Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Colored Suns and Published

I have started doing my Suns with some repeated color, probably forcing them a bit but they are fun:

Sun Room, Treasured

Yellow walls reflect fresh chrysanthemums;
a yellow bowl holds lemons and sliced pears;
The Yellow Book abandoned on a striped couch,
its worn, yellowed pages, well read, waiting.

Blush, Leaf Fall

Scarlet leaves and gold fill our pockets, boots,
crimson sweater and wool plaid cast aside
to frolic among newly raked foliage -
red leaves tinged with orange all the dress you need.

Scintillation, Senior Moment

A sliver of light brightens her silver hair,
grey dawn promises to be a dazzling day.
A dollop of light cream, whites fully cooked,
breakfast in bed celebrates our sterling years.

Fulgor, Greening

Among hardwoods, midyear green slowly fades;
evergreens continue a thousand shades -
forests emerald through second summer
until frost dulls needles and fresh green grass.

Aurora, Last Camas

A lake of blue flowers floods oaken woods,
afternoon skies reflect the azure pond –
your sapphire eyes return the sun’s soft rays,
my navy shirt lost in your tie-died wrap.

Kathy Paupore, my partner, and I are considering a chapbook with several of the Suns. We have 250 names identified and can always use more.


The publication news: Allen Itz is going to publish my Commandment poems in his extensive and entertaining blog. Acees his blog by the first link on your left.

I am in a book edited by Alice Pero and Lois Jones: A Chaos of Angels at www.lulu.com or www.wordwalkerpress.com.html According to Lois, the volume is "“The poems demonstrate the driving force of the individual – the power and passion of a being whose magnitude and potential are limitless."

I will be reading my work from the book and a couplee of others at the Juice Goddess in Wallingford, Seattle, Friday, September 30 at 7. See the Word Walker link for directions.

Finally, for the second year in a row, I am included in The Tanka Society of Japan's Gendai Manyoshu 2006 with:

The Names for Rain in a Northwest Sky

mist drifts
onto a lily’s blooms
its color weakened
as the gray droplets
of morning settle

purple cotton
cloudbursts fill the sky
with heat
sheets of jagged lightning
and a sense of futility

the patter
on our old tin roof
by emptied rooms
and the lack of laughter


And if you are looking for another good author, check out Robert Littel. His Legends is a thriller reader's dream.

Until next week.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's Nuts on Both Sides of the Divide

Two news stories which tell me that we are all a bit of the edge - East or West - some of us are just a bit further -

The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under

United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.

"We want the rule of law to prevail. He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable," said Tom Curley, AP's president and chief executive officer. "We've come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable under Iraqi law, or Geneva Conventions, or any military procedure."

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide - 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, Curley and other AP executives said.

The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces," according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.

"The information available establishes that he has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities," Gardner wrote to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.

Hussein proclaims his innocence, according to his Iraqi lawyer, Badie Arief Izzat, and believes he has been unfairly targeted because his photos from Ramadi and Fallujah were deemed unwelcome by the coalition forces.

That Hussein was captured at the same time as insurgents doesn't make him one of them, said Kathleen Carroll, AP's executive editor.

"Journalists have always had relationships with people that others might find unsavory," she said. "We're not in this to choose sides, we're to report what's going on from all sides."

AP executives in New York and Baghdad have sought to persuade U.S. officials to provide additional information about allegations against Hussein and to have his case transferred to the Iraqi criminal justice system. The AP contacted military leaders in Iraq and the

Pentagon, and later the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The AP has worked quietly until now, believing that would be the best approach. But with the U.S. military giving no indication it would change its stance, the news cooperative has decided to make public Hussein's imprisonment, hoping the spotlight will bring attention to his case and that of thousands of others now held in Iraq, Curley said.

One of Hussein's photos was part of a package of 20 photographs that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography last year. His contribution was an image of four insurgents in Fallujah firing a mortar and small arms during the U.S.-led offensive in the city in November 2004.

In what several AP editors described as a typical path for locally hired staff in the midst of a conflict, Hussein, a shopkeeper who sold cell phones and computers in Fallujah, was hired in the city as a general helper because of his local knowledge.

As the situation in Fallujah eroded in 2004, he expressed a desire to become a photographer. Hussein was given training and camera equipment and hired in September of that year as a freelancer, paid on a per-picture basis, according to Santiago Lyon, AP's director of photography. A month later, he was put on a monthly retainer.

During the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah in November 2004, he stayed on after his family fled. "He had good access. He was able to photograph not only the results of the attacks on Fallujah, he was also able to photograph members of the insurgency on occasion," Lyon said. "That was very difficult to achieve at that time."

After fleeing later in the offensive, leaving his camera behind in the rush to escape, Hussein arrived in Baghdad, where the AP gave him a new camera. He then went to work in Ramadi which, like Fallujah, has been a center of insurgent violence.

In its own effort to determine whether Hussein had gotten too close the insurgency, the AP has reviewed his work record, interviewed senior photo editors who worked on his images and examined all 420 photographs in the news cooperative's archives that were taken by Hussein, Lyon said.

The military in Iraq has frequently detained journalists who arrive quickly at scenes of violence, accusing them of getting advance notice from insurgents, Lyon said. But "that's just good journalism. Getting to the event quickly is something that characterizes good journalism anywhere in the world. It does not indicate prior knowledge," he said.

Out of Hussein's body of work, only 37 photos show insurgents or people who could be insurgents, Lyon said. "The vast majority of the 420 images show the aftermath or the results of the conflict - blown up houses, wounded people, dead people, street scenes," he said.

Only four photos show the wreckage of still-burning U.S. military vehicles.

"Do we know absolutely everything about him, and what he did before he joined us? No. Are we satisfied that what he did since he joined us was appropriate for the level of work we expected from him? Yes," Lyon said. "When we reviewed the work he submitted to us, we found it appropriate to what we'd asked him to do."

The AP does not knowingly hire combatants or anyone who is part of a story, company executives said. But hiring competent local staff in combat areas is vital to the news service, because often only local people can pick their way around the streets with a reasonable degree of safety.

"We want people who are not part of a story. Sometimes it is a judgment call. If someone seems to be thuggish, or like a fighter, you certainly wouldn't hire them," Daniszewski said. After they are hired, their work is checked carefully for signs of bias.

Lyon said every image from local photographers is always "thoroughly checked and vetted" by experienced editors. "In every case where there have been images of insurgents, questions have been asked about circumstances under which the image was taken, and what the image shows," he said.

Executives said it's not uncommon for AP news people to be picked up by coalition forces and detained for hours, days or occasionally weeks, but never this long. Several hundred journalists in Iraq have been detained, some briefly and some for several weeks, according to Scott Horton, a New York-based lawyer hired by the AP to work on Hussein's case.

Horton also worked on behalf of an Iraqi cameraman employed by CBS, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, who was detained for one year before his case was sent to an Iraqi court on charges of insurgent activity. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.

AP officials emphasized the military has not provided the company concrete evidence of its claims against Bilal Hussein, or provided him a chance to offer a defense.

"He's a Sunni Arab from a tribe in that area. I'm sure he does know some nasty people. But is he a participant in the insurgency? I don't think that's been proven," Daniszewski said.

Information provided to the AP by the military to support the continued detention hasn't withstood scrutiny, when it could be checked, Daniszewski said.

For example, he said, the AP had been told that Hussein was involved with the kidnapping of two Arab journalists in Ramadi.

But those journalists, tracked down by the AP, said Hussein had helped them after they were released by their captors without money or a vehicle in a dangerous part of Ramadi. After a journalist acquaintance put them in touch with Hussein, the photographer picked them up, gave them shelter and helped get them out of town, they said.

The journalists said they had never been contacted by multinational forces for their account.

Horton said the military has provided contradictory accounts of whether Hussein himself was a U.S. target last April or if he was caught up in a broader sweep.

The military said bomb-making materials were found in the apartment where Hussein was captured but it never detailed what those materials were. The military said he tested positive for traces of explosives. Horton said that was virtually guaranteed for anyone on the streets of Ramadi at that time.

Hussein has been a frequent target of conservative critics on the Internet, who raised questions about his images months before the military detained him. One blogger and author, Michelle Malkin, wrote about Hussein's detention on the day of his arrest, saying she'd been tipped by a military source.

Carroll said the role of journalists can be misconstrued and make them a target of critics. But that criticism is misplaced, she said.

"How can you know what a conflict is like if you're only with one side of the combatants?" she said. "Journalism doesn't work if we don't report and photograph all sides."

And from the other side -


Tehran, 19 Sept. (AKI) - Iranian authorities closed the magazine Nameh (letter) because it published an anti-war poem by one of the country's most famous poets, Simin Behbahani, the editor in chief Keyvan Samimi said on Tuesday. One week after the intelligence ministry withdrew the magazine's publication license, the editor told Adnkronos International (AKI) authorities had informed him "that I published a poem offending the leader of the revolution." "The poem was published a few years ago in a poetry book which was never withdrawn from sale," added the journalist.

In the poem Simin Behbahani criticises war in general as well as the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq.


I hope I am forgiven for including one of her poems, but they are important and should be read by all of us. Do Google her for more:

Banu, Our Lady

Banu, Our Lady,
this is my gift to you. Accept it.
This said, he raised his offering
and threw it down the stairs.
On the ground, the sacrificial victim
twisted with pain.
A stream of blood followed his fall.
Silence followed his screams.
A demon had made an offering,
and a person had ceased to exist.
Oh... for the child lost so young!
A hundred times Oh... for the old mother.

Banu, Our Lady, I dreamt I saw you
in the halo of the moon,
your face pale, your eyes red with sorrow.
In your arms you held two sons,
one perfect like the full moon,
the other radiant like the sun.
You sat beside the corpse,
with the road-dust still on your face,
your soul scalded by sorrow,
your heart tired of arrows.
You complained: O Justice! O Faith!
O, the shamelessness of the brute -
offering me a corpse
and asking me to accept it!

Banu, Our Lady, you shed a deluge of tears
over the man murdered by such ignorance.
You turned your silken coat to a shroud
to cover his body.

O, Banu, our guide! O, Banu, our savior,
O, Banu, unblemished! O, Banu, full of light!

What the poem is about: On Thursday evening, July 8, 1999, soldiers and vigilantes invaded a dormitory at the University of Tehran. This had been the first day of student protests against the new censorship laws and the forced closing of the newspaper Salam. The invaders attacked the students, beating many and throwing some out of the windows. The poem "Banu, Our Lady" is an expression of outrage by Simin Behbahani, author of over a dozen books of poetry in Persian and recipient of the Human Rights Watch/Hellman-Hammet grant, for her struggle for freedom of expression in Iran. It focuses on a scene of this rampage: an attacker invoking the name of Fatemeh Zahra, the beloved daughter of the Prophet, while pushing a student to his death.

(poem and explanation from http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2006/03/simin_behbahani.html)


A small amount about me: I should have posted this week a couple of days ago, but we are moving my mother-in-law to a new house with long tiring days. If I had though the above would not have been posted.

Until next week.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bluegrass and

We spend last weekend at a Bluegrass festival in Tumwater, WA with the RV club - great music, fun and compainship - this wee beat resulted...

Drought, Picking

Friday, the banjo lights the grass on fire,
the night’s shower barely dampens the park’s dust.
Saturday, guitars ignite audience;
morning, a hush for fiery gospel pickers.

This week moving mom-in-law into her new house, leaving no time for anything poetic or related...

But some good publication news re Lois P. Jones, known as Emusing on the boards:

Well if anyone has wondered where I’ve been I’m here to unveil the reason: a chaos of angels (Word Walker Press). It’s a project co-editor Alice Pero and I have been working on for nearly two years and it’s finally finished. While we are using lulu at the moment as our print on demand facility, we have created our own organization, http://www.wordwalkerpress.com to facilitate the book’s exposure and to publish future works on the subject of artists motivating change. Some of our very own Wilders have contributed to chaos

Just to give you an example I haven’t washed my hair in four days (yuck) and have been promoting the hell out of the site and the book. We already have an article in Los Angeles Citybeat (circ. 100,000) that just came out yesterday announcing the anthology and the reading on Monday, September 11th at Moonday. There is already some good buzz happening on the book, actress Catherine Bell is promising to promote the book to all her friends and place a link on her website.

As to a note to any of my friends who are on prescriptive meds, this is not a book bashing their use, it is rather a hopeful and inspired look at alternatives to medication for anyone who is interested in that. The book contains a list of resources at the back for more information on alternative therapies.


I'm in the book.

And btw, I have written with Alice in one dialogue or another for years.

And to close, a couple of authors I recommend, mystery and thriller writers: Loise Lippman out of Baltimore - Try her Sugar House or To the Power of Three - and Mike Lawson of Seattle - his second Second Perimeter just out with the right level of thriller and humor.

Until next week.



Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Poetic States: KS, IA, LA

The August/September Fireweed is ready to read. See the link in the upper left.

Three more poetic states, though Kansas tried to do me in --

Kansas: The Bloody Center

In the middle of the nation,
astride the route buffalo roamed
between Canada and Spanish territories,
Bleeding Kansas from Lawrence to Dodge -
Quantrill, John Brown and Earp -
the center of American mythos.

Trails that left scars on the grasslands;
took us to Oregon, Utah, and Santa Fe,
to points in every direction south and west
for gold, freedom without neighbors
crowding against the back section,
to escape dust and starvation;
brought news, mail, rawboned cattle
and the men who drove them north.

Trails that led hard men to murder
that captured our attention in books
and film, and someday song and dance –
“In Cold Blood: The Musical.”


Iowa: Long Live the King: First Caucus

They descend like maggots scenting red meat,
a plague of politicians strive to render
their fellow travelers so impotent even drugs sold
on television could not help them rise again.

Through complications worthy of Byzantium,
farmers and fundamentalists will select
a party’s candidate for president of these States,
though mostly the weak starve
and the strong move on to even stranger
processes designed to prove Darwin.

They arrive like cancer to a smoke-filled lung,
an illness we cannot seem to correct,
and may not want to if indeed it is the best
of all the bad systems used to select a king.


Louisiana: Second City

The odor of the city is in the air
as if roadkill was left too long
on asphalt before being added to roux.
The resonance of the city fills
the air as if the helicopters became
lost on their way to home base.

The city is in the air to fill the dead
space before the anniversary
of a disaster that did not kill a city.

The heroic received everything a city
in need might desire, the swamped
receives nervous glances -
the third world brought to our shores
as if the city was at fault a storm blew.

The city permeates the air
and we wish its uncomfortable dirge
would float back across the Atlantic.