UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY - 01/2011


MICHAEL SHORB

BP DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE THESE PICTURES

As a public service,
BP will suppress a certain
number of pictures related
to recent events,
this measure is designed
to protect the sensibilities
of the average
american consumer.

the drowned heron
floating on oily sheen,
the duck drifting upside down,
gulf dolphins transformed
into oily rags,
and deep in the murk,
the sullen volcano of oil
exploding over and over.

contractors burning
piled heaps of sea
creatures just before
the rising of the sun.

Like the man
who shot himself
in the stomach
cleaning his gun
we look around in angry shock,
our technology
taunted and ridiculed
by a faraway
explosion in the sea.


AFGHANISTAN

Fresh disasters loom
suddenly as swerving
suicide trucks,
a blast stirs the sludge
of past disappointments:
Kipling’s regimental colors
are withdrawn, the roar of
Russian tanks fades
into rocky silence.

No freedom grows here
where only warlords and their
armies of orange poppies
and ten-foot pot
plants prosper.

Your 21st Century might is reduced
to a sideshow attraction:
a man catching
burning coals in his mouth,
desperately striving to suck
the fire into submission
before his beard ignites.

Afghanistan.

The shadow men from
the fourteenth century
are back, riding their
Toyota pickups into twilight,
defiant, time on their side,
wrapped in black
flags and suicide belts,
only the eyes visible.


Michael Shorb is a poet, technical writer, editor and children's book author who lives in San Francisco. He writes frequently about environmental issues and historical topics. His work has appeared in over one hundred publications, including MICHIGAN QUARTERLY, KANSAS QUARTERLY, THE NATION, COMMONWEAL, RATTLE, THE SUN, SALZBURG POETRY REVIEW, EUROPEAN JUDAISM, QUEEN'S QUARTERLY and THE SHAKESPEARE NEWSLETTER.







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