Some Words About JFK

Some Words About JFK

JFK grave site, April 1964.

November 22, 2017, is the fifty-fourth anniversary of the assassination of US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

At 12:30 PM Central Standard Time on the 22nd of November 1963, three shots rang out in rapid succession over President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s motorcade gliding along Elm Street through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The first bullet pierced the right side of the back of John Kennedy’s neck with a downward slant, emerging at his throat and then boring diagonally downward through the right side of the torso of John Connally, the Governor of Texas, who was seated in front of Kennedy. The second bullet struck Kennedy in the back of the skull, exploding the right side of his head. The third shot followed closely on the second, shattering against the curb of Elm Street and sending chips of lead and concrete flying so that one scratched the right cheek of James Tague, a spectator, sufficiently to draw flecks of blood. The president’s limousine began accelerating immediately after the first shot, and it raced full speed to Parkland Hospital, arriving at about 12:38 PM. Despite the frantic efforts of the trauma room doctors and surgeons to save John Kennedy’s life, within twenty minutes that life had gone, and John Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1:00 PM. Lyndon Johnson, now constitutionally the president, delayed a public announcement of the death until 1:33 PM, so he could first leave the hospital and order an immediate defensive operation to protect government leaders including himself should the Kennedy assassination be part of a larger conspiracy that was still unfolding. At 3:01 PM CST, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a memo to his assistant directors in which he stated: “I called the attorney general [Robert Kennedy] at his home and told him I thought we had the man who killed the President down in Dallas, at the present time.” That man was Lee Harvey Oswald. Why did he do it? I’ll offer an explanation by the end of this article.

This article/posting presents a few items about JFK and his time as President. They are taken – as excerpts and mixed here – from several of my published/posted articles.

Before 1963

The America of November 1963 was a country that had seen the collapse of European colonialism in Asia and Africa during the post World War II period of 1945-1960. America’s own imperialistic Monroe Doctrine presumptuousness was sorely tried by the Cuban Revolution of 1959, which openly declared itself communist in 1961. The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 had brought the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Russia) dangerously close to nuclear war, but was fortunately defused, and subsequent diplomacy led to a treaty limiting nuclear weapons testing.

There had been about 100 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, primarily by the U.S. and the USSR, during the period 1951-1956 (there had been about 9 between 1945 and 1950). The annual number of nuclear tests jumped to over 40 in 1957, and over 100 in 1958. There was a voluntary halt to testing during 1959-1960 (except for a few tests by France) in response to public fears about the radioactive fallout contamination of the milk supply. The peace symbol, which is now an icon of our culture, was designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958, and first popularized as a badge by Eric Austen, both nuclear disarmament advocates in Britain. In 1961 — John Kennedy’s first year as US president — the USSR launched a major series of over 30 nuclear tests, and the U.S. mounted about half that number. This weapons race accelerated wildly to a frenzied peak in 1962, with 140 tests performed (over 90 for the U.S. and nearly 40 for the USSR). Except for 1958 and 1962, there have never been more than about 90 nuclear tests in any year (and from 1971 usually under 60), and only very few since 1992, the last year of US testing (post 1992 testing has been by France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea). The numbers I quote for nuclear tests in a given year are read off a chart [wikipedia] and rounded.

It is important to know that the overwhelming fraction of the Allied war effort against Nazi Germany [1939-1945] was provided by the Soviet Union (Russia and its union of socialist republics), and they suffered the greatest losses as a result. The Soviet Union lost nearly 14 percent of its population (every 7th person) in the war, and this mortality amounted to almost one third of the entire WW2 dead. The United States’ WW2 dead amounted to a fifty-fifth (1/55) of the Soviet total, and the 1939 national populations were comparable, the Soviet population being 29 percent higher.

It would be very beneficial to the world if Americans, commemorating their Memorial and Veterans’ Days, would try imagining their feelings if they had suffered war as deeply as the Soviet people (every 7th person instead of every 172nd person lost). The impact of a WW2 experience like that of the Soviets will imprint a dread of war far more deeply into the national consciousness than a WW2 experience like that of the United States.

We now know that “a guy named Arkhipov saved the world” during the Cuban Missile Crisis [October 1962]. “During a naval skirmish between an American destroyer and a Soviet B-59 submarine off Cuba on Oct 27, 1962,” where “the destroyer dropped depth charges near the submarine to try to force it to surface, not knowing it had a nuclear-tipped torpedo…that the submarine was authorised to fire it if three officers agreed. The officers began a fierce, shouting debate over whether to sink the ship. Two of them said yes and the other said no.”

This was no failure of Russian military training (which like that in the arts and sciences is of unparalleled rigor), but instead the operation of vivid historical consciousness. I fear that the culture of the United States is so shallow and immature that thorough military training can transform any callow youth into a robot soldier attuned to his or her assigned functions, and unlikely to have the psychological depth and historical consciousness to question orders and training under conditions of extreme danger, urgency and confusion, or to recognize moments of pivotal importance.

In 1963

The negotiations initiated in October 1962 to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis blossomed into the crafting of, signing (August 5, 1963), US ratification (September 24, 1963), and implementation (October 10, 1963) of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which banned nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.

The Civil Rights (anti-apartheid or anti-segregation) movement for black Americans had been very vigorous in the southern U.S. from the beginning of John Kennedy’s presidency in 1961. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream speech” from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

From 1961, John Kennedy had sent US military advisors to aid the anti-communist Ngô Ðình Diêm regime of South Vietnam in its fight against a communist insurgency (the will of the peasantry) allied with communist North Vietnam. By late 1962, there were 12,000 US soldiers in South Vietnam. Disappointed with Diem as an anti-communist unifier for North and South Vietnam, Kennedy approved a CIA program to aid Diem’s generals in a coup to produce new leadership, which occurred on November 2, 1963, with the deposed Diem summarily executed.

Lee Harvey Oswald, a disaffected American seeking glorious recognition as a leftist hero, acted as a freelancing James Bond (the world’s favorite fictional Tory) to impress the Dirección General de Inteligencia de Cuba (DGI, the Cuban intelligence service) by assassinating President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The DGI had been locked in a battle with the CIA to keep Fidel Castro from being assassinated, a project pushed hard by the Kennedy brothers, John and Robert. Lyndon Baines Johnson, John Kennedy’s successor, stopped the CIA’s Fidel assassination program shortly after taking office. The Soviet Russian intelligence service (KGB) had found Oswald too unstable to rely on as an agent, and happily let him return to America from his self-imposed exile in Russia (October 1959 to June 1962). The DGI had the difficulty of being a much less powerful organization situated far closer to its small nation’s overwhelmingly superior enemy. Thus, the DGI unlike the KGB might be willing to exploit the improvisations of a volunteer useful idiot. Oswald spent the last week of September 1963 in Mexico City, visiting the Cuban and Russian consulates seeking a visa to travel to Cuba, and as a consequence met DGI agents. The DGI was too professional to compromise itself by inducting a delusional American outcast into its ranks, but the DGI seems to have been either gutsy enough or desperate enough to allow Oswald to imagine he would be welcomed in Cuba should he accomplish something of significant value for the Cuban Revolution. Oswald returned to Dallas on October 14, 1963.


Castro And The Kennedy Image After The Checkmate

The Castros and the Kennedys were the kings on this chessboard; the CIA and the DGI were the knights, bishops, and queens; and the Miami Cubans, Lee Harvey Oswald and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, were the pawns. Fidel Castro’s wayward pawn checkmated the Miami Cubans’ king before John Kennedy’s knights and bishops could secure the field and kill his opponent; then the Kennedy brothers’ discredited knights eliminated Fidel’s gaudiest pawn, an early strike in an unending and pointless revenge. The petulance of an imperial state that has lost its game can last a long time.

In their article on April 10, 2012, “The CIA and Castro: an Undying Obsession,” Saul Landau and Nelson P. Valdes review a recent book by Brian Latell (Castro’s Secrets: The CIA And Cuba’s Intelligence Machine) about Latell’s involvement in the CIA project to overthrow Fidel Castro. It is clear from this review that Latell has delusions of grandeur, believing that Fidel Castro viewed him personally as a great adversary because of the CIA attempts to assassinate the Cuban leader. Landau and Valdes easily show that Latell’s fantasies can be dismissed.

However, when it comes to suggesting a motive for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Landau and Valdes repeat an old piece of “perception management” originally introduced into public discourse by Soviet Russian and Cuban intelligence services (“agit-prop”) to shield the two communist nations from culpability in the mind of the US public:

Finally, for possible smoking guns in the Kennedy assassination, Latell should look at his Cuban exile friends and former CIA colleagues. They believe Kennedy betrayed them at the Bay of Pigs, during the Missile Crisis, and by paying ransom for Brigade 2506. When Kennedy died, more than a few right-wing Cuban exiles celebrated.

It is certainly true President Kennedy abandoned the Bay of Pigs invasion, and ransomed the survivors back; and it is true that some of the embittered Miami Cubans celebrated John Kennedy’s demise. This despite the Kennedy brothers (John and Robert) being the best friends the Miami Cubans ever had. But, it is not really reasonable to assume that the CIA would then assassinate the American president, or that it would allow Miami Cubans (whom it obviously had under close observation) to do so.

A much better explanation is that the Cuban diplomats and intelligence officers in Mexico during the summer of 1963 allowed Lee Harvey Oswald to imagine he was a freelance secret agent of the Cuban Revolution, on the off chance he might actually do something useful for them. Oswald had gone to Mexico specifically to push himself onto the Cubans as a volunteer secret warrior. A failure and a misfit in the U.S., Oswald wanted to be a hero of the Cuban Revolution because he could imagine success there bringing him the companionship and adulation he craved. To sell himself to the Cuban intelligence service, he offered a vague plan as grandiose as his ambition, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The case for this scenario explaining the motivation behind the assassination of John Kennedy has been presented in great detail in a 2008 book.

A great deal of insight about Cuban-American relations in the years 1959 to 1968, and the personal and visceral US motives behind the killing of Che Guevara on 9 October 1967 (see Paul Buhle’s “Who Killed Che?” in Swans, April 9, 2012), can be gained from the book Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder, by Gus Russo and Stephen Molton, on the Kennedy Administration’s secret campaign to assassinate Fidel Castro and topple the Cuban Revolution. See:


After reading the Russo and Molton account, one realizes why the U.S. maintains such a furious animus toward Cuba, when it has long since forgotten other deadly enemies of the same period, like Vietnam. The unrelenting campaign by the Kennedy brothers to kill Castro (to have the specific person of Fidel Castro assassinated) and to topple the Cuban Revolution (the traditional anti-communist project stretching back to the Wilson Administration) made it logical and necessary that the Cuban communist government counterattack as a means of personal protection for Fidel Castro, and defense of the communist revolution in Cuba.

Lee Harvey Oswald was too unstable for the cautious intelligence services of a now settled and secure nation like the USSR to have any reliance on, but the young and much more vulnerable Cuban Revolution was willing to calculate its risks with smaller margins. It was natural for them to let Oswald act on his inclinations independently, with only a bit of careful encouragement. That Oswald succeeded was a surprise and immediate relief to the Cuban intelligence service, and was almost instantly followed by terror should the U.S. find evidentiary links from Dealey Plaza to the Cuban DGI (Dirección General de Inteligencia).

Lyndon Johnson came to realize (after he was told many of the facts in 1964, and recalling the 1963 assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, with US fingerprints) that the only way to stop this Godfather-type tit-for-tat presidential assassination madness was to shut down the CIA’s Castro project. Also, Johnson realized he had to suppress public knowledge of the US efforts to assassinate Castro because exposure of the Cuban link to the Kennedy assassination might cause a national uproar leading to war with Russia (the Cuban and Russian intelligence services had many intimate links, and while the Russians had passed up on using Oswald they had mentioned him to the Cubans, and followed developments).

So, the logical and amorally justifiable reason for John F. Kennedy’s assassination was kept from the public and out of the Warren Commission Report by the combined efforts of the Johnson Administration to avoid war with Russia (inevitable after a US invasion of Cuba), Robert Kennedy to keep the family name untarnished, and the Cuban and Russian governments to keep from being attacked.

However, the great wisdom Johnson acted on to end the presidential assassination spiral did not extend far enough to reverse official US hostility toward the Cuban Revolution. Since then, there has always been a seething desire for revenge against the Cubans for the “Kennedy hit.” This animus would find expression in the continuing allowance for Miami Cuban operations against Cuba and its people both on the island and elsewhere in Latin America, as well as in CIA sponsorship of terror and counterinsurgency schemes like the Bolivian operation that resulted in the killing of Che Guevara. Che died because of John and Robert Kennedy’s assassination sins, and for the Cuban DGI’s successful effort to shield Fidel Castro from them.

Cubans continue to suffer the US embargo (and many other forms of harassment) because the US governing elite is still unable to publicly admit its role in setting the conditions that rebounded as the “blowback” of the Kennedy assassination. So long as the U.S. maintains this sense of wounded pride, the Cuban people will be forced to suffer a revenge covering for a shameful denial.


Poetics Dismissed by Gods

A Lesson – Half Understood – In Poetics

As I walked, I turned, and saw Apollo beside me.
“Why do you rail against the world?” asked the god,
holding my book of poems in his hand.
“I want to strike, like lightning,
opening men’s minds to the truth.”
“This is pointless,” said the god,
“Men are but the mere implements of God,
and this world will be righted, as necessary
in due time.”
“But that would be bloody, and devastating,” I protested.
“Mortal fool,” chided the god, “abandon your false pride.
It is not for you to direct your kind.
Men are but the many blinks of the eye of God,
and whether one is a drop in the tide of blood
ending one civilization,
or a glint in the flow of honey
at the cresting of another,
it matters not.
I, in my unknowable infinitude
will rewind the spring of time
and replenish the well of knowledge,
to maintain the eternal cycle.”
“But can’t we try to steer our culture to the good?” I pleaded.
The god shook his head with a patient smile,
“Life is given to you,
make the most of it,
achieve what good you can,
but do not attach yourself to prideful dreams;
all of this has come and gone countless times,
and it will cycle uncountably on.
Hew to what endures.”
“In my poems, I seek the essence of God,” I said,
“to present Him so as to touch hearts
and open minds to a greater awareness –
perhaps leading even just one person to greater good.”
Him, Her, It, Them,
The Great Unknowable Void,” instructed the god,
“Thought is to God as a ripple to the ocean,
a leaf to a forest,
the whisper of a breeze to the expanse of sky.
God is immeasurably beyond the confines of mere words and concepts,
and no man can know anything about God
by the word.
Release yourself,” commanded the god.
“Still,” he said as an afterthought,
handing my book to me,
“the effort has merit.”
I blinked, and he was gone.

8 July 2002


Lord Krishna, Disguised as Apollo, Dismisses My Writing

“Parasites neither herd nor flock –
they accumulate.
They all have identical aims
yet share no goal in common.
Humans may be the most cannibalistic of parasites.”

Suddenly, he was there, leafing through my book,
muttering an answer to the question floating in my mind,
“Yes, it is a work of genius, too bad.”
“Well, no one will read it.”
“But how…,”
ignoring my voice to answer my mind, he continued,
“Men are wedded to their delusions,
they only want to see what conforms to their views,
enlightenment is tenaciously blocked.”
“And women?” I asked.
“Women, too, are deluded,
though, of course, they are wiser than men,
and so, they are oppressed.
Women have less compunction,
their focus is their young,
or the surrogates they adopt when childless.
If you wish to be read,
write what people think,
do not challenge their ignorance.
By elaborating the general delusions,
you will be honored and rewarded;
by exposing them
you will be shunned to invisibility.
The seekers of enlightenment
are disappeared from the world
by the collective defense of popular delusion,
not by a choice to become meditating hermits.
The world is delusional,
and to live in it is to participate in the collective madness.
This is why the world collapses
and periodically must be wiped away.
It is the cycle that endures,
not the phases of delusion that revolve through it.

You can reach enlightenment, but you cannot transmit it.
You feel compassion for some,
because your heart is still mired in the world,
and in your love for these others
you wish to pass on knowledge.
But that, too, is a delusion.
Only they can find their own enlightenment,
which so very few choose to do.
So, ultimately, to awaken
one must release all emotional entanglements –
whether of pride or love.
You cannot save the world, only live in it,
you cannot save your loved ones, only appreciate them,
you cannot save yourself, only awaken.”

10 July 2002


Which Holocaust Matters?

(12 April 2004)

Which Holocaust should Americans be most concerned about: the WWII Holocaust of European Jewry, the American Back Slavery Holocaust, or the North American Indian Holocaust? Interestingly, about 6 million people were consumed in each, though the time spans were 12, 200 and 400 years, respectively. The answer depends on your outlook as to whether you prefer the imperialism of a Fortress America, championed today by the Bush administration, or whether you prefer a socially transformed America, as described variously in the presidential candidate speeches of John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader.

Holocausts A, B and C

Consider this data, and estimates from it, on our selected Holocausts (M = million, k = thousand, yr = year):

Western Hemisphere Native Americans
1492: 72M to 113M, a good estimate is 75M (15% of the world population).
1980: 28M, (minimum occurred around 1900, growth since).

Native Americans north of Mexico (Rio Grande)
1492: 1M to 18M, modern estimates cluster at 4M to 7M, a good estimate is 6M (portion for USA: 5M).
1900: 400,000, (the minimum, population has grown since, portion for USA: 250,000).
1980: 2M.

African Americans
1860 (15 southern states): 4.4M (US population is 31.4M, 14% are Black slaves; slave trade begins in 1620s, importation outlawed in 1807).
1900: 8.8M (US population is 76M, 12% is Black).

Jewish Holocaust 1933-1945: -6M in 12 years, -500 k/yr (most from 1942 at a higher rate). (1)

Now, some estimates:

Estimates of Western Hemisphere Native American population loss 1500-1900: -50M to -60M in 400 years, average rate: -125 k/yr to -150 k/yr.

Estimates of North American Native population loss 1500-1900: -6M at -15 k/yr (-5M at 12.5 k/yr in the USA).

The 250,000 USA Native Americans of 1900 are comparable in number to the Israeli settlers in Palestinian territory today.

The North American Native population in 1980 was at one quarter to one half of what is was in 1492.

Number of Africans imported to North America between 1619 and 1807: an estimate is 2.4M, unknown factors being losses at sea and growth of the captive population; an estimated importation rate is up to +12 k/yr (2.4M imported over 200 years). (2)

A summary of Holocaust estimates:

Native Americans, Hemispherically: -130 k/yr at 400 years equals -52M (perhaps -90% in 1900, about -70% today).

North American Natives: -15 k/yr at 400 years equals -6M (probably beyond -90% in 1900, about -66% today).

African Americans: +12 k/yr at 200 years equals +2.4M enslaved; total slave population is 4.4M in 1860, 14% of the US population.

European Jews: -500 k/yr at 12 years equals -6M.

Comparable Magnitudes, Different Rates, and Memory

Notice that the removal rate of Native Americans (-15 k/yr) was comparable to the accrual rate of Black slaves (+22 k/yr), and that the magnitudes of the eliminated (6M) and accumulated (4.4M) populations is also comparable. The Native American Holocaust lasted 400 years, the Afro-American Holocaust about 200. These Holocausts were largely prosecuted during the pre-industrial era, though they did extend into the late 19th century (1850 to 1900).

The Nazi Holocaust on European Jewry was prosecuted with the much greater industrial power and technology of the first half of the 20th century. The Nazi’s processing rate was at least 50 times that of the Native American removal or the Black slave accrual rates. A sad achievement, to be sure. It is the industrialized acceleration of the human removal rate that gives the Nazi-driven Holocaust its ferocious psychological shock. Rounding out all the figures — rather broadly — we can put it simply this way: 6M North American Indians done away with in 400 years and by 100 years ago could be psychologically accommodated by people living during the process — and now. Similarly, under 6M Blacks enslaved or born into slavery in the USA over 200 years and by 100 years ago could also be accommodated by most people then and now. However, the elimination of 6M Jews (and others) during 12 years of still living memory is too close to be entirely brushed away as “history,” of which we, our nations and our institutions can be entirely absolved of responsibility. Even so, most people find it easy to let the Jewish Holocaust slip into the “memory hole” along with American Black slavery and the “Indian Removal.”

Holocaust Echoes and Revivals

In fact, all these Holocausts still require expiation in our time. That is the key point that proponents of atonement for each is trying to convey. We cannot undo the past, but we can face up to our historical precedents, and then use this now overt knowledge to ensure we act societally in such a way as to quench repetition of past prejudices and actions, which are fundamental to prosecuting Holocausts. For example: lebensraum in Palestine is just as evil as it was in Poland. The de facto slavery in China, Indonesia, Mexico, India, Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Third World, solely to satisfy the needs of American profiteers for “offshoring” jobs, and of a feckless American public for “rock-bottom” prices at Wal-Mart, is still just as evil as was the slavery of Mark Twain’s youth. “We don’t own slaves, how can we be responsible?” people will say. Yet, who sewed your clothes, made your shoes, assembled the SUV you drive? If ignorance is bliss, then America is paradise.

Owning Our History (Atonement and Healing)

Such “recognition” (the Quakers can probably speak with much greater authority on this point) would then see issues of “restitution” and “reservations” and “Indian lands” in a historical context, rather than as impediments to the current impatience to commercialize “assets” such as “real estate,” “mining rights,” “fishing rights” and the like. Similarly, issues like “affirmative action” and “reparations” would be seen in a historical context informing a societal decision to make pathways for the positive development for segments of the population that have been forced to deal with centuries of unfair barriers. I don’t think a few thousand dollars of instant cash in the hands of every Black (and American Indian) youth is the point, but a historical (i.e., over a long time) commitment to the development of the Black (and American Indian) population. I would imagine such a program would primarily concentrate on universal health care, early child development, education through college, and professional development especially for girls and women — populations do better when their women are educated.

While the Jewish Holocaust was the most intense (highest rate of removal), its survivors have one significant advantage over the American Indians and the Afro-Americans: they retained their culture. Once their Holocaust was over, the European Jews could return to reassembling their lives, societies, careers, and profit-making ventures (everybody wants these). The terrible crime inflicted on the victims of the American Holocausts (aside from the deprivation of life and liberty) was the deprivation of culture: native languages and cultural ways were stripped from the victim populations, and American-English-based substitutes (like lugubrious American Christianity) installed, primarily as a control device.

The stories of Black and Indian America since the Conquest are primarily about devising and rediscovering their own unique cultures after their native ones had been assaulted and largely removed. So, American Indians and Blacks have had to reinvent, in about one century, what human evolution would have provided organically over the course of millennia. Only then, once they had ‘their language’ could these populations begin to build up their communities within a larger sea of a hostile culture. The Jews had this the day the concentration camp gates swung open. The deprivation of native culture is a historical crime that will take a historical period of time to repair. Had there been a willingness to do so after Reconstruction (from 1877), I think that American Blacks and Indians would have much healthier populations today. Instead, they faced the awful repression of the segregation century (1877-1965).

After the Segregation Century

We have only delayed the healing process required after the Black and Indian Holocausts of the 19th century. The acceleration of the healing process dates from the victories of the Civil Rights years, the 1950s-1960s. A valuable national goal would be to overtly make the historical commitment I described — to allow for the full development of unique Indian and Black culture within the larger context of an American culture — so that 100 years after the Voting Rights Act, or by 2065 (two hundred years after the end of the Civil War) that “preferential” treatment of Blacks and Indians has ended by the simple fact that these communities are indistinguishable from any other in America with regards to health, opportunity, and social equity. It really doesn’t need to take that much time, or cost that much money, unless you view such social choices as universal health care, universal day-care and preschool, universal paid public education through college as “expensive” (obviously, we will have cut the military about 40%, dumped NAFTA, the WTO, and a host of corporate welfare).

In doing this we would be choosing the vision of a humane world-engaged America, rather than an Imperial “Fort Apache” America at war over resources with an outer teeming world of hostile destitute tribes, as if we were some gigantic analog to Fortress Israel plowing its metal wall across Palestine to swallow it up. This is the subtext to arguments over which Holocaust is more important.

Such shrill pissing-matches over whose Holocaust is worse, and deserving of more attention (and money) fail to advance anyone’s development. To their purveyors: Stop being a victim, let all acts be judged by the same standards. To all of us: Never again, start now.

Notes and Resources

1.  “Statistics of Native American Populations in the Western Hemisphere,” (as of March 4, 2004).

Russell Thornton, “Population: Precontact to the Present,” Encyclopedia of North American Indians – (as of March 4, 2004).

“African American Migration,” Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – (as of March 4, 2004).

2.  Katerina Stenou, “Struggles Against Slavery, 2004 International Year To Commemorate The Struggle Against Slavery And Its Abolition (Brochure),” UNESCO, 2004, 24 page report available as pdf file at – (as of 23 March 2004).


Which Holocaust Matter?
12 April 2004





Ghosts crowd the mind,
living flesh only mirrors images cast by memory —
realities lost to dust —
scattered into wind.
A woman, alive only in fantasies of desire,
an aroma in the mind, gardenias?
How is it I can feel the palpitations
under a receptive embrace
now not even a breath from butterfly wings?
Motionless life fills thought
while lifeless motion crowds vision of the street.
Who are these people?
They appear real but they are castaways
boring through their mutual unconscious
with blaring determination,
their horizons close,
filled with illusions but free of ghosts.

I sit in a eucalyptus grove,
the afternoon sun cascading down tiers of leaves
shimmering to the eddies,
the streaming air shushing
through swaying fronds, against vaulting trunks;
a weaving dance of light and shadow,
the shifting of veils hung from a dome of light.
Spirit brushes along quivering green,
the caress of light warming earth’s uplifted hands,
massaging warmth down eager limbs
drawing the milk of life deep into folds
below the darkness of all birthing,
beneath the gravity we rise from.

Is some of the air you once breathed
now drifting in this stream?
Is some of the force of your life
now rippled by waves of birdsong?
Is some of the heat of your passion
now a whisper of love
absorbed imperceptibly from this day?
Am I as much a ghost as you?
Yes, of course;
this breath is what matters,
this kiss is what matters,
this love is the vessel of life.

I hear the voice of Maria Callas —
la divina
an echo preserved to rekindle sensations of presence,
to relive our own times of transcendence,
to feel life.
And yet, what of hers?,
less than the whisper of sunlight on seafoam,
now as much part of the Aegean wind
as the smile of Helen of Troy.

And, so it must be,
as we loose our last breath
we melt into the earth’s breathing.
Perhaps our bones will imprint future rocks,
perhaps our ashes will trail the last eddy of our body’s heat
like spent candle soot coiling up into darkness.
Is that your memory, a lingering warmth in the darkness?
And now you mingle with so many,
my mind a country of spirits,
new immigrants arriving daily;
a land I can know yet never visit.

Shall I tell you about it?
There is a wonderful bar, top shelf in the well,
jazz trio backing Ella;
all the many Jesus drinking wine, relaxed,
dancing with Mary, Martha, Salome,
the intense political debates resolved.
Down by the river, the poets convene,
and I listen as their word plays
wrap around the fire and lift into velvety night
twinkling unseen with the chirping of crickets.
At dawn we stretch to greet the sun,
naked bodies flushed with warmth, washed of time.
At night in the city
I will hear sopranos and drink white Burgundy,
I will see Don Giovanni and drink Médoc.
The once ambitious wander the streets bewildered —
harmlessly deranged —
there will be no order, only peace.
At the shore, a poet will say of the dawning light
“It is as bright as the love left behind.”
I hear the voice — love is an art.

29 October 2006