Lifestyle

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,

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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,

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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,

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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.

Land-of-my-Mothers-but-not-of-my-Children,

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.”