Psalm 55 by Fred Mecklenburg

On hearing that Trump excluded Muslim refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day…
..
my country is a country
of robbery and trespass
forgive us lord
forgive us our trespasses
and the refugees we demanded
of the Iroquois Cherokee Sioux
Yoruba Asante
Filipinos Hawaiians
Vietnamese Afghans Iraqis
a hundred more
these cities of burning young
the dead poets in our robes
of honor
and the dead honor in our poets
..
lord forgive us our shaming
of the mother of exiles
the dousing of the harbor lights
human cargo fed the tempest
as was done to the least
will be done to us
as the woe due to those by whom
the offense came again
..
and those refugees from evils
lord
forgive us the St. Louis driven sea
to unfathomable shore
to cold sea fog to terminus
I spent Holocaust Remembrance Day
hearing magnificent cantor Sirota
who perished in the uprising
of the Warsaw Ghetto
Psalm 55 forgive us lord
forgive us Idlib and Aleppo
Raqqa and Wadi Barada
forgive us Kafranbel
and Maarat al-Numan
forgive us our blindness to the death
of our souls
..
and forgive us our forgetfulness
and disregard
of human suffering
forgive us these politics of 1933
reenacted 2016
..
forgive us lord your justice
poured out
a fiery rain upon our heads
forgive us in the tank columns
rolling down State Street
in the camps we’ll be sent to
out on the chill prairies
in the innocent blood flooding
our golden wheat
forgive us
..
forgive us lord in betrayal
a smiling neighbor
and a knife
and the blade less deadly
than that reaper’s mouth
but hey forgive me too man
I hardly know you
just the button and the MAGA cap
to unleash a wolf pack
you say you’ll leave me unharmed
but your president’s pen
was drawn through my heart
to sign
our country away
..
and forgive us lord
the barriers
thrown up on street corners
and the guards checking IDs
colors names and religions
forgive us
for turning from forgiveness
once offered
our choice between ascension
and the maelstrom
badly made
..
forgive us lord
forgive us
as something fine disappears forever
up the ass of its crimes

white dog inaugural (himself canine after the rain) by Fred Mecklenburg

Fourth of July
fiery rain burns down through skin
it’s streamers come explosions on the night
melted dials a tortured horse last light bulb on
in limbo
 
do his hands shake
in terror or prayer or infirmity
or to his own dying music
heart attacked between the lesson and bad life
a fading glow
 
adolescence
self-crucifixion by gouging wire
electric lust of past for future
now a whitening dream among fate’s greater scars
poor tyro
 
let’s unwrap it
merciless bleeding edges of broken mirrors
invisibility becoming a multitude of cuts
hands heart mind stripped naked to autumn
and the crow
 
doesn’t matter
when your city burns your self becomes fire
and flesh shows only smoke and tinder
and the contemplation of its scattered ashes
year zero
 
blood red turns pinioned white to black
in the heart of the inferno
in the cut rose
shines a semi-fertile seed of night
 
sawdust pictures
manipulations done by way of air and straw
and that struck match ever hovers there
I hear him singing to complement the burning
movie show
 
it’s not Zontar
more alien yet still more hateful
oversprouted thin-skinned vegetable head
and a bitter legion walking dead
in its shadow
 
a ruined child
its golden treasury of obscene bedtime stories
personal theory of decline in the rank of prophets
rally calls for the tarring and feathering
of the superego
 
the pale shed tears
glimmering punk lights run off down bad alleys
the grinning cracked walls of debased chapels
rattling bones set dancing by water damage
so thorough
 
sliced elephants
cut rhino horn ground in occupied nations
animal torture and Aryan hair
blasted poles refrosted with artificial sugar
plastic snow
 
filthy river
it’s a winding chart of cash payments
and some blood caked favor each one bought
it’s a world within the world lurks
incognito
 
it cries time die
a drawn out torment is its ecstasy
extended limo leaves steel treads over Hammurabi
Nuremburg highs and subordinates trembling
like jello
 
firebrand fascist
burns up everything beyond a lash’s reach
hell hounds sprung from mothballs half asleep
relearning scents laid up in secret databases
long ago
 
the carnival color wheel of pain
forever grinding westerly
harvest of sunflowers
blue gun smoke around the moon
 
he dares the bugs
suck his arm infiltrating little love pumps
fit to burst upon a white sheet
all poetry to be interrupted
merely so
 
he hides in rooms
seeking anonymity in tangling sheets
until it dawns these blank hotels are teeth
around a mouth swallows earth
as they yellow
 
he dares the dogs
there’s an atlas of the stars in his room
impact holes in ancient plaster
and a wet scent by which he goads flecked dogs
to bellow
 
he tells their tale
but only because he may have lived too long
what’s gone is gone buried built over lied
a heart aches for a song and finds itself
a dead radio
 
this bone prickled creek bed’s called skeleton wash
rib cage freckling in the sand flow
sun soft hiss
 
in the center of his head
the curses flesh like bites of sunlight
from living water
 
he dares the dogs
to shake themselves the starry chains of heaven
long dead wells of abstraction
flailing dogs unleashed in the creation
run mad  below
 
he dares her now
she wants the head of John the Baptist again
flag wrapping illuminated
roman candles pilot fish and nukes
tight set to blow
 
thrift shop word play embedded with boozy prose
an old friend’s skull become my own
possession
 
the fossil mites and spiders
frolic bedrock of a dreary head
untimely laughter
 
he dares all cops
stand flat footed flea bit bleeding midnight
burning up pages from this morning’s papers
a mad dog stinking of last night’s rain fall
timed to go
 
he dares the state
his cross firmly planted in its landscape
off fields run red with its wolves
the semi-circles of his sweat shocked eyes
roll to follow
 
morning glory spit stalk nightmare
shirt knit of casual weeds
cut skin passed around
a chorus sounds high locust prayers
 
a thief’s red hand
a flickering torch lit vainly in pursuit again
recanted citizenship reclaimed
my lost homestead in the arc of his stuffed fist
lays me low
 
my shirts all smell
cigarettes body odor poverty and shame
bad eyes broken teeth impending lunacy
still laughing up a nasty sleeve
at the preacher’s echo
 
this empty cry
raining rabid sky spittle and hard dry ice
the man fell asleep across the heating grate won’t hear
but if my Antarctic would shake his Arctic hand
he would know
 
such a rare bird
its frayed and blood-gorged crimson feathers
with its still thirsty trim of this world’s spectrum flags
and its breathless map hugged hard by a python
tornado
 
brute servitude
laying out horizon lines in southern latitudes
swallowing ocean waves become law
generations sweating life against tyranny
ducks in a row
 
miss just one thing
ever so trivial it’s death destroyer of worlds
drifting smoke mistaken for your bones in moonlight
it’ll sell the Devil your soul for its one lost ticket
to El Dorado
 
molten gold rush
Wimoweh manifest pipelines Zantzinger rentals
colonization’s fattening on coke and a smile
Wisconsin Pennsylvania
Ohio
 
fifth sixth seventh
but the days of iniquity stand numbered
unrighteous towers eventually fall from within
like straw of prophecy in its crossed divinations
I say so
 
no diamond
birthed smooth in its venerable pit
be less regnant more fetid my line
more magnetic less bravura
more sonorous and deep embouchured
this white noise won’t do
 
not now no nor ever
 
no
 
no
 
no
 
no

Culture Shot by Fred Mecklenburg

“don’t move!” he shouts
and aims
a nervous practiced hand
bearing death
.. 
“don’t move!” he barks
at history
embodied here at arm’s length
asking “why?”
 ..
“don’t move!” he cries
“don’t move!”
where in the dimness of his world
wraps himself in oblivion
 ..
scenic horses
stride away the dream
of a moment
 ..
late villain
of imagination carried
to the hills
 ..
“don’t move!” it reads
below
in the caption says “the shooting
will be investigated”
 ..
“don’t move!” he knows
his dreams
will win his murder vindication
lest his world must wake
 ..
and move as if
alive
justice baring all its dangers
and angry eyed truth
 ..
women dance
in proscenium mirrors
amber flows
 ..
the free and brave
well trained to silence smile
embrace him
 ..
“don’t move!” he laughs
“old friends
I love you just like you are
cold as death”
..
 Written in response to the police murder of Alton Sterling.

Power by Fred Mecklenburg

 “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Like most ideological statements it begs all questions.Used to watch the lightning crack down when it stormed.
Misconceptions abound.

The revolution composed itself in the delicate hand of a child.
The revolution organized itself as notes from the conscience of a brave woman.

The revolution offered itself to you with the blood and sinew of disciplined non-violence.
Brought to light what happens in the dark.

Used to imagine the hands that built the brick wall and chain link fence.
Those summer ladders.

The revolution re-imagines itself step by step on the ground of certain absolutes.
Dignity. Justice. Freedom. Freedom! Truth.

Used to play battlefields in the tall grass backyards.
Took half an afternoon.

Read about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 1526 to 1870.
It too grew from the barrel of a gun.

One day those millions of murdered souls rise from the oceans and the prairies.
They ask are you now, or have you ever, been a member.

The revolution measures out its betrayal in gun barrels.
The world measures out its own indignity.

The revolution measures out its worth in martyrdom.
The world measures out its injustice.

The revolution has set its horizon far beyond the reach of any ballistic.
That world of freedom is coming to be. Will be.

Read about the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II.
Wars of Religion and the Hundred Years’ War. Cold war.

Used to weigh out those feather light pages with a child’s fingers.
Summer ladders and a hard-won human voice.

The revolution is neither the last word nor only the first.
It’s the poetry, the philosophy, and the life fit to be made by all.

Being the warrior without becoming the war.
Being the revolution.

(for Hamza al-Khatib and Razan Zaitounah, and all the warriors)

we shared a paradise by Fred Mecklenburg

we shared a Paradise
like we shared a whisper
held the rags and bones of dream
between us once upon a time
some thousand years
some thousand years set free

now we manage with a tent
a bag of rice with foreign letters
stamped across and matches
for the fire we throw the newspapers
into fix our bellies with our
own burning lives

we’ve done it for you
we’ve died beneath the barrel bombs
gently falling snow cut with chlorine
our dying mothers cry
we hold them tight until their last
quick fall into nothing

they disappear into memories
of the few of you who notice
and we wonder do you care
or was it just imagined
in our fasting

ten thousand marching smiling
proud again to be human
in the world we’d made from dust
ten thousand years
ten thousand years set free

we’re met with truncheons
shot down in the tens and then
the hundreds

met with propaganda words
hypocrisy and silence
cold as death

now we’ve ended here at last
your only friends if only known
the Christmas star atop this thing
you’ve raised to worship on
that’s mostly just a fiery lie to tell
our broken bones in ruin

dream of ancient beaches
washed beneath gold vaulted sky
the brown skin melts with earth
tall trees thin arms and legs
made for wind and water
cook smoke in the hills