright white
light of a waning full moon above left-sloping
shoulder of ridge, Jupiter to the left of Saturn
Rumi claiming “we are in love with love/ Muslims
are something else,” Bush announcing 320 million
dollars in aid to Afghanistan
the CIA calling
what happens when US foreign policy backfires
“blowback,” Pentagon labeling people killed
Lily Briscoe thinking
about Mrs. Ramsay resting in silence, wondering
what we feel “at the moment of intimacy”
line in grey-white cloud above right-sloping
shoulder of ridge in upper left corner,
cormorant flapping in from point
Juliana Spahr, March 27 and 30, 2003
During the bombing, beloveds, our life goes on as usual.
Oh the gentle pressing of our bodies together upon waking.
Oh the parrots and their squawking.
Oh the soft breeze at five to ten miles per hour.
Oh the harsh sun and the cool shade.
Oh the papaya and yogurt with just a little salt for breakfast.
Oh the cool shower that we take together.
This makes us feel more guilty and more unsure of what to do then ever.
We watch it all happen on television.
We go to protests as they happen.
We write up reports of our protests and send them out to friends who then send them on to friends and we read our friends’ reports with pleasure and hope.
We count numbers attending and numbers arrested.
100s in San’a.
500 in New Delhi.
50,000 in Athens.
10,000 in Cape Town.
25,000 in Boston.
1,500 in Chicopee.
3,000 in Los Angeles.
3,000 in Santiago.
120,000 across Australia.
Around 100 in Beijing.
10,000 in Edinburgh.
10,000 in Paris.
50,000 in Berlin.
30,000 between the cities of Osnabrück and Münster.
Still a huge sadness overtakes us daily over our inability to control what goes on in the world in our name.
And we comment on the pleasures of our own lives sardonically to try to take back this sadness, these nightmares that happen in the world while we are sleeping and show up in our dreams, pinning us down to the bed, on our backs squawking.
We say ironic things to each other.
Oh go get your war on we say when one is being too boastful.
Oh sure, we say, oh yeah, we say over and over while watching some general about something, as if inarticulate expressions from our childhood will save us.
Today, as this war begins, every word we say is indicted, ironic or not, articulate or not and we feel it all in the room all day long.
When we speak of Lisa Marie Presley having sex with Michael Jackson we speak of JDAM and JSOW air-to-surface precision bombs.
We speak of the stinger anti-aircraft missiles and the massive ordnance air blast bombs when we speak of SAP AG and the Microsoft RPC hole and the Denial of Service attacks.
When we mumble about whether the mystery disease is a statutory communicable disease or not we can’t keep the words M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicles, M6 Bradley linebackers, and Humvees from stumbling out of our mouths.
When we speak of Robert Blake back in court we speak of GBU laser-guided bombs, of GBU-28 bunker buster bombs.
We speak of Daisy Cutter 15,000 pound bombs as we speak of both the MK82 500 and 2000 pound bombs and we also speak of thermobaric weapons, tomohawk/AGM-86 cruise missiles, and Have Nap missiles when we speak of Snoop Dogg’s decision to include a message left on his answering machine by Big Jim Bob that taunts Suge Knight.
When we talk about how the Florida nurse died of the small pox vaccination and how sperm may sniff their way to eggs we talk also of M109A6 Paladin howitzers, the M270 multiple launch rocket system.
We get up in the morning and the words Patriot missile systems, the Avengers, and the US infantry weapons tumble out of our mouths before breakfast.
When we marvel at the new $100,000,000 theatre for Celine’s new show at Caesar’s Palace we marvel also at the maverick air-to-surface missiles, the HARM anti-radar missiles, the AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, and the hellfire air-to-surface missiles.
And it goes on and on all day long and then we go to bed.
In bed, when I stroke the down on yours cheeks, I stroke also the carrier battle group ships, the guided missile cruisers, and the guided missile destroyers.
When I reach for yours waist, I reach for bombers, cargo, helicopters, and special operations.
When I wrap around yours body, I wrap around the USS Abraham Lincoln, unmanned aerial vehicles, and surveillance.
When I rest my head upon yours breasts, I rest upon the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Guided missile frigates, attack submarines, oilers, and amphibious transport/dock ships follow us into bed.
Fast combat support ships, landing crafts, air cushioned, all of us with all of that.
The war started and I could not ever make sense of it or why it had to happen and the world goes on and I still can’t make sense of it. Day after day there is no sense. And that is the way it is.
Etel Adnan, To Keep a Diary in a Time of War
To say nothing, do nothing, mark time, to bend, straighten up, to blame oneself, to stand, to go toward the window, to change one’s mind in the process, to return to one’s chair, to stand again, go to the kitchen, to not eat nor drink, to return to the table, to be bored, to take a few steps on the rug, to come close to the chimney, to look at it, to find it dull, to turn left until the main door, to come back to the room, to hesitate, to go on, just a bit, a trifle, to stop, to pull the right side of the curtain, then the other side, to share at the wall.
To look at the watch, the clock, the alarm clock, to listen to the ticking, to think about it, to look again, to go to the tap, to open the refrigerator, to close it, to open the door, to feel the cold, to close the door, to feel hungry, to wait, to wait for dinner time, to go to the kitchen, to reopen the fridge, to take out the cheese, to open the drawer, to take out a knife, to carry the cheese and enter the dining-room, to rest the plate on the table, to lay the table for one, to sit down, to cut the cheese in four servings, to take a bite, to introduce the cheese in the mouth, to chew and swallow, to forget to swallow, to day-dream, to chew again, to go back to the kitchen, to wipe one’s mouth, to wash one’s hands, to dry them, to put the cheese back into the refrigerator, to close that door, to let go of the day.
To listen to the radio, to put it off, to walk a bit, to think, to give up thinking, to look for the key, to wonder, to do nothing, to regret the passing of time, to find a solution, to want to go to the beach, to tell that the sun is coming down, to hurry, to go down with the key, to open the car’s door, to sit, to pull in the door, put in the key, turn it on, heat the engine, listen, to make sure nobody’s around, to pull back, to go ahead, turn right, then turn left, to drive straight on, to follow the road, to take many curbs, to drive down the coast, look at the ocean, admire it, to feel happy, to go up the hill, to reach the other side, then go straight, to stop, to make sure that the ocean has not disappeared, to feel lucky, to stop the engine, open the door, to exit, to close the door, to look straight ahead, to appreciate the breeze, advance into the waves
To wake up, to stretch, to get out of bed, to dress, to stagger towards the window, to be ecstatic about the garden’s beauty, to observe the quality of the light, to distinguish the roses from the hyacinths, to wonder if it rained in the night, to establish contact with the mountain, to notice its color, to see if the clouds are moving, to stop, to go to the kitchen, to grind some coffee, to lit the gas, to heat water, hear it boiling, to make the coffee, to put off the gas, to pour the coffee, to decide to have some milk with it, to bring out the bottle, to pour the milk in the aluminum pan, to heat it, to be careful, to pour, to mix the coffee with the milk, to feel the heat, to bring the cup to one’s mouth, to drink, drink again, to face the day’s chores, to stand and go to the kitchen, to come back and put the radio on, bring the volume up, hear that the war against Irak has started.
To get more and more impatient, to be hungry, to bite one’s nails, to wear a jacket, to open the door, walk down the hill, to look at the Bay, see boats, notice a big sailboat, to go on walking, to be breathless, to turn left, then right, to enter the Sushi-Ran, to wait, to look at the waitress, to call her, to rest one’s elbows on the table, to pull them back when the tea arrives, to order, to eat, drink, to use chopsticks, to be through, to wipe one’s mouth with the napkin, to read the bill, to count, to pay, to thank graciously, to exit, to start the road uphill.
To rise early, to hurry down to the driveway, to look for the paper, take it out from its yellow bag, read on the front-page WAR, to notice that WAR takes half a page, to feel a shiver down the spine, to tell that that’s it, to know that they dared, that they jumped the line, to read that Baghdad is being bombed, to envision a rain of fire, to hear the noise, to be heart-broken, to stare at the trees, to go up slowly while reading, to come back to the front-page, read WAR again, to look at the word as if it were a spider, to feel paralyzed, to look for help within oneself, to know helplessness, to pick up the phone, to give up, to get dressed, to look through the windows, to suffer from the day’s beauty, to hate to death the authors of such crimes, to realize that it’s useless to think, to pick up the purse, to go down the stairs, to see people smashed to a pulp, to say yes indeed the day is beautiful, not to know anything, to go on walking, to take notice of people’s indifference towards each other.
To have lunch. To ask for some beer. To give one’s order. To drink, eat, and pay. To leave. To reach home. To find the key. To enter. To wait. To think about the war. To glance at the watch. To put on the news. To listen to the poison distilled by the military correspondents. To get a headache. To eat dry biscuits. To put the radio back on. To hear bombs falling on Baghdad. To listen to ambulances. To go out on the deck. To look at the lengthening shadows on the grass. To count a few dead flies on the pane. To go to the table and look at the mail. To feel discouraged. To drink some water. To not understand the wind. To wonder if the human race is not in chaos. To wish to blow up the planet. To admire those who are marching against the war.
To hear a war from far-away. For others; to bomb, eliminate a country,
blow-up a civilization, destroy the living. To exit from one idea, to enter another. To go. To cross the Golden-Gate. To enter San Francisco. To stop at the light. To enjoy the luminosity of the green. To be on Market Street. To see too many policemen. To be told to keep going. To see young men being arrested at the end of the march. To measure tension in the air. To seek Valencia. To go all the way to Connecticut and park the car. To enter through the gate of CCAC. To sit in a room which is dark. To listen to a poet, then to another, speak about a time gone.
To stop at the gas-station and fill up the tank. To go uphill, peek at Mount Tamalpais. To take a rest, breathe, contemplate. To find a path and walk on wet grounds. To enjoy the enormous variety of the shades of green on the mountain. To raise one’s eyes to the sky and bring them back on the horizon. To compare the different greys of the sky. To try to speak to the clouds. To say yes, it’s impossible. To linger on the mystery of communication, to bemoan its absence. To say it’s okay, then not to believe oneself. To think of the morning news, to be horrified. To despise. To hate. To empty one’s head of overflowing e motions. To regret that evil exists. To blame oneself for the existence of evil. To want to forget about it and not be capable of doing so. To wrap oneself with death.
To turn the page without moving into a new life. To put on the radio. To listen and receive much poison on one’s face. To curse the hour, the fire, the deluge and hell. To lose patience. To lynch misfortune. To prevent the trajectory of inner defeat from reaching the centre. To resist. To stand up. To raise the radio’s volume. To learn that the marches against the war are growing in number. To admit that human nature is multifaceted. To know that war is everywhere. To admit that some do win. To drink some water. To turn in circles. To pretend that one is not spent out. To believe it. To pretend. To discuss with one’s heart. To talk to it. To quiet it down, if possible. To curse the savagery of the technologically powered new crusades. To remain in doubt. To come out of it in triumph.
To run down for the Sunday paper. To read: “Target: Baghdad.” Back to the radio, hear about the American dissidents. Hear that the Blacks are overwhelmingly against the war, that the Irakis are resisting. Do some cleaning. To put up with an inner rage. To admit the evidence of evil, the existence of pain. To not be capable of finding, within, one’s source of energy. Feel gratitude for those who protest although knowing that they are moved by their own moral sense. Take risks, that’s what they do. To think that the Arab states feel uncertain, to say the least. To find the radio unbearable.
To wait for the reaction, the vengeance. To be thirsty, hot, then to feel cold. To invade the body, says evil. To speak of evil. To make a phone call. Not to tell all that one thinks. Not to think about all one knows. To hang up. To pick up the bottle of Korrectol and start erasing memories. Not to be hungry but to eat, nevertheless. To satisfy other needs by eating. To feel disgusted. To count the dead of either side. To come back to the radio while congratulating oneself of not possessing a T.V. set. To listen to the Egyptian, Turkish, Jordanian, Syrian and Iraki reporters on the radio. To feel worn out.
To admire the light, bless the spring. To bring down the garbage, close the lid. On the way up, to look at the bluebells, smell the verbena and the sage. Once in the living-room, hear and weigh the silence. To suffer from the disaster. To do nothing. To think about history then reject that thought. To align some books on the shelf, and throw away quite a few. To pick up a magazine, to throw it back into its basket. To find a forgotten translation of Parmenides. To read a few sentences, discovering his impatience. To intend to read him later, but there’s no “later” at this moment. To consider the present time as sheer lead.
To put things in order. To find a 1975 diary. To read at random: “Back from Damascus.” To read, further: “Sunday the 12th. Mawakef meeting.” To leave the notebook on the table. Turn the radio on KPFA. To absorb the news like a bitter drink. To create terror, that’s war. To wallow in cruelty, that’s conquest. To burn. To kill. To torture. To humiliate: that’s war, again and again. To try to break the iron circle. To go downtown, at least, to park on Caledonia. To walk all the way to the Walhalla, along the water. Measure the mast of an extraordinarily beautiful sailboat with one’s incredulous eyes. Admire the black hull and its thinness. Compare the lightness of the sailboat to the government’s moral thickness. To admit that there’s nothing that one can do.
To bring down a military plane over Afghanistan. To welcome the sun. To water the plants. To roll back the hose. To unroll it again. To go on watering. To place the hose next to the wall. To displace shadows while displacing oneself. To go back to the typewriter. To worry about the ribbon, to wonder if it needs to be replaced by a new one. To control the desire for sherbets. To breathe painfully. To keep one’s anger low key, sweep away one’s worries. To take off the shoes and wear other ones, and enjoy the result. To see what time it is. To uncork the inkpot. To read “Mont-Blanc” on the label. To fear for the ink to evaporate. To carefully close the inkpot. To glance at the watch and realize that it’s time for the (bad) news. To put up with it.
To read on the calendar that Lyn Kirby is coming to lunch. To discuss the atrocities committed by the British and the Americans in Irak. To hear her say that war is an atrocity, point. To speak about astronauts and Space. To discuss the possibility of a collaboration. To bring on the table on the table rosbeef and salad. To mix the salad. To look at the mountain. To later bring down the night over the mountain. To guess its presence through the night. To affirm love, look through the void, measure its depth. To wonder if it’s permissible that some eat bio-foods while other dies of hunger. To imagine the war in Irak. To intimately know how ferocious invading armies are. To try not to die of hatred. To hold one’s head between one’s hands. To press on. To close one’s eyes. To have difficulty breathing.
To destroy Baghdad is the order of the day. To hear the soundtrack of the war. To be stunned by the spring’s colored beauty. To have coffee at Da Vino. To shake and sweat at the sight of a woman who is a walking skeleton helped to a car. To buy cornbread at the Real Food Store. To feel guilty when thinking of hunger. To be back. To admire the garden’s incredible beauty. To go up and store the bread. To put the radio on. To find the official hypocrisy untenable. To repeat that they are war criminals. To feel a lead like fatigue all the way down the body. To be desperate. To know the absoluteness of the war. To still believe that the future will escape the diabolical schemes of the enemy.
To extinguish the light in the eyes of those who love the world, to threaten life itself, to impose death, that’s war. To pour blood in the Euphrates and kill the inhabitants of the Tigris’s banks. To displace hills. To wipe out an open market. To make it impossible to get married, to sleep, to get up one morning in Bassorah, while they do it over there, in Mexico. To meddle with Arab destiny. To anticipate their death, dealing and wheeling. To pray to the ancient gods. Not to despair about the past. Not to forget. To be sure that some day, no one knows when, justice will prevail. To know that the world will take revenge for having been fooled. To keep knowing that there are mysteries and secrets.
To dream of deserts, to count the cactuses and all venomous plants. To yearn for spectacular suns. To raise one arm, then, the other. To follow the uninterrupted flow of news and reach an unbearable level of sadness. To pretend that one is okay because of the hunger in the stomach. To not eat or keep time. To pick up the notebook, then put it back on the shelf. To live with the knowledge that the Americans, the English, their allies, want the people of Irak, the children, the men of Irak, to be destroyed. To compare what’s going on with what has always been going on. To hang on straw. To be disoriented. To be running and standing still, in the dark, on the deck. To read the map of the sky. To mark out the stars. To spot the Pleiades. To remember Babylon. To spread blackness on one’s heart. To come in. To close the door. To wait for the slightest noise. To put an end to a long day. To go to sleep.
To do as if things mattered. To look calm, polite, when Ghaza is under siege and when a blackish tide slowly engulfs the Palestinians. How not to die of rage? To project on the screen World War I, then World War II, while expecting the Third one. To scare the innocent, by following the Israeli way of spreading terror. To make a phone call to Paris. To tell Walid that things are alright. To lie. To admit that the weather is noncommittal, beautifully. To feel indifference toward a spring suddenly heating up. To choose which shirt to wear. To fill one’s mind with the apprehension of the Sunday paper there, at the door.
To read a lot of trash mixing the blood of war with business’s stench. To root out any happiness. To go out, and down, and on the road. To hesitate; to go on, and ahead, and back, and up the stairs, and in one’s room. On the way, to notice that the mountain is still there. To lie and sleep, deeply, heavily. To reproduce night’s sleep. To wake up, look through the window at green water, from the Bay to the mountain, and return to one’s self. To remember that war is devastating Irak. To feel pain.
To walk toward the chimney, stand there, return to the table, sit and uncork the inkpot. Bring the cork back to its place. To follow a shadow’s edge. To raise one arm in order to create a shadow. Not to define its color. To be puzzled by its nature. To mentally cover distances and not decide if they are on earth or in space. To hear steps. Prick up one’s ears. To wait. To put uncertainty to rest. To evacuate the brain from any sort of presence. To get rid of that guilt while doubt starts to creep in again. To fix one’s eyes on the painting. To get lost in the painting. To make coffee. To pour it but forget to drink it. To drink it cooled down, throw the rest. To get upset. To say the hell with it the hell with it. To wait for the mail while thinking who cares!
To go to the dentist early morning then drive back and come home. To lie down, waiting for the news at noon. To have a headache. To be impatient. To vomit the war. To greet Sarah Miles, with tea, with cakes. To miss the news. To chat. To say goodbye. To start a valise. To forget the war. To never stop thinking about it. To ignore the beauty of the day. To water the garden. To slobber with disgust. To notice the porcelain blue of the sky. To follow a cloud. To encounter other blues. To come back to Earth. To fly over hills. To feel the breeze. To read an invisible line which says that in Baghdad people die ferociously. To face the mind’s emptiness.
To fly heavily like a crow. To hear the wind. To ply with branches. To blow one’s tree into the wild olive tree. To read Heraclites. To call him “the obscure”. Because his thinking happens within the questioning of clarity. To read Heidegger, soon. To be informed, by a phone call, that Turkey is stirring over Irak. To witness the execution of Irak. To force the Arabs to move backward. To be moved by the beauty of Rhea Galanake’s poem. Not to feel in good shape. To be getting old, to fight anxiety. To think about the trip. To visualize oneself at the airport. To start counting the days. To yawn. To look through the window. To measure the extent of one’s sadness, while denying its power. To look for the latter with no avail.
To rise in the middle of a feeling of discouragement. To make coffee. To warm some milk. To take vitamins. To wait for the storm. To listen to the news and let one believe that things, later, will be much better. To find little energy in the body or in the mind. To distill thoughts like one does alcohol, a drop at a time. To remember green plantations, red earth, black faces, white tears. To recall that nothing seems to have changed. To face a profound weariness. To stop the flow of these defeatist considerations. To keep quiet.