Oriana Ivy 

              for the people of the village of Ponikła 


Tassels flow through my hand,
beads of grain roll against
the husk of my palm.
I lean to the lost


fire of the weeds:
the blue flame
of cornflowers,
papery mouths of poppies.


A rooster’s few
drawn-out notes
journey in the echo.
I stand shoulder-deep


in blond light.
Wind holds me,
then lets me go.


A farmer halts his horse,
points at me with his whip:
Black hair, strong head.
You will never go crazy.




I am the harvest now.
Sheaf by sheaf,
sky holds me,
then lets me go.



Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.



The Ronald Reagan Memorial Poem

Brandon Cesmat


Mr. President, given you medical history
the “Reagan Memorial” anything seemed in poor taste to me.
But after seeing your spirit float proudly along your freeways,
through so many schools and over your own aircraft carrier,
the jets taking off and disappearing like many facts,
I now bow to peer pressure and offer this memorial poem.
I saw your funeral inside the National Cathedral,
          the camera at a bird’s-eye angle
          the same as God must’ve had:
          ring of mourners around your casket,
          mise-en-scène as if by Busby Berkeley,
          the way you would’ve wanted it.
Your coffin sat to the bottom of the encircling crowd, so
your funeral looked like The Smiley Face gone serious and blind.
How appropriate, I thought, not the blindness,
but the respectful space around your coffin,
for it was there the ghosts began to drift:
the Iranians whom Iraq gassed with military aid
you initiated over Amnesty International’s cries. Listen,
we can still hear them weeping for Kurds, Kuwaitis and,
of course, our own.
How good of you to sit up in the casket and salute.
Then came the Nicaraguenses, some carrying
their diaphanous limbs lopped off by your contras.
In grace, they piled eyes, ears, breasts,
genitalia and tongues into your coffin.
The Salvadoreños wearing neutralized expressions
followed the Afghanis whom your freedom fighters liberated
from life and any happy pursuit not
allowed by a literal reading of the Koran.
Finally, the Guatamaltecos crowded
comfortably around your coffin;
they’d been practicing in mass graves at least
since you restored military aid in ‘81.
Did you recognize the ghost of Bishop Juan Gerardi?
You were deep in the delusions of Alzheimer’s in ‘98 when
a graduate of Fort Benning’s School of the Americas
bludgeoned Bishop Gerardi for counting Guatemala’s dead.
Genocide plus one.
How big of you not to make a fuss when
Gerardi helped you from your coffin and absolved you,
you not repenting and all that.
Your coffin loaded with broken bodies, the ghosts
glided beside you riding behind the caisson,
the nation honoring you in death as in life:
remembering nothing but good things:
how you held the picket line at the Warsaw shipyards,
how you stared down the Kremlin guards who took you hostage,
how you freed Tibet and
personally piloted the Dali Lama home on Air Force One.
It must have been at that moment of the procession,
you riding backwards yet comfortable in your old boots,
all of us suffering Sympathy Alzheimer’s,
that your mind was healed and
you understood you were on your way to heaven,
to spend eternity with the ghosts flowing beside you,
and that was when you began to cue the horse back
along the trail, so the bullets would revert to dollars,
the ink on the executive order flowing into the pen in your hand.
God bless that horse,
even with you sitting backwards in the saddle like that,
it wanted to obey your cues and turn from the grave,
but, alas, the soldier leading it had other orders.



Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/ 

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.


WMWSD (Weapons of Men Who Self-Destruct)for Sheikh al-Libi, his interrogators and all who believed them

Brandon Cesmat


“Are you horrific, Sheikh al Libi?”
“No!” the prisoner screams.
“Did you witness meetings between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?”
“No!” he screams some more.
“Are you thirsty, Sheikh al Libi?”
and he screams deeply, like a harpooned whale.
During the waterboarding,
Sheikh al Libi asks his interrogators,
Are you really so wealthy
you want to wage another land war in Asia?
I mean, it’ll cost money you ain’t got.
I suppose you could borrow it from China.
I never knew you guys were that tight.
But don’t you love your citizens, more than that?
You’ve don’t have a problem killing us by the thousands,
I get that.
But thousands of your own, really?
Ya know, the lethal stress of the truth
is a slow trauma none of us survives.
The interrogator turned off the hose.
Years ago, he would’ve whipped al-Libi with it.
Now, it was like gardening.
What could he raise in this desert?
“Are you horrific, Sheikh al-Libi?”
“Yes!” Sheikh al-Libi screams.
“Do you want to kill Americans?”
“Yes!” he screams again.
“Do you know where the weapons of mass destruction are?”
They all listened hard. Al-Libi heard the hum of power
running through the prison walls of Bagrahm Air Base,
a hum left there by Soviet electricians,
a power running through thoughtful transformers.
“Of course, I know where the weapons of mass destruction are hidden,”
Sheikh al Libi said, sliding the words like blades
through gaps hypocrisy had blown through their Kevlar.
“I’ll tell you what you want to know.”
And everyone in the room got what he wanted.




Brandon Cesmat please see complete biographical information on the author’s additional works and on the Author’s Page.