Pausing. For effect. That is.
With. All Words. Or,
Raising hands.
Saying. “I Will. Not. Bend!”
That. Is. A kind of
But it. Is little of

I am angry.
Yes. #Me too.#
Poetry, Has Been TAKEN,
By Screamers. And Drama
Who. Want. Poetry.
In. Their. Lives!
But. Who.
Don´t. Read.
They. Scream. Instead.
And. Rely. On. “Spoken. Word.”
Where. If. I.
PAUSE (with
And. Raise. And. Wave.
My Hands. Enough.
I. May. Win. The Contest.
And Say:
I. Have. Made. It!
Where. Is. The. Poetry?




if our planet dying
is not
inspiration enough
what hope is there?

we are wounded in our confidence,
timid to our better natures –
afraid to even dream of better –
now “better” is just a word.

mocking and hating
those in
even greater fear,
on foot,
the sun, the bombs,
the economies wrecked,
this will be the future´s face:
the running man
the fleeing woman
the bundled and terrified child
greeted with hate
and gas.


Ten days ago, I rolled over in my bed to turn off the alarm and immediately swooned with terror: an incredible wave of dizziness followed even the tiniest movements and I wretched with nausea, falling to the floor each time I tried to stand up. Somehow managing to get dressed, I saw the world swimming in kaleidoscopic waves of rotation, feeling as if the worse hangover I ever suffered had been multiplied by dozens. I was horrified. I have had close friends with brain tumors (one, Elisabeth Targ, died from one) and I was afraid this might be my fate. It wasn’t until Wednesday (just 2 days ago) that the outer world stopped spinning. Before that, I’d spent more than 6 hours in the emergency room in Reykjavík and while there underwent several neurological exams, a CT scan, and the sickening transfer in wheelchairs from one end of the hospital to another for different testing stations. It was finally diagnosed as vestibular neuritis, an inflammation of nerves in the inner ear, completely disturbing my sense of balance and rendering me a tottering mass of wobbling insecurety which might have looked comical from the outside, but which has been incredibly alarming now for over a week and whose remnants have not completely faded. Prednisone helps but my run of that drug is about to end and, as things, “get better” I have had some time to reflect on my own condition and its parallels to the world “out there”.When W. B. Yeats wrote his prophetic poem, The Second Coming in 1919, the dominant metaphor for a world out of whack was the gyre’s failure to hold the balance. His world, he knew, had fallen off some stable center, teetering at the edge of horrors unimaginable to most at the time in those years just after the First World War but before the Great Depression and the Second World War. Nothing was right in that world, all looked dangerously tilted

Yet being off-balance has its own momentum, and there are many who perversely would actually take advantage of it for their own uses. With the IPCC report giving us all 12 years to avert what is likely to be an even greater global collapse into instability, it is with deep trepidation that I consider the world out there from my safe little recovery spot way out here in the early winter gatherings of Iceland.
How many of us are walking around already “off balanced” by the constant rush of dire news about the climate or the rise of outright fascist movements all around the world? During this recovery time I have been helping my daughter catch up on missed schoolwork brought about by her own ER trip last week (for a ruptured appendix) and this thought of a world off balance became clearer with each moment we reflected on history together. As my daughter writes her paper on WW2, I saw in her eyes the glimmers of recognition that “things like that are happening all over again”. It’s an odd feeling. To feel so off-kilter that one strains to convince oneself the inner world is not that experienced “out there” and yet, as my return to normalcy is gently transitioning, it seems the world “out there” is, in fact, no more stable, no steadier than that neurologically challenged one inside my inner ear. It is very sad.

I wonder what shifts my children will see in their lifetimes, what enormously off balanced manifestations of the environment will be in the news. Of course, we know what’s coming. Killer storms. Mass floods. Record heat-waves, millions of displaced people fleeing parched landscapes and unstable governmental responses. Armed troops, barbed wire, enormous human misery. Where will they go, and what will they do? Billionaires are buying property in New Zealand, I hear, building “bunkers” to store their “wealth” and isolate themselves from the pitchforks and torches of those restless millions “yearning to breathe free”. From the relatively stable confines of my bed, I wonder, what has happened out there? How can the entire system be so pushed off center that the histrionic posturing of a carnival barker-in-Chief are taken seriously while the “Resistance” ™ refuses to engage in even the most anodyne disruptions of normalcy necessary to shock the sensibilities of the masses towards recognition that things have to change now, or we are all doomed?

It is a moral duty to restore the balance we have lost. Moral because our effort to restore a healthy equilibrium must include what we call Nature for it is the only thing which sustains us and we are now at the point where it is threatened with irreparable damage. We may imagine that our vast technological triumphs and the plastic, steel, aluminum, iron and cement cages (cities) we inhabit provide us enough to survive but the very the air we breathe is being threatened worldwide led, in part, by the newly elected supporter of fascism Juan Bolsonaro.

Seriously. An admirer of fascism has been elected President in Brazil and he is advocating even more “development” of the rainforests which give us more than 20% of the oxygen we need to live. This is beyond crazy. Where are the cries for UN intervention to stop this rapacious insanity and instead restore the planet so that we all have enough oxygen to survive? I know, this sounds outmoded (“UN intervention”?) but how did we get so far that our planetary life-giving essentials are treated as commodities to be traded in for the short-term profits of a few? Many will answer that that’s been capitalism all along (and agreeing I’ll happily support its overthrow) but still, we no longer wince at the extremities advocated by and spoken of by “world leaders”, chalking it up to yet another piece in the gradualist onslaught of vertigo we are all suffering. There’s no prednisone for this illness. There are no tests needed to confirm that something is terribly wrong in our sense of balance and that this is dangerous not only for us, but for the whole teetering planet.

I’m scared.

This week I had to stop everything, tell myself repeatedly (and audibly) that “nothing is moving”, and basically re-learn how to walk stably on the earth, trusting its solidity to hold me up and support me. And yet, “out there” there is an even greater loss of balance, a lopsided world that appears no less unstable than that little world of mine was last week which caused me to collapse, crawling on the floor in panic, realizing I needed to get to an emergency room immediately. Where is our planet’ s Emergency Room? Who will see us there, test us, proscribe the large does of corrective medicine and remind us to check in a few weeks from now as recovery times vary and could take from 4 weeks to 6 months? Who will tell us that something has happened, and we must get back upright, finding a more properly positioned way of standing in the world, one that keeps the incredibly fragile balance of all creation working so that all of us can live? As I slowly recover my inner balance, I am struck that a larger unhinging is occurring outside me. And we are running out of time. Literally.

Because unless we right ourselves soon, very soon, the falls that we will suffer collectively, will topple civilizations. Maybe even “civilization” itself.

José M. Tirado is a Puertorican poet, Buddhist priest, and political writer living in Hafnarfjorður, Iceland, known for its elves, “hidden people” and lava fields. His articles and poetry have been featured in CounterPunch, Cyrano´s Journal, The Galway Review, Dissident Voice, Former People: A Journal of Bangs and Whimpers, North Star, and Op-Ed News, among others. He can be reached at


Philosopher´s Curse

I could handle all the pain-
The positivity and such.
Why I still determined to find answers
Was never disclosed, though.
Laboring on like a fiend,
Each meeting was fruitless,
Each mentor as useless as God.
If only I could kiss
This yearning goodbye
And tackle something straightforward
Something where I wouldn’t hesitate,
Something that wouldn´t frustrate the heavy thinkers.
So I stuck to making an arbitrary choice:
Deflecting the insanity by engaging in my own
Whataboutism, changing the subject
For another day,
Another Philosophy 101 curse.

Fragments of the Fall: Autumn Songs

Fragments of the Fall: Autumn Songs

he said:
“all the good times
were too delicate to take care of and now
all the bad times
bang on my head with a hammer”
wishing he could go back
to when it all weighed less
and he did too.

I never once thought
The yellow weeds had much to say
But that summer she was so little
And the plastic blue sandals she wore matched
That light blue-green pastel colored dress
She wore when she felt extra pretty
She grabbed a handful and
Put them on the table, by the window
Making sure I´d see them
In a tin cup, telling me later
She picked them especially for me.
Now her child does the same thing
Feeling pretty
In her own way too,
Smiling and catching my eye as she runs through the yard
Collecting yellow weeds
And I reflected that
No whales’ tale provided
As rich a reward in the end.

Perhaps another time,
Another passing set of
Anachronistic ideas about
How things should be
Will be recalled in an
Attempt that could save them,
Would open up some new chance.
The changing weather could be a topic.
But let’s wait.
Inside the door frame, just so,
The shine once cast a more tender glow
And I wonder…
What was it we said then?
I know I´ve forgotten the words.
You too, it seems,
Have forgotten what it was all about,
At least the looking back can be held
In warm embraces like there once were,
Readily available, succulent ones.
Now the winds outside keep the door closed
And the light is dim through the
Grainy windows.

Eamon said something
in the evening that stuck:
the orange and red leaves
talked to the moon at night
laughing at us so hard
their tears covered the grass
in the mornings as dew,
so that we would know
winter was down the road
and we´d better be careful
walking out there because
we might slip
and provide even
more laughs for the elves.

The United Hates of America

The United Hates of America

Somewhere on the streets a driver
will be stopped and shot
a black man
stoppped and shot.
Murdered for being a black man on the streets
in his car
stopped by a cop
so he had to be shot.

In a church a group begin to pray
a black group
in a black church
who welcome a white boy into their hearts
and their prayer group
a black prayer group
in a black church
and the white boy shoots
and kills them
because they are black
in a prayer group
in a black church
in his white country.

On a street corner he sells cigarettes
and cops bother him
a black man
selling cigarettes
on a street corner
so they choke him to death–
a black man
choked to death
because he sold cigarettes
on a street corner
as a black man.

A boy is beaten to a pulp,
a girl is manhandled near a pool
a kid plays on the swings
a Black kid
a BLACK girl
a BLACK boy
and all are there…
being BLACK and they are beaten
or molested
or killed as they are
in a WHITE america that
hates them
resents them
destroys them
for embarrasing them
as they are WHITE
and they have to share
the street corners
who clearly don´t belong.

On the border
a name without a line
the border
between the US and Mexico
a woman struggles
a family dies
of heat exhaustion
men are shot
women are raped and molested
children are taken away
children are taken away!
feeling death and violence at home
they desperately leave
leave their country
leave their homes
to find hope
to seek asylum
as they believe they can
and still
their children are taken away
and jokes are made
and people laugh
because they are “aliens”
not from a star or planet
but from lands we destabilized
Countries now
made shit
paid off the gangsters
installed puppet tyrants
support criminal politicians
hired to steal for us
so they do…

and so the people leave
begin walking
women and children
alone through
other countries
and hundreds
thousands of miles
they leave everything
to cross borders and deserts
to find hope
and their children are taken away
because they are brown
like the dirt on the border
and don´t belong here
in this white America.
So their children are taken away…

Near the beach
she is cirlced
like unwilling prey
praying for relief from
his anger
you´re ugly he says
and he taunts her
he gives her the finger
accuses her of being
ugly he says
a chink, a nothing,
a woman
enjoying the day
in the sun
in a nice town
in a big state
but she is not welcome
though she is from here
from there
but she is not welcome
is now fearful for her life
in this america
that is white they say
and doesn´t want her asian kind
because she is asian
they say. Unwelcome…

The United Hates of America
are too plentiful
too often shown
tapped into
fed and nourished
by people afraid
of blacks, and browns, and asians,
and muslims, and women, and
the different.
so many that
the United Hates of America
make up an America
which is winning
which is why
they are hated
and beaten
raped and killed
and dismissed
in the United Hates of America
where very soon
demographics will work
but for now
people will cry
and be beaten
and be stopped for being black
or brown
or not looking
“from here”
and people will die.



Wanting you
By some textured light
If the tub were full
I´d leap in and
Splash half the water through my nose
To see your smile
After smacking me upside the head.


It was small village facing
An anachronism of fates,
Like many irritants, we were teased out regularly
And often lingered around the corner shadows with
Artifacts of an unused inheritance:
We were the original disturbers
Determined to upset this apple-cart no matter what.

In those early days,
Watchful mornings lasted till
Sunsets, when we faced-off with
Righteous earrings among the biker crowd.
Before, at lunch, a unique silence
Embedded the crowd gathered to channel their
Shameful ways
Against a humming bird display of
Cockeyed wonder and a bunch of upset church folk.
Dinners were quieter. We plotted.

They thought they could take us.
We binged on the display and ruminated
About opening new avenues of indignation
To stir the town loose of the last
Moorings remaining.
A grand farewell might have followed but we left town
In a hurry, after burning it all down,
The sirens following amid our crazed laughter
And the deadly serious chance
We´d never reach the border in time for the news.



“My turn to do the dishes tonight”
Siggi said, his rotten teeth reeking
As his honest smile expanded into a hole
In his face that gave me about as much welcoming warmth
As the chili served that first night
Affected me the next morning.
“I can cook tomorrow too, if you want” he added,
Nodding his head a bit too enthusiastically.
I demurred, saying something about snuggling with
A cheap bottle tonight, as a joke really, one
He didn´t seem to get.

In my room upstairs, the light held close
To the walls, as the mist across the fjörd
Seemed to creep in the window and up to the ceiling.
I´d catch a chill if I left it open
But the chance of spotting orcas again
Was too good to pass up.
I sat at the old wooden desk and,
Taking up the debt I had,
I began writing a thank you note
To the owners on the cheap paper provided.

Gazing out at the gray scene, I sat like a sentinel
Waiting for the arrival of modern inspiration,
Breathing in the incredibly fresh air,
Grumbling about the cheap accommodations,
The broken chair, & the remoteness of the location,
But unable to think past
Siggi´s tobacco-stained, broken teeth.
Inspiration stood safe
For a few more days, I thought.



Somewhere not since understood, nor time-bound,
Where place and time did not apply,
A moment not delimited, not constructed,
Sometime long gone, there he walked at night,
Sitting down on the thick carpet of green grass in
The middle of that modest field for no reason but
To talk with imaginary friends, or
Ruminate about growing up or growing old,
Yearning for girls or yearning for greatness, &
He looked up to the sky,
Catching great gray clouds announcing rain in fitful drops,
&, in that schoolyard across from his little white house,
Six blocks from one dull supermarket,
Six blocks from an old outdoor mall,
Just across the dark and silent Catholic Church,
He remembered that suddenly
Nothing was missing,
Nothing was wanted,
& everything was truly available:
And so, he availed himself of it then, drinking in this divinity,
Gulping his cup of the night until he wanted to shout
To the world but more importantly, to himself
That he would never be here again, & that
After this, nothing sought for would compare,
Or as good ever be found.