Monday, December 28, 2009

One Hand

There are things I can do with only one hand,
Though the exercise is meaningless.
I can cross myself in the Catholic tradition,
Cut most food with just a fork.

I can hammer but not hold a nail,
Fix a drink and get it drunk.
Brush my teeth and look in the mirror
And regret the one-handed image that is there.

But then there are the other things, sometimes dark:
I cannot tie my shoe or close my belt.
I cannot steer the car and touch your cheek.
I cannot pull the trigger of a rifle.

I cannot give birth or swim.
I cannot listen or scream at demons
(Since they require hands that wave.)
I cannot dance in any way that matters.

I cannot pray or plead or weep,
According to the rules of Renaissance art.
But I can keep the sun from my eyes
And the moon on most nights.

Sunday, December 20, 2009



Just ahead, around the coming curve,
There will be an intersection.
A guava tree where two red-dust roads will cross.
The woman with such poor memory waits there,

Shy as an adulterer, not knowing exactly
What to do with her eyes or breath or hands.
I’ll get there in a moment and I’ll stop.
Life works that way in the tropics.

Fruit falls off the trees whether we hear it or not.
Black birds slam into my window just to say:
Something is ahead. (Or something is behind.)
I have always known the woman waiting by the road.

And feeling the sharp memory, I focus.
How was it before, I ask.
And so we walk north,
hearing only the yellow-topped parrots.

After a while, our talk begins in earnest,
And centuries of words appear,
Words that must be said before
the next curve in the road. Before you leave.

By the mountain we slow our walk.
Freed from time but not from space,
We dread what’s around the curve.
Maracuya vines climbing the side of a hill.

We know the painful logic of these meetings,
Complicated by the tropical warp of time,
Full of tragic ending well before they end,
A promise that will have to wait for yet another life.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

changing course

When Obama was elected, I decided not to write about politics for a while. Now that he's won the peace prize for continuing the Bush policy of killing innocents, I've decide to publish poems here. (Think of Yeats' poem "On Politics"--one of my favorites.)

So here's one from a book I'm writing called Panama.

Things we know by their consequences

We believe so simply in the unseen:
Gravity, electricity, light and grace.
We register their effects quite precisely
And learn early not to question any motives.

The mango drops from a dark tree.
Tides move against a rocky shore.
My chest aches under the sky of birds.
Or do the birds themselves bring that pain?

I saw a clip of a movie once:
A golfer struck by lightning,
Exploded on an afternoon pasture,
Dropping to the ground for some heavenly reason.

The camera itself, godlike, recording that strange fall,
Is beyond my understanding. Electrons traveling
In some unknown medium, making precise marks
On an impossible mirror that records what is seen or not.

Jesus, I tire of so much mystery.
Holy spirits and sleepless nights.
This Equatorial moon and ghosts
Arranging the movements of waters and lives
And those graceless bolts of Panama lightning.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Naomi Klein's Lexicon of Disappointment

Trying to explain the disappointment that many of of feel about the Obama presidency, Klein writes:

"All is not well in Obamafanland. It's not clear exactly what accounts for the change of mood. Maybe it was the rancid smell emanating from Treasury's latest bank bailout. Or the news that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, earned millions from the very Wall Street banks and hedge funds he is protecting from reregulation now. Or perhaps it began earlier, with Obama's silence during Israel's Gaza attack.

"Whatever the last straw, a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard."

Friends tell me my expectations are too high, that the system resists change. But I know all that and so did Senator Obama when he ran. Obama said recently that he won't prosecute the CIA torturers who were following orders. He needs to reread Hannah Arendt. The world has been through this before.

You can read the rest of Klein's article in the Nation.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Who Wrecked the World's Economy?

Here's a snippet from Bill Moyer's recent interview with William K. Black:

*BILL MOYERS:* Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

*WILLIAM K. BLACK:* Absolutely.

*BILL MOYERS:* You are.

*WILLIAM K. BLACK:* Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. And we won't rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it's foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, "We just can't let the big banks fail." That's wrong.

Ever wonder why the banks had to be saved? Read on.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ecuador and the Dollar

As the Tsunami of world economic collapse moves steadily toward Ecuador, the government appears about to abandon the dollar.

Here's an article from Bloomberg:

By Lester Pimentel

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador is increasingly likely to drop the U.S. dollar as its currency this year after the government’s debt default, according to Bulltick Securities Inc.

The likelihood of Ecuador abandoning the dollar has risen to more than 70 percent from less than 10 to 20 percent a year ago, Alberto Bernal, head of fixed-income research at Bulltick Securities in Miami, said in a report.

President Rafael Correa’s decision to default on international bonds in December and a plunge in crude oil, Ecuador’s biggest export, have spurred capital flight, Bernal said. Ecuador adopted the dollar in 2000 to help curb inflation after the sucre tumbled 73 percent against the dollar and the government defaulted on $6.5 billion of foreign debt.

“The bottom line here is that if Ecuador is forced to leave dollarization at some point in the next few months, the likely collapse on economic activity in the country could become very significant,” Bernal said. “We continue to think that the days of the dollar in Ecuador are numbered.”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letter from Ramsey Clark

A message from Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark:
'Why indictment is a must.'

Dear Steven,

I am writing to you as a long-time supporter of the ImpeachBush movement. More than a million people came forward to demand the impeachment of Bush and other high-ranking officials in the Bush administration.

I am appealing to you to make a donation to a growing new movement for the indictment and prosecution of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other high officials of the Bush administration who engaged in criminal wrongdoing.

Please make an urgently needed donation today to help the IndictBush movement grow by clicking this link.

The greatest danger arising from impunity for President Bush and his cohorts would be that all subsequent officials will feel secure in committing the same crimes and the people, having failed to compel impeachment for such open, notorious and egregious crimes, will feel even more helpless to prevent them. Ultimately the power and the responsibility to prevent criminal acts by government is with the people.

The movement for accountability is sweeping the country. The Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, and the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, are both proposing to launch investigations into the possibilities of criminal conduct by high officials in the Bush Administration.

Now is the time for massive outreach and publicity. This requires organizing national call-in days to pressure Congressional representatives, intensive media work, and providing literature for people of conscience to distribute in cities and towns across the country.

Please consider taking a moment right now to make a donation to this new movement for the indictment of Bush. There is no time to spare. The time to act is now and we will.

The crimes of the Bush administration must be proclaimed, acknowledged and remembered because their disastrous human consequences, dictatorial tendencies, subversion of Constitutional government and violation of the rights and dignity of humanity. They include wars of aggression, the crime against peace and the "Supreme International Crime," war crimes, and crimes against humanity, genocide by military violence "with intent to destroy in whole, or in part, a national... or religious group," authorizing and condoning massive violations of the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights and other Amendments, international treaties including the U.N. Charter, Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Convention Against Torture, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Geneva Conventions.

The clear duty of the American people and their elected representatives -- on which the changes in U.S. government policies essential to achieve a peaceful, decent and humane future depend -- is the vigorous pursuit of the indictment of former President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and other high officials who have participated in their crimes, followed by rigorous criminal prosecution wherever the evidence, having been fully and fairly presented to a federal grand jury, results in their indictment.

The indictment of George W. Bush and other high officials is the challenge facing 'We, the People.' Will we rise to meet it? This is not a matter of politics or partisanship. It is the defense of the basic tenets of the Constitution. Please consider making a donation so we can get this movement off the ground and into the streets.


Ramsey Clark,
Former U.S. Attorney General

p.s. Please be sure to tell your friends to go to to sign the referendum!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keep Your Dirty Money

In his weekly television address yesterday, President Rafael Correa ordered his minister to expel US envoy Armando Astorga within 48 hours. Correa read from a letter written by Astorga that threatened to cut off US funding to the Ecuadorian police unless the US were allowed to continue to appoint high level Ecuadorian police officials.

In a flash of temper, Correa also ordered the police to return funds and equipment received from the US.

"Mr. Astorga, keep your dirty money. We don't need it. We have dignity in this country," Correa said.

Here's an article in the Irish Times.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Que se vayan todos

Published on Friday, February 6, 2009 by The Nation

Tide of Anger

by Naomi Klein

Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina."
Its message was simple enough. You--politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit--are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We--the rabble outside--are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, "¡Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model--this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism.

It's taken a while, but from Iceland to Latvia, South Korea to Greece, the rest of the world is finally having its ¡Que se vayan todos! moment.

Read the rest.