Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poetry Sunday: "Morning in America: 1984"

Yesterday's post about Tim Kaine's social justice formation in Honduras took me back to my own social justice formation days in college.  After one argument about the USSSR, my father said, "Have you ever read The Communist Manifesto?  You should read it and find out what the Soviets really have in mind."

And so I did.  I bought my very own copy which felt very transgressive and radical.  The content of that book, however, did not seem so very radical.  And it didn't have a blueprint for the Soviet takeover of the world.

In those days, my father and I could not have foreseen the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union.  We also would not have forecast that a later political candidate, Donald Trump, would have so many connections to the current leader of Russia.

Decades later, I wrote a poem about those days.  It first appeared in The Julia Mango and in my chapbook, I Stand Here Shredding Documents:

Morning in America: 1984

I read The Communist Manifesto on the DC Metro,
surrounded by commuters going to their downtown jobs
and tourists in town to see their government in action.

I wear sensible shoes and my hair in a braid.
I work in a tough part of town, that summer
that DC has the nation’s highest murder rate.

That season is also the one when the social
service agency runs out of resources. My summer job:
to answer the phone, to tell the downtrodden there is no money.

Between calls, I return to Marx. I picture
him, prowling the streets of Europe, winding up in the British
Museum, where he could write and stay warm.

I write my own poems. I imagine they will change
the world, that all I must do to rid the planet of injustice
is to point out the inequities, nothing to lose but our chains.

No comments: