Poems by Mark Lipman

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for Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The sons of another
Whitman awake
Retake the word
Retake the song
There’s no time now
for sleeping till noon
in your shuttered rooms
There’s no time now
as New York crumbles
beneath our feet
under the trampling
of a nation of sheep
as Kabul is wiped
off the map
as the Palestinian
follows in the footsteps
of the Native American
gone with the echoes
of a thousand mother’s cries
everyone asking “Why?”

Not for freedom
Not for democracy
But for a new kingdom
ruled by philanthropy

Yes, blood is thicker
than water
but not as thick
as oil

How many must still be killed
to keep the drills alive?

Where are the new Ginsbergs
the new Dylans
the voices of a new generation
with their cut-up jeans
and back packs?

Where are all the great
minds of today
Still roaming their
dark alleyways?

Yes, Ferlinghetti is still alive
but so too is Dick Cheney  
The usurpers are still
in the House
And all the voices
remain silent

How many Kyotos
must be rejected?
How many Johannesburgs
over-ruled by a party of one?
How many rulers selected
and promises broken

before we stand up
and speak out
and take back
what should be ours
guaranteed by birth?

Whitman’s wild children
are all alive and well
So put down your glasses
and pick up your pens
Get on your buses
all going “Further”
And let your voices
be heard.

For All the Mothers’ Tears

For all those unseen
hiding beneath the rubble
whose children are double amputees,
just statistics for the war machine

For all those who can’t speak,
who’ve been silenced and shut out
from the national debate

For all those made homeless
by the bombs of indifference,
targeted by sniper and settlement,
the red ink in the ledgers
of a blood-for-profit regime

For all the hostages
lingering in black sites and prison cells
held without charge or trial
hidden away from the spotlight

For all those being starved
and left hungry, those guilty
of being born, of being a thorn
in the side of Democracy

For all those who’ve ever
picked up a rock
or spray painted graffiti
who’ve lifted up their voices
and their middle fingers
to the capitalist patriarchy

For all those who’ve decolonized
their brains and stood
on the right side of history

This poem is for you.


I step onto land
where my ancestors
planted our family tree
over 1,000 years ago. 

I have known no other sand
between my toes
under my feet
this is my only home.

One day though
a stranger arrived
sat down at our table
drank our wine
ate our bread
raped our women
burnt our village
then declared me illegal.

The color of my skin
the language on my tongue
the god that I chose to believe in
demonized in order to justify their cruelty.

The freedom that I enjoyed
my right to self-determination
gone, victim to yet another
military occupation.

My peace,
simply a broken olive branch
cut from the tree they tore down.

My home,
rubble, beneath the tracks
of their bulldozers.

All I have ever had
all that I’ve ever known
all, taken from me.

My blood,
turned into their gold.

My heart,
broken from generations
of lies and betrayals.

If you cut me, do I not bleed?

Crushed, beneath the boot of technology
by persons with no soul or body to touch

with no heart to feel

eyes, blinded by hatred
ears, closed to any reason
mouths, shut out of fear

comfortably tucked away in their beds
while human beings die in the streets
under the batons and artillery shells
of a militarized police state

Wrapping oneself in a flag
worse yet, a religion
while making excuses for genocide
sanctioning the murder of children.

News actors continue to blame the victims
force feeding us lies, calling us terrorists
because we were born onto the land that they coveted.

Who is the real enemy,
the one who believes in something different than you,
or the one who uses what you believe in to change who you are?

There is no escaping the soul staring back in the mirror
regardless of the shifting lines on some map
human rights have no borders.

Mark Lipman, founder of the press Vagabond, the Culver City Book Festival, the Elba Poetry Festival; winner of the 2015 Joe Hill Labor Poetry Award; the 2016 International Latino Book Award and the 2023 L’Alloro di Dante (Dante’s Laurel – Italy), a writer, poet, multi-media artist, activist and author of fourteen books, began his career as the writer-in residence at the world famous Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France (2002-2003). Since then he has worked closely with such legendary poets as Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Jack Hirschman on many projects and for the last twenty years has established a strong international following as a leading voice of his generation. He’s the host and foreign correspondent for the radio program, Poetry from Around the World for Poets Café on KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles. As Mark continues to travel the world, he uses poetry to connect communities to the greater social justice issues, while building consciousness through the spoken word.