James Scully  





page 34 · spring 2012 · communist review


The Great Wave

Great Wave


we saw the world end

in a ball of fire


two balls of fire

& puffs of dust

outrunning gravity

blowing off

the laws of physics


2 planes took out 3 towers

it was a miracle it meant

anything can happen


in reality

it was the Middle Ages

mind-bending demons &        wonders

mounting a comeback


the Enlightenment

was shockt it decayed

into too many words

with too little to say


brain waves heart rhythms

emanations of the flesh

mirrors of the soul

warped that day

their ashen darkness falling away

like the great wave of Hokusai,

the vast horde of its waters

storming up & over

the little fishermen

in their little boats


Mt. Fuji shines

in distance

white & serene


. . . we woke

to fire & smoke

small bodies on TV

holding hands

walking out of windows



give up their ghosts

over & over

on TV after TV

spewing toxic dust

haunting down the day

of panicked faces, eyes

running half looking back

at the science fiction

choking their streets . . .


Hokusai’s fishermen cling

to the gunnels

of their slender boats


the Great Wave

the menace

& beauty of it

hanging over them


is as perfect & as still

in its blackness & blueness

as Fuji in the brilliance

of its canopy of snow


it is what it is


here nothing is

we have learned to read


as signs of a conspiracy


we manage to live

with murder & torture

in the name of a homeland

we never lived in


caught in a web

of blood-&-soil,

fear like a filthy sack

pulled down over our heads—


we will never now not see

human beings rendered

walking on air, as though

treading the heaviness of water

feeling for the bottom

for all to see

the dignity the immensity

of their death, & of their littleness


against the spectacle

of the New American Century

when the world we knew ended—

—floor by screaming floor—

in the first murders of the terror war

       The next poem is another example of the way Scully uses cultural references to strengthen his poetry. The poem is called Qana, which is the biblical site of the water-into-wine miracle. The poem is a reaction to the Israeli Defense Force’s bombing of sleeping Lebanese women and children in 2006, which Hezbollah countered by camouflaging their rocket launchers as trees. These trees could be moved the way Macduff’s forces (which like the great wave can be seen as both avenging and redeeming) camouflage themselves as trees to advance on MacBeth, in Shakespeare’s play.




where the wedding was

where water turned to wine

where the best was saved

for last


shsh    they're trying to sleep

in the dark wood

of dreamless dreaming—

coughing  farting  snoring  sighing

turning over


where the wedding was

the rolling storm

that is not a storm

flies over


it doesn't feel much

to drop a bomb—

a slight bump

under the wing


the thing is done—


their deaths

like little yapping dogs

rush out

into the nerve-endings of the universe


the bodies stay put,

impossibly still


so it was said in school

Macbeth doth murder sleep—

with so much life to kill

there's no room for sleep


in Qana

where the wedding was

those who sleep, die


the future of sleep

is buried alive


in Qana where the wedding was

the murdered in their sleep

wake, just long enough to die

to become the woods

where the wedding was . . .


they are on the move now,

which is impossible


these impossible dead

growing out of their deaths

into an army of trees

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