Monday, November 17, 2008

A New Steve Ben Israel Poem, "non violent executions"

I am rerunning this previous item to include "non violent executions" , a new piece sent here just this past week. Steve was an original member of the legendary, seminal Living Theatre. Please search my blog for previous articles about Steve Ben Isreal. -charlie

Award winning actor, performer, social commentator, poet, raconteur, and all-around good guy Steve Ben Israel sent three vignettes below. Steve is often heard delivering wry, relevant commentary on NPR. In this photo, (taken by Fernando Leon) he accepted an Obie award.

I met Steve at an all-night diner in the lower east side of NY city, several years ago, introduced by my long-time friend Stan. We talked, dank coffee, schmoozed, listened to his fabulous tales and enjoyed it enough to consider the evning memorable.


in the revolution
we will execute
only the system
with a new way
of being alive

it won't be necessary
to kill people anymore
even the torturers
the ones who
did the dirty work
of chasing angels
will be allowed
to live and build

for they are the dead
to be raised
and they the dead raised
will be profoundest homage
to those they have harmed

we will walk naked
in the world
as the sun gently
touches our cocks and cunts
humming a tune so beautiful
that the dead poets
will come in their graves
and forever be at peace

steve ben israel


flunked out of high school
went back in the summer
and passed all 3 subjects
amazing, teachers must be
nicer in july and august
what now,18 years old now what
some friends out in k.u.
in kansas write me and say
come out here and I write
them back are you kidding
with my grades" they say
write them anyhow
and I do and they write
me back and say
are you kidding with your grades
but they give me a three month
trial period of three credits
in english

so I make my way to the land
of thank you and come back
and there in english I am asked
to write a paper on
henry david thoreau's walden pond
now reading and writing it down
was always tough for me
and still is, but I do it
and hand it in
a week later the papers
are marked and ready
the teacher is holding up
two papers in front of the class
he says this first paper shows
remarkable insight in to walden pond
but I am not quite sure what language
he wrote it in this other students paper
is grammatically perfect but I don¹t know
what he read,now the first paper was mine
a lot of red on yellow legal
and he hands it to me in front of
the entire class and I take the heat
hoping that the bell is going to ring
so I can go out and talk to a tree
who I know will tell me I am really ok
the bell rings so I make my way to
the door and the teacher says
steven can I see you for a momment
sure and I make my way to the front
of the class and the teacher says
steven ah are you a foreign student
and I say no I am from brooklyn

steve ben israel

not my real uncle

she invited me over to dinner for lisa bauer
at her uncles house in west berlin
she said he wasn't her real uncle
he a berlin police captain hid
seven jews in seven different houses
along with her mother and brother
for four years he provided food
medicine and security
they were hiding they were hidden
they were hidden they were hiding
the last day of the war
she emerged to the sunlight
and then raped by a drunken
russian liberator in the midst
of her joy and then stabbed
in her breast
later she became a pianist
and teacher and was a bright light
in a city with a wall around it
I went to her uncles house
for dinner along with the others
who called him uncle
every month he cooked dinner
when I met him he said" just call me uncle"
now that's an uncle

steve ben israel

star wars 1999

I won't be waiting on line and I don't need any tickets
because star wars is playing everywhere, especially on CNN
the military home shopping channel and every half hour,
James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, says,"this is CNN"
and I won't be picking up any action figures to this" new phanto menace"

because I remember April 29,1975 our sons first birthday,
and he's asleep and he doesn't know it when suddenly
he's awakened by another baby crying 6,000 miles away coming out
of the tv because I'm watching the NBC special "the evacuation of Saigon

the next picture was of the parents of the last American soldier
to die in that Vietnam war and they were both holding back their tears
as the father say's,"my son gave his life for his country"
I held our son even closer and realized how precious that moment was

a few years later a friend of mine says,"have you seen the
new star wars movie yet?" and I said "not me, pops, the last thing
I want to do is see a movie with the word war in it'

but that changed very quickly, when all of a sudden our son said
'daddy, daddy, we have to go see star wars, everybody I know
has seen star wars, we have to see star wars"
so we went to see star wars.
and I actually saw all three of those modern day swashbuckling
intergalactic sagas of good guys verses bad guys
and, actually the movies played for years on our son's floor
I was always avoiding stepping on luke Skywalker, princes laya,
Darth Vader,Han solo, Jaba the hut, chubacka the wookie,Yoda
r2d2 and cp30. I once spent an hour and a half on my knees
trying to find Yoda's cane and screamed out,"I found it, I found it,
I found Yoda's cane"

but know our son is twenty five and I think this time, together
we are going to skip this phantom menace
and go to the peace vigil out the 42nd street library
hoping that we are going to be joined by the liberals
and the conservatives the democrats and republicans
the left and the right because too many parents have cried
in this century for the children they have lost

steve ben israel 1999

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