I'm scared.

Now that we have open registries at a few fancy-pants stores, I have received a number of disturbing emails, with subjects like: GET THE EASTER BUNNY CAKE PAN AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA. These are the things that scare me most. Animal shaped cake pans, Martha Stewart and Donald Rumsfeld.

Now, a Rumsfeld-shaped cake pan... that's a different story.


Bush Lies. People Die. Who pays?

"Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes."
—Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State, June 12, 1982

This was written by a friend and poet, Tamiko Beyer....

Dear friends,

As we approach the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I'm preparing to attend the rally being planned in New York City to protest this brutal war and current occupation. At the same time, tax day approaches and I'm preparing to protest the incredible amount of money being spent to fund war and occupation (close to $7 billion a month for military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan). (1)

As a U.S. citizen, I'm outraged by the acts of aggression, war, and torture that are being carried out in my name—from the war in Iraq, to the atrocities documented at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, to the continued bombings and killings of civilians in Afghanistan. I'm also deeply concerned by the persistent attack on civil liberties here in the U.S. being carried out in this so-called "war on terror." And I'm horrified that my tax dollars are helping to fund all of these acts.

This year, approximately 50% of federal taxes will be used to support current and past military expenses. (2) In protest, I am refusing to pay 50% of the of the money I owe the IRS. I will donate that half to the People's Life Fund, which makes grants to community organizations working for peace and justice. This act of noncooperation, as much as my marching and my chanting, is my resounding declaration of protest against a war that I am profoundly opposed to, and is an act that the government cannot ignore.

A statement of support for those who refused to pay for the war against Iraq and continued military aggression by the U.S. government, signed by over 900 individuals including Joan Baez, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn, includes this thought:
"It is clear that the U.S. government's ability to threaten, coerce, and, if deemed necessary, make war on other nations is a direct result, not only of our economic might, but also the unprecedented size of our military arsenal, which is now far larger than that of all our allies and 'enemies' combined. It is equally clear that the maintenance of this arsenal depends upon the willingness of the American people — through their federal tax payments — to finance it." (3)

I will no longer willingly participate in financing this arsenal. I share this letter with you in hopes that you too will consider actions that you can take to voice your opposition to acts of war carried out by the U.S. government. I've included links below that provide more information about war tax resistance. And, as I am always a poet before I am anything else, I'm including a poem I wrote at the beginning of the Iraq war, and before I became a war tax resister.

With love, ferocity, and poetry,


1. "U.S. Annual War Spending Grows," David Rogers, March 8, 2006, The Wall Street Journal Online
2. Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes, War Resister's League
3. "An Appeal to Conscience," War Resister's League

Some resources for war tax resistance:
* National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
* Northern California War Tax Resistance/People's Life Fund
* War Resisters League

The Hand
April, 2003

This is a protest poem
but I'm not sure to whom I should register my complaint.
I would like to protest the dismembered hand
draped across a tree branch close to a market
in an old neighborhood of Baghdad
bombed during its evening peak:
packed with women vying for the few, meager vegetables
to cook for the next day's wartime meals.
Unsightly. Gruesome. Horrific.
How dare it enter my consciousness?

Perhaps I should complain to the woman whose hand
it once was. But it's of no use—she's dead.

Then I must complain to the British reporter who documented
the severed hand and other broken bodies in the marketplace.
But he only wrote what he witnessed.
We should expect no less of journalists.

Perhaps, then, I will protest to the Iraqi people for fighting to defend
their land and country. If they had welcomed our troops with cheers
and a laying down of guns, the hand would not have been liberated
from its slender wrist. But who would not fight for her home?
I would.

Therefore, I should probably register my complaint to evil
Saddam Hussein who refused to disarm and so forced us to invade.
But—no weapons of mass destruction have been found laying
deadly and waiting in the desert.

Then, I must complain to the United Nations, that venerable
institution, for allowing this preemptive and illegal act of war.
But I forget; they worked to prevent it at every turn.

So it is to George W. Bush then, to whom I must complain
about the dismembered hand whose image will not let me be.
He ordered the bombs to fall, the soldiers to kill.
But he is the president of this country, bound
to do the will of the people
(or so the story goes).

It must be then that we wanted this war.

It must be that we coveted, desperately
our sporty Durangos, our perfect, climate-controlled
split level houses and downtown condos. Our American
and god-given right to take to the open highway
and watch the farms and telephone poles go by—taking what we want
along the way, from California to Florida, D.C. to New York
taking what we want, wherever it may be.

Yes, it is to myself that I must complain.
I paid my taxes dutifully. Paid for a few inches
of the bomb that exploded where a woman stood
picking out a single lemon, weighing it in her hand,
which was then was sliced off her arm by flying shrapnel
that sailed through the air
the smoke, the screams
to land gently
like a bird nesting
in the crook
of an ancient olive tree.

Tamiko Beyer
(Originally published in
Paradise 29 artel, 2005)