New Poetry by Ivan Argüelles
THE FALL OF KABUL
carpet-baggers locusts cannibals lice
the head turns to stone the moon is drawn
out of its well and decapitated in a dust flurry
minutes before the evacuation promises of
paper-flowers fruit without vermin bread !
for two decades a series of statues come and gone
artillery composed of offal and headwinds
ox-carts bearing sultans of medieval dialects
everything a matter of renunciation
movies cosmetics opium military footwear
the greatest Demon in the world has just
surrendered his vices in a big photograph swap
history is written on mattresses with bedbugs
remember the Soviet carrion ?
remember the big Buddha at Bamian ?
five thousand years since the Aryans bruited
the Vedas in the Hindu Kush and today
nothing but a reversal of system and value
blond poster-girls peeling off bloodied walls
hoodwinked soldier boys from Iowa City
haunted by the part they played
dismembering the carcass of progressive Reform
Jihad ! Mujahideen ! turn the volume up !
the Twin Towers were destroyed by fireflies
a nuisance of idioms and heresy
monstrous illiteracy of social media lies
verbiage and tattooed air multiples of Zero
Balkh the birthplace of Rumi surrenders !
President of USA suffers from PTSD
a painted screen a flutter of Chinese diplomats
wearing poisoned masks an x-ray of Night
what good are stealth bombers and drones ?
red ants versus black ants ! civilization !
mendacity of General Petraeus and the CIA
operatives who drill like moles through earth
nothing is solid and even less is holy
the Beloved ! houris wearing burkas on Main Street
Yea this day is Paradise and Gehenna
above and below and forever !
Ivan Argüelles is a Mexican-American innovative poet whose work moves from early Beat and surrealist-influenced forms to later epic-length poems. He received the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award in 1989 as well as the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 2010. In 2013, Argüelles received the Before Columbus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For Argüelles the turning point came with his discovery of the poetry of Philip Lamantia. Argüelles writes, “Lamantia’s mad, Beat-tinged American idiom surrealism had a very strong impact on me. Both intellectual and uninhibited, this was the dose for me.” While Argüelles’s early writings were rooted in neo-Beat bohemianism, surrealism, and Chicano culture, in the nineties he developed longer, epic-length forms rooted in Pound’s Cantos and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. He eventually returned, after the first decade of the new millennium, to shorter, often elegiac works exemplary of Romantic Modernism. Ars Poetica is a sequence of exquisitely-honed short poems that range widely, though many mourn the death of the poet’s celebrated brother, José.