I. Responsible Parties


that’s     when    the    ravening

lamb   crashed in.   unexpected

as eclipse,  welcome as the ear

thquake,   excited hair  aflame,

lashes wild and swirling,  eyes

stabbing madly outward,  whir

lwind incarnate.  tumult trembl

ing temple tiles, echoes compo

unding chaos, our counting tab

les  tumbled over,  shivered  to

splinters  of  crucifix  kindling,

crazy   coins   careering  across

courtyards,   swift,   random  —

Caesar’s very sins! air piercing

screams&panic  blood&shatter

ed bone.  eyes adangle,  we sca

ttered, gashes exploding  along

our cheeks and backs,   gushing

like rivers of red erupting   after

the  suddenness of a desert rain.

fortunes lost.  lives  akimbo.  sc

arred bereft haphazardly dispatc

hed to desperate morgues, medi

cs whoknowswhere. Responsibl

e parties  must be  prosecuted to

law’s full extent!


I was only minding my business, duly licensed, meeting the public need. The sun a yolk in overeasy clouds, morning mist just lifting with the day’s exchange, my still-lazy mind already drifting inexorably to the inevitable joyous night with fam. The famously exotic wife practicing her domesticity with loaves and fishes, the two strangely disparate daughters (loversrespectively of books and makeup: the miraculous happenstances of double-helix acrobatics), confidently awaiting the predicted return to our house of ovens and myrhh. Just then, remote divebomber fundamentally insane, the dove started its strafing run.


II. 49th Isonzo


I can’t blame the war for coming between us.

I said: Adventure’s the blood of young manhood!

You said: Draw it, then—Doc Bellum’s constant prescription, leech at ready.

I said: Patriotism’s the formula for a love that crosses the borders of the personal.

You said: And war is its necessary antidote.

I said: Duty’s the polestar of civilization.

You said: Warfare, its magnetic opposite!

And so it went, battle upon battle….


III. Iraq/Katrina Collidoscope


Angry dark air, pinkandoranging outside, banners in on HEADLINES of tragedy-war-genocide.

In Arthur MacArthur’s granite shade (his slow gray empire sword picketed by peacenik pigeons)

old plaid men playchessplaychessplaychess for their lives. Stability checks liberty bleeding,

justice dies en passant.


And HEADLINE’s black arts wrestle my gentled soul to earth. But then enter golden wonder

sun’s Blue Commandos, infiltrating the park even as new mozzarella tourists wander cluelessly

  1. And teeter-totter boombox juniors skitter zigzag across old decorums, untutored yet in the

long division between war games and their play (these innocent! alien alike to criticism and

discipline). And improvised ivory and emerald and ruby and amethyst and sapphire devices

explode explode along the green, and


HEADLINE, distracted, loses its hold. O, inconsolable morning: captured by its own good looks.


IV. Locks & Boxes

Accords between meek and might are accordions

compressed and stretched, stung and tortured between locks and boxes:

to manufacture the din sequence,

bands stumble past breaks and lost jams.


Women are not alone in reading the omen,

watching World serially unfold as locks and boxes.

And so it goes with the Innocent,

who humbly pray, “Break the logjam.”


Obstacles may (or not) be opportunities….


Courage survives desertions by one’s entourage

(Watch the Self in turn disrobe or arm – more locks and boxes.)


So too it goes with the Sinister,

Who pummel, prey, and break the law.


V. Angels’ Allies


Chicago exorcists of the curse of Hue,

the children’s choice seemed so simple and so clear:

To purge and burn the stench of their parents’ sins

as voyeurs in Johnson/Nixon’s daisy chain.


Even as torrents of TV blood and horror

entombed the country’s slumbering shame and guilt

beneath accumulations of mud and silt,

they nurtured the nation’s worst hotel murders.


“So, whose side are you on?” A binary pick –

The side of the assassins or the martyrs.

And which will you be, the muck or the water?

Heedless moral passion or cowardly check?


Dump the Hump! Make Love Not War! Get Clean for Gene!

Tune In, Drop Out! Trust no one Over 30!

New! Improved! Eliminate Parental Dirt!

Alas. We knew not the problem’s in our genes.


VI. I Ask Us


At which When did we become our parents,

self-convinced once more of our own invincibility’s

blood, bones, and blues?


There’s a border, we thought, between those anxious actions

of the bulls on the street and the bulls of the freight;

so at what Then did the line get crossed?


On some cryptic boiling point

our former arrogant innocence transmuted to ignorant inerrancy.

And, unappalled, we applaud our Light’s sad transformation into Lightning Bolts.


So to Fate’s position we default.

But, in our prescient prehistoric youth, weren’t we already Angels’ allies?

VII.Swastikas? Where? Which Ones?


I hide here in my private cellar

ich bin der hellenkeller


Banners flapping in the wind: my ears at half-mast,

ever banned from hearing the world’s sighs,

they do make handy pegs though in this square boxed earth

to perch my lead spectacles upon

to keep all the winds from off my eyes,

to keep out all the brightest lights,

to keep my fingers finally free,

two fingers clutching my testicles,

two fingers pinching my penis closed,

right thumb a-plugging my anus,

left hand chain-linked across mouth, across nose

to keep the breath of wind inside,

to keep from any reaching out

of hands or breath or sound or mind

into this our spectacle of hope or rage.


VIII. Rootedness


Some of us are rocket,

some are rock—

so how is stone decided?

by heat,

by pressure,




How then re-assembled?ignited?launched?

By direction/determination?    or what?

Some of us are burden, some are bird:

who imposes liberty?

Need we clothe our us in armor?

“      “      “        “  “  in chains?

or disinvest safety altogether?


Do we judge duty by utility? weight?

How divide pacifists

……………………………..from their fists?


(Some would suggest a scalpel….

–Our natures won’t alter even with chainsaw.)


But when clenched missiles powder the earth

and massy skies bring eagles down,

I see us:

spots in the carnage:

…………………………….O carnations.




Duane Vorhees
Illustration Nick Victor





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