Homeland Security, by Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 10

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

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In his 2006/2007 Commentary, Sam Hamill condemns the Bush war that led to the deaths of  *3000 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians. He decries the campaign of false patriotism and fear mongering that is purported to justify the erosion of our constitutional rights, and once again he calls poets to political activism:

Love our country as we love our children. Every country is a child slowly maturing. And just as we impose discipline on our children because we love them, we must impose discipline on those who claim to serve us. We may have to suffer through another two years of Caligula in the White House, but we have the power to hold our congressional representatives’ feet to a very hot fire. We have become the majority, and there is much that can be done: now is not the time for silence. We get the government we deserve.

Homeland Security

by Sam Hamill
after Borges

No one is the homeland. The myths of history
cannot clothe the Emperor’s nakedness,
no speech empower a vote not counted,
nor honor the living who are impoverished
by our anthems for the dead. No one
is the homeland. Not the heroes of our
old genocides, the Indian Wars, nor those
who sailed west with cargoes of human flesh
in chains, nor those in chains who came
against their will to work and breed and die
in the service of their masters, masters
whose sons would be masters of us all today.

There are no heroes except the ones
who rise to greet the dawn with empty hands
and heavy hearts in a brutal time. No oath
or pledge reveals what’s in the heart or mind.
No one is the homeland. Or everyone.
For who lives without a country of the heart?
And yet we cry, “We!” We cry, “Them!”
I pledge allegiance to the kind.
Among the exiled, I make my stand.
No true democracy can be won
at the point of a loaded gun, nor honor found
in anthems or cheap paradigms
based on the social lie. No one is the homeland.

It can’t be found in the grandiloquence
of pompous village idiots who run for office
because they want the power. Nor in the brilliance
of the medals on a uniform worn by a man
whose thinking is uniform and obedient
as he swears his pledge of allegiance.
The homeland is a state of grace, of peace,
a whole new world that patiently awaits.
The homeland is a state of mind, a light
flooding the garden, a transcendent moment
of compassionate awareness, one extraordinary line
in some old poem that reveals or exemplifies
a possibility… in time… in time…

From “Measured by Stone” and posted earlier on the Poiein kai Prattein – Create and Do site.

*For the latest numbers, go to Costs of War.



Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdvisorAbout Writing for Peace Adviser, Sam Hamill

Sam Hamill is the founder of Poets Against the War, and the author of more than forty books, including fifteen volumes of original poetry (most recently Measured by Stone and Almost Paradise: New & Selected Poems & Translations); four collections of literary essays, including A Poet’s Work and Avocations: On Poetry & Poets; and some of the most distinguished translations of ancient Chinese and Japanese classics of the last half-century. He co-founded, and for thirty-two years was editor at, Copper Canyon Press.

Learn more about Sam Hamill here.


Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Contest deadline is March 1st, 2013. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!


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