Poetry & Spoken Word

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Allen Ginsberg: 'Moloch' from Howl


What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains
    and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children
    screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch
    the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and
    Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone
    of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money!
    Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
    Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the
    long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in
    the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and
    banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud
    of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch!
    Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a
    body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I
    abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind
    capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks!
    monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting
    the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs!
    Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves!
    Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade
    farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to
    the river! into the street!

Madeleine Burhan: Weeds of Man

Terror, terror, the conflict they lust
The fire it boils the blood of earths crust
It bleeds, it bleeds, humans they sleep
The eyelids they flicker, as history repeats
I heard of a bomb and a threat today
The government threw some lives away
The horror of conflict all over the news
The hatred for mans differing views
Hatred that weed, it grows and grows
From a seed of a story, blew down in the snow
Uyghur, Ukrainian, Syrian, dear friends
Brothers and sisters knocked down in this trend
To shed a tear now, leaves less for the night
When the crazy man rests, and I cry for this fight
Catholic, Muslim, Christian, Jew
Your god is a shared one, that is within you
Without education, this war will rage on
Forever we grieve in a fight left undone
Soldiers and saints, our saviours for now
Are killing off peace, yet endure somehow
Here we go again, round the same old clock
Terror, terror, the laughing stock
Men, women, children, unite
Keep calm, carry on
But say no to this hate

From Madeleine Burhan's The Normalcy Bias, 2014

Sheila Coombes: An Anti-War Poem for Today

While leaders play chess
Soldiers wreak death and destruction
With no resurrection for them or their prey.

Resources are scavenged, cultures are ravaged,
Humanity’s the loser at the end of the day.

War or intervention, not forgetting to mention
‘Right to Protect’ (R2P) being put into play,
It’s all fabrication,
Pitting nation against nation,
While the powerful sit waiting to plunder the disarray.

Don’t act in haste, death is just waste,
No chance to taste the freedom or democracy
For which they felt the pain,
It’s murder by nations, hell’s manifestation,
A strategist’s temptation for tactical gain.

They meet their demise with tears in their eyes,
A moment’s Goodbye,

And, yes, they did die in vain.

Sheila Coombes
Coordinator Frome Stop Wars Campaign
July 2014

Daniel Jakopovich: Lampedusa


On the barbed wires of Lampedusa
the Halflings dwell.

Twenty hundred years after Christ and the Samaritan,
in countries that consecrate their names and desecrate their memories,
they bury live people.

Bako crossed the wasteland wide,
just one friend was by his side.

The Master and the Slave,
and the whole grisly dialectic of philistines and concentration camps,
brim on the rim of the continental Citadel.

Ebele crossed the water deep
leaving Bako in his sleep.

Better to drown than be drowned, in shacks where no rafts were provided by the
good people of Europe.

On the barbed wires of Lampedusa
the Halflings dwell.


Tens of thousands of refugees have crossed the Mediterranean in recent years, often on inadequate and overburdened wooden boats. The Lampedusa ”immigrant reception centre” is the primary European entry point for illegal immigration from Africa. In 2009, the detention camp was criticised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as many of its 2,000 boat people were sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting, which was later destroyed in a fire during an inmate riot. By the end of 2011, around 50,000 refugees had arrived from Tunisia and Libya. On 14 April 2015 around 400 refugees drowned attempting to flee from war-torn Libya, which was followed by the drowning of at least 40 other refugees only a couple of days later. These and countless other refugee tragedies are being caused by heartless xenophobia and the Anglo-American war machine.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Speak Out

And a vast paranoia sweeps across the land
And America turns the attack on its Twin Towers
Into the beginning of the Third World War
The war with the Third World

And the terrorists in Washington
Are shipping out the young men
To the killing fields again

And no one speaks

And they are rousting out
All the ones with turbans
And they are flushing out
All the strange immigrants

And they are shipping all the young men
To the killing fields again

And no one speaks

And when they come to round up
All the great writers and poets and painters
The National Endowment of the Arts of Complacency
Will not speak

While all the young men
Will be killing all the young men
In the killing fields again

So now is the time for you to speak
All you lovers of liberty
All you lovers of the pursuit of happiness
All you lovers and sleepers
Deep in your private dream
Now is the time for you to speak
O silent majority
Before they come for you!

Daniel Jakopovich: A Young Plant at Khyber Pass

Be they a hundred years old,
patriarchs of conquest cold
nodding on thrones of porphyry,
never have they seen, like Mehri at ten,
what she had witnessed then,

When metallic brutes of prey
stole her father's breathing dear,
bedimming the daylight's way,
bloodying her beauty clear.

In the playground of oligopolies,
of dirty old orders of war which sear small birds still,
ambulant, benumbing hostilities
ravage the biophile ethic of Summerhill.

The loess of bellicosity
in Badsha Khan's tenacious hills
obscures such archaeologies
which bring forth nobility
through solar, gentle pedagogies.

In a lair as blind as this,
what could she have learnt of
art, and logic, and peace?