Red flag waving over Spartacus,
Red cloth stripped from a gladiator’s loins
To flutter in the milk-warm wind along the roads of Capua,
Red flag shaken like a bloody hand in the face of kings . . .
Red clout stuck on a spoke —
There flaunting gay as a red rose pinned
On a beggar’s cap in London Town —
Or clenched in a maimed hand . . .
A red and a white rose smashed together . . .
Red shoots mauled and trodden yet ever sprouting anew
Till the lopped staff blooms again . . .
Red flower of the barricades —
First over the scarp and last left lying like spat-up blood upon the snow,
When ice-fangs bristle in the cooled-off guns
And dawn creeps in between the forepaws of the silence that crouches above the dead . . .
Red light burning down the centuries . . .
Red fire dwindling to a spark but never out . . .
Gleaming a moment on Bunker Hill . . . sinking, a blown-out flame, leaving a deeper greyness . . .
Red Flag over the domes of Moscow . . .
There gleaming like a youth’s shed blood on gold
Red flag kerchief of the sun —
Over-devastation I salute you
You swing of necessity into male rhythms
that at once become female rhythms;
you take high place
as hills take sun —
being inevitable there
in the path of the sun.
Yet in you there is no peace,
but infinite collisions,
impact of charged atoms
in ceaseless vibration.
In you unimagined circuits,
in you uncoiled
passion electric —
the stroke swift
and the recoil as swift . . .
in you the unidentified power —
the world force.
The White Bird
Man of the flame-eyes
And mouth with the bitter twist of ingrown laughter,
And little bald man . . . whose seeming stillness
Is askin to the velocity of a spinning star
Holding its perfect poise —
You two yea-sayers
Beetling over the little deniers,
Two great levelers, building from the earth up among puttiers and sluggers of rotten piles —
You of the life running in ample measure amidst life deleted of its old raw fire as earth is deleted of its coal and iron —
You be mighty hunters and keepers,
Trotsky and Lenin —
Yet can you hold
The unconstrainable One
Of the slow and flaming deaths
And multiple resurrections?
Hands, reaching in hundreds of millions,
Backs, straightening under the keeling floor of the world,
Can you hold the great white bird?
— She that sweeps low over the chain-gangs
When they glance up from their stone-breaking
Into the morning’s burning gold —
She that goes down into underground cells
Sending the cool wind of her wings
Through unsevering stone . . .
And departs, unbeknown, from those who announce her,
Saying : lo, she is ours!
Ah what a mighty destiny would be yours,
Should you persuade her —
The unconstrainable One
Who has slid out of the arms of so many lovers,
Leaving not a feather in their hands.
Though your wild dreams
May die perhaps on the cemented stone
That they have cracked asunder . . . making way
For lopped things trampled in the dust and blood
Of the year’s barricades . . . and hopes that died
Alone against blank walls . . . yet what new growths
Against the cobbled ways . . . and all the green
Battened down dreams of the world quickening . . .
Like spirals of aborted pines that strain
To touch their tips with stars.
Santander Bank was smashed into!
I was getting nowhere with the novel & suddenly the
reader became the book & the book was burning
& you said it was reading
but reading hits you on the head
so it was really burning & the reader was
dead & I was happy for you & I had been
standing there awhile when I got your text
Santander Bank was smashed into!
there were barricades in London
there were riot girls drinking riot rosé
the party melted into the riot melted into the party
like fluid road blocks & gangs & temporary
autonomous zones & everyone & I
& we all stopped reading
Dude, You’re an Asshole
Everybody knows the centres of neutralisation, where it is required that no emotion
stands out, where each one has to contain himself & everybody experiences them
as such: enterprises (the family included), parties, sports centres, art galleries, etc.
— Call, Tiqqun
You’re a bumper, shock absorbers, brake pads
You’re a scab, an officer in plain clothes, a plant with a sewing machine
You’re the Christian indie rock band on the Kill Rock Stars label
You’re the ambient mumbling of Interpol & attenuation
You know who you are
I am Keyser Söze, one of those women
Who hits back, I’m not interested in your metaphysics or discretion
Your inability to drive on the interstate or let your inner hyena out
I don’t care if you can sympathize with the sentiment Dude, you’re an asshole
With your perfect playlist & spotless dance floor
With your simultaneous offerings of whisky, drinking etiquette & coffee
I refuse to dance at your lock-in or be ambushed
By your youth group, I refuse to call a dozen people wearing red
Awkwardly nursing their margaritas in a kitchen
A red party I promise you will be negated
Fuck the Burning Man you read about
I want to write an Alma who goes into the street.
With the sound of breaking glass all around you
She is close enough you hear the dead women
Out of nowhere say, “Take everything.“
You are, A history of revolt resulting in new forms of oppression. You are concentrated
in close proximity to the dilapidated plantations and ranches. You’re at all the punk
& hip hop shows. Something happened. The pigs went off. The jury came back with
a verdict. Negotiations failed. The fascists were coming together. Comrades starving
themselves in jail. You might have been skating less, which is how it is when what you
do could at any point involve you in zip ties. Like leaving the house. If you have one.
Whether you put it to yourself that way made no difference. You were done. Negative.
You think it’d be more interesting to write of being in it. To describe the dance, which
is to say the steps. A barrage of arrivals & moving on. A constant refashioning of the
on-hand. Almost midnight & you’re saying Oakland, OK, I understand, comparing
choices to all the protection you’re supposed to have, “making them anyway“ — to
quote a friend.
5 Out of 13 Ways of Looking at Poetry
Not Being Enough
If you were to wear a shirt that said LEAVE ME ALONE
People might not talk to you or harass you or assault you.
You might put them off. You might manage
To trick them, this time. That you weren’t even trying
Is a terrible sign — like an intersection with signs
That say DON’T STOP KEEP GOING.
It’s the difference between ALL ROADS LEAD
TO THE KILL FLOOR & YOU CAN SEE
YOURSELF OUT. I’m talking about the promises
Of art & promises of civil war. I’m saying the coldness
Of that adjective is no match for the heat in parts of the south
Or for being without water or running out of food.
People make things that reflect how they live, where.
These things are not to be confused with the shadows
They cast. When I write a poem I write about things
Like shadows, execute certain tricks. I can see why
People have compared it to dance, but have you ever
Danced in the streets? It’s better not to do it by yourself.
Terrorist attacks are a consequence of wars
You’re not supposed to know about. Planes
Flying into towers don’t start wars more than you
Not shopping. It’s no wonder you believe magicians are men
With magic hats that double as wormholes for rabbits
From galaxies far far away & magical women for so long.
At most, I can see a painting being like a bluff, a view
Of the back of your opponent’s cards when you’re playing
For money & you’ve already lost more than you planned.
But your relationship with it isn’t the most important
Or interesting one. Your love won’t change what a painting
I, which is someone’s time spent working for someone else.
one thing i’ve learned / come to a provisional conclusion about:
when it comes to fighting, there are people who will help you
fight & there are people who will not & there are people
who will stand in the way. find the people who will help / be loud
& clear so they know where you are — focus on them, be encouraged
by them, encourage them, work with them. don’t worry
about the people who won’t help. they will be of no help even
if they are on your side. waste as little energy as possible
fighting people who stand in the way, which is to say don’t talk
don’t argue, just get them out of the way of the fight you came for.
tl;dr: you don’t need or want
the people who you know
aren’t “with you“ to be
with you. really, you don’t
Letter to Timothy Garton Ash
For Stephen Watts
have you walked from Blackfriars to the
Strand through the legal gardens and
smelt the death molecules in the air
not the infectious miasma of bodies that
threatened to close everything down
including the novel itself in Dickens’s
Bleak House because European
social democracy has cleaned up and
removed it it also removed anything
that could have stopped fascism that’s
not part of your narrative the last
palace of words the body as it denies
we shall never serve
under a red flag
the magic word
and black reflux after
Athens and Schäuble
and the will of the people
trodden and pissed on
(to make sure they won’t do it again)
reduced to particles anxiety
hunted burnt or gassed
what has no name
have you felt the death molecules in the air
the particles that penetrate your words
can you hear the
when the dead demand
the food they didn’t eat
which Ritsos heard in the Makrónisos prison
Greek Civil War 1949
European social democracy
Putin must be stopped and sometimes
only guns can stop guns
Schäuble is one of the most remarkable
politicians I have known
at the end of the day what matters is what will work
yes you wrote that
but schäuble is actually insane and
it’s the voice of the dead says it
and can you hear it
hunted burnt and gassed
vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit vomit
the place has no
is not a place
say syria, palestine, hungary, germany, england and others
say it’s easier to destroy the world
than to destroy capitalism
say black square
is the place
dead do walk
on the way to the party on the 159 did you
know that Jimmy Savile was a friend of
Thatcher’s and what about all the other child
molesters but Rolf Harris wasn’t was he i was
fined 80 quid for pissing in the street did you
know if a pregnant woman wants to piss a
policeman is obliged to hold up his cape and
protect her the one who said that was
probably a cop SWP he said
inside a crime
is where i’m going
Margaret Thatcher died today
long live death i shouted
that’s a fascist slogan you said
it’s ours today i said
viva la muerte
her bag of bleeding flesh
and the cynical morning
and the murderous sky
let the music vomit her out
it would be better if you lined them up
against a wall and shot them than this grinding
i would not wish death on anyone
i don’t desire to break her law
i want to have done with it
viva la muerte
her wildly screaming
the spirit of ever-living and unwritten wilderness
and of the world of the dead — Hölderlin, ‘Antigone’.
her wild tears
cut the knot of pleasure
with total scission
someone else is the witness
there is no witness
spectres turn away
and murderers of the dead
oh tories and labour and corporations and hedge funds and IMF and
ECB and EU finance ministers
and all you who shit on the poor the disabled the out of work the
non-bullies the exploited in bullshit jobs
you’re the dead dead
the immortal dead
wait for justice
no more suicides!
A tour guide through your robbery
He also is
Cigarette saying, “look what I did about your silence.”
Ransom water and box spring gold
–This decade is only for accent grooming, I guess
Ransom water and box spring gold
–The corner store must die
War games, I guess
All these tongues rummage junk
The start of mass destruction
Begins and ends
In restaurant bathrooms
That some people use
And other people clean
“you telling me there’s a rag in the sky?”
-waiting for you. yes-
we’ve set a stage
We should have fit in. warehouse jobs are for communists. But now more corridor and hallway have walked into our lives. Now the whistling is less playful and the barbed wire is overcrowded too.
My dear, if it is not a city, it is a prison.
If it has a prison, it is a prison. Not a city.
When a courtyard talks on behalf of military issue,
all walks take place outside of the body.
Dear life to your left
A medieval painting to your right
None of this makes an impression
Crop people living in thin air
You got five minutes
to learn how to see
through this breeze
When a mask goes sideways,
Barbed wire becomes the floor
Barbed wire becomes the roof
Forty feet into the sky
becomes out of bounds
When a mask breaks in half,
mind which way the eyes go.
They killed the world for the sake of giving everyone the same backstory
We’re watching Gary, Indiana fight itself into the sky
Old pennies for wind. For that wind feeling you get before the hood goes up and over your headache. Pennies that stick together (mocking all aspirations). Stuck together pennies was the first newspaper I ever read. Along with the storefront dwelling army that always lets us down.
Where the holy spirit favors the backroom. Souls in a situation that offer one hundred ways to remain a loser. Souls watching the clock hoping that eyes don’t lie to sad people.
“what were we talking about again?”
the narrator asked the graveyard
-ten minutes flat-
said the graveyard
-the funeral only took ten minutes-
“never tell that to anyone again,”
the narrator severely replied
“You just going to pin the 90s on me?”
-all thirty years of them-
“Then why should I know the difference between sleep and satire?”
the pyramid of corner stores fell on our heads
-we died right away
that building wants to climb up and jump off another building
-these are downtown decisions
somewhere on this planet, it is august 7th
and we’re running down the rust thinking, “one more needs to come with me”
evaporated on earth,
so that we could be
sent back down?
The Course of Metal
Apparently, too much of San Francisco was not there in the first place
This dream requires more condemned Africans
State violence rises down
Still life is just getting warmed up
army life is looking for a new church and ignored all other suggestions
folk tale writers have not made up their minds as to who is going to be their friends
“this is the worst downtown yet. And I’ve borrowed a cigarette everywhere
…I’ve taken many walks to the back of buses…that led on out the back of a story teller’s prison sentence… then on out the back of slave scars.”
“this is my comeback face. Though I know you can’t tell…”
“I left my watch on the public bathroom sink and took the toilet with me. I threw it at the first bus I saw eating single mothers half alive. It flew through the line number… then on out the front of the white house”
hopefully you find comfort downtown. But if not, we’ve brought you enough cigarette filters to make a decent winter coat
a special species of handshake
let’s all know who’s king and what the lifespan is of uniform cloth
this coffin needs to quit acting like those are birds singing
those rusty nails have no wings
and have no voice other than a white world dying
there are indeed book pages in the gas pump
catchy isn’t it?
the way three nooses is the rule
the way potato sack masks go well with radio codes
Or the way condemned Africans fought their way back to the ocean only to find waves made of
burned up 1920’s piano parts
European backdoor deals
and red flowers for widows who spend all day in the sun mumbling at San Francisco
“what’s the color of a doctor visit?”
Book titles in the street like:
*Hero, You’d Make A Better Zero*
*Fur Coat Lady, The President Is Dead*
*Pay Me Back In Children*
*They Hung Up Their Bodies In Their Own Museums*
-and other book titles pulled out of a drum solo
RUN HERE, HERO!
-lied the hiding place
all the bullets in ten precincts know where to go
no heaven (nor any other good ideas) are in the sky
politics means: people did it and people do it.
understand that when in San Francisco
and other places that were never really there
bet this ocean thinks it’s an ocean
but it’s not.
it’s sixth and mission.
“All know who is king. King of thin things. Like america. I’m proud to deserve to die… I will eat my dinner extra slow tonight in this
police state candy dispenser that
you all call a neighborhood… “
no set of manners
never mind about
a murderer’s insomnia
or the tea kettle preparing everyone for police sirens
Here comes the tap water whistling passed our heads
Institution tile under brake pedals
Matching the white watches
Painted on palms for smash and grab recollections
people who are related by ballad:
hotplate failures fishing for proletarians
the matchstick that is a draft card
(by the time the loner finishes sweeping the train)
also related by ballad:
under-paved streets hanging like strips of film in thin air
I miss the carpentry more than the religion
I tore the tattoo out of my uncle’s picture and lent it to my friends
one left cross at a time
–life mimed behind my back
they say, the child would do better upside down:
the child’s cake party is in the precinct/mainstream tune playing upside down
a t-shirt with their face printed on a cop’s thumb
twenty-eight hours later, a headrest will do
the city rain feels like clientele
I dozed on the back of a bus and
woke up in the mind of a three-story man
“God wants you here with that crowbar in your hand… all of the world is a third floor.”
seasons invent themselves
but we invent the underground
—cause and effect is nothing but a casual venue I once played—
he decided not to kill me like giving loose change
don’t teeter now, tall man
I was nobody at point blank
nobody finally again
lung first I fell
dance moves within murder attempts within dance moves
“Lean back and be celebrated by small people,” he said. The clothes on my life teacher needed new patches. “Sit back and disrespect it all”
“I’ve given up on counterrevolution,” I said
“Well then here is your weapon, Little Bank”
—That’s our father you are writing graffiti on—
Horn players beat him up
and everyone left the altercation a better person
“knowing what you know now
would you still have written fortunes
on the bottom of church shoes
and put them back on the rack?”
“How does everyone think that a rich guy is their twin?”
-along with other tantrums is my cue
fortune teller half sleeps while talking about a mayor treading all over the posters in my childhood room and how cold calculation mothers nothing
and a vision of chess pieces in chains…….
“Then you will have fear. Then you will have form.”
Attack on City Hall
they said we could have an antifascist meeting, but not a march.
the human rights activist Lev Ponomarev and I went to City Hall
to find out what was up.
Ponomarev was very angry. I tried to restrain him
“I’ll teach them to let the fascists march,“ he said.
You got the feeling this wasn’t going to end well.
The deputy head of the department for large demonstrations, Vasily Oleynik,
turned out to be a fat rosy little man.
“You see,“ he began, smiling, “the decision on this matter has already been made.”
“Do you know Russian?“ Ponomarev asked grimly.
“But we’re speaking Russian right now!” said Oleynik.
“No. If that’s how you begin a conversation, then you don’t know Russian,“
That’s how it began, with a little light antagonism,
but then it seemed to improve.
There was smiling, and diplomacy.
“But of course you understand, Lev Alexandrovich.“
“Yes of course, Vasily Vasilievich.”
“We already told everyone about the march,” I said grimly.
“There’s no going back.” Oleynik began citing legalities.
Pono gave as good as he got
in that department,
and my attention wandered a little.
Once they start in with the clauses and sub-clauses and anti-clauses
everything turns into a joke, a scam, like in court
(and I don’t like these kinds of scams).
Outside, I could see the river.
I recalled how, on October 2, 1993, the night before the opposition
stormed City Hall,
the cops took a group of us in
for supposedly breaking a window at the self-same City Hall.
At the precinct I argued very convincingly
that we hadn’t broken any windows,
and the cops let us go.
Later on it turned out that the window had been broken
but I’d forgotten.
Oh holy drunkenness!
How easy and pleasant it is to lie!
Have you heard how jackals cry?
Now, in City Hall, I remember the cry of some jackals in an Abkhazian village.
It’s not even a cry,
It’s like some wedding party has spilled out into the
Spills out and yells and sings and sings aloud!
in that village the people feared an invasion of raccoons, from the north,
from the Russian border.
I was startled from these thoughts by noises in the office —
a crunching, running, turning over of chairs —
my worst fears had materialized —
Ponomarev was beating the shit out of Oleynik!
I started running around him, crying,
“Lev Alexandrovich, no, don’t,
oy, please don’t, why?”
Through my protestations you could hear
then he stopped moaning, because I started thinking,
and it was as if the sound
had been turned off, leaving only he picture, which unspooled in slow motion.
Nor could I hear what Ponomarev was saying.
But what can a person say who’s proudly defending
But he was talking:
“I know you, you spoiled little socialists,
unable to defend yourselves or others.
ignorant of your rights.
Little marginal whiners.
Old maids from the library.
Are you a subculture or a political party —
make up your minds —
what are you?”
Oleynik’s boss, Kadatsky, didn’t come
to the aid of his deputy. He was at a meeting.
He’d sent Oleynik to meet with us
but didn’t come to help him, just stayed at the meeting.
A sense of one’s rights gives a person physical force,
I thought, watching as Pono smashed up Oleynik.
Whereas we, on the left, never really feel our rights,
just the ephemeral right to utopia.
All those years of discussing the victims of the revolution
have frozen our blood,
have turned us into
frightened ducklings, unable to defend our own rights,
much less someone else’s,
thought I, already out into the street,
out of that hell,
riding the subway home late in the evening.
And I’d have kept thinking this way,
for quite a while,
except the I got an email from Ponomarev:
They still hadn’t allowed the march.
Tomorrow we head again for City Hall.
On the way to defend the forest
I thought about powerlessness.
In my mind I turned over the old thought about how
the use of weapons is the sign of powerlessness.
That’s what I was thinking about
when a division of the OMON riot police started coming toward us,
and everyone freaked out, not from a philosophical but from a
very earthly and real feeling of powerlessness.
I giddily recalled a line from some anarchist manifesto
about how only those who have weapons
are able to philosophize about pacifism.
if they just gave us some weapons, I thought, we could do some great
philosophizing about pacifism.
And then suddenly from this apex of our powerlessness a weapon appeared:
We parted and from out of this mass of student-pacifists, useless
intellectuals and local pensioners,
a machine gun started firing.
The OMON troops started falling
like the trees of the Khimki forest.
“But the main thing is for there to be no revolution,“ said the environmentalist Evgenia Chirikova
as we stood over the bloody troops of the riot police wondering what to do next.
“There were fewer people killed during the October Revolution than there were today,“ I said.
“But then consider how many people were killed during the civil war,“ said Mikhail, next to me.
“That’s because the army and the police didn’t come over to the side of the people,“
said someone else nearby,
and then we drank a little vodka,
we all drank for the police and the army
to come over to the side of the people,
that is to say our side,
and at that moment we saw on the highway,
dressed up as OMON fighters
in camouflage suits the color of the forest,
our reinforcements were on their way.
IN THE SUMMER OF 2010, MANY RUSSIAN ACTIVISTS, INCLUDING MEDVEDEV, BECAME INVOLVED IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THE GOVERNMENT FROM RUNNING THE NEW MOSCOW-PETERSBURG HIGHWAY THROUGH THE HEART OF THE KHIMKI FOREST NORTH OF MOSCOW.
if you’re having some problems, or feeling sad, I recommend you take a weekend evening
and go with a group of antifascists to Myasnitskaya Street, next to the Moo-Moo Cafe,
and while hearing people honking in the distance start heading for the center,
reach the beautiful empty square at Lubyanka,
pass by the FSB thinking about
how one day we’ll pass by this rotten citadel
in such a way that nothing
will be left of it,
round the corner and find,
to your surprise, that the guards at Lubyanka aren’t reacting at all,
are even, it seems, showing you respect,
reach Kuznetsky Most while shouting “Freedom to Denis Solopov!”
“Don’t stop antifa!“
sense with a light euphoria that today the center is ours,
watch as a comrade turns over a metal barricade next to the entrance to the FSB,
watch as he’s attacked by a policeman, watch as those near him pull the policeman off, keep walking down Kuznetsky,
wonder why everyone seems so relaxed
today, reach Tverskaya, all thirty of you,
and block one half of it to traffic before, finally sensing a cop car behind you,
scattering next to Okhotny Ryad,
keep in mind that this is not in the end a panacea,
it’s not even really medicine,
this is a political act and nothing more,
so if you have a problem then after a while
you’ll still have to figure out how to solve your problem,
but antidepressant won’t help anymore, psychotherapy
won’t help, books and CDs won’t help, nothing that you bury your lives into
thinking that this is the sad but only possible fate for a
free human being
The wife of an activist who died under strange circumstances,
though more likely than not it was an accident,
says to me that she literally finds herself shaking
from everything that’s going on, the arrests and the interrogations of activists…
I’m sure you know the story of N, she says.
A labor activist, they planted drugs on him, he got five years.
International campaigns have proved useless.
Yes, i said, I know, of course.
So what can we do, she says, what sort of action can we plan,
so that everyone finds out? What should we do?
And I say, we have two choices. Either we patiently build the
labor unions… or we have to do something really ugly,
because no radical art actions are gong to help here,
are going to get through.
And she says, yes, and then what? We commit a terrorist act? That’s the same thing
as sticking your head out of the trench,
and getting it blown off…
And as for labor unions, she says,
I know the labor activists,
they’re wonderful people, but
How long will it take,
although, it’s true, it’s the only way.
in the end it’s the labor unions
that are the true workshop of communism.
Yes, I say, right now that’s the situation,
no matter what anyone says,
and who knows what the future may bring, but for the moment
the progressive labor activists have a higher political consciousness
than the intellectuals.
than the professors,
it’s just too bad there are so few of them.
But strategically that’s the most important thing.
She says, You’re right, I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to unionize
they’re too dependent on their private interests…
Night comes on
the cold streams in, streams in, streams in,
through the gates, through our sleeves
through our skin
enters our blood,
and somewhere in a warm room
on a soft be on white
a pretty young mother
is stroking her little child
sleep sleep sleep my little one
sleep my baby child
sleep sleep don’t listen
to the wind howling
the cars rustling
sleep tighter my little one
you’ll need lots of strength
the working class needs brave strong tough fighters
there are difficult times ahead.