Monday, April 16, 2012

Five poems in 3:AM magazine last Friday

3:AM magazine in London just published 5 poems of mine.


3:AM Magazine:
Five poems

By Alan Gilbert.

a distant spo t

1

blue arched in yellow
the gaslight sputtered in the night
a girl pressed her cheek to Dostoyevsky’s
Poor People

and wept

and at so many anarchist meetings
in Stelton
you’d nod off among
rows of would-be
educators

“will she sleep on the back bench?”

2

one night some Italian cobblers
at work under the eaves
blew the roofOF F

a man stood naked among pigeons
and the ruins

and stared out

your father
spirited him to Philadelphia

and you went off to college
first MARRIEDRADCLIFFE
UNDERGRA D

“never leave him alone with the
chambermaid” warned

your New England

3

summer afternoons
I hit against Pete Taggard
who had a live fastball
on the old racecourse by our

mornings, on your advice,
read Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and Chekhov

while you ran for School Committee
in our town – “But after all, Jews
can’t live in Greenwich” –
by the Connecticut sound

you who taught your children how to read
but told no childhood tales
for all the world was Westport

blown from a distant spot



Prin ts

1

jute fibers rasp and sting
visitors gasp the humid heat
a woman tends a clacking loom
thirty no more
her ring finger
no more –

I peer through heavy air
does no one have a set of ten -

the Dacca mill guide
jabbers rapidly
as if economists
will understand

the Dutchman has gone green
the Scandinavian turns away
my ashen father
covers his mouth

and I stag
ger
ou t
into the mere heat
of the monsoon

“Marx called this primitive accumulation”
whispered my teacher
father

“150 years and capitalism
can barely show
itsbloodyhands
in daylight”

come rains
I open my mouth in stubborn
prayer

will sheets of heavy rain
swell the Ganges

wash the shores the walls
wash out the blood?

2

money flees
from East,
“internal colony,”
to West

jute owning Adamjees – their son’s
my friend at Harvard -
jowl by jowl
my father hates Punjabi racism

with the powerful
his group “Harvard advisors
to Governor Wallace”

stand sheeted at Alabama
door to block a lone

student

3

my parents toured
Comilla cooperatives
small farmers working to make do -

my mother caught their glow
redolent of anarchist farms
she’d known so long ago
exuberant as she

wheat
near spoiled in Springfield silos
he’d made a works program
so that the poor

be fed

Bengali hands
forged dams cut
roads

drew prideinpubli
c

space

4

I journeyed with my mother
to the Sundarbans
great Ganges swamps
swept by the busy clouds

our steamer chugged
late against the current
to the Government House
near ruin or unfinished
who can say

tigers
boatmen say
come stalking by the door
even to bedrooms
crocodiles
lie easy on that beach

the board from stern to porch
shivers unstead y
under hesitan t

“perhaps” mom says
”the sleeping’s
better on the boat”

come morning
beaches empty to tall grass
I and a guide –
he’s left his gun

behind -
walk in sunlight
by the muddy water

we stare at

a
giant
paw print
where the lithe

tiger had gone
down

to dr in k

5

that fall at Harvard I told Ashraf
Adamjee
bespectacled scion

of his family factory

charming as always
he’d squin ted at the
tale
and at his nails

and never spoke to me
again



Kin g of fears

1

I wrote my parents
of the anti-nuclear march
in Washington
freedom ride
to Chestertown
explosions of silvering
world and glasss
so fragile in our hands

(not of clumsy love
ardent and fragile
on the trip back)

my dad – HARVARD WORLD BANK FORD
advisor to dictator Ayub Khan –
dictated a letter
“you’re a fresh ma n

think
don’t act
there’s so much

not yet Montaigne
nonchalant among cabbages
I wonder

will the world
outlive its gardens

2

that summer in Pakistan
sun soaked
my father’s house
Taj – man of many languages
and hopes for his son –
served the meal
five other servants
moved quietly
behind the doors
and in Karachi gardens
where the cobras glide

nag a
hooded king of fears
rears
fanged flower among flowers

“aren’t you a socialist?”
my father asked,
“every on e
should be a socialist

when young”



Sanders Theater

at Sanders Theater
halfamillion
troops in Vietnam
debated

Mac
Bundy

FORMER DEAN OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
LBJ ADVISOR

cousin to
Robert Lowell

and Dick Blau
sat
behind his knitting
aunt and mother

“which one’s the young
communist?”
“the wooly haired
one”



Ecole Normale Superieure

1

on gray Parisian evenings
Dick Blau and I would browse the bookstalls
by the Seine
leaves of poetry
and smoke would curl
in bedrooms
the curve of imagined sex
as live as taste or smell

“god pity those
but wanton to the knees”

and in the afternoons
I’d go with Bob Leonhardt
to Althusser’s seminars
on the silences in Marx’s Kapital
or leaflet with Maoist friends about Vietnam
at factory

2

we’d walk to Bob’s room
through the workers’ corridor
small chambers with a cot
chair table picture

each
of spent galaxy
a solitary star

the militants never spoke
with them

above
below

near
as sight or speech.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alan Gilbert is John Evans professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and author of Marx’s Politics: Communists and Citizens, Democratic Individuality, Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy? and Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence. You can read an interview with him on 3:AM here.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, April 13th, 2012.

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