After, on the way to thereafter
the Heartbreak House of fighting,
after the fire next time,
the parties, the toasting and cheering
none will bewail
capitalism has been erased,
will build our global city
a flower from the ashes
its roots suckled and fed and watered
the local and daily and real.
petal will be the friendships of work time,
our neighbors, as we talk and we share.
who sew diapers, those who pin them and change them,
share with the planners, will help shape the towers,
the neighborly labor of digging,
digging and building our city anew.
so, in the morning, I may scrape out a waste dump,
out how with my pals on the job.
my 2 p.m. gig, I may write a paper on AIDS,
hug and console
stranger or friend.
evening, perhaps, put our heads in the oven
we clean a community stove,
I may weave a poem, or rest overlong,
whatever seems needed and fun
we build our embraceable
the petals and rootings of dreams.
An earlier version was published in Murders
most foul: Poems against war by a World
survivor. Central Jersey Coalition against
Endless War. 2005.
blowers of cooling air
can now be heard.
bodies herd streets
tales and rumors of buses
with ideas or water bottles
five hours wandering without electrons
midtown streets of Manhattan,
ghetto core of Plainfield, NJ,
throughout the long bus-sit between,
confusion, water, and thoughts
moment when solidarity flowers,
moment nested between years
Seeking to Make
the World Anew
kittens in a bag
. . . waiting . . . waiting
to get on the plane.
yell, some scoff,
. . . ? turning ugly.
Some won't get on.
at each other, jostling,
after hour after hour.
few tell jokes,
no one says good
a miasma of 85-degree air
moves no more than
may not (who knows?)
vying pushing shoving,
caring for kids
Make the World Anew
Negation: Notes on the Day after the Revolution
As crowds party loudly on
and dodge around potholes while
promenading the Bowery,
and offices and sweatshops echo
as workers debate how
they should now run them,
and what wonders to build
with their minds and their
I wander alone, alone among
with notebook in hand while I
mutter and scribble,
jotting elation and jotting my
The TVs in the windows replay
replay the Weeks of the Wonders
how, after the years of the
when words of revolution led
only to mutters of "not in my lifetime,"
we began having strikes again
in New York and in Jersey;
and how, a couple of weeks ago,
a boss in a tall box near the river
to one of the secretaries --
and everybody -- mailroom
clerks, secretaries, truck drivers, even analysts --
but then walked back in again
and sent the bosses home.
Then, of course, the mayor called the cops,
the governor called the National Guard,
and the President the Army --
but everybody had been there,
everyone had been called
"girl" or "boy" or "kike" or "Polack"
or maybe "rookie" or "grunt" --
so our rulers called the cops,
and they called the Marines,
and they called and they called and they
called and they called,
but workers and neighbors
argued with cops, joked with the Guard,
sang solidarity with the
and the now-rebel workers and soldiers beat up the few
who would not
and they all
went home --
or joined the crowd.
So the American peoples said
"Enough! It's all over!"
and workers stopped working
and crowds seduced armies
and only 18 died in all the Americas
and a few score more died,
across the green globe.
By the flickering light of the
Tubes in the windows,
I wander through littered
once built by the defunct
that brought us Agent Orange,
pet stones, and AIDS for the millions,
and I rejoice as I dread
and I dread as I rejoice.
And as I wander, I wonder:
"What the hell do we do next?"
I mean, after the subtle
like making the bosses work 4 or 5
months doing some of the real fun jobs,
like repairing the tops of blast
or changing the linens in the ICUs;
and letting the ex-cops sleep on the
and on the floor of the bus station,
so we can cheerily poke them awake,
crying, "Time to move on
now," with a big grin and a big stick.
what the hell do we do next?
over my shoulder:
the thousands of Communards gunned
down by Reaction,
Rosa and Karl murdered by the goon
squads of social democracy,
the telephone exchange in Barcelona —
where Uncle Joe "reached out
and gouged someone,"
and throttled the soul of a
dance with dreams
of ice picks in my fear-torn, grinning head.
what the hell do we do next?
market's got to go, but what do we replace it with?
How will we get
the food grown
and have all the candy, bread, and
roses we need
for the photo-journalists
and our children?
How will we live
our meanings, and not just numbers?
How do we unleash
the sleeping poetry? the smothered power
to create that waits like crabgrass
in the brains and hands of everyone,
even in the
slit-eyed grimaces of the naysayers
who wear red tape
these five billion poets will shoot forth trillions of pages
filled with tripe and doggerel
which someone – maybe even me --
will have to read,
pages filled with crackpot ideas
redolent of disaster,
scattered throughout -- if we can find it.
So here I wander,
thinking of these
Galileos and Miltons we need to create our new world,
and the humongous
arguments that will fill our ears
as they shout
forth their insights against each other,
and I ponder the
epic mistakes our revolutionary democracy
even as I rove,
wander and scribble
rubble, the wonders, and the shoving salvation
pushes aside the arid asphalt of Madison Avenue
to seek its sun
and in so doing pushes
the fears from my heart
(but not from my
and I walk
grinning into the nearest party
to join the
and raise glass
after glass in toasts of global unison
with friends in Santos and Granada, Bangkok and Kampala,
Earlier version published in News and Letters, December, 1997: p. 9. Reprinted Poems
Niederngasse: The Journal of Winning Poetry