Monday, April 16, 2007

Agit Prop Poems

Although a lot of my writing is about "real life" issues, as opposed to what it's like to be a poet, to write a poem, how much I drank last night, my sex life, etc., I began feeling a couple of weeks ago that I should be writing something that is far more direct about the problems our society is currently grappling with.

So, here are four. As with anything that I write that is so new, I'll probably want to rewrite and change it later, but in the meantime, it looks ok:

How My SUV helped me

I liked being selfish

I liked fitting in

I loved our society

and cashing in life coupons for deals

as if the world was my own big box store

Sure, I didn’t like breathing

when there were air quality warnings

or drinking the tap water

when toxic crap spilled into the reservoir again

but hell: into each life some acid rain must fall, eh?

Once in a while I felt bad we shipped production

to countries with no environmental laws

but somebody’s got to make consumer goods

and my stocks soared

I was able to buy a really cool suv

But there’s no justice in this world

the parking brake broke on my beloved suv

and it rolled down the driveway and killed me.

On the positive side

the treadmarks gave my forehead a thoughtful look

like my brow was furrowed from thinking

Victor Schwartzman

Breathing 9/11

On 9/11 I was in a nearby office building

I did not see the planes hit

but sure heard and felt them

everything trembled

I trembled

Later, I was outside getting lunch

when the first building collapsed

a poisonous white cloud

raced towards me

I ran but not fast enough

and the white death dust covered me

The next day I stayed home

but then the government said

everyone should go back to work

the economy should keep moving

it is good for business

So I returned to work

and did my part for business

but I breathed some more

breathing was a mistake

it would have been okay

if only I had not breathed

Now I have lung cancer

and breathing is hard

I want to scream

when I scream at the liars

at the terrorists I voted for

I can’t breath afterwards

it feels good to scream

Now I buy medicine

to keep me alive

a few more years, or months

no one knows

but the medicine I buy--

it’s good for business

Swept Away By The Flood

I had a nice house in New Orleans

till Katrina washed it clean away

bodies floated in the water

dead eyes looking for help

They predicted the dikes would fail

them politicians talked and talked

better emergency service since 9/11, yep

my home’s gone, bodies float in the front yard

The feds pay $24 a foot to haul away my dirt but

there's subcontracting 'till the guy hauling gets $3 a foot

someone’s making money on my lost home

meanwhile, I live in Houston

Them emergency homes sit vacant

no one put in plumbing so you can’t take a leak

funny, emergency homes with no water, in a flood

but I don’t hear no one laughing

I had faith in the big words

faith in the politicians

faith in the lies, the teleprompter speeches

faith swept away by the flood

Saved From The Streets

I was headed for juvie

a few break and enters

some stolen cars, one armed robbery.

The Army was my best way out

before I ended on the street for good

I enlisted as an Engineer

got a $5000 bonus

the recruiting sergeant was real nice.

He said I’d build roads in Iraq

And that I’d never have to kill nobody

When I got to Iraq I didn’t build no roads

I was put on top of a humvee

with a 50 calibre machine gun.

Under the hot burning sun

there were many shadows

An rpg blew up our humvee and my mates

the round came out of nowhere

and pierced the humvee armor.

Then it pierced my body armor

then it pierced me

One soldier asked the Secretary of Defence

why we had such lousy armour

he said, you go to war with what you have.

He resigned to the golf course

I can’t applaud his disgrace with no arms

When I was wounded my pay was cut

I live in a cheap little room

it’s real clear I’m no longer needed.

Politicians ignore me except for parades

but hell, they saved me from the street

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