The Perceval Press Anthology of Verse 2009

July 2009

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Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein


When one is frightened of the truth then it is never the whole truth that one has an inkling of.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein


It would be our policy to use nuclear weapons wherever we felt it necessary to protect our forces and achieve our objectives.
-Robert McNamara


I don't object to its being called "McNamara's war." I think it is a very important war and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it.
-Robert McNamara


Uno está enamorado cuando se da cuenta de que otra persona es única.
Jorge Luis Borges


Walking Across The Atlantic
I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach
before stepping onto the first wave.

Soon I am walking across the Atlantic
thinking about Spain,
checking for whales, waterspouts.
I feel the water holding up my shifting weight.
Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the fish below,
the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing.
-Billy Collins


Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.
-Billy Collins


The man who does evil to another does evil to himself, and the evil counsel is most evil for him who counsels it.


Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein


The White House wants to "look forward, not back". That is the stated reason given (again) by President Obama's Administration for not wishing to examine evidence that makes it unavoidably obvious even to U.S. Senate Democrats that Dick Cheney conspired to illegally keep certain C.I.A. counterterrorism activities secret from Congress. This is not the first time that President Obama has ignored the need to hold the Cheney/Bush Administration responsible for the many instances of domestic and international criminality that it can and should be tried for. The latest accusations against Cheney -- which are no news at all to anyone paying the slightest attention to the man or to the administration he used as his own neocon fiefdom for 8 years -- are, in the mainstream media coverage, being given the aura of a noble conservative crusade: controversial, maybe, but certainly justifiable activity in "times of war". There is a lot more to the matter, and it is cause for grave concern to anybody interested in democracy and the rule of law, not to mention common decency and the moral high ground that Cheney and his ilk so frequently claim as their exclusive dominion. When will the U.S. media, the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party, and the Congress of the United States of America get some spine? When will these parties show the integrity required in order to inform the public of the full scope of wrongdoing presently deemed newsworthy in the matter of Cheney's manipulation of C.I.A. information and of the public, as well as of many other proven instances of serious legal and ethical violations on the part of Cheney, Bush and others in their administration? What are the government, the mainstream media, and the Democrats afraid of? In whose interests are they working for? Certainly not, in the matter of holding public servants as responsible for their criminal acts as they would you or me for stealing a loaf of bread, the citizens of the United States of America.
-Viggo Mortensen


Como la vida es nada en tu filosofía,
brindemos por el cierto no ser de nuestros cuerpos.

Brindemos por la nada de tus sensuales labios
que son ceros sensuales en tus azules besos;
como todo azul, quimérica mentira
de los blandos océanos y de los blancos cielos.

Brindemos por la nada del material reclamo
que se hunde y se levanta en tu carnal deseo;
como todo lo carne, relámpago, chispazo,
en la verdad mentira sin fin del Universo.
Brindemos por la nada, bien nada de tu alma,
que corre su mentira en un potro sin freno;
como todo lo nada, buen nada, ni siquiera
se asoma de repente en un breve destello.

Brindemos por nosotros, por ellos, por ninguno;
por esta siempre nada de nuestros nunca cuerpos;
por todos, por los menos; por tantos y tan nada;
por esas sombras huecas de vivos que son muertos.

Si del no ser venimos y hacia el no ser marchamos,
nada entre nada y nada, cero entre cero y cero,
y si entre nada y nada no puede existir nada,
brindemos por el bello no ser de nuestros cuerpos.
-Julia de Burgos


Yo Fui La Más Callada
Yo fui la más callada
de todas las que hicieron el viaje hasta tu puerto.

No me anunciaron lúbricas ceremonias sociales,
ni las sordas campanas de ancestrales reflejos;
mi ruta era la música salvaje de los pájaros
que soltaba a los aires mi bondad en revuelo...

No me cargaron buques pesados de opulencia,
ni alfombras orientales apoyaron mi cuerpo;
encima de los buques mi rostro aparecía
silbando en la redonda sencillez de los vientos.

No pesé la armonía de ambiciones triviales
que prometía tu mano colmada de destellos:
sólo pesé en el suelo de mi espíritu ágil
el trágico abandono que ocultaba tu gesto.

Tu dualidad perenne la marcó mi sed ávida.
Te parecías al mar, resonante y discreto.
Sobre ti fui pasando mis horarios perdidos.
Sobre mí te seguiste como el sol en los pétalos.

Y caminé en la brisa de tu dolor caído
con la tristeza ingenua de saberme en lo cierto:
tu vida era un profundo batir de inquietas fuentes
en inmenso río blando corriendo hacia el desierto.

Un día, por las playas amarillas de histeria,
muchas caras ocultas de ambición te siguieron;
por tu oleaje de lágrimas arrancadas al cosmos
se colaron las voces sin cruzar tu misterio...

Yo fui la más callada.
La voz casi sin eco.
La conciencia tendida en sílaba de angustia,
desparramada y tierna, por todos los silencios.

Yo fui la más callada.
La que saltó la tierra sin más arma que un verso.
¡Y aquí me veis, estrellas,
desparramada y tierna, con su amor en mi pecho!
-Julia de Burgos


Thanks to all who have contacted their government representatives on behalf of mustangs, those unique animals that are living symbols of the nation's heritage and character . Your efforts have paid off, prompting Congress to strengthen the protections afforded to wild horses and burros in the United States of America. Their right to roam freely had nearly been wiped out, thanks largely to the underhanded and heartless machinations of Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, with the tacit approval of the Cheney/Bush Administration. The new legislation fully restores those rights by amending and significantly improving the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which is very good news indeed!
-Viggo Mortensen


Free Universal Health Care As An Option For Every Citizen In the United States of America
Very big question:
How can we afford it?
Very simple answer:
Stop subsidising uncontrolled over-spending on the military and stop bailing out irresponsible, criminally-run private businesses with the taxpayer's money.
More questions:
How can we afford decent, well-maintained public schools, the guaranteed option of free education from kindergarten through university study, well-cared for parks and national forests, guaranteed Social Security, well-funded scientific research, sound environmental policy, etc.? Same simple answer
-Viggo Mortensen


The Worlds Need
So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox


The Bay
On the road to the bay was a lake of rushes
Where we bathed at times and changed in the bamboos.
Now it is rather to stand and say
How many roads we take that lead to Nowhere,
The alley overgrown, no meaning now but loss:
Not that veritable garden where everything comes easy.
And by the bay itself were cliffs with carved names
And a hut on the shore by the Maori ovens.
We raced boats from the banks of the pumice creek
Or swam in those autumnal shallows
Growing cold in amber water, riding the logs
Upstream, and waiting for the taniwha.
So now I remember the bay and the little spiders
On driftwood, so poisonous and quick.
The carved cliffs and the great outcrying surf
With currents round the rocks and the birds rising.
A thousand times an hour is torn across
And burned for the sake of going on living.
But I remember the bay that never was
And stand like stone and cannot turn away.
-James K. Baxter


The Afternoon Sun
This room, how well I know it. Now
they're renting it, it and the one next door,
as offices. The whole house has been taken
over by agents, businessmen, concerns.

Ah but this one room, how familiar.

Here by the door was the couch. In front of that,
a Turkish carpet on the floor.
The shelf then, with two yellow vases. On the right,
no, opposite, a wardrobe with a mirror.
At the center the table where he wrote,
and the three big wicker chairs.
There by the window stood the bed
where we made love so many times.

Poor things, they must be somewhere to this day.

There by the window stood the bed: across it
the afternoon sun used to reach halfway.

...We'd said goodbye one afternoon at four,
for a week only. But alas,
that week was to go on forevermore.
-C. P. Cavafy
(Translated by James Merrill)


Waiting For The Barabarians
What are we waiting for, gathered here in the agora?

The barbarians are supposed to show up today.

Why is there such indolence in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting around, making no laws?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today.
Why should the senators trouble themselves with laws?
When the barbarians arrive, they'll do the legislating.

Why has our emperor risen so early this morning,
and why is he now enthroned at the city's great gate,
sitting there in state and wearing his crown?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today.
And the emperor is waiting there to receive
their leader. He's even had a parchment scroll
prepared as a tribute: it's loaded with
all sorts of titles and high honors.

Why have our two consuls and praetors turned up
today, resplendent in their red brocaded togas;
why are they wearing bracelets encrusted with amethysts,
and rings studded with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they sporting those priceless canes,
the ones of finely-worked gold and silver?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today;
And such things really dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't our illustrious speakers come out to speak
as they always do, to speak what's on their minds?

Because the barbarians are supposed to show up today,
and they really can't stand lofty oration and demagogy.

Why is everyone so suddenly ill at ease
and confused (just look how solemn their faces are)?
Why are the streets and the squares all at once empty,
as everyone heads for home, lost in their thoughts?

Because it's night now, and the barbarians haven't shown up.
And there are others, just back from the borderlands,
who claim that the barbarians no longer exist.

What in the world will we do without barbarians?
Those people would have been a solution, of sorts.
-C. P. Cavafy
(Translated by Stratis Haviaras)


In the U.S.A., at this time when at least an incremental step is being considered by Congress toward legally guaranteeing that all citizens have some form of health-care coverage, the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are spending record sums to advertise the benefits of the status-quo. This would be the same status-quo that has enriched insurance companies for many years while leaving millions of citizens young and old uninsured or cheated out out of the often unreliable and over-priced coverage that they might barely afford. The same status-quo that has allowed pharmaceutical companies, with the collusion of our government representatives (most of whom are heavily-lobbied and campaign-funded by these very companies), to make huge, unjustified profits. What does this massive surge in public relations spending by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, to the tune of millions of dollars a day on all media advertising, tell you? Does it perhaps beg the question of why so many members of Congress are dragging their feet, trying to dilute and delay legislation until it amounts to a practically meaningless change in the national health care system? Does it explain the resistance from mainstream television and radio spokespeople to real change in the system, or the voice given to disreputable hack doctors and scientists that have suddenly been enlisted to resist this change? Does it throw some light on the motivations of extreme right-wing corporate shills like Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck, Medved (and too many of their clones to mention) in their efforts to vilify President Obama or anyone wanting to at least try to set up a slightly more equitable and efficient health care system in this country so that we might take another step toward becoming a civilised nation?
-Viggo Mortensen

Last edited: 23 August 2009 09:39:00