The Octararo Anti-War Manifesto
by Mark Harris
On August sixteenth, two thousand and two,
a time of madness in America,
in the house by the Octararo creek
her gaze alone provoked me to remember
through too much time and space,
the delta where the grass smelled
of patchouli oil
and she and I
were less worn by care.
I remember her elegance in gift giving
and her gentleness in receiving.
She glanced and smiled - complete
acceptance and forgiving grace.
I was not sure if that was enough:
for is there ever enough
in the wilderness of body exploration?
I did not know then.
I know now.
That was thirty years ago,
and now this manifesto.
Now I am driving through the night
away from the Octararo
and in the dark
I remember why the smile,
both many nights ago and now.
From the speakers Bruce is pounding away
at new rock and roll,
still knowing what he knew then
when rock and roll was younger:
its a town for losers;
were pulling out of here to win,
And I think about that unwon war.
There was an American war back then:
and we are in two long wars now,
with a new one on the way,
like a third child in a house too small:
There sure as hell is no peace here,
nor will there be.
We drink wine now from the wrathful vine,
drinking from the vengeful cup.
We are encouraged to down this swill
for the sake of peace,
or so we are told:
but I believe our leaders
are bellicose belligerent drunks
who just want company.
The whole thing stinks
It is depressing as hell.
I believe this drunken band
is making war
because it can.
What was that old war all about?
All the dominoes crashed down
and the commies went belly up anyway.
God knows the so-called war on drugs
is a smashing failure:
And all they can tell us about the war on terrorism
it that it will be endless.
And what about the wars to come?
For Gods sake, what is going on?
Theres a secret agenda here
not made public,
a hidden game being played out
in the Empire.
The dirty stinking secret is this
(that strange old sage Vidal says):
The true object of imperial war
is perpetual war.
In the grasses of the deltas of the Mekong
and in the deltas of the Euphrates
how could they not?
in Washington on the Potomac
where the grapes of wrath are stored,
in the swamps of Congress where hope is lost
amidst the applause of all things imperial.
the secret is shared among the war dogs.
The stink of perpetual war is everywhere,
and if that were all we had,
that, and the secret knowledge of the object of it all,
it would end the matter:
all protest would be futile.
Now about the manifesto:
Inconsequential as it may seem,
(and so much that is essential begins
by the Octararo,
not by the big waters,
not the Potomac, the Euphrates,
or the Mekong,
but by a small creek,
I remember a better and a finer promise
in glance and gaze
and in gifts given with generosity:
Each offering of care and honor
of compassionate presence.
At the house on the Octararo
she showed me a photo
of herself and her grandchildren;
She hovers over them, nurturing and delighted
in the magic of mutual discovery,
her body an incarnation of a proximate grace,
a sign of peace in a time of war.
Our bodies can not hold their shape
against the gravity of years
and yet against the ruin of war,
the little wars of aging,
the greater wars of national arrogance,
the body holds its own,
and keeps love present
as the answer to the terror.
The body remembers love,
without arrogance or pride:
in the bodys streams and rivers,
small creeks and crevasses,
in its thousand hidden places,
in the curve of a shoulder,
in the way the hand spreads
and then grasps,
in the delta grasses
below the now rounded belly,
in the tilt of the head,
in a glancing smile -
the body remembers.
The gaze and body
and the love are one:
and I suppose
the smells of all the terror
are not to be compared
to the scent of grass
and clear streams
and the glance -
Grace on grace.
There is an Anti-War movement
along the Octararo
and John was right:
war will be over
when we want it.