Martyrdom by Anne Waldman

BOMB 105 Fall 2008
Issue 105  B105  Cover

dialogue was something like this:

how long will you away and acting so odd and
all? and how long from me away
little homunculus in the brain

it’s secret and locked up in hatred of empire,
that terrible house etc.

[takes place in DC, there were some rooftops
and long shots of avenues]

—so I can’t speak of it? the secret package &
pact you shelter & keep & haul around?

the beach was deserted, a shelter likely for this
man or boy, the other people are at table fall
swirling round us, climate of Vietnam,
anger about secret bombings in Cambodia
smart beings being imploded in anger against
empire, that terrible house etc.

what chilly forest is this? or psy ops

      I implore you, one said, can’t take it any

                  terrible terrible house

a monk on fire he wanted us to know this all of
him to see
& later in Burma, the spirit of him passed to
& Tibet … it passed the spirit of him to that
place …

bow down
task where danger
lies within zealotry
within officers, within
mukhabarat borders
home grown


& if you want to see or be seen as guestworker
burn up right now not let nervousness show
if you want to ride not quite your gentleness
showing show tough as you might be in a shel-
ter you’d be inside that thought of shellshock
burn shock though blind to own pasts & burn-
   (she survived, his grande-mère, the bombing
in London

& if you want to protest of course you are one
who has a fairly stable mind
please do so & burn, burn one life the shock of
its choosing this over a life span

or crucible in which you are forged is never
enough for auto da fe
      we made love the director didn’t take our
clothes off

the movie had something to do with ice
the disaffected cold ones that were our “enfran-
chised” leaders
      a kind of frigid

but it’s one thing to die solo for a cause not
taking innocents as you go down, down
      another down owned


      a freeze on the times
true memory
false memory
& your hero is always locked down (emotion)
but running she’s hiding (motion)

& you say that with highlights resisting, of
resisting, times, or anger of those times

drive single road very fast the car from the
Italian castle
… & Oscar Romero the people’s saint of El Sal-
vador assassinated saying mass in the hospital
chapel of the Carmelite sisters



impassioned mullahs
can’t pry open
the Arab door, nothing
came. No information
came but the video
of grim execution


& feel it again now we’re on the same wave-
length my ancestors: sanctuary
      insist sanctuary
      you / I start to explode
in expediency to “take” “someone” “out”

the times, we say admirably, the times, the
times, and “back” “then” or
“foolish” “back” “then” repeating & knowing

      Bobby Seale insists

take these off
cuffs & gag


someone is watching us &
took the flash of synergy
      colors were black and white, edge of
industrial cities, black and white
flash of synergy
flannel, black and white and you go and stand
up for someone
even if it means you are shunned in the whole
mercenary house

      covet my speech then


   the one enraptured says

tie me up, gag me

we were closer to surveillance
   & under    a strobe    a flash
   adjacent to a woodshed       weapon
pile of leaves
someone is watching us who abandoned her
post by the lake
   and took the
road through the desert remember?
   it was our first movie abiding motion

      women-many-aliases said, it was ours,
our “time”

Benedicta’s feast Day May 10

Sant ‘Alfio tongue ript untimely from mouth
Cyrinus boiled alive
Philadelphus burns


(did Abbie Hoffman keep a gun? you’d asked at
the strategy meeting

(movie dialogue is adequate here an awkward
reality flared up on their relation to one
  pause, silence
   how far you would go as a pacifist

        closer to a place that would be exploded

◊ we have an age for you, just like a canary—
the ice age
◊ we have a cage for you just like a canary, or
will you sing?
◊ this one weighs no more than 162 and a half
◊ there must be thousands of signs from the
heavens up there

        —we’ll find the sign I’m sure

        —come on, I’ll buy you a soda

        —Skyland Playground of The World

◊ Club Dore

◊ Floor Show, Olympic Café

◊ request answer

◊ close the folder sorry

◊ sorry can’t find

◊ can’t help no martyr stories

◊ but the threat all around

◊ & the last word “allah”


& you knew the woman who survived the
townhouse explosion, exited
in one piece

hid many years (some said Russia) and sur-

   & went to jail many more years for her part
in a fatal robbery

her mother wept in the kitchen & once put her
head in an oven

could say a site surfaced in her bright clear
blue eyes said careful, be very careful

she the mother survived with dear blue eyes
the notorious lawyer her husband
commented yes they are indeed “twinkling” be
careful be very careful


toxicity whose law is not helped by habeas

look there, accomplice
because you look there and you are added in
      (someone suffers) you are an accomplice
      you mull it over in the prison yard

under the cloak of amber, under the
      Russian she studies be careful all my ac-

man and a language go underground in amber


glasnost site of a body ready to move

along a corridor glasnost

Molotov     glasnost

      metabolism   glasnost   glasnost

                 glasnost the Moorish landscape

glasnost glasnost
or plan

that includes glass

             woman of Avila for one, did she wish
a plan
  can we see her matrix of plan in her wish

    in praying for martyrdom?
did she?
el sueño survive?
she lived long & not lose faith

a drawing is useful is
a bullet is
thorns is
a bell is
not burned like some at the stake

is suspicion at wrist
& signs from higher power insist on service
I tell you I did hear voices

is cold luster that made everything for the mo-
ment look hard and ugly
is downside of occupation, what the devil are
they doing here

      empty bombed-out shrine


      woven of other things
is softer tone to sky what in the name of
heaven & earth and all the reasons of love are
we doing here

track the confidence men super-weapon snake
oil men


keep Fidel afloat
Ostpolitik or
sell tanks
to Egypt & Syria
bomber gap
missile gap
smoke & mirrors


Anne Waldman is a poet, performer, editor, professor, and cultural activist. She is the author of 40 books of poetry, including Fast Speaking Woman (City Lights), In the Room of Never Grieve (Coffee House Press), Marriage: A Sentence (Penguin Poets), and Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble (Penguin Poets). Martyrdom is forthcoming from Palm Press later this year.

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