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Thursday, July 08, 2010


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Tu fu was a great poet of the Tang Dynasty in 8th century China.

Summer night
I sit on my front porch
A jug of wine my only companion
The distant stars indifferent
To whether I live or die
Far from here
Young soldiers kill and die
For rich men's pornographic dreams
Just across the street
My frugal neighbor's
Twenty-year-old Toyota
Rests at the curb
Like an aged horse
Asleep in the pasture
How many bombs will fall tonight
As I sit here drinking wine?
How many houses collapse
On their occupants?
How many children of the poor
Turned to ash and dust?
When the jug is empty
I will be good and drunk
And I will take off my clothes
And stand in the middle of the street
Reviling the powerful
At the top of my voice
Alas no one will listen
The woman next door
Will call me an ancient crackpot
And threaten to summon the police
All the neighbors will close their windows
The old jalopy will continue
Sleeping soundly
Under the streetlight
And using the jug for a pillow
I will lie down among the leeks
In my vegetable garden
Alone and lost
An exile in my own country

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.