“It is the duty of every poet to speak fearlessly and clearly.”
– Sam Hamill

If you’ve been moved by this unjust war to write a poem, please consider submitting by email to thorleyp1@yahoo.com. or mail to SPC. Work on themes of war, the war economy, oppression and political injustice, and/or which celebrates more positive hopes and visions, will be considered.

Elegy for the Orchards
by Paul Aviles


In the end, perhaps the burning of olive or almond or peach trees cannot be
compared to other atrocities: the cock in a man's mouth, the bloated bodies
floating in a catchpool at the foot of a tumbling, slow waterfall
jammed up and bumping one another like so many cut logs
drifting lazily on the world's most beautiful river.

But an orchard destroyed sticks in a man's mind a long time.

Imagine the stunted, flowering apple trees just south of
where we now sit--if they were dismantled:
the gnarled trunks torched beyond recognition, the ancient grafts loosened
like a woman's thick braid. Imagine the rootstock chosen slowly over many generations
has been rendered inviable, and that the once-cold fruit has vanished
forever in a gasp of smoke on the thick morning air,

the stench of kerosene and sweet sizzling apples
congealed into memory like cold grease on the skin.
In other words: imagine if you can
on a cool morning just like this one with its bird and slow light
your entire life gone.

Then you will begin to understand maybe why
after long generations, the Cherokee and Seneca remember peaches,
survivors at Dayr Yasin, Shatila, Jenin the sting of bitter green almonds.

Poet, translator, and essayist, Paul is currently working on a new series of poems entitled He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. The poem remembers and connects Native American massacres and massacres of Palestinians in Lebanon under Sharon's command.