In response to the cancellation of Laura Bush's symposium "Poetry and the American Voice," which was to be held on February 12th, an international unification of poets to create a statement of peace and opposition sprang forth more quickly than a sudden storm. Through the efforts of Sam Hamill and his quickly formed Poets Against the War, in conjunction with the networking of The United Poets Coalition (UPC), word spread at an astounding pace. From what was originally an email to only 50 poets, Sam wound up with a new website, being leader of a movement, and a posting of more than 5,200 poems thus far <www.poetsagainstthewar.org>. The UPC established Read-In 2003. In less than two weeks, plans were made for approximately 250 poetry events worldwide to share works of pacifism, opposition to a war in Iraq, and to honor the three great American poets originally named: Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes <www.unitedpoets.org>.
Locally, we proudly stood as a part of this global outcry in Hanover Square, downtown Syracuse, on Wednesday, February 19, 2003. These poems are a small sampling of the words shared in the quest for peace. Education through poetry is the intention, spreading peace is the intention. Being seen, being counted is crucial. At this time, more people are speaking out, marching, protesting, than have since the Viet Nam War. People like myself, who have not taken to the streets in eons are looking to be seen and heard as citizens for peace.
_Georgia A. Popoff
Community Poet and Regional Coordinator, United Poets Coalition
A shuffling across the sky. Geese
Going west-east, a penitent band, close-chained, honking
Doxology, pink vapor trails like lash scars above them _
December, New York, about 60 degrees. I'm driving home
In boiling traffic, the sunset chalk-smudged
By smog, a slight tang of smut & coal smoke on the breeze.
Darkness steams from tailpipes stark as headlines.
Now stars lay out their cutlery, the moon
Gets folded like a swan, street lamps come on, pouring
Their milk-light for the kids playing soccer
In the street, happy
They can refuse what their mothers make them eat _
_ Martin Walls, author of Small Human Detail in Care of National Trust (New Issues Press, 2000). His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Nation, Ohio Review, The Gettysburg Review and Beloit Poetry Journal. He lives in Syracuse, and teaches at OCC, Syracuse University, and the Downtown YMCA.
Upturned, leaves address a beckoning breeze, find their peace
In a cappella sway, in wind-seized waltz to peace.
Yllka Domi writes her poems, knows the bitter end
Before she lifts her pen in sorry pleas for peace.
The trees are gathering, at once, their riffling skirts
Bide afternoons with ease, convey false sense of peace.
Yllka writes her poems on tear-stained pages; she knows,
At seventeen, degrees of loss, illusive peace.
Intensities of green combine in skyward swipe
At lazy clouds, distractions from far breach of peace.
Yllka hides beneath dead branches in her garden;
Up Quabrati Hill she flees, gasps for air, frail peace.
Windswept leaves assume the skitter of a rain dance,
Yield soon to sullen sky, a frieze drawn over peace.
Yllka's house, her poems burn; only one survives:/
A Song of Spring, her memories for you, for peace.
Oh, tempted clouds, erupt; let healing rains begin.
Mercy reign on Kosovo; in our time, please, a peace.
_ Ellen Kramer McNeal, who says, "I am a poet, a weaver, and a piano player. I am also a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mother of four sons, a grandmother to nine children. For all connections, I pray for peace."
Beyond the Path Through Hay
With gratitude for Hedgebrook Farm
and Cedar Cottage in September.
Beyond the path through hay,
beyond the blackberries, the stinging nettle,
beyond the warning chirr of douglas squirrel
is the cedar house with the arched door.
beyond the night howl of coyotes,
the questioning call of owl, beyond
green grass snakes curling in the sun
are pegged beams, strong as arms.
beyond the clatter of computer keys,
scattered newspapers, the voices on the radio
beyond broken fountain pens, frozen ink
a long desk below windows, below hemlock.
beyond the camps in Afghanistan, the
bombed concrete of Jenin, beyond the lost
chimneys of Bosnia, the cold Kosovo winter.
three pillows in a window seat.
beyond India, Pakistan, beyond Palestine
or Israel, beyond the roadblocks and border
checks, beyond Iraq
the tulip window open to morning
beyond burqua. chador, and scarf
beyond mosque, cathedral, wailing wall,
beyond the midwife with her basket.
beyond the fallen Tower dust,
the mourn of bagpipes, school children
singing beyond the empty graves _
iron stove with fishermen and gulls.
Beyond the meadow, the forest, the banks of dahlia,
beyond the big-leaf maple
beyond all imagining
_ Kate Murphy, poet and essayist from Skaneateles Lake. Her chapbook, When We Thought of War, was published last fall by Pudding House Press.