Author Topic: Collection: Stories from the Silence  (Read 2208 times)


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 364
  • Kudos: 3
    • View Profile
Collection: Stories from the Silence
« on: September 19, 2019, 04:27:59 PM »
Stories from the Silence

1, Voice of a Village Elder

I keep a big flower pot
full of curly parsley
so I can make tabouli salad
at a moment's notice;

I know when to cut back my roses;
I've been to East L.A.
Where cottage yards flourish with colorful geraniums
and marigolds and crack dealers
stand confidently on corners;

I caught a thirty-eight pound rock cod
off the continental shelf
at a depth of three hundred feet--
its eyes popped out from the pressure change
when I pulled it up;

I climbed five-hundred-fifty-one steps
to the cupola of St. Peters Basilica
keeping in mind the plight of poor and infirm
as suggested by the posted sign;

I marched against the war across
the Washinton Avenue bridge
where John Berryman gave up his fight
against drink and stopped;

I floated on blood-red breakers at sunset
off the shoreline of Puerto Vallarta
while a typhoon blew futher out
and rode a plow horse on the edge
of a North Dakota wheat field
as July turned to August;

I make phone calls to my congressman
and never miss a vote even during mid-terms
I am a member of the Silent Generation
born during the second war to end all wars;
my generation has always been thought
to have nothing much to say.

2, Forty Millimeter Pom Pom, Three-Manned

My father was a gunner on an LST
in the South Pacific.
I don't know which islands he patrolled--
below the equator.
He had photos of initiation rites
held on deck as they crossed zero latitude:

An old hand presided dressed as Neptune,
wore coarse white hair made from a mop head,
blanket robes, held a trident, all the men were laughing,
sailed someplace where women
wore grass skirts, naked from the waist up.

Posed in line, native people stared back solemnly from cracked
and folded black and white.
My father said men and women both had purple teeth
because they chewed betel nut.

One day a shipmate got his guts shot out:
tried to hold them in, it felt like he had to take a shit--
held his intestines in his hands, my father said,
and told the guys he had to take a shit.

My father only told that story once.
That's about all I remember.
But he never missed an episode of Victory at Sea,
we all watched with him on Sundays.

On weekdays that he didn't go to work,
he put an LP record of Rimsky-Korsakov's
Scheherazade on the hi-fi:
let it play over and over;
drank beer, mostly, while the music swelled

to the crashing of the ship. Over and over. A neighbor
honked an ooga horn on his jalopy,
all hands on deck,
my father jumped to his feet,
looked wildly around the living room,
he had no idea what to do.

#3. still in progress

4, Red Scare, Black List: The McCarthy Hearings on Anti-American Activities

Orson Welles, director, actor, writer:
movie Citizen Kane dared to question excesses of capitolism.
Black listed: left America 1948, silenced.

Langston Hughs, jazz poet: Harlem Renassaince,
dared to citicize treatment of Negros in America,
called to testify 1953. Blacklisted, silenced.

Dorothy Parker, writer, poet, critic, arrested 1950 at the height of her career
for supporting Screenwriters Guild and the Anti Nazi League
both commie fronts. Blacklisted, silenced.

And the Labor Union leaders and the homosexual educators
and the left-leaning liberal members of intellectual communities
who attended secret meetings, called one another comrade,
who hated America and tried to bring it down
in league with Russian commie red operatives.

We saw what was going on
revealed by Herbert Philbrick who weekly foiled
outrageous plots on the TV series I Led Three Lives
in which, as a double spy, he infiltrated evil doings
right here in freedom-loving America.

5, Desert Mushroom, 1957,

Atoms for Peace
an educational film projected on a roll-down screen
Richfield High School, social studies class,
interviewed those who were there
after the first images we saw of what was wrought.

They were crouched in ditches,
some in bunkers
pierced with observation slots,
they shieded their eyes
at detonation,
saw the bones of their hands
the bones of their hands were revealed
but the flesh remained intact.

Young military men in thrall to the power
watched the shape rise
until the sky bloomed blinding red
and spread and spread.
It seemed, said seventeen year old,
private first class, Joel Healy
as if all the clouds of the sky
were on fire.

6, I never Wore A Poodle Skirt

In the center of the continent
We yearned for
the New York underground
dressed in regulation berets and black
we slouched in 
in blue-collar suburb
basement rec rooms
and played hi-fi
albums of Jack Kerouac
reciting poetry. Steve Allen
pianoed jazz background
we dug Charley (the bird) Parker
and Moon Dog was gone, man,

and so was ban the bomb.
We'd looked wildly into
one another's eyes
when our principal on the intercom
in a shocked voice announced the Russians
had launched ---

We were beat and we were Beatniks.
Yeah man, ban the bomb.
At night we were aware
of Sputnik overhead
we became deep thinkers waking.

We dreamed of mushroom clouds
and took cover: sirens drone--
The age of Ike was waning
and the world was going to change forever
by intellect or radiation
it was up to us.

The mummers went on the road.
Kerouac went back home
the rest was burned in acid.
There's still tie-dye shirts
for sale in shops
that line Haight-Ashbury
but not a trace of beat or ban-the-bomb
In New York City.