Poems by Karin Spitfire

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A Chechen poet writes
How does the world forget us/Suffer our massacre /with such indifference?

by Karin Spitfire

From Canary Summer 2014

Karin has lived at the tidal mouth of the Passagassawakaeg River and W. Penobscot Bay for 27 years, just above where the sardine factory operated until 2001.

Chechnya, Bosnia, Rwanda,
Somalia, Darfur
just the names
recoil off my eardrums
a finger touching a hot stove

       Three days after cancer killed my brother
       my nephew got his own malignancy markers
       Earlier that summer, the men discussed
       their yearly application of chem-lawn
       and were happy with less clover, fewer bees

Can I say one shock
       blocks another, the next

A slew of us
       still in reaction to Columbus, slavery
       Dachau, the mess of every veteranís battle,
       or a very specific domestic war
       on children, women and crabgrass
I plead guilty

Can I say I am safe and I like it
that I had the same poetís question
in my fatherís house at seven
       and I have learned not to hear
       that cry coming from every third
       door in my neighborhood
       never mind across the continents
I lived, I got out
       circumvented the myriad missteps available
       didnít get caught in the sex-traffic route waiting for me

Can I say I am struggling in my limbic system
for a ceasefire
slow-going, meticulous work
making a biodynamic farm
from the rubble
or at least something
that yields
more rows of repetitive movements of peace
more cross-pollinating compassion
than harm to self or others
something possibly as relentless as
each yearís upturned crop of rocks
I lived: so I compost

Can I say I donít think it is enough
But I work to keep myself from
going down the redundant paths
of finger-pointing, they-saying,
       bursts of fury
       I feed the truce
I work to keep myself from yapping
without a lick of action,
       grief pooling
       into cement of despair,
       I wrack the pleura free
       I weep to keep my heart open

Can I be unarmed
in the wide-open next step
Hear the underlying drone of love
       while the bees are disappearing?




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