Monday, September 13, 2010

Marilyn Buck's Poem: September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001
   I move
   Julan hollers
          come   come see
          the world trade center's
   she's not serious
   no one would make that up
          would they?
   live on TV
          video mantra
                 replay: plane crash
                 replay: collapse
   slow motion, dying morning
   no, not a made-for-TV movie
   not a disaster film
   not Hollywood special effects
          one tower falls
          the other follows
   do chickens come home to roost?
   enormity crashes
          dazed  disbelief
                 (chickens won't roost here again
                         pigeons either)
   I, a political prisoner, can
   conceive why
 comprehension is not complicity
          I look around me
          I know nothing
          I know too much
   there is no answer in death
          nor in dying
   I know
          soon others will die
          dark smoke spreads
          cinders of wrath rise
          the eagle's talons spread
          hungry for revenge
   (eyes locked on the shocking scene
   a Muslim sister whispers
   they will blame the Muslims)
   I know
   many will feed the eagle
          the Palestinians?
                 (Palestinians are always suspect:
                 they suffer)
   Muslims? Arabs?
   many will die red upon the land
   I can't comprehend
   men who commit suicide
   taking civilians with them
          (a u.s. postal worker
          Columbine high school boys
          a man at McDonald's
                 all-American suicide killers)
   used as
          I shudder and walk away
          from death
                 to my cell
   Bich Kim runs in
          if there's a world war three
          they will shoot all the prisoners, won't they?
   I shake my head
   I don't think so
          but you, political prisoners
          like you, won't they?
   I hope not
          (question marks
          the corners of my mouth:
                 what do I know
                 about the fine print)
   I turn to sweep the floor
          find rythms of the ordinary
The Order: 9:00 AM PDT
   a tap
          I turn
   a guard
          come with me
   I won't return today
   I stand before the captain
          we must lock you up
                 for your own safety
   (not for my safety)
          you're intelligent  you know why
   I speculate, no
   not for my safety
          you must be locked
          just for your safety
   I am
          stripped naked
          ID card confiscated
          everything taken
   I need my glasses!
          keep the glasses
   I keep a neutral face
          handcuffed behind the back
          clad in bile yellow for isolation
          and flip-flops
   I keep outrage
          wrapped within my fists
   I swallow anger
          metal clangs swallow sound
   the concrete cocoon swallows me
The "SHU": Special Housing Unit
   "there was an old woman
   she lived in a shoe"
          what did she do?
   9/11   no prisoner may speak to you
          you may not speak to any prisoner
   9/12   overheard voices
          there are terrorists here
                 who are the terrorists?
          silence, everyone behind her door listens
   9/14   a legal call
          small relief: it's political -- Washington --
     not something i did
   9/17   no more calls
          no visits
          no mail
                 until further notice
   i hang from a winding string
          winding in this cocoon
   i breathe deep
          the air isn't good here
   (from outside the walls Susan yells
   you are not alone)
          i breathe deeper
   Sunday i get a radio: KPFA lifeline
          Sikhs dead, detainees disappeared
          political prisoners buried deeper
   i remember another September 11: Chile '73
          more than 3,000 dead
          tortured assassinated disappeared
                 a CIA-supported coup
                 (the WTC bombers not-yet-born)
                 many people there still mourn
   let us mourn all the dead
   and the soon-to-die
   i worry about the prisoners
   isolation sucks at the spirit
   i am
 furious: inferred association
   held hostage in place of men
          with u.s. weapons and CIA training
                 an infernal joke
   the puppet masters laugh
   i laugh to stay sane
   before i explode in irony's flames
   we are hostages
          to blood-thirsty oil men
          ready to splatter deserts
                 with daisy-cutters
   their collateral damage
          dead mothers and children
          dead mother earth
                 dead daisies
   (hasn't this happened before?
          u.s. cavalry and smallpox blankets
          special forces and blanket bombing)
   (Susan is back
   she taps on the wall: you are not alone)
   i walk around the edges
          how many walk on edges?
                 what edges do the Palestinians walk?
   cold radiates whitewashed
          walls press against my edges
                 suspend animation
          no butterflies to break out
          no silken thread to weave sweet dreams
   panic rises in my throat
          thick white choking cold
   so cold
          i swing hope on a thread
   a transparent sliver it crashes
   against the cinderblocks
          i drop
   frozen chrysalis
   cold into a coffin box
   i lay down on suspect blankets
   a Cyclops light pins me
          onto the metal cot
                 an altar for vengeful gods
                 metal restraints for hands and feet
          "just in case"
          the suicide cell has ghosts
          desperate women
   lain here chained four-pointed
          to command composure
   sacrificed to voyeur visions
   through the glass starkly
   through a burqa window
   i don't want to think of i
          i meditate
   i think of other politicals
          behind wires and walls
 remember the assaulted
          the accidental
          the collaterally damaged
          killed, corrected, coerced
   i remember: the u.s. funds the fundamentalists
          Muslims Christians Zionists
          self-righteous missiles
          of mayhem and retribution
   i remember Afghani women held hostage
          inside indigo cocoons
          cells smaller than a confessional box
                 my veil is this cell
Dispatches from a Political Prisoner
          i will put on no other
          except the veil of sleep
   the light, damn the light
          the Cyclops spies
   i toss between the tomb-thick walls
          how long will this go on?
          will my bones break
                 into ice shards or will they desiccate
                 stranded in this dark cocoon
at last i doze
   till dawn the Cyclops watches
   clanging keys, slamming metal
          shift change
          daylight creeps inside
   i rise: i must seek cycles
          without clocks or mirrors
          without all but i
The Weekend
   a glacier, daylight advances
   a plank of light teeters
          on the edge of board-faced windows
   travels obliquely across
          then it's gone
   warmth fades fast
   the food trap opens
          cold eggs the color of our clothes
          plunk -- weekend brunch
   i swallow in silence
   silence flees before sudden cacophony
   two women beat plastic bowls on metal doors
          we want rec we want rec
          the sun is out we want out
   my head is wrapped in metallic clanger
   bang bang bang
   i stay silent
   i bite my lip
   hours pass: shift change 2:00
          the sun drops fast behind the wall
   finally: who wants recreation?
     I do
                 me too
                          let me out first
   voices reach through the metal doors
   food traps clank
   handcuffs click
   one by one women are led
          to wire cages
          joy rings louder than the chains
i wait
   no guard comes
   i break silence
          you didn't ask me
   disembodied denial echoes through the walls
          you can't go with the others
          not my decision
   i will miss the sundrops
"Perchance to Dream"
   night comes
   i fall exhausted into sleep
   i dream of Dresden Hanoi Baghdad
          whistles scream
          walls fall apart
                 in waves
          Dali deserts
                 watches tick
   dream shift:
          swords of steel glint against the sky
          a swarm and puff
Dispatches from a Political
          dark blood drops
          bituminous birds bank
          spread-eagled free fall
          ashes ashes they all fall
                 down dark flashes
          cherry splashes on concrete
          Babel towers collapse in crying heaps
          a curtain rises gray
          covers gladiators draped across the stage
i wake cold-throated
   what time is it?
   my limbs locked
   beneath a concrete rockslide
   is this my tomb falling on me?
   my chest is piled rock-heavy
   bodies rise from the shallows of my breath
   graze my eyes and flee
          across the desert scape
                 shadow prints dissipate
   am i awake?
the Cyclops stabs my eye
   i must be awake
i wrap a scratchy towel
around my face
i escape electrified night
   into sightlessness
   a ghost voice wails
   what time is it?
   a deep male boom
   1:24, go to
   no, turn on the radio, talk to me
   no! no! please no, my eyes blink
   inside their blind
   little Brueghel men dance
   wooden-shoe notes
   ruthless on my sleep
   sound streams woman's babble
   pools beneath the door
   i hunker under the winding sheet
   does she stop talking
   or do i descend?
   i don't remember
   shift change
   shift change
   guards come and go
   officials pass by peering
   into our crypt-cages
   taking notes, verifying our "safety"
Monday, September 24
   the captain appears
   we may release you today after 2:00
   2:00 comes and goes
   the shift changes
   i wait and wonder: will other politicals be released today
          i wait
   hope is the moment's thief
          don't wait
   at last: Buck roll out
   i leap a jack-in-the-box
   the metal key clangs just before the
 4:00 count
   i gasp relief
   and hurry through before the gates slam
   shut and i am left below
   Eurydice whom Orpheus glimpsed
          a moment too soon
   i step out
   a four o'clock unfolding, fuchsia in the shading light
   back into the routine prisoner's plight
    Marilyn Buck (December 2001)

    MARILYN BUCK is a political prisoner serving an 80-year sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California. She was convicted of helping Assata Shakur to escape from prison in 1979, and a series of other political actions protesting U.S. government policy. While in prison, Buck earned a B.A. with a focus in psychology, and is currently working on a Master's degree in Poetics. Her chapbook, Rescue the Word, was published in 2001. Her poem, "Too Dark," was awarded first place in the PEN prison writing competition. She is also the author of several articles of political analysis. "Incommunicado" and other writing by Buck appear in Joy James (ed.), Imprisoned Intellectuals.

MORE:  MARILYN BUCK made her  transition from this life on August 3, 2010, after being buried in the tombs of this government for over 33 years and receiving medical treatment too late for it to be effective.

No comments: