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    5 poems from the Occupy Boston poetry readings

    Workers’ Day by Susie Davidson

    When sweat and toil have laid new ground,

    For millions of castles of mortar and brick,

    With basic requirements provided by all,


    And nobody needlessly hungry or sick,

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    Then we’ll know it’s Workers’ Day.

    When the fruits of endeavor are harvested fully,

    As storehouses bloat with provisions galore,

    And profits and shares are just means of ensuring,


    That all have the same, no less and no more,

    Then we’ll know it’s Workers’ Day.

    When communal gatherings are welcoming venues

    For voices on every side of the fence,

    And no one’s afraid to state an opinion,


    In this new world order of the highest sense,

    When laborers’ monuments stand in the squares,

    As societies are rebuilt with inhabitants in mind,

    Arsenals are stocked with food for the people,

    Respect is bestowed upon all of mankind,

    When unions and strikes are a thing of the past,

    and there’s no need to picket or get in a line,

    with health, education, and welfare in order

    There really aren’t any demands to define,

    When people have time to smell lilacs and roses,

    Because there’s no anger, no issues, no race,

    When within a cooperative built upon honor,

    Envy and greed just haven’t a place,

    When organization replaces dissent,

    And it’s only ourselves that we need to obey,

    When with our needs met we can be who we are,

    And Utopia’s only a hair’s-breadth away...

    Then we’ll know it’s Workers’ Day.

    ‘The Very Hungry Bank’ by Don McLagan

    In the light of the moon, thirteen

    six-sided floors sprout from a pedestal trunk

    and overhang the tents at Dewey Square.

    One sunny morning when the concrete and glass

    sapling was first built, a green sign appeared - Pop -

    announcing a tiny and very hungry BayBank.

    In 1996, BankBoston acquired BayBank

    but the bank was still hungry.

    In 1999, FleetBank acquired BankBoston

    but the bank was still hungry.

    In 2004, Bank of America (itself acquired

    by NationsBank) acquired FleetBank

    but the bank was still hungry.

    In the next years, the bank acquired one MBNA,

    one Banco Itau, one US Trust, one LaSalle

    Bank, one Countrywide Financial and one

    Merrill Lynch.

    That year the bank had a stomach ache. Now

    it wasn’t a tiny little bank any more. It was a big

    fat bank. It built a forty-five billion dollar safety net

    called a TARP around itself, and stayed inside for a number

    of months. Then it nibbled a hole in the TARP, and pushed

    its way out. Alas, it was not a beautiful butterfly.

    ‘The Poet Arrives at the Former Site of the John Brown Trailer Park’ by Jacob Strautmann

    I crossed the river at Harpers Ferry

    southwest for your ribs Allegheny.

    I’m a son of your hills, your flooding mines.

    There’s news. Watch the sky unburdened;

    your towns are empty. Saturday

    rapture-like everyone moved on,

    left even Charleston silent and gray,

    Legislators scraping down

    the Kanawha on sandpapery skin.

    Your camps and unincorporateds

    clenched their eyes, descended in

    the blue tattoo of oxycontin.


    of Appalachian Redevelopment Commissions,

    when God once made a pact with you

    and cut this mountain through and through

    to share your Heat and Shale, you betrayed

    and broke us. Now birds die here, and hay

    in every hayfield molders; sheep

    birth limp two-headed things and some

    that speak like men if they speak at all.

    Children of a disputed well

    threw sandstone at their parents’ names

    and left. They married and were gone.

    Land of Byrd, of Hope and Church --

    you left us before we left you.

    When the Valley shut down, I was a child;

    my dad stood in line to watch you pass.

    We grew up in a tin can shaking in the wind,

    stayed as long as we could; bargained

    the hill like the soul leaves her body

    for a city full of people and work.

    You could have noticed, could have called

    us back, could have called Richmond,

    Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore,

    but we cut those hollow metal bonds

    vibrating on hillsides or on a flat acre

    of not much value, not much music.

    Let’s Keep the Riot in PATRIOT by Peter Desmond

    How can you be sleepy

    when there’s no doubt the bedroom is bugged

    and the black helicopters will land

    at any moment in the street

    and we’ll behold the ninja-clad national secret police,

    who don’t need a warrant to search the house

    and who take a grim delight in bagging heads

    and electrocuting genitals, batter down the door

    and seize our books, papers, and computers,

    all because you downloaded that stupid recipe

    for Christmas Pudding Ice Cream Bombe?

    New World Disorder by Peter Desmond

    After the national news

    we watch crowd scenes

    in the streets of far-off cities.

    People throw stones

    at phalanxes of uniformed men

    in helmets and gas masks

    whose left arms hold transparent shields,

    four feet high, rectangular,

    curved like the one

    that did not save Achilles.

    Today’s riots come to us

    from Ankara and Jakarta.

    The shields are emblazoned “Polis,”

    the word for “city” in ancient Greece.

    The polis’s right arms raise truncheons,

    silently crack protesters’ heads

    as the newscaster reports

    on “IMF-ordered cutbacks.”

    The crowds flee. It’s almost time

    for an ad from a global corporation.

    “Next up: sports and weather.

    Yankees massacre Indians. Karl says

    it’s only going to get hotter.”