Al Young title

Archive for the ‘What’s at Stake’ Category


Monday, December 8th, 2014



Hands Up Don't Shoot


Raina Leon
Raina León

a poem by Raina León

Somos en escrito: the latino online journal

 Margo Pepper, writer, for jacket cover.
Margot Pepper

a poem by Margot Pepper




Mike Brown autopsy released, showing he was shot 6 times


AY Sketch from Buskirk Pix


A prose-poem by Al Young

After the unionists, they arrested and took out the photojournalists. Attitude adjustment. I knew this was criminal. I didn’t shoot news footage. I kept my eyes and ears wide open.

Soon they came after the whistle-blowers. Yes, I was signifying, delivering the news slant, but I wasn’t blowing no whistles, no covers. I spread the word like leaves. I took note.

Then they came after the librarians, seeders; keepers and shelvers of harvested truth. Tree-conscious, I kept plenty of books and records, but ran no library. I nail-filed it all.

Next they rounded up physicists and chemists, biologists, paleoclimatologists, anthropologists, geneticists, meteorologists, cosmologists and shrinks. Horrified, I shrank. I freaked.

Then they taized down the artists, all the arts, where close-ups fill in details and show stuff like it is, when image and imagination hook up and take over. I cleared my throat. I groaned.

Finally it was my turn in the barrel. As dumb as they looked, they sneaked up on poetry. They caught up with me. I had no case. Others? They knew, like I know, there’s no such animal.

They never stopped coming after the rhinos for their tusks. They never stopped trashing elephants for their ivory. In fury they went hard at the the Earth herself, pumping, torturing and murdering her for dead fossil fuel and sleepless profit.

— © Al Young 2014


Jack and Adelle Foley

Written to the Facebook group, “Italian-Americans for a Just and Equal World.” A member of the group wrote this: “So, when do we discuss the big elephant in the room that Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who murdered Eric Garner, is Italian-American, and that many racist cops are Italian-American? And when do we write and post an apology to the black community?”

I’m half Italian and half Irish. Policemen on both sides of that. But you don’t have to be Italian or Irish to be racist: racism cuts across ethnic divisions. Being “Italian” didn’t mean you had to identify with Mussolini—or with what some Italians did to Mussolini. How “Italian” is Daniel Pantaleo—apart from the implications of his name? If he is racist, does his racism arise from his identification with “Italians” or from his identification with “whites”? I have argued that “white” is not an ethnic group: it has no traditions, no culture. But if it is not an ethnic group, what is it? I think the answer is that white is an indication of dominance. It is always involved at some level with what Kipling called “the white man’s burden.” “White” in this sense is an indication of power, or of the struggle for power, or of power’s lack. Insofar as one identifies with power, one is identifying “white”; insofar as one does not identify with power, one is not identifying “white.” Social climbing—wanting to be white—is not limited to Italians. This is an entry from the O.E.D. The writer is a ship’s captain; it is dated 1726: “There may be about 20,000 Whites (or I should say Portuguese, for they are none of the whitest,) and about treble that Number of Slaves.” Note that for this person, the Portuguese are not particularly “white”—“none of the whitest”—and that the rhetorical opposite of “Whites” is not “Blacks” but “Slaves.” “White” = power; the notion of “the white man” is an invention of power.    

I then posted my poem, “NYC”


Murder a black man and you can get away with it.
Murder a black man and you can get away with it.
There are no ambiguities here, no excuses.
Murder a black man and you can get away with it.

If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
And you can go free you can go free.

If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.

The policeman says his job is to protect.
The policeman says his job is to protect.
To protect is the opposite of murdering someone.
The policeman says his job is to protect.

Murder a man and you can get away with it.
Murder a man and you can get away with it.
If you’re a policeman you can murder a man.
And you can go free you can go free

Even if the man tells you you are killing him, he can’t breathe

You can go free you can go free

– Jack Foley

©2014 Jack Foley


Majid Naficy

Majid Naficy


In Memory of Eric Garner

“I can’t breathe!
I can’t breathe!”
What a painful statement!
For the first time
I heard it from my own tongue.
I jumped from my sleep in panic
And ran toward my dad’s bedroom
He put my head
On his chest,
Caressed my face
And said: “Majid!
Be calm!
Be calm.”

Today I hear that statement
From the tongue of a black man on YouTube
Who is being choked
Held by a white policeman.
No one puts the black man’s head
On his chest,
Caresses his face
And says: “Eric!
Be calm
Be calm.”

Hundred years of slavery,
Hundred years of brutality
Press on the black man’s throat
And do not let White America
Hear his voice:
“I can’t breathe!
I can’t breathe!”

Majid Naficy

© 2014 Majid Naficy



Hank Johnson D-GeorgiaButton-Play-32x32Relive with Representive Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) the meaning and impact of the death by chokehold of Staten Island’s Eric Garner.


WORLD WAR 1 Remembered Through Photographs

Saturday, November 29th, 2014


World War One in Photos: A Century Later

Verdun 2014

Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Trees stand where the village of Fleury once stood, near Verdun, on March 5, 2014. A hundred years after the guns fell silent in World War One, nine villages wiped out by fighting on France’s bloodiest battleground continue to lead a ghostly existence. Their names still appear on maps and in government records. Mayors representing them are designated by local authorities. But most of the streets, shops, houses and people who once lived around the French army stronghold of Verdun are gone.


CANARY Issue Number 26, Fall 2014

Friday, November 14th, 2014


Canary slice


Editor, Gail Entrekin

A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis

Canary is a literary journal that explores one’s engagement with the natural world. It is based on the premise that the literary arts can provide an understanding that humans are part of an integrated system. Our theme is the environmental crisis and the losses of species and habitat as a result of this ongoing disaster. Our mission is to deepen awareness of the environment and enrich the well-being of the individual and in turn society as a whole.

Published by Hip Pocket Press
Managing Editor, Charles Entrekin
All work reprinted by permission of author

“Anything not saved will be lost.”
Computer message.

Zoos are beginning to rethink their mission and become “the last refuge against a rising tide of extinction.”

© 2014 Hip Pocket Press

Issue Number 26, Fall 2014

Snake Coil

Archives: by Issue | by Author Name



Tuesday, September 9th, 2014


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

loading symbol


They are Team Cable

Cable companies are famous for high prices and poor service. Several rank as the most hated companies in America. Now, they’re attacking the Internet–their one competitor and our only refuge–with plans to charge websites arbitrary fees and slow (to a crawl) any sites that won’t pay up. If they win, the Internet dies.

We’re in the battle for the net.

Are you in?

How to participate

On September 10th, sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Note: none of these tools actually slow your site down; they tell your visitors about the issue and ask them to contact lawmakers.

Be creative! Grab peoples’ attention with a loading symbol, and link to tools for emailing and calling lawmakers (e.g. Whatever you decide, tell us you’re participating, announce it publicly, and commit to getting *one* person or company with a *bigger* reach than you to join in as well. Got a question? Contact us.

Read more and join


ROBIN WILLIAMS (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) in memoriam

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014


Robin Williams As American Flag

Robin Williams as the American Flag (1982)

‘Busy Working, Robin Williams Fought Demons’
– ||| August 12, 2014

Robin Wms by Scott Wintrow Getty Images

© Scott Wintrow/Getty Images

“In the slow flow of those days, the early 1970s, I and my wife Arl not so much worked as played at staying out beyond popular opinion. When she was pregnant with Michael, she and I liked to ease into North Beach and go catch The Committee, which by then had grown so essential to its communities that they could afford their own storefront venue. Sometimes Arl would laugh so hard — memorably during The Committee’s improvisations based on audience  pormpts — that the baby inside her would kick back. After our son was born, we still got around. The San Francisco shopping plaza known as Ghirardelli Square became such a marketing nerve-center that street artists took to hawking and performing there. That’s where we first caught Robin Williams, whose name columnist Herb Caen ha droppd, long before the Mork and Mindy took wing. In the sweetness of an era in which just about anything comedic went, a time when even top mimes headlined, Williams’ bittersweet wildness took the cake. His presence was multidimensional; we saw, heard and felt him. We knew he was something else. What we couldn’t have guessed is how deeply the world hungers always for that precious Something Else. We’ve lost a consummate character actor and brilliant performance artist.” – Al Young

Mork & Mindy’ at

dover fronds 

“I interviewed him on the set of Mork and Mindy, for a piece I was writing about Garry Marshall for New York Magazine (the editor got fired and it never got published). We met him again, David Dozer and I, at the wedding of a comedienne friend. I remember being crammed onto a balcony next to him and him muttering, ‘How long do you think this is going to last?’ And we met him again when he and Billy Crystal and Whoopi were rehearsing the first Comic Relief. He always seemed a sweetie.” Janet Coleman

dover fronds

Dave Zirin

Robin Williams and a Moment of Magic

the nation logo

dover fronds

Peter Coyote


Robin and I were friends. Not intimate, because he was very shy when he was not performing. Still, I spent many birthdays and holidays at his home with Marsha and the children, and he showed up at my 70th birthday to say “Hello” and wound up mesmerizing my relatives with a fifteen minute set that pulverized the audience. When I heard that he had died, I put my own sorrow aside for a later time. I’m a Zen Buddhist priest and my vows instruct me to try to help others. So this little letter is meant in that spirit.

Coyote & Robin
© 2014 Peter Coyote

Normally when you are gifted with a huge talent of some kind, it’s like having a magnificent bicep. People will say, “Wow, that’s fantastic” and they tell you, truthfully, that it can change your life, take you to unimaginable realms. It can and often does. The Zen perspective is a little different. We might say, “Well, that’s a great bicep, you don’t have to do anything to it. Let’s work at bringing the rest of your body up to that level.”

Robin’s gift could be likened to fastest thoroughbred race-horse on earth. It had unbeatable endurance, nimbleness, and a huge heart. However, it had never been fully trained …

Read More

dover fronds

Jack Foley


(half way through the year)

Which half of the horse are you?

            The jockey

Front or back?

            Whose name was Little Johnny Jones

Do you stick to the past like glue

            Was accused of throwing the race

Or are you the leader of the pack?

            Of course this was untrue

Sometimes I ask, What’s new?

            He was a Yankee

As I step out of the sack

            And his blood was blue

Are you red? Are you blue?

            Father fought in the “Spanish War”

Are you whole or halfway through?

            Mother was a Yankee too

Are you stern or tempt-y?

            And his name was really

Half full? Half empty?


The year is halfway up the flue

            And he danced


            And he danced

Which half which half which half

            And he danced—

Which half of the horse are you?





the tigers of the sun are perched on their tails

dear one,

the tigers of the sun are perched on their tails

Time has passed,

the night clear,

a window opens on my head.




An automobile crash in which no one is hurt except yourself

A gun to the temple (remember to squeeze the trigger!)

The “Neptune Society.” Why these thoughts?

Relief—the movement of life

carries so much, and you must carry it with you.

The daily tasks—life’s messengers—now burdensome.

But sleep, minus the consciousness of sleep.

(Voices in your head)


And without murdering everyone around you first.





For whom?

For oneself?




for Robin Williams

© 2014 Jack Foley

 “I should mention that the first two-thirds of the poem were written for Silver Birch Press’s call for half-year poems. Silver Birch Press is publishing the poem in that form. The last section and the dedication to Robin Williams came later. That won’t appear in the Silver Birch Press collection. The ‘George,’ incidentally, is George M. Cohan; the play, Little Johnny Jones, his first hit.”
— Jack Foley