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" D E F I A N T "

A poem written and proclaimed by Jack Hirschman A poem written and proclaimed by Jack Hirschman

in San Francisco in May of 2004 for the CAPOBIANCO GALLERY, formerly in the North Beach District of San Francisco.


. On March 19th, 2004, Lori Haigh, 39, owner of Capobianco Gallery at 1841 Powell Street, was physically assaulted by persons unknown for exhibiting in her storefront window a painting by Berkeley artist Guy Colwell, titled "The Abuse", graphically depicting the torture of Iraqi prisoners by three US soldiers at Abu Ghraib.
Haigh subsequently closed her gallery.

(Photo credit: AP)




Not just elsewhere Not just elsewhere

but right here

in North Beach

the power of painting

to provoke and endure

has called out

the old hatreds:

death-threats, spittle,

a physical attack on

a gallery owner by

detestable worms

from the fascist can of abuse

that's been thrown wide-open.

Enough! When the people

gather, what's been terrifying

turns to dust turns to dust

And brushstrokes turn into

the proverbial thumbs

in the eyes of

the censoring war thugs,

because the freedom

to create a work of art

is of the deepest affirmation

of the human heart

and its very deathlessness

is why no violence can

ever long prevent the beauty

of its truth of liberty from being

triumphant in its struggle

against the lies of the living dead.



The basin of winter water
from the stream in which
I throw my face the morning after.
The candle is burning.
Neither mystic democracy
to fall back on. Nor an ideology
of secularity. Just the bed. Sacred.
Candle still burning.

No temple to regain but the overthrow
of all this painful indifference
that lives in the heart of things
we've become. The candle goes on burning.

Fed up with chips to play,
to eat, to read whole books on
off a screen. The candle
burns on.

A guerrilla in the frigid jungle
of Nothing. Darkness but for
the burning candle.

Is this history, pre-history,
post-history? I look out the window.
Snow is on the branches of a poem
I wrote 30 years ago. Now. Tomorrow.
The candle glow will be turning blue.

O days of singing, dancing
and the dreidelings of glee,
why do you remind me of me?

I'm turning into stone again.
The candle's dimming.

A child is licking the melt
The candle is dark.
His eyes blaze in the dark all winter.




- as set forth in 2001 -


There's a happiness, a joy
in one soul, that's been
buried alive in everyone
and forgotten.

It isn't your barroom joke
or tender, intimate humor
or affections of friendliness
or big, bright pun.

They're the surviving survivors
of what happened when happiness
was buried alive, when
it no longer looked out

of today's eyes, and doesn't
even manifest when one
of us dies, we just walk away
from everything, alone

with what's left of us,
going on being human beings
without being human,
without that happiness.

:: From an Editorial on Jack's THE HAPPINESS by LeftCurve publisher Csaba Polony ::

" A lot of wordless message reverberates in this poem's few lines. The 21st century is here and nothing really happened: no apocalyptic fissures opened up, no cleansing deluge swept across the land. ... Most of us remain passive spectators of a relentless quantified expansion of the status quo into who knows where or why. ... The past, or what's left of it, has been reconfigured into a constantly mutating present of sameness. ..."



I take no slaves
and my bondage is a breath

I am nothing's thing
I am less than, and more

I am with zero

And in such happiness
I resist everything except

your plunder of me,
your reaching in and scavenging
my laughter of rags
my chaos of litter

I am dumpster
I am trashcantation

shaking writhing
I am the glue of a dead god
that is smeared all over
your body

where the posters
for tomorrow's demonstration
are slapped

and the graffiti
are scrawled
in blood and sperm.



I'm gonna give up writing and just paint

I'm gonna give up painting and just sing

I'm gonna give up singing and just sit

I'm gonna give up sitting and just breathe

I'm gonna give up breathing and just die

I'm gonna give up dying and just love

I'm gonna give up loving and just write.


Poet -
Writer -
Painter -
Translator -

JACK HIRSCHMAN was born on December 13, 1933, in The Bronx, New York. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from City College New York in 1955, and earned both his A.M. and Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1957 and 1961.

He worked as a reporter in his teens and as an academic from his twenties until 1966 when he was dismissed from his teaching position at UCLA for having broken state examination laws in his attempt to prevent students from being drafted into the Vietnam War.

A resident of San Francisco's famous NORTH BEACH District since 1973, Hirschman has taken the Free Exchange of Poetry and Politics into the streets. He has written more than 100 books and chapbooks of poetry, essays and translations.
His written works have been translated and published in Italy and France where he gives yearly readings. His paintings are the visual expressions of a prodigious creative life.
Jack's impassioned readings challenge his audience. He speaks on the artist's role in social transformation.

" JACK is a very American voice," says Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "He certainly aims to be the Voice-of-the-People."

In April of 2006 Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Jack Hirschman the 4th Poet Laureate of San Francisco.

Jack is married to fellow artist and poet Agneta Falk.

. .

The InstaPLANET Cultural UNIVERSE bestows upon Jack Hirschman the coveted Title of Honorary InstaPLANETARIAN.

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