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From Birmingham Alabama to Qana

How do I restore your dignity my innocent sweet?
How do I give you my salute, my hug, my final kiss?
Maybe I’ll hold you in my arms 
Drowning out the bombs, raining 
down and sing you a song,
Hush now baby don’t you cry 
I’m gonna sing you a lullaby 
So pretty baby close your eyes
I am standing by your side

But instead I reel from your face
my stomach in knots, my head in a daze 
I glanced at your lifeless bodies smeared
across the mass media
Bombed, shattered to pieces
Who has invaded these human beings?
Does anyone really believe that your deaths weren’t deliberate?
We all know the hypocrites
Wrapped up in warped ancient lies 
You, you out there who supports this destruction 
Did you sleep peacefully last night?
You, your hands washed in blood of the innocent ones
Come down from your ivory tower
Bulging eyes with madness you plummet
Ripping open children lives with air strikes
When are we going to demand a ceasefire
on the Lebanese Israeli border?
Bombing airports, homes and refuge shelters
Holding a country hostage, creating terror, 
Mothers calling their children crying on cell phones
As everyone scrambles to get out of Lebanon

Relatives on vacation visiting with family celebrating with friends
No warning, just bombs
No answers just rockets 
While some countries governments stayed
up nights getting their citizens out
Others delayed, then called off the rescue ships
Claiming it is too dangerous
Which government sits with pizza and pop
muttering such nonsense
of “Unfortunate circumstances” and “Measured response”?
Rice and Kofi Anan how did you two get mixed up in a mess like
My African - American sister do you remember Birmingham,
Alabama ?
The KKK bombed a church, in 1963 children killed 
4 children attending Sunday school 
Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and 
Denise McNair.
Do you remember this?
Then what is the difference?
From Birmingham to Qana Lebanon
Innocent lives blown to pieces
No dignity only shattered lives,
Farouk age 7 Fatima 7 months old
Stuffed in plastic bags with scribbled names for I D 
Your contorted broken bodies lie lifeless in fetal positions, 
God only knows the horrors you faced in your final hours.
Hiding, hungry, thirsty on dirty filthy rooms 
Curled up, dragged up for the world to see
Make shifts morgues 
Make shift stretchers. 
Is it out of jealousy that they bomb, target and kill?
I didn’t know, countries find peace like this.

How do I restore your dignity your humanity?
Do I paint your beautiful face?
What about your loved ones?
How do they carry on with you gone?
Yet I see a glimmer of hope in the face of the world’s people 
Love for family, love for kin
Reunited at airports, bus stations and ferry docks
Clutching flowers and teddy bears
Teenagers and parents hugging not arguing
Daddy and Mommy caressing babies 
Lovers in a passionate embrace
Now this is the true human race

Peace be unto to you my innocent sweet
Peace holds you in her arms
Sings you a lullaby
Your lives short but not sweet
Peace be unto you in your eternal sleep
Peace Peace Peace

Claire Carew
August 1, 2006 – August 3 2006

Sitting ducks at the superdome
By Claire Carew

One day in America the dirty secrets were revealed
Hurricane Katrina, Neglect and the Levee broke
New Orleans August 2005
God bless America
African Americans herded into a superdome,
Lying, dying in darkness waiting to be rescued,

Waiting for the descendants
who captured their ancestors into slavery, 
Forcing them in shackles ashore
on the waters to the Americas,
Cramped tight on ships where many died
of lack of food and water.
Waiting they sit in the super dome,
Cramped tight dying of lack and food and water.
Surrounded by the dirty sewer
swamp waters of New Orleans.
Without electricity, air conditioning broken, 
no one in authority “It is a free for all.”
Backup toilets and no running water,
The stench forces the soldiers to wear masks,
Afraid to enter the washrooms that stinks
of human waste and thugs
People resort to defecating in the open area
of this here super dome.
Outside water knee deep, corpse floats
and disease abounds,
Dehydrated in sweltering heat they wait,
Sitting ducks herded into a hellhole
controlled by men in army fatigues and guns,
Children cry old people die, thugs shoot
Women exhausted holding their babies 
Men wandering, yelling,
futile attempts whose fruits bear nothing,
having lost their instincts to protect and to survive.
Sitting ducks hold up in America.

People scramble for food, water and diapers
from closed stores,
The looters raid the stores for guns and CDs,
Miscued priorities, thugs shooting and raping,
you can't shoot water. 
Chaos and still they wait 4 days
before the first rescue convoy of trucks
arrive with food, water and guns.
''Point your guns down,'' the soldiers are ordered

The GUN only thing they know. The GUNS to take control. 
.The plight, trauma and sadness has turned to anger,
Race and class are uttered off the lips of many,
Would it take so long to rescue Middle Class White America?

This lack of response is so blatant, bold -faced and racist
No love, No compassion,
The dirty secrets of America revealed.
We all see the poverty in their sunken eyes,
swollen bellies. Ill clad clothing on the sun burnt
backs of the black people
Where are the Indians, the Native Americans?
What happened to them?
Old black man with a cane limps with a flour sack,
as he makes his way to an airplane. 2005?
or is he a sharecropper in 1905 
A slave visiting us through a time machine?

Dead woman sits in a wheel chair
with a blanket on her face,
someone’s mother, a grandmother,
teenager has a diabetic coma, ''I don't want to die like this.''
Families torn apart, values and dignity torn asunder.
Woman cries with her dead husband at her side,
wrapped in a shroud he survived the hurricane.
Died from lack of medical attention.
Middle age black man wails for his dead wife
holding his two young sons, 
“she gone” … he retells the journalist
shooting the image,
his wife letting go of his hand,
his home splitting in two her last words… .
“you can’t hold me, take care of the kids and grand kids”
Hurricane Katrina, floods caused from neglect
broke the levee and revealed to the world
the underbelly of American society.
The Emperor’s naked, the under Bush speak the truth. 
“that part of the world”
Isn’t New Orleans a part of America?
while Laura Lee speaks of how well
the White people in La la land
have managed to organize and stem the tide of chaos.
The hidden racist message plain to see…

A country vulnerable to natural and human disasters
that many with warped minds
are now fine tuning their plans on how to exploit
this new found knowledge,
as they work in the middle of the night
to bring American to its knees.

Sitting ducks are my brothers and sisters.
Sitting ducks are all of us.
We have lost our instincts to survive in the wild.
A wake up call to plan and prepare
for whatever dreams and nightmares may come.
Roof tops, attics and superdomes can’t be our answers. 
Sitting ducks in the Americas.

It Ain’t About Race

Cleaning up the gutters,
Soaking up the rains,
They forgot to mention this kind of pain.
The beatings in the alleys,
The kicks and blows to black men heads.
Out came our ancestors vex and blue
Studying what the hell to do. 
Sorry Bro' it had to be you,
Retired Teacher,
64 years old,
Owner of several properties,
Walking the French Quarters,
To buy cancer sticks cigarettes.

Dare to ask a cop about a curfew
Dare to say that wasn’t right
No you have GOT to be drunk and disorderly.
Bang , pop blows to your head
Blood gurgles and pours out of your veins 

You lay on the ground in excruciating pain
Cameras rolling 
Revealing to the world yet again
The History 
The Truth 
that lies in the darkness of New Orleans Streets
The forgotten story our ancestors wanted told
Another beating of our own,
Another attempt to wake us up.
Our ancestors restless journey from dust to dust.

Claire Carew

Poem dedication to Professor Lee Lorch
Infinite Wisdom

Your heart unfolds
Courageous, fighting spirit 
Is our comrade Professor Lee Lorch. 
The torch of justice and equality have been yours to bear.
How many injustices have you buried deep?
Sacrificing jobs, and community,
Dismissed from your duties,
Packing and unpacking the possessions of your family.
Becoming a distinguished math professor at many universities.
How many lives have you touched Lee? 
How many struggles have you waged ?
Pugwash Conference,
Fisk University,
Science for Peace,
On the battles lines you appear 
Placard in hand demanding an end to inequality everywhere
In the darkness of the night,
In the cold winter air,
You are there.
How many restless nights did you sleep?
Trying to comprehend the worst atrocities committed that day
Thinking of your wife Grace Lonergan Lorch
facing the violent mob twisted revolting faces half developed minds spouting hatred and abuses attempting to rebuild the bloody walls of apartheid 
Holding tenderly the hand of an African- American on her way to making history
How many dreams of yours have they smashed this so called
House of Un-American Activities?
A progressive Jewish face in a world where we are all taught to hate
Lee I always enjoy our lunches at Bread
and Roses and our talks at the 
Cuban Friendship dances.
I remember your High Park scholarly 
apartment, books stacked high, 
Photographs on the walls 
Speaks of your travels
both near and far 
Classical music playing softly 
Afghani boy running down the hall calling you granddaddy
“Claire, your People’s Voice subscription is over due write me a cheque.”
Your soft, gentle smile and soulful eyes
Holds many memories of a life you continue to live with passion and energy
The fortitude of your convictions are plain to see
On your face Professor Lee.

Claire Carew Visual Artist and Poet

Ode to Jan Carew
Dear Jan;
With luminous eyes piercing the facade of reality:
Bringing forth so eloquently the thought patterns and symbols of our ancestral lineage:
My elder, born on the rich soil of Guyana:
An aura of brilliant light surrounds and protects your energy field and tall regal frame. 
The spirit made visible through our beloved one named Jan Carew.

And as my own spirit soars I smile as your presence envelops and elevates the intellectual discourse of the day.
I am humbled by the question ' Are you related to Jan Carew?'

Yours a voice of integrity:
Revitalizing broken souls.
Picking up shattered pieces and fragments of time of scattered memories, profound losses and buried dreams tossed to the wind.
Ravaged by slavery the African Holocaust and genocide of the Aboriginal peoples of the Americas.

Your hand and gentle voice guides, moulds and shape-shifts our truths and aspirations;
Through your books, essays, poems and observations.
And as your tenderness and compassionate spirit continue to attune to the cosmos of all that is seen and unseen;
I pay homage, and bow in reverence to you
Dr Jan Carew.

Dear Claire,

It was a pleasure visiting your house and meeting the family. But the paintings really made the visit worthwhile. Images from your paintings with their mytho-poetic dreams remain etched in my mind - the shapes and figures and sombre colors remind me of the best of the late Aubrey Williams' work. You are at your best when you evoke configurations of struggle and these range from a striking realism to ghostly entities. Your artistic imagination is fed and nourished by the Mexican experience and somehow this juxtaposes itself with the Guyana experience and the sterile life in Toronto. Your paintings are informed with a haunting spiritual power, and you must not allow the banalties of Toronto life to drain this out of you. I'll be back in touch.