Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 19, 2015

Two new poetry books

Filed under: literature — louisproyect @ 3:21 pm

For those who have been reading this blog over the years, you’ll probably be aware of my past references to Paul Pines, a Bard College classmate from the early 60s who I regard as one of America’s finest poets. Paul has a new book out that contains all the pleasures of his past work, especially the ability of his poems to tell a tale in striking language. Or as Ezra Pound once put it: “‘Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.’” Here is a selection from the new book, a collection of poems inspired by his beautiful daughter I had the good fortune to meet a few years ago:

DOMESTICITY
Zorro by the door chews his bone
Ben Webster on NPR
plays Making Whoopee
my wife in the bedroom
talks on the phone

I recall other lives
on the lower East Side
in Cholon
nights in smoky clubs
listening to Eddie Jefferson
wandering Belizean bush
over empires buried
under half an inch
of earth…

until my daughter
wonders what I’m doing
alone in the dark
asks, Daddy, are you all right?

Sure, I say
knowing she’s afraid
I’ve gone too far away
and might never
come back

Like Paul Pines, who has an affinity with indigenous peoples as might be evident by his reference to “empires buried” in Belize above, John Kaniecki writes about native Americans in a number of poems in his “Poet to the Poor: Poetry for the Bottom One Percent”.

The publisher has some biographical information about John:

John Kaniecki is a member of the Revolutionary Poet’s Brigade and Secretary for Rhyming Poet’s International. John volunteers as a missionary in the inner city of Newark , New Jersey, for the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue. John is active in the antiwar movement. In particular, John is a strong advocate of the rights of indigenous people.

This poem expresses his advocacy. (Chief Joseph was the leader of the Nez Perce who led an armed struggle against forced removal from their homeland in Oregon.)

Chief Joseph’s Bones

I cried out calling for Chief Joseph’s bones
I could not be heard
Not a solitary word
Amongst the lonely cries and bitter moans
Chief Joseph where do you dwell
They have deformed paradise
And concocted a concrete hell
If only they heeded your advice
If they would but listen
The sky would be clear and the blue lakes glisten
We would live off of the bounty of the land
And God’s deepest secrets understand
Instead our heaven is a sickly gray
Waters poisoned the soil spoiled

Who can really say
For what we have laboriously toiled
Chief Joseph your wisdom was profound
Truly Mother Earth none can own
If they had only known
A better world for all we would have found
All the money of every nation, of every style
Is a pile of paper sick and vile
Give me the cool summer breeze
And a life for God to please
I seek not kingdoms with golden thrones
My deepest desire is to find
A brave man gentle and kind
A man who walks no more
Who kept his spirit pure
Chief Joseph’s bones

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