Fight against anti-immigrant attacks!


How many of us native-born, American-citizen workers are out of work? Millions, right? What are we going to do when unemployment benefits run out? We probably won't emigrate to another country, but we could very possibly be forced to migrate somewhere within the U.S. if work turns up, no? Well, this is just what has happened to Mexican and other immigrant workers who have come to the U.S.; their livelihood has been destroyed in their home countries. The only difference is, in coming to the U.S. they crossed a border. But – don't lie -- you would cross a border too if it was the only way to feed your family! This means that immigrant workers and native workers face the same problems and have the same class of enemies, the rich capitalist parasites, to struggle against. We should unite, not divide! We are class brothers and sisters, not enemies!

Anti-immigrant sentiment is being whipped up by the Republican right wing in the U.S. today. All kinds of brutal measures are being taken against immigrants deemed illegal. At the same time, workers in the U.S. of all backgrounds are facing severe job losses and cut-backs. The Democrats – supposedly the friends of the workers – are not only not fighting against the Republicans' anti-immigrant campaign, Obama is deporting immigrants at a greater rate than Bush, his hated predecessor! At the same time, both capitalist parties have given trillions to the banks while attacking both native-born and immigrant working people. In Struggle's view, all workers and progressive people should reject anti-immigrant views and join hands to fight back against these brutal attacks. It is a question of what helps the class struggle of all working people against the super-rich.

Throughout American history immigrants have played a great role in fighting for the rights of all workers and in pushing that struggle towards a genuine socialism. This is still true in the present. As recently as 2006 it was immigrant workers, especially Mexican, who sharply posed the question if immigrants' rights and revived the traditional workers' celebration of struggle, May 1st, with a vigorous outpouring of mass marches and rallies coast-to-coast. Native-born workers should welcome the immigrants and embrace this sentiment for struggle. This can only strengthen our common battle against the rich parasites. We should fight for full rights for immigrants and for a massive program of jobs for all!

This issue of Struggle features a series of writings exposing worker job insecurity and supporting the immigrant struggle. Various visions are presented, with a number of poems from and about today's immigrants in struggle. Later in the magazine one story, “The Day the Homestead Mill Went Down,” shows how job loss in the steel industry devastated native-born workers in the 1970s, beginning the great wave of de-industrialization which intensifies in today's economic crisis and forces workers to search desperately for work. Together these writings expose the insecurity of workers' life under capitalism. It is the very nature of capitalism to create job insecurity, both within and between countries, thus pitting worker against worker in order to drive down the wages of all. Immigrant and native-born workers need to unite to fight their exploiters, gain as much rights as can be won under their rule and eventually eliminate capitalism and job insecurity altogether.

Struggle wishes to warmly thank the pro-immigrant activists of Fuerza Mundial for their contributions to bringing this issue of the magazine into existence.

By Tim Hall


Undocumented poem

If they find me
I lose my identity
and I will forget who I am.

If they interrogate me
I go with my comrades
to the mountains
where others are waiting.

I was born alien
in my own country
and foreign I have been
everywhere. Like you,
I am just trying
to make a living
in my little Planet Earth.

By Teresinka Pereira


According to Webster

My great grand-parents
came to the US from Italy.
They were called immigrants.
This is still the term used today,
only “illegal” is usually tossed
in front of it, when the border patrol
misses out on their catch of the day.

I'm told my great-grandparents
never learned to speak English
very well. They worked jobs nobody wanted.

If we shut down all these places
that employ these people –
where does that leave our economy?
Nobody wants to talk about that.

I don't know if my great-grandparents
ever became “legal.”
Thy worked hard.
They were immigrants.

I don't even like that word;
it sounds harsh, and most likely
is accompanied by a hateful tone.

Immigrants and ignorance
have phonetic similarities,
though according to Webster –
ignorance comes before immigrant.

By Cathy Porter




I have a right to dream.
What is a person without dreams?
What kind of country says
pick fruit and beans
and pull out potatoes
But live without dreams.
The camp is breaking up.
Tomorrow, the migration
to another citrus farm.
The birds and ourselves.
I sit on a cinder block
outside the shack and
stare at the still puddles.
They do not reflect the sun....
I have a right to dream –
an obligation to dream!
What is a person without dreams?
What kind of land tells its children
to live without dreams?

By Jerry Hauser




Five thousand deaths (1994-2008)

Although there were deaths before
in suffocating trailer trucks
in car engines and car trunks
from running across California freeways
from swimming the Río Bravo
or the American canal

After the Southwest border “strategy”
Operation Hold-the-Line in El Paso (September 1993)
Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego (October 1994)
Operation Safeguard in Arizona (1994)
Operation Río Grande in Texas (1997)
was put into effect

With sensors, walls, helicopters, cameras
added along one or another stretch
the only place to cross was the desert
the Arizona desert
or the Tecate mountains
or other areas uninhabited or inhospitable

The deaths along the border
from heat stroke, hypothermia, kidney failure
and other inclement-weather related causes
hit 499 in 2000 and 494 in 2005
and as the National Guard was sent in
to more than 500 in 2007

This war is waged against
men from poverty-stricken rural or urban centers
dying in the hope of finding work
women, some pregnant, crossing to join their menfolk
dying in the hope of re-uniting the family
children accompanying mothers and fathers

This unjust war is fought against
those who plant and harvest our crops
those who work in Taco Bell and McDonalds
those who clean our houses and our gardens
those who man the meatpacking plants and foundries
those who woman the garment factories

This is a war, an unjust war
that has claimed more than 5,000 lives
This is a war, an unjust war
by which “democracy” will be judged

By Tamar Diana Wilson




Migrant blackbird

Blackbird comes
from faraway
and stays overnight
under the moon.

He comes as a migrant
alien traveler
looking for grain,
for the sun,
for the sand of a river.
Tired from the trip
he complains about
sad shadows,
wind, rain, mountains,
insecure nights,
his own shouts,
blades of air
hurting while in space.

I still spend my life
as a blackbird,
migrating back and forth.
But how I wish to have
the power of resting....

By Teresinka Pereira




Ningún ser humano es ilega

Brown fists grasp it:

Long shadows – white banner
by Comite de Derechos,
Humanos de Escondido.
One fist, it clamps down
tight. The other juts up
high as a woman shouts.
Woman in a green tee-
shirt uses both. She is,
determined now. Her mouth
opens for angry joy. A
man is in the center. His
black hair is a river. It
reaches. He knuckles a
maraca & his lips are
full of song. Correspond
with fist music, Yes, all
around, there is fist. Fist
attached to Digital Camera.
Attached to more sign &
yet, see how fist mostly
pierce the air molecules.
Molecules who pass where
they like. They commit no
crime. Break, no law for
finite existence. Brown
fist; he, she, grasps it:

“No Human Being is Illegal.”

By L.B. Miller





On the other side…
you think I’m fine,
away from my land,
sweeping dollars,
eating meat,
not frijoles,
You think I’m fine,
driving un carro del año,
living in a nice house
acá del otro lado.
You dream, deliras.
You don’t know
how I feel
when I see la migra.
My heart almost
comes out of my mouth.
My legs get tired
of running away.
You think I’m fine
en el otro lado.
You ignore I sweep up
la mugre de otros.
I still eat frijoles.
I drive a pata.
Y vivo in a compact,
crowded apartment.
Crees que estoy bien,
muy bien acá.
You think I’m fine
on the other side.

By Enedina Castañeda

Frijoles – beans; un carro del año – a brand new car; acá del otro lado – here on the other side; deliras – you dream; la migra – border patrol, immigration officers; la mugre de otros – other peoples’ dirt:; a pata – by foot; y vivo – and I live; crees que estoy bien – you think I’m fine



The U.S.A. wall

The border between Mexico
and the United States is
an enormous and shameless prison
both sides of the Wall.

The Wall is a barrier to stop
the peons from the colonies
from entering the U.S.A. Empire.

The Wall will be present
in the history of the nations
as a beastly shout of warning,
a visible and silent frightening
message to the immigrants arriving
with aspirations to the fictional
“American Dream.”

The Wall is an artifact to bind
guards and prisoners in the same jail.
It promotes a regression of time
to feudal greed, and peasant poverty.
The Wall will increase smuggling,
traffic, and slavery of human beings.

Inside the Wall there will be buried
an American heart of steel at the side
of another heart of the workers blood.
They will be united in this no one's tower,
in no one's land under a horizon
without sky, like two transient
tears in the desert.

By Teresinka Pereira




Walking with the people

I wonder where he is – ?
the new Walt Whitman chronicling
this ongoing war between the north
and the south, between the conspicuous
consumer and the downright impoverished.
Likely he started his trek
from the furthermost villages
in the remotest corners of South
America. Walking with the people,
joining in the great pilgrimage,
the vast rippling sweep northwards
where the myth of hope still shines
in everyone's dreams, in the momentous
chatter around the campfires: of that city
upon the hill. He would have leapt upon
the merciless train traveling
the length of Mexico, dodging the gangs
with their surly knives and fists
for robbing and raping the women.
All this time his mind would be
seething with ideas, visions, songs,
the strange tongues of his fellow
pilgrims. The fence at the border
for him must have seemed the walls
of Jericho. And as he begins to blow
his horn, the burro, for fifty dollars,
leads him across the mountains, far
into the desert, where finally
he is informed that he has arrived.
That the city of lost angels lies
in that distant basin from which
sulfurous lights glow. That these
are his cards, his numbers, his
identity without which he would
always have to be a prisoner
made of shadow and disappearing
sounds of illegals running from police.

By Michael S. Morris





Who says?

Mis amigos are not legal
So they say
Who rob the Native American
To this day.

Mis amigos are not legal
So they cry
Who fried Viets with napalm
From the sky.

Mis amigos are not legal
So they curse
At those who lived in California

Mis amigos are not legal
So they swear
As our taxes in bank bail-outs

Mis amigos are not legal
So they scream
At we who sweat so the rich can
Live the dream.

Yes, mis amigos are not legal
That's what they say
Who make the laws and break them
Every day.

If mis amigos are not legal
Then the rich
Should be brought down and left
Without a stitch.

For mis amigos are our comrades
Since we work.
As comrades we will battle
All who shirk.

By Tim Hall (1997)




Immigrant blues

Have you heard the latest
from Texas on TV?
Have you heard the latest
from Texas on TV?
How 15 Mexican workers died
in a hot boxcar with no air to breathe?

When I think of those poor workers,
tears come running down my face.
Said when I think of those poor workers,
tears come running right down my face.
Got wives and children like you and me,
they’ll never feel their warm embrace.

Some say they can’t speak English
so they can’t be citizens.
Some folks say they can’t speak English,
can’t be citizens.
But that was OK when others came –
now does that make any sense?

They work, they work, they work
hard as anyone alive.
You know they work
hard as anyone alive.
But when the boss don’t need em,
they got to run an hide.

I’d like to ask our Presidents,
I said our anti-immigrant Presidents --
Congressmen and Senators,
and our anti-immigrant Presidents --
before the Native Indians
how long were your people local residents?

I want equality for all the workers,
fight the bosses side by side.
Equal rights for all us workers
to fight the bosses side by side.
Give full rights to the immigrants
and let the rich man run an hide!

By Tim Hall (1997)




We the undocumented workers of America


Many citizen workers call us a problem, a menace to the peace and safety of the town, the city, the state, the country. They fear that we will take away their jobs, or sell drugs, or mug them, or vandalize, or loiter, or – God forbid – become proud Americans just like them. Each day the media, schools, churches, and the government supply the citizen workers of America with endless instances of our supposed criminality. These cherry-picked accounts and images, which are meant to sow the seeds of hate and distrust in people’s hearts, belie the reality of our plight, the sad fact that we live in fear every waking hour….

When we go out, we do it in order to work. And, after work – after having swept the floors, fixed the roofs, painted the walls, and cleaned the yards of our bosses’ houses; after having done our bosses’ shopping, cared for our bosses’ children, and laid the foundations of our bosses’ new towers – we hurry at once toward home….

Home is our jail and our temple….

Home is where we breathe and take stock and regroup before a new day’s battle….

We are afraid to be seen outside, to stand in full view of the police or the immigration authorities that threaten to catch us. Overworked during the day, blasted by fear at night, we regret that most citizen workers want us to return to those places from which we fled because life was too harsh and oppressive. We regret that they want us to go back to where our individual freedoms were trampled upon so hard, so completely and thoughtlessly, that we keenly awaited the dreaded journey across the Arizona desert. We especially regret that, if they have their way, they will condemn our children to live in a void of despair and solitude until the streets finally lure them away from us with false promises of adventure and meaning….

We are a fretful people. We cannot even dream of putting our concerns to the citizen workers of America, for terror seethes in our hearts, clouding our faculties and making us question whether solidarity among all workers is, after all, a realistic prospect….

In the face of so much irrationality, so much hatred and violence aimed at us, seeing beyond the present becomes futile. We must place our dreams on hold indefinitely; and, like a family whose members huddle together in a tiny shelter, we must wait for the gusts of hate and aggression to roar past us, to leave us – if only temporarily – in peace….

We wish we could tell the citizen workers, especially those among them who fear and hate us as though we were a plague, about our frightful past. We wish we could tell them that long before the boats of our lives set sail for America, this “Land of Opportunity” had held forth for us a number of coveted prizes, prizes that taught us to hope in spite of the grim realities of “third-world life”….

Back home we were put on our mettle. Some of us were farmers whom cheap agribusiness imports drove quickly off the land. We simply could not compete against the immense productive capital of foreign industries. Some of us saw our wages drastically lowered due to the increased presence of machinery in the grimy factories where we worked and due to the incessant division of labor that our bosses claimed would “boost productivity.” We “specialized” in pressing buttons and pulling levers and polishing machine-parts: skills so unexceptional, so insignificant, that virtually anyone could do them….

Like sand, the means of subsistence began to slip through our outstretched hands. Soon we were unable to provide for our spouses and children and they too were compelled to join the workforce. Work or perish! came the warning for our besieged families….

And if the worst happened and the bosses threw us out on our ears, we always found ways to stay on this relentless race against death. We polished windshields at street intersections, sold treats aboard buses, bagged trash in parks, and for a few cents we even helped travelers with their luggage as they exited train terminals, thus angering patrolling policemen who would not hesitate to bawl us out and drive us away with insults and swinging clubs…!

Day in and day out, toiling and starving, weeping and hurting, we tossed the leaden embers of our misery into the leaping fires of our hope. Poverty, violence, hunger, disease, death -- these only redoubled our desire, redefining America in our hearts, turning it into a seductive myth, a force of nature, a land of unique possibilities…!

Thus tempted by the prospects of America, we resolved to risk the only thing of value that we had left: our lives. “Yes,” we reasoned, “we would rather die in the Arizona desert, perhaps attempting to dodge the searing bullets of vigilante justice, perhaps writhing and smarting in a glinting coil of barbed wire, perhaps sprawled under the merciless glare of the afternoon sun. Yes, we would rather die like that – and never, never in a state of inaction, undermined by the abuses of the system of mass-exploitation under which we labor, slowly devoured by those twin beasts, credit and debt, which are ever on the prowl, ever ready to leave us destitute and exceptionally defenseless against the blasts of misfortune…!”

This was our decision. Some might call it a reckless gamble, an affront to life. We see it as the pivotal moment of our existence, the moment when we chose to sacrifice so that we could lead decent, human lives: lives without fear and repression, lives without hunger, without despair, without isolation….

… And yet here we find ourselves now, still straitened and afraid, still at the mercy of an abusive social system where the few oppress and determine the lives of the many…!

Having lived all our lives in fear, we can recognize it when we see it. Yes: like us, the citizen workers are afraid….
Yet, because we are in America but not of America, because we live alongside the citizen workers but are acutely aware that America does not regard us and them equally – in other words, because we exist simultaneously inside and outside society, we possess the ability to see the citizen workers’ dire circumstances both up-close and from afar. We can step back and look clearly at the awful conditions that have caused the citizen workers much distress and misery….

The bosses of the citizen workers of America point accusing fingers in our direction; they want to avoid being blamed for subjecting the citizen workers to lower wages, longer hours, and fewer benefits. Quite simply, the bosses are using us as cover, as justification for their unruly practices. Upon hearing the charges leveled against us, some citizen workers react in a way that pleases their bosses, for they unleash the full force of their anger and frustration upon us, calling for our immediate banishment from society. Blinded by fear and hate, these citizen workers declaim against us at rallies, in front of our churches, across from our homes and workplaces; and, in order to emphasize the urgency of their call, they hurl racial epithets at us and insult our appearance, our customs, our language, our intellect, even the size of our families….

We sulk in our jail-temples; but even in our state of anguish we can see that such a mobilization of hate toward us enhances the sense of brotherhood among those citizen workers who have chosen the path of discrimination, for they feel that they are fighting for their “liberation” and “happiness” when, in fact, they are thoroughly ignoring the real instigators of their misery, the real root of their problem. These misguided citizen workers fail to see that they (like us) are being manipulated and exploited. Their manipulation and exploitation and our own vary only in degree; but that they take place cannot be doubted. At any rate, the release of hate and frustration seems to briefly satisfy these blind citizen workers, whose bosses are now happy to see them return to work with renewed strength and disposition….

Behind the backs of the citizen workers of America, however, their wily bosses hire our labor; and, as our children must eat, we simply cannot refuse to work for them. In time we displace the citizen workers from their positions, and the bosses smile and rub their palms together because they know that we can do whatever is asked of us without protest and for practically nothing.

The bosses do not have to pay us the minimum wage; they do not have to grant us benefits of any kind; they do not even have to fear that we will unionize! At the first sign of trouble – perhaps one of us is naively demanding a higher pay or safer work conditions – the bosses can always dismiss the misfits or threaten to call the immigration authorities. Yes; it is a win-win situation for the bosses of America….

Meanwhile those citizen workers who have embraced the notion that we are a scourge cannot withstand having been displaced by a slew of “wetbacks” and “spics.” They take to the streets again, much more aggressively than before, and demand that the government act immediately. Naturally, they can always count on a bigoted lawmaker to hear their incensed pleas and draft a bill that brands us as criminals, as a menace to the peace and safety of the town, the city, the state, the country…!

A stormy debate ensues. The press is in attendance. Public statements are made in support of such a bill. Public statements are made against it….

And, back of it all, the bosses of the workers of America are laughing at this spectacle while they pocket the capital produced daily by their slaves….

It is clear to us now that the citizen workers of America and we the undocumented workers of America are one big group of people with aspirations, a group that the bosses of America have deliberately split apart and kept thus for their own benefit. It is clear to us now that the citizen workers and we the undocumented workers are but mirrors of each other, and all of us live and huddle under the same great canopy of fear. It is clear to us now that the bosses of America have all too often told the citizen workers and us the undocumented workers of our supposed differences, of the necessity of our fighting each other if one of us is to earn the right to grasp the material foundations of American life….

It is clear to us now that there are no “citizen workers of America” and “undocumented workers of America” at all, but simply The Workers of America…!

And if these things are so, if we the workers of America share the same oppressors, the same plight, the same fear, the same hope, the same misery, the same desire: indeed, if all workers – men and women and black and brown and white and yellow and red and citizens and non-citizens – are but One People, why should we not act as one, why should we not join forces, stand abreast of each other before the bosses of America, hold our fists aloft, and tell them in a single booming voice that rises out of the dark depths of our roiling anguish:

“We are the workers of America, and we are here to depose you for good! We will shatter this system of mass-exploitation! And we will bring about equality!”

By Juan J. Rodriguez





50 feet

Police they've

kept two ideologies separate: One

hundred twenty-five on
one side. One thousand

on the other. One out of
125; holds up his intolerance.
The large white placard sez,
“I Heart Arizona.”

Intolerance who sports
an ivory hat, brimmed
against the sun; the Culture of

the Sun. They are across a chasm here. Down-
town San Diego. Front Street.

An old dividing line is strung
together; black/white officers'
motorcycles parked. Unmanned.

Naked authoritarian machines

among the two sides; mosaicking
clothes & yellow/red/white/blue &
green flags. The mosaic who began

their march at Chicano Park:
Bang drums; bang brown bones

antiquity music arrival. Came far.
This ritual Corazón; it

requires its entry back.
Sez to police, I require,
entry into our own stolen land.

By L.B. Miller





Let freedom ring!

how many times
can we demand justice
and not get it

how many times
can millions march the streets
and not be seen

how many times can we scream
about the promised liberty
and not be heard

in how many cities
can we fill the streets
with our bodies and our screams
and not be heard or seen

how many murders
how many must drown
how many in the desert sand
how many in airless trucks
before our people cry enough

are we going to open our eyes
to the martyrs and the sacrifice
to stop living with the lies
that America is for u and me

are we ever going to stand
for the truth about this land
the genocide goes on
while the occupation sings a song
about sweet land of liberty
sends us all -- to fight its wrongs

Raza! you of a perennial race
you can trace all your bones
underneath all the stones
you do not stand alone
our ancestors wrote
with chisel upon stone
that our spirits shall rise
shake off the cudgel yoke
we´re nobody´s vassals
to be treated like tassels
to tie our dreams fast
to the grounds of our past

our mythical proportions
are the giant become real
no longer to demand a square deal
but to dispense a fair meal
and just in case our claim legít
is not accepted
clarito lo dijo el jefe
let it ring from north to south
-- to baja --
¡ la tierra es del que la trabaja!

By Nephtalí De León




Hunger sacrifice
(in support of passing
The Dream Act of America)

polish your spirit my friend
polish your shield
no greater battle has been fought
no greater sacrifice –
has been brought before our eyes

there is hunger in the land
there is hunger in the mind
there is hunger to leave
cold ignorance behind

César Chávez did a hunger strike
fasted so long he almost died
poet philosopher king
misunderstood hungry coyote
he was not starving, no
his name means fasting
-- fasting coyote –
to purify the mind
to leave ugliness behind

there’s a new age of young
-- cool Raza new braves
from Texas to Washington, D.C.
from Florida to California
in the heartland they fast
from sea to shining sea

oh sweet land Ameri-Aztlán
sweet land of liberty
when will my people be free
to live like everyone

we march to embrace, not to fight
we fast not for hunger of things
we fast to clean the webs of
old foggy minds

pueblos de America be proud
of the children you raised
young girls become warriors
young boys becomes braves

no longer just giving up their lives
to fight in foreign lands
they’ve come home to fight
for rights in their own land…

america america
a strong spirit of peace
is knocking on your door
will you open your eyes
to a hunger sacrifice?

By Nephtalí De León





Todos somos Arizona
(Corrido del 1070)

escuchen pueblo querido
miren lo que ha sucedido
en el estado de Arizona

en los últimos de abril
en al año dos mil diez
nos llamaron ilegales
de la cabeza a los piés

ley llamada diez setenta
fue firmada en Arizona
por una vieja sangrona

(gobernadora Jan Brewer
con el corazón podrido
como toilet como sewer)

a los policías locales
dieron bachas federales
p’acusarnos de ilegales

si nos juzgan ilegales
nos perfilan criminales
toditos somos iguales

si estamos aquí mil años
o aunque llégemos ayer
hombre niños o mujer

que quede claro el mensaje
díganle a esa sangrona
“¡todos somos Arizona!”

Para Nephtalí De León




We all become Arizona
(ballad of SB 1070)

listen my pueblo
check out what’s come down
in the state of Arizona

it was in the end of April
as if to add to our woes
we were labeled as illegals
from our head to our toes

SB 1070 words
signed into new law it seems
by the very queen of mean

Governor Jan Brewer did it
with a very rotten heart
like a toilet like a sewer

they gave the local police
federal badges so regal
to accuse us as illegal

if they judge us as illegal
profiled criminals in stone
all of us will be cloned

if we're here one hundred years
or if yesterday got here
the message is loud and clear
I’m gonna shout it I’m gonna
we all become Arizona!

By Nephtalí De León






text for haiti

It was not a rosy-fingered dusk
still light but darkening afternoon
That fateful day
that frightful afternoon is still a crazy dream
It was on 12 January 2010 
At 16:53 in the late afternoon
Dripping into evening
destiny knocked, like a birth of melancholy
carrying its elements into the streets
A furious, fiery, spiteful single beat
of the earth
tracing her bloody legacy in agony
through dark Port-au-prince’s darkened city
bringing the forgotten past of
1751, 1770, 1842, 1946
Flooring Port-au-prince , a Venice of the poor
and other listless cities tilting under
the weight, all gone flat
jacmel, leogane, and others
Whole towns that disappeared
Hundreds of thousands died
an ignominious death, trapped like rats
Deadlocked, sandwiched between
sheetrock, beams, crashed windows
Wrenched broken bridges across Grand Goave
and blooded receding streams of waters
Under astylar pavilions and stilted stucco
Smashed cabins, roofing, reeling rafters
Dead bodies floating around
like bloated angels in saran wrap
The oil, stench, puke, shit, piss
gas, chemicals, imperial alchemy
Oozing out and hospitals turned into
morgues, tents into hospitals
Open grounds into dormitories
A damaged kaleidoscope of the empty
Darkness flowing around you
like a cloth draping one to the feet
A people at the loose ends
A country forgotten, dismissed
Under the blistering cold winter nights
No warmth, no food
Are tides of the poor, sick and hungry
All your hopes floating like soap bubbles
and pain becoming your very breath
A soul on nine-tail lashings
the lashings, licking your soul
Crying tears, painful tears
tears of the depth
Tears of a divine despair
And when the crying is spent
You had to realize your wound Haiti
But here and there existential anger
gave way to true and honest heroism
People, families, individuals pulling together
Their courage photographed and framed
Their voices, like voices of zombies
straight out of the collapsed buildings
Morti-vivants, rotting, living skeletons
Rescuing families stranded
Saving thousands of people
And I am energized by their voices
Zapped, I am carried forward
Haiti we can only listen and hear
the winds carrying random grave tides
from miles that far away
Haiti I know what we see
Can not really be shown by the grief
Inside of you
Haiti all that we can do
Is to slowly define it, to fit it
to what you want
Haiti it would be good to remember
and accept that not all storms
earthquakes, typhoons, tremors
are necessarily meant for you
Haiti I know it is difficult to walk
in this truth
When the child crying is your child.
By Tendai Mwanaka, South Africa





The giant machine

Buildings of bone
on skin-paved streets

Silos filled with blood
from old farmers' decrepit hands

Steel workers finding their eternal homes
in dark waters
under the bridges they have erected

The ghostly souls of miners, haunting caves

Men falling forever from skyscrapers
while people rot in offices
souls everywhere decomposing

As the giant machine
is greased with our bodily fluids
leaving our drained corpses in its wake.

By Christopher M. Gagnon





Snapshot of the I.M.F. by B.B.

copper and tungsten oscillate
in lima and also lusaka
hunger and rage get cudgeled on the streets
world’s banking agiotage agents agitate themselves
act now press that key
murrow park washington d.c. is where
bureaucrat gods of sweated axils and prolix laughter
skim and classify cataracts of digital data
separating life from death
they have their blood pressure rigorously watched
and detailed medical reports at the end of the month.

By Angelo Novo, Portugal






Who never could

Who put money where your mouth is?
Who sat you on your throne?
Who made the fancy clothes you're wearing?
Who said the land you have is your own?
Eager, hungry eyes
Of gold they are inspired
The rest are merely slaves
Waiting to be devoured

Who builds the pretty houses?
Who trims your perfect lawns?
Who mends the broken skin and calluses?
Along your bloody palms
The ones who never could
The 21st century workhorse
Begging for table scraps and our piece of the pie
We are the working poor

In the darkness where we bide our time
Drifting through the valley of death
Wandering in and out, among the shadows
Somewhere below the upper class

By Jeffrey W. Bair





Respectable people and despicable guys

Upon reading the article ‘The Open Mouth Group and the kind of garbage so-called poetry’, published on page 3 of the Security Service Newspaper of Hochiminhcity, number 1406, dated 22 December 2005

What species is respectable?
The answer is: the human species.

What species is precious?
The answer is: the democracy-abiding species

What species is despicable?
The answer is: the human species.

What species is contemptible?
The answer is: the species of running dogs.

What species is disposable?
The answer is: the species of freedom-despising, humanity-despising, and stupidity --

And anything else?
The answer is: too many to be counted.

The answer is: they need only money – only power – only fame

So they are ready to undersell their conscience undersell their dignity
Undersell their reputation with ambiguity…
In exchange for several odd cents from the powerful.

Do they know this?
The answer is: at first they know
And afterward they ignore it because they become machines
They become sticks in other people’s hands

Doi Ly’s comments:

You who violate the conventions on human freedom
You who despise democracy
You who hold the freedom of opinion in contempt
You who humiliate the working class
You who are opportunists with a lost opportunity…

You will be satisfied with a seal of stupidity on your foreheads
You will be satisfied with a rotten conscience…

I am always waiting for you on the edge of the abyss
I always see you at the bottom of the cauldron of boiling oil

What species is respectable? What species is despicable?
This nation will select, instead of you.

By Ly Doy, Vietnam
Translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Ti?n Van




Because I am a girl

At 16 days of age I was shocked by gunshots from a nearby military camp

At 16 weeks of age I was fed with draft beer instead of milk

At 16 months of age I was first raped by the young landlord to gain good luck

At 16 years of age I was raped in the fourth time by a teacher of civics

Since the age of 17, I was named in the book of records as follow:
-- 16 times being refused of schooling due to indecent dress
-- 16 years of errancy as a call-girl
-- 16 marriages to foreigners except Europeans and Americans
-- 16 cases of sexually transmitted diseases
-- 16 times of imprisonment with certificates of human dignity recovery

Because I am a girl of a country where boys are heroes, girls are villains.
Because I am a girl of a place where words and meanings are separated
Because I am a girl of things unattached to rites
Because I am a girl of gunshot and violence
Because I am a girl of the color-blind and the deluded
Because I am a girl of silent cryings…

And because I am a girl
And because I am the mother of all us
most still utter an aha!

By Ly Doy, Vietnam




Female “circumcision”

They held me down. “For your own good,” they say.
“Won't be a whore now. No man would want you.”
He hurts me there. Nothing to ease the pain.
I don't want this; nothing I can do.
He uses a thorn to cut off my clit,
next takes my lips with a sharp shard of glass.
They hold me together while he sews it.
Parents say. “Now, no one can say you're fast.”

Fast forward five years, fifteen, wedding night.
Nervous and shaking, I was a virgin in bed;
Intent on slitting me open, he unsheathed his knife.
I took it and killed him, then silently fled.

They can't take more; I've nothing left to give.
I cannot forget; I will never forgive.

By Chasidy Sisk






Poetry qua “lip juice”

The model pouts her mouth,
Waits for the adulation –

The Arab girl licks the blood,
Watches the Israeli soldier striding off.

By Wm. Meyer







This millennia's prison-industrial
complex's last supper

my cousin alice
shot him in self-defense
blasted him in the knee
we all knew him

family gossip
insecurity was near her
all over her
her need
her most vulnerable

venerable court man, elite judas man
determines her life, my life, mumia's life
a lifetime of barred needs

buried the salt in her eyes
tares load across her bars
weighty possibilities aver
no truck
no chance
no news
no shit

why couldn't uncle charlie
get her a good lawyer
like he did for my other cousin?
to review her need
knead her bread
her fair ping of a dinner bell
uncle charlie's out of bread

this bread turned my body
this wine, my tongue
to poison

for the last time
the court in the land
said share this last supper
an' we ain't gonna participate
we'll burn dinner first

By Linda Warren






The things that I saw, or a report from the besieged city

To: Kazimierz Moczarski, Zbigniew Her

I saw the uprooted
The high-ranking and powerful
The dirty rich… they were flaying piece by piece of skin from the skeleton of the nation

I saw the users of false names

bert, & Lê Ðình Nh?t-Lang
the blood-thirsty
the stupid
the villains… they were donning uniforms

I saw the slaughterers
the henchmen
the eavesdroppers
those under the camouflage of the law
those in the disguise of public power
…they were hiding themselves in offices
taking bribes, working in collusion, receiving salaries, and playing electronic games
I saw… I saw

a bearded person forced into female underwear
forged into statutory rape
coerced into naming contemporary poets and artists
interrogated about the expenditure on daily breakfast of glutinous rice

jerk-off twice a week
make love once
sleep 5 hours in 7 times…
and would be occupied/exploited in case of excess of health


I saw people in the same boat being pushed off
given ridiculous power
and then swallowing friends in the raw

I saw day by day the increase of aging beggars
of illiterate children
of unemployed young/middle-aged people…
I saw not vampires bloodsucking humans, but ‘red’ people sucking ‘yellow’ people
the sober cannot be separated from the mad, because all were turned into neurotic
the smart cannot be separated from the clumsy because all conversed in the disease of

I saw that
it was not important
it was truly reactionary
it was a disclosure of national secrets
it was nonsense… because everybody saw
because everybody bandaged their own eyes
Shut their Throats, Closed their Mouths, Vibrated their Assholes
and forgot their own conditions

There is not merely the condition of love
but the general condition of us all
our sorrows – the sorrows of a besieged city in peace

1956-2006: they were the same.

By Ly Doi, Vietnam




Wikileaks 2

The American pupils shrink,
Tear up,
From the Emersonian searchlight of truth

While bulldozers caught by night
Drip rouge
From the splintery nipples of Golgotha.

By Wm. Meyer





Environmental report

Celebrating synapses of dubious
authenticity the upcoming
vote in the Congress of Clowns
heavily lobbied by well-dressed and
well-endowed slaves of
the meat and sugar industries --
Investment strategies are swept from
coffer tables of the rich and fatuous,
ground into floors of the Age of Reason --
Caught in the maw of global
warming the rabbit-eyed wetlands
shrink to a torrid vanishing point.
That's not fair in the witch's mirror
or the evaporating glacier
or anywhere else by the time
dusty African villagers starve and
the last light bulb for 100
miles flickers out --

But the sermon's been canceled in favor
of 24-hour barbecue and polar
bears smoke cigarettes in the shade
of Alaskan taverns and you,
if you carry a six figure
mortgage, watch yourself --
they're itching for a fight.

By Michael Shorb





The slave narratives:
thirty lines from Linda Brent

"I was born a slave;
Who knows the ways of God?
I once saw a young slave girl dying
soon after the birth of a child
The girl's mother said, 'The baby
is dead, thank God; and I hope
my poor child will soon be in heaven,
too.' 'Heaven!' retorted the mistress.
'There is no such place for the like
of her and her bastard. '"
"The whip is used till the blood flows
stiffened limbs are put in chains
to be dragged in the fields for days
and days! It was the will of God:
and though it seemed hard, we ought
to pray for contentment. But we
could not expect to be happy.
My soul revolted against the mean
tyranny, I do it to kindle a flame
of compassion in your heart
for my sisters who are still
in bondage, suffering as I once
suffered. My master was, to my
knowledge, the father of eleven
slaves. The conscientious man!"
"Why does the slave ever love?
with the doctrine God created
the Africans to be slaves.
Murder was so common on his
plantation. Cruelty is contagious.... "

I followed the young woman's pencil --
her finger proceeding line by line
through the nomenclature of tragedy:
of runaway slaves scalded on spits;
of five hundred lashes from head
to foot. I saw her graphite tremble,
putting in parentheses and brackets
all that was degrading, villainous,
and vile. In the margins her words
sank like boats, floating off the page....
"What is she going to do?" she wrote
as though this young slave girl,
Linda Brent, was alive as she was
and shouting into her ear -- "How sad."
the moved underliner notes whenever
one of Linda's siblings is sold off.
Then with an exclamation point,
she gulps, "She had her master's baby?
How could this happen?" her indignity,
built into a lather: she penciled no further.

By Michael S. Morris




Hanging tree

At least five black men
in the 1930’s
were hanged from
the tall oak tree
at the edge of town,
according to my grandmother,
and all known public records
of their existence
were destroyed by the KKK.

The tree had grown 
considerably, and in the 1950s
it sat in the yard
of a family with two small children.
The young father had built
a wooden swing
which hung from
two thick ropes on one
of the lower branches.

Often I would walk by
the summer
my grandmother told me
the story,
and I would watch a little girl
swinging on the swing.
She was a pretty little girl,
always smiling, unaware I was 
watching from across
the street: becoming
transfixed, I watched her,
as she metamorphosed
into an old black man
being strangled to death from
one of the ropes, 
that she had been contentedly swinging
from, his purple tongue
bulging from his mouth

By Doug Draime




Black man = ? black bear

Black bear wanders into suburb.
Tears up shit,
overturns trash.

Police called.
Keep their distance,
summon specialist
in humanely treating black bears.

Evening news:
Bear up tree,
Specialist points dart gun.
Bear jerks, slumps.

Bear sleeping
in front-end-loader scoop.

Bear asleep in truck.
Big mound of black fur and muscle.

Bear at destination,
into beloved woods.

Back to news:
Eccentric black man
Waves rake at cops.
Neighbors: "he's harmless."
Glocks aimed,
No tranquilizer.
No beloved woods.
No prancing.
No specialist
in humanely treating black men.

By Tim Hall




the five

San Diego County
Board of Supervisors;
supervise wearing
gray suits & ties,
blue posh dresses.
Have perfect coiffed
frigid white hair. One;
smiles at me. Her
blood-red mouth
knaws the stuffy
air conditioned air. Sez,
Public safety & not
poverty is the concern.
Insinuates we are
not the public. Not,
the Poor in her world.
Three men. Two women.
All San Diego State grads.
Between 60, 70. All
caucasian. Wealthy --
Republican. Control
funds. Control & cut.
The biggest bite for
Health & Human Services.
Incision made annually.
Incision made with
sharp incisors.
Incisors found
among canine teeth.
All canines;
when they are

By L.B. Miller





You may lie and steal
if you are a
The rest go to jail

We are the first to
feel the lash of
Inmates first then you

By Timothy Baker
#1151865 Hughes Unit
Rt. 2 Box 4400
Gatesville, TX 76597



Nebraska parole
like winning the lottery
or struck by lightning

P.A.R.O.L.E. (Political Appointees Reigning Over Languishing Errants)

Punishment, so good
gives us our thrills, so next stop


The bite of the whip
the same, no matter who cracks
black, brown, red, white on

By Michael T. Caddy
Box 2500
Lincoln, NB 68545





100 librarians
(For Oakland, Geri, Michelle, and Stewart)

I'm lookin' ...
I'm lookin' here and there
I'm searchin' everywhere
I'm lookin' ...
For 100 librarians to
Leap from bookmobiles,
Wrestle black boys off corners,
Arrest their attention,
Transport them to branches,
Handcuff them to the stacks and
Interrogate them:
"Tubman was strapped, wasn't she?"
"Douglas assaulted his masta, didn't he?"
"Ida interfered with a lynching, didn't she? Didn't she?
Interrogate them:
"You could ID John Brown in a lineup, couldn't you?"
"Where'd 0l' Nat hide the murder weapon? Where?!"
Interrogate them:
"Who's the 'Brown Bomber'?
"What's 'Ali Bombaye'?
Interrogate them:
"Home was stolen 18 times -- who did it? Who?!"
"Who performed the first open heart surgery?"
"Who invented the shoe lasting machine, traffic light, and airbrakes?"
"Who invented bleach, mayonnaise, shaving cream, peanut butter and axle grease? Who?!"
"Who went by the street name, Wizard of Tuskegee? Who?!"
I'm lookin' ...
I'm lookin' here and there
I'm searchin' everywhere
I'm lookin' ...
For 100 librarians to
Diagram crime scenes called Cape Coast Castle,
Goree Island, and The Point of No Return
Sketch composites of kidnappers, mutilators, murderers,
Rapists -- alias Christian Foundingfathers ...
Investigate dealers of
Iboe, Wolof, Ashanti,
Fulani, Mandingo and
Crackdown on criminals-
Dislnformation, MisEducation and Digital Jim Crow!
I'm lookin' ...
I'm lookin' here and there
I'm searchin' everywhere
I'm lookin' ...
For 100 librarians to
Investigate what boys know
About Brown v. The Board of Education,
Black Codes, Slave Codes,
Fanon, Nkrumah, Lumumba,
Contras and crack cocaine --
Investigate when 100 homicides became routine!
I'm lookin' ...
I'm lookin' here and there
I'm searchin' everywhere
I'm lookin' ...
For 100 librarians to
Throw the books at boys --
Try them as adults....
Reading Malcolm,
Give 'em hard time --
Black Awakening in Capitalist America.
Indeterminate sentences:
Das Kapital.
Lock 'em in solitary
with The Invisible Man,
Slam their heads into
The Souls of Black Folk.
Transfer them to reference and
Choke them with Chaucer's studies at the University of Timbuktu,
Strike them with Memphis, Greenwood, Rosewood,
Birmingham, The Audubon, Kush, Kemet, or 17
Universities and 70 Libraries the Moors built
I'm lookin' ...
['m lookin' here and there
I'm searchin' everywhere
I'm lookin' ...
For 100 librarians to
Recapture wards
With sweetly-calculated strokes,
Inject them with high expectations-
Cool and unusual punishment!
Watch them jerk, writhe,
Gasp for breath,
Keeping their hearts and libraries
OPEN ...

By Raymond Nat Turner.






in the picture is white
– well, almost everything.

Ceiling, with glowing
florescent fixtures,
walls, even the floor.
The clock face is white too,
with a white plastic case.
Only numbers and hands
disrupt the pattern (must,
I guess, be able to tell when
the appointed time arrives).
The frame is white, too,
on the window
that allows witnesses
in the room next door
to see what takes place
when the appointed time

The main contrast is the chair itself.
It is, you can tell right away,
a very special chair,
the only one of its kind
at the Greenville Correctional
Facility in Jarrett, Virginia:
an aged-oak color,
with dark leather straps --
both of which are more likely
than the ceiling and walls
to match the color of a prisoner
fastened there until
definitively corrected.

The color of the human hand
that, when the appointed time
arrived on so many occasions,
threw the switch, delivering thereby
the requisite correctional jolt,
is not public information.
But you don’t really have to know.
Just remember: Everything
in this picture is white
– well, almost everything.

By Steve Bloom







Picking my afro in the mirror I see
images of Huey P. and H. Rap reflecting back
until I remember Percy's dead and Iman
Al-Amin is locked down in Georgia somewhere,
still raising the Black fist but with a Qur'an
in it. Niggas is still niggas even though
“Black is Beautiful” was supposed to
kill the nigger mentality. It almost did
before crack revived it and chronic smoke
made us no longer care one way of the other.
It's the new millen and we still pack pews
praying to God who won't answer even though
Obama preaches change through the audacity
of hope. Gangs still ride by leaving funerals
trailing in their wake – Johnny can't read or
write but he still packs a fo-fifth and a
nine Glock. No Child Left Behind hasn't changed
much in the classroom where budget cuts have
closed schools while politicians still find ways
to fund new penitentiaries. Times are hard where
Black unemployment rates still rival the Depression
and this was before the latest recession. Trickle-down
economics never trickled down though Reaganite Republicans
reaped the benefits of trickle-up tax cuts. “What's Goin On?”
Marvin still wants to know as I listen to hip hop griots
denigrating Black women and glorifying the violence
that introduced me to the penitentiary. Now I walk with
lifers trying to get out by any means necessary
even if it means snitching and telling. The only gangsta
code that still survives is, “Get down first,” and leave the homie hanging.

Welcome to the real world sans
the MTV rolling cams: Youtube freeze frames in 3D.
Bernie. Bernie. Bernie taught me 65 billion ways
for a capitalist to make a buck, but at the end
of the day I'm still shit out of luck, sitting in
a prison cell and wondering – is this the scene
Martin saw in his Dream? Or did we somehow take the
wrong turn back at the Crossroads?

By Arvon Washington III
Box 5244, Corcoran, CA 93212






The new racism

No longer correct to despise a man's skin
We've moved on, so they say
To a nobler age
But I noticed the beast never perished at all
But it sure, O it sure, rearranged.
We fought to the death – and we both nearly died
But impaled it at last on a great-hearted stake
And we never quite saw how the glow reappeared
Like a rose on a freshly-filled grave.
Recast as a shack by a lily-white field
Then a legend in black
Laying tunnel and track
It was death-spangled laws of entangle and lease
Till our blood spouted healthy and green.
Then “separate but equal” disguised it again
With partitions and signs
(By the dawn's early light!)
But we grew, and we marched, and we fought it as one
Till it fell with a terrible sigh.
Incredible? Yes – but it rose from the grave
And it built us an asphalt and rat-bellied slum:
“Pay 'em less, charge 'em more, keep 'em angry and poor
And send tanks when the anarchy comes.”
The beast never died but its wounds made it wise
Called the ghetto our choice
Drugs and violence our voice
And it stuffed us in prison for life and a day
Like a ship on a motionless wave...
Now it's rich, the old devil, and famous, as well
Though it's harder to see and forbidden to say
Now it packages hate in a patriot's shirt
With a medal called Jesus' Way.

By Christian J. Weaver
#271262 TCIX Unit 1-B-102
1499 R.W. Moore Mem. Hwy
Only, TN 37140





The baron and the convict

A billionaire baron
And a poor black man
Had nothin' in common
But a railroad track
One white and one black.

The task was enormous
The drill was a beast
The billionaire baron
Had convicts to lease
Said the billionaire baron
Had convicts to lease
And mountains to beat.

The hammer was heavy
It swung like a ton
It was nine pounds pounding
Through rock like a gun
It was nine pounds pounding
Through rock like a gun
And it swung like a ton.

Ole billionaire baron
Was a famous man
His name was a legend
Throughout the land
His name was a legend
Throughout the land
And he had a plan.

“Find a better contraption
With engine and drill
'Cause it's stronger than man
With a stainless will
'Cause it's stronger than man
With a stainless will
An it can't be killed.”

But one day the brute
Got a wicked surprise
“Cause a poor black convict
With terrible pride
Said a poor black convict
With terrible pride –
He beat it and died....
The billionaire baron
Is dead in his grave.
And his name has been shrouded
By terrible fame
Said his name has been shrouded
By terrible fame:
Ole John Henry's name!

By Christian J. Weaver




The business of war
Uncle Sam let the bugle play
We are marching off to war today
Hair cut short boots polished black
We will leave and never come back
Half way across the world what will be found?
A weeping baby a mother wailing
Who cannot stop
But the anguished cries make no sound
For in the chaos our ideas are failing
Bomb after bomb drop
I am the tailor to sew your shirt
I make the weapons so you can kill and hurt
I make the food so you can eat
I make the propaganda so we won't know defeat
And I am the banker and it all seems funny
I'm laughing so much with all my money
Soldier good and soldier brave
I lower you into the grave
For the money for your casket and tomb stone
I am willing to give you a loan
You simply did not do enough
Life is tough

By John Kaniecki





The day the Homestead Mill went down

There was no coup de grace for the Homestead Works. It died the way cancer steals a life away – piece-by-piece and day-by-day. First the 48-inch mill was shut down, followed by the Mesta Machine Company, then the last two Carrie blast furnaces in the Rankin facility. The next to go were the 100-inch and 160-inch mills, followed closely by Number Two Structural – the structural and blooming mill. Finally, in the summer of 1986, the Company pulled the plug on the Homestead Works altogether – what was left or it – and the town of Homestead along with it. Drew's father was one of the last workers at the plant to be laid off. It was a hot and muggy July day when the final skeleton crew – down to one hundred and forty-nine from nearly ten thousand only ten years earlier – were cut loose. He'd graduated from high school several weeks earlier and was scheduled to leave for the Navy in a month, making him feel like he was abandoning a sinking ship.

He knew the families of many of the workers who were losing their jobs that day would be waiting to console them at the main gate, sort of like the relatives of returning war veterans waiting to greet them at the airport. Drew suspected the steelworkers would have that same lost and confused look on their faces that he'd seen in newsreels of troops returning from the Vietnam War. It had to be close to ninety degrees that day and so humid it felt like it would rain at any moment. He would've welcomed rain, not only to break the stagnant heat but to wash away the overwhelming sense of loss and hopelessness suffocating the town.

As he walked down the big hill from his house to the Works, the evidence of the town's downturn in fortunes surrounded him. The first thing he noticed was that nobody was outside, in spite of the heat. In the summers of the mill's prosperous years, there would be people in lawn furniture or porch swings at nearly every house listening to a Pirates' game and drinking Iron City beer or Lemon Blend. It made him wonder how many townsfolk were still left. Yards that used to be neatly trimmed and tended were over-grown with weeds or scorched brown. Porches sagged, doors were falling off hinges and paint was chipped and peeling.

Most of the cars that lined the street looked more like they'd been abandoned than parked. He passed one with the headlights out, another with the fender smashed in and a third car that had its rear bumper affixed to the trunk by hemp rope.

The late afternoon heat was oppressive. By the time he made it to Eighth Avenue his t-shirt was plastered to his thin chest with sweat. He walked down the once-prosperous main street wondering where it all could've gone. Homestead had finally gone the way of the other Monongahela Valley mill towns – Braddock, Clairton and Duquesne, to name just a few -- left bankrupt and bereft when the big steel companies decided to pull up stakes and abandon them. Almost every building he passed was either boarded up or had a 'For Sale' sign. It was like ticking off a chapter 11 checklist: the pharmacy, the hardware store, the furniture store, the five and ten, and two banks -- all gone. Indirectly, the United States Steel Corporation had accomplished something the Homestead Police force had failed to do for decades, in spite of intense public pressure. It had closed the town cathouse, the Fantasia Health Spa. Service industries can't survive when their clientele can no longer afford their services.
He turned down Amity Street and headed for the mill. The route was so familiar he could've walked it with his eyes closed.

When he arrived at the main gates, he found a group of thirty-five or forty people congregated outside. There were television cameras and reporters from the three local network affiliates waiting to add the final chapter to their coverage of the Homestead Works saga. Mostly, though, it was spouses, along with a few children and a handful or laid-off steelworkers. Some were seated inside dusty cars and pickup trucks, but the majority were milling around, talking to one another. Like witnesses to some great tragedy such as a plane crash or an earthquake, they were solemn and hushed. This was the Homestead Works, after all -- the greatest steel mill in the world for the better part or the twentieth century. Girders produced here were in both the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. Twenty thousand people worked here during the Second World War alone. They'd thought it would never close, in much the same way people thought the Titanic could never sink. But once they started taking on water, they both went under.

Drew spotted Chunk, a member of his father's crew until they closed the Open Hearth several years earlier, talking to a couple other former steelworkers. Chunk wasn't looking so good. He appeared as though he hadn't shaved or changed his clothes since the last time Drew had seen him a couple months back, and he'd put on enough weight to cross the border from chunky to obese. He still hadn't found a job and was living on public assistance and whatever help he could get from the already overburdened union. It wasn't that he was lazy or didn't want to work. Although his situation would seem to indicate otherwise -- he was a healthy, albeit overweight, man in his early thirties who hadn't held a steady job since US Steel had laid him off nearly four years earlier -- in a sense, he was just too proud. As he'd said to Drew the last time they met, "I'm a steelworker, and in my heart, I always will be. I'm damn proud of that. How am I supposed to accept anything less?" When he saw Drew approach, he broke into a wide grin, thrust out his thick paw and said, "How ya doin', Drew?"

"Hey, Chunk. Pretty good," Drew said, shaking his hand.

read, "Homestead Steel Works," and in the center was the logo for the United States Steel Corporation. The sign hadn't been changed, even though the Company had recently reorganized and changed its corporate name to USX. What was the sense? It would've been like branding a dead steer.

"Can you believe this shit?" Chunk asked.

"Not really," Drew answered honestly.

"When I was your age, which was only twelve or thirteen years ago, I figured I'd work in this mill until I retired, same as my old man. If I ever had a kid, I was figuring he could do the same. It's not great work, it's dangerous and backbreaking, but there's pride in it, and it paid good. I never woulda' dreamed somethin' like this could happen. This is just... this is some shit."

"Yeah," nodding, Drew agreed. What else was there to say?

"You still goin' in the Navy?"

"Yeah, the papers are all signed. No going back now."

"When do you take off?"

"In about a month."

"Your dad still sore about it?"

"I don't know. I guess so. He hasn't really said anything."

"He'll get over it. He loves you, he's just a little stubborn."

"Yeah, I guess."

"He's really proud of you, you know that? He was always talkin' about you: about how smart you are, and what kind of grades you was gettin' in school -- that kind of stuff. Deep down, I think he's proud you're going in the Navy. He just doesn't want to admit it because he had it set in his head that you was goin' to college."

Drew was stunned. He didn't know his father was proud of him. How was he supposed to know something like that? His father never said a word about it to him, never even hinted at it. Mostly he thought his father was disappointed because Drew wasn't strong and tough like him, and because he wasn't going to college.

"He's a good man, your dad. Best man I ever worked with. Hard worker, loyal friend, and didn't take any bullshit from management or the union reps."

"Yeah." He was still trying to assimilate the fact that his father, contrary to appearances, was actually proud of him. It was a lot to take in.

Turning to Drew, Chunk asked in a hushed voice, "Did you hear about Stan?"

"No," Drew replied, surprised to hear the name of his father's former crew member. Nobody had seen or heard of him in over a year, as far as Drew knew.

"Your dad didn't tell you?"


"He's dead."


Chunk looked away, "He, ah ... he hung himself. It happened about a month ago. He'd enrolled in school when the 48-inch mill shut down, but I guess he dropped out not long after -- that's what they told me down at the local. After that he moved down to Weirton to try to get a job at the mill there, but I heard they weren't hirin'." His words were barely more than a whisper. He shook his head and was silent for a moment. Then, turning back to Drew, he said quietly but passionately, "You know, they wrecked a whole helluva lot more than a lousy mill when they closed this place down. Someone should tell those stuffed shirts that!"

Before Drew could respond, someone shouted, "Here they come!"

Drew and Chunk turned their attention to the front gates where the last little band of steelworkers, like the survivors of a siege, began to trickle out in dusty cars and trucks. When the mill was still operating at full capacity, hourly workers like these would never have been permitted to drive their personal vehicles onto plant grounds. Instead, at the start of their shifts, they'd march in through the Amity Gate like a small army going to battle. The motley collection of autos dribbling out was in stark contrast to the unremitting river of bodies that used to flow through these same gates at every shift change. But at the end, with people constantly needing to be sent all over the vast plant grounds on various odd jobs, and with no transportation available to them, they were permitted to use personal vehicles at their own expense.

When the first few appeared, the news crews swooped down on them, looking for any kind of sound bite. But the steelworkers, many weary of being asked the same meaningless questions, and no longer infatuated with the novelty of being interviewed for TV, merely waved them off.

"Look at 'em," Chunk said, nodding at the reporters with disgust, "freakin' vultures. All they care about is gettin' their stinkin' story, they could give a crap about any of us. After today, most of 'em probably won't ever think about this place again. Once our story loses its interest to their viewers, they move on to the next story. But what are we supposed to do? We can't do that. We gotta stay here and keep on livin' our own shitty story. Screw them!"

Drew looked at Chunk, surprised. He'd never heard Chunk sound so bitter, no matter how bad things had gotten. Everyone has his cracking point, he decided, and went back to looking for his father.

Gradually, more of them began to emerge. They seemed in no particular hurry, what was there to rush off to? They'd have nothing but free time for the foreseeable future. A huge fellow, with a shaggy beard that made him look like a mountain man, drove by with his gigantic locker hanging over the rear gate of his truck. Another man navigated by with a large, metal sign that had "Number Two Structural" painted on it in thick, black letters, tied to the roof of his car. A faded, blue El Camino drove out next with a six-foot-long, black, metal box with "Property of USS" printed on the side, protruding from the bed. For many of the workers, there was someone there, waiting for them, who would call their names and wave as they drove past. There weren't many workers left, less than a hundred by Drew's estimate.

Finally, his father drove out in his black, Oldsmobile sedan. In the passenger seat sat Leo Wisneski, a fellow his father had worked with in Number Two Structural after the Open Hearth closed. Like Drew's father, Leo was in his mid-forties, but he looked as though he was going on sixty. Maybe it was all those years of busting his hump in the mill that caused him to seem to age so quickly, or maybe it was the stress of the mill closing, or maybe it was just plain, old hard living that had done it to him.

Drew didn't know him well enough to say, he just knew a man in his mid-forties should not look as worn-out as Leo, or his father, either, for that matter.

Chunk waved and called to him, "Gene! Over here."

His father turned his head, nodded, and pulled the car to the side of the roadway. Drew and Chunk jogged over and climbed in the back seat. When Chunk had closed the door behind them, Drew's father turned and said low, steady voice, "It's finished. That's it. "

He was wearing Dickey's work pants and a pressed, blue denim shirt, and on the seat beside him rested the same metal lunch-pail that he'd carried to work every day for as long as Drew could remember. Drew was shocked at how small and weary his father looked. He was not the same vigorous, powerful man Drew had seen when he snuck into the mill only ten years earlier. Could one decade change that much? The answer was all around him. Falling back against the seat, he felt momentarily paralyzed by knifing pangs of sorrow and guilt. He could see it all clearly now -- he was running off, young and vital, to see the world while his father was left alone to dissipate in this decaying town.

In the front passenger seat, Leo had the dazed look of a punch-drunk fighter. Turning his head, he stared straight past Drew and Chunk and said, "Who'd a' thought it?"

Gripping the gearshift with his thickly calloused right hand, his father slipped the car into "Drive" and said, "Let's get a beer."

That was it. There were no fancy speeches, no monuments christened. The little caravan slowly rattled up the cobblestone street like a funeral procession departing a great, barren cemetery. A huge chapter in industrial history had closed, and there was nothing to mark it; no one bothered to say a word. But if someone had bothered, what could he have said, really? There was no way to put this dumbfounding, aching emptiness into words. It was over, that was it. Drew, his father, Leo and Chunk headed to Ponzie's.

By the time they got there, the bar was nearly full, mostly with people who had just left the mill. The mood was somber, like a wake. Drew's father walked to the bar and ordered four Iron Citys. Once they had their beers, they stood by the bar in a small circle, drinking them out of the bottle. After a couple minutes of uncomfortable silence had passed, Chunk cleared his throat and said, "So, what are you guys gonna do now?"

Leo looked at Drew's father and then said, "Well, come Monday, I'm going down to sign up." He was referring to applying for unemployment insurance benefits. "What about you, Gene?"

"Huh?" his father looked up, distracted. He'd been staring absently at a framed, grainy, black and white photograph on the wall behind Drew. The photo, taken around the turn of the century, contained eighteen steelworkers -- all men. They were arranged in three rows, with the front row seated. It was obvious the picture had been taken during or immediately after work, because a layer of carbonous filth covered both their faces and their clothing. All were stout men in dingy, collared shirts and hats, and none of them were smiling. Because of their high cheekbones and narrow eyes, many of them looked to be eastern European -- Polish, Slavic and Russian. There were a handful of Irishmen, Germans and Scandinavians thrown in as well. Most of them were immigrants or first-generation American. In those early days, the Homestead Works truly was a melting pot in every sense of the word. These were the men who'd built the mill, and the town around it. They'd worked like pack animals, ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Like Drew's grandfather, their tough-looking, deeply furrowed faces seemed worn far beyond their years. As they sweated to expand the mill and make the steel that helped build a nation, their labors broke them down, little by little. They gave the best part of their lives to make the mill great, now everything they'd built was gone.

His father shook his head and said, "What?"

"Leo asked if you're gonna go sign up on Monday -- for benefits, you know?" Chunk said.

He shrugged weakly, "I guess so. Work or no work, we still have to eat."

"What about those re-training programs those guys from Senator Heinz's office were talking about down at the local the other night?"

"That re-training crap is nothing but a bunch of bullshit!" Leo spit out.

"Yeah," Chunk said thoughtfully, "What do you think, Gene?"

"They're bullshit."

"I mean," Leo added, "what the hell do they expect us to do? Do they really believe all we need to do is take these stupid classes, and then put on some suits and magically become bankers or stockbrokers? The kind of jobs they want to train us for pay less than half of what we were making at the mill. And who's gonna hire us? I'm forty-six, Gene's a year or two younger, companies don't want to hire people over forty. So what're we gonna do? Pump gas? Work the counter at Eat 'n Park? The truth is those government guys don't give a damn what becomes of us. They just want to be able to say they offered us re-training so it'll look like they did something. What I wanna know is: why didn't they do something before, when they still coulda saved the mill? Shit."

As he spoke. Drew gazed around the room. He saw the same desperation, lurking just below the surface, on the face of everyone in the bar to a man. They were losing much more than a source of income; they were losing their identity -- their reason to be. It was like Chunk had said -- in their hearts and minds they were steelworkers and always would be. But how can a man be a steelworker when there are no mills left in which to work? And if they were no longer steelworkers, what were they?
He looked at his father and recalled once again the way he looked that night he'd snuck into the mill. His hair had been matted down from the protective hood, and his face was sooty and sweat-streaked. But his brown eyes blazed as fiercely as any flame produced within the mill. In that moment, he'd seemed gigantic, larger than life -- like a movie star, or a mythological hero. He was strong. unafraid and sure of himself, all the things Drew feared he would never be. With no mill, he was now left to collect unemployment, putter around the house and try to pick up the odd job or two. His mother had already been taken from them by breast cancer, and with Drew departing for the Navy in a month there would be nobody to even keep him company. Everything at the moment seemed out of kilter. The world, he realized at last, was not the beautiful place his mother had painted it to be when he was a child. There was no justice in the universe: it was cruel and unforgiving. But worst of all, it just didn't care. It just didn't

"Yeah," Chunk finally said, "you guys are right, they probably are bullshit. But what the hell else are we supposed to do?"

By Stephen Graf
An excerpt from the novel Grabbing at Water




American worker
To Luis Barrios, subversive priest
To all migrant workers, legal or not

and to the astronaut
who went out today
to clean up the space debris
that was damaging the station.

You work your daily life
avoiding death
from a labor accident.
Your dreams fly
beyond the space ships
while your feet hurry
to the stations and streets
where you work hard.
American worker:
this country would be nothing
without your sacrifice
for our everyday bread.

By Teresinka Pereira





Life in the Rust Belt

Debbie nervously stands in line
at the Downtown Jewelry Store
to sell the "stuff" that's been
collecting dust in her dresser drawers.
Wearing a scarf over her graying hair,
she drives thirty miles
so no neighbors will see her
selling her few treasures,
that she hands over to the jeweler:
her St. Christopher medal
her mother gave her as a child,
the high school ring that John,
her husband, then her boyfriend,
bought her for a graduation gift,
also, all her earrings and bracelets.
To think they have been married
over 35 years, 3 kids later;
the oldest boy ready to ship
off to war in Afghanistan.
No work here in Ohio for
any of the young ones.
Her husband has grown quiet
since he lost his union job,
no work for a man in his fifties,
no health care now,
unemployment benefits fading fast.
They would move but for family.
The jeweler quotes her a price,
not as high as she hoped,
she slips her wedding band off,
first time it is ever off her fmger,
onto the counter, as a tear appears.

By Charles Portolano




The road

My wanderlust is spent. To interrupt the monotony of long drives and also automatically in a leftover boyhood habit, I read the words on trucks, the company names, owner-operator names, towns and cities, and state names or license plates. Many road stories have been told and there will always be more to tell. I saw the outer shape of one such story whose actual contents I could only imagine, and imagine them I did. I was driving north on I-85 in Georgia and left the highway to refuel at a large gas station, one of those state-of-the-art, state-of-the-business places with a long rank of pump islands under a broad, lofty canopy. Its acreage included a large market with aisles of snacks and many kinds of coffee lined up in a row of dispensers, and a segregated restaurant; that is, a section was reserved for truckers only. It was a bright Sunday in early spring.

Nozzle engaged, gasoline gurgling, my head buzzing from hours of velocity, I cast my jumpy eyes down the rank of islands to vanloads and SUVloads of families with children running in and out of the market, and pickup trucks pulling boat trailers on their way to lakes, and all sorts of dwellings on wheels from cabins set into pickup beds to forty-foot land-cruiser apartments with swoopy, lyrical ribbons like dolphin markings painted on their flanks. No pump sat idle. It was eager, outgoing, recreational America taking to the road on its day off. And if I'd forgotten that this was a Sunday, there to remind me among the T-shirts, shorts and baseball caps was a group of black folks wearing the dazzling finery in which they wanted to be seen by God.

As my vision settled down, drew in closer, became grounded so to speak, it came to rest on the island next to mine and began registering details. At the forward pump was a pickup truck about fifteen years old, dented here and there and with a crack snaking the whole width of the windshield. The single rubber tire and two rear feet of an upside-down wheelbarrow showed above the gunnels of the bed. A stocky, non-descript middle-aged man wearing glasses was fueling the truck. Behind it at the rear pump was a sedan about as old as the truck, expensive when it was new, big and uneconomical, but now the kind that low-income people drive. The back seat was full of baggage. What name to give that which was being towed by the sedan? Not "house trailer”; it was too small. There could be but one dark little den inside with scant headroom: a camping trailer from the nineteen-fifties, I estimated, certainly no newer than the early sixties. Where had I last seen the like of it? Never in a place like this. My memory bank came up with something similar parked beside a house in the country, long since become a shed as it settled into the ground and accumulated a roof garden of pine needles and twigs. The roof of the model in front of me described a continuous curve from the bottom front at the hitch to the bottom rear, a curve that if continued below the underbody would complete an oval. Aerodynamics of the fifties, a teardrop, an egg, except the sides were flat. Its original pale green was bleached to near-white and rendered flat. The side facing me had a tiny square window and the rear end had a narrow horizontal version. Then the wheels, those absurdly small wheels, scarcely bigger than the one on the wheelbarrow, and even at that partly overhung by the wheel-well skirt, making the trailer sit closer to the pavement than it looked like it should, suggesting broken or overloaded springs.

The sedan was being gassed up by a young man with strong Latino features and complexion. From among the people streaming in and out of the market, two women with something to eat in their hands came over and joined the two men. One was middle-aged, straggle-haired and rather dumpy in a gray sweat-shirt. The other was younger, close in age to the man at the car, and plain. They spoke among themselves while the men finished fueling. The longer I looked and added up my observations of this ensemble, the more stark grew the contrast between them and everything else at this super rest stop, and the more I puzzled over them. They had a hard-bitten look; they were obviously of the laboring class, the men probably in the trades, and were not on the road for pleasure this fine day, not towing that down-at-the-heels trailer for fun. It seemed to me that only dire need would compel someone to hitch it up and take it on a limited-access highway with a seventy mile-an-hour speed limit. All these things seemed clear to me. Following my old habit, I looked at the license plates: Michigan, all three vehicles. with that, my curiosity doubled and my imagination came alive.

I thought back through the years to Somerville, Massachusetts, to two men driving very slowly down a street in a car with Michigan license plates, looking at a line of parked cars and stopping now and then while one man got out and placed a flier under a windshield wiper. After they had passed I read one of the fliers. It advertised them as expert auto body mechanics who would repair dents and rust, curbside or in your driveway. I read between the lines: expert mechanics without a shop, tools and equipment in the trunk of their car, from a state with a shrinking auto industry and a surplus of laid-off workers. Who could they be but industrial refugees? I superimposed this memory on the group in front of me. And I thought of the Depression, the Dust Bowl, farm families on the road, the Joads. Do we have our own version of Ireland and Scotland's tinkers, traveling people, workers whose work has gone south? Would we see more of them if we looked closely?

I also thought of something else, something deep and far back within me, apolitical, ahistorical, back to moments of pure thoughtless bliss, standing in my youth on a section-line prairie road in a cool-hot wind, drinking water by the fender of a pickup truck, back when all I wanted in my pre-literate, unanalyzed life was to follow pipeline or harvests, detached, working with muscles worked by the sun. Yes, wanderlust and youth are spent, but both reside back in living memory as an ageless, unfettered free-agency of the spirit, roused to the surface by this little caravan and mixed without any logical connection in with their lives, their plight, so I imagined it, in an America that dumps the workers who created our industrial strength.

They pulled out before I did, the older couple in the truck and the younger one in the sedan. I watched as they got up on the road bridging the inter-state, interested to see which on-ramp they would take. North could mean home to Michigan, or it could mean the BMW plant at Spartanburg, South Carolina. South could mean a lot of things; for one, the new Mercedes plant farther down in Georgia, a vast outsprawling of smooth and sleek low silver buildings shimmering under the sun like an entire science fiction city, visible to the east of I-85 and with its own exit. South could also mean being housed and fed in a workers' camp around New Orleans while donating their labor to the rebuilding of homes wrecked by the hurricane of 2005 and abandoned by all layers of government. They went south. I sent a good-luck wish to that ridiculous relic of a trailer as it disappeared down the ramp.

By David Campbell






The soul winner


You homeless?
What a coincidence --
So am I.
You see, this world is not my home.
I'm just a passing through
but because Jesus has saved me
I have a heavenly estate
the envy of a Bill Gates because, you see, in John 14:2,
Jesus said, "In my Father's house
are many mansions and I go
to prepare a place for YOU."

Think of that, my homeless friend,
you who sleep on the cold, hard streets
of this uncaring metropolis, you have a mansion
waiting for you and all you have to do is
close your eyes,
bow your head
and accept Jesus Chrlst
as your Lord and Savior.

You'd first like three bucks for a Big Mac
and fries.
You'd just spend it for booze.
Get out of here!

ACT ll

I hear you're a reporter.
Well, have I got good news for you!
The Bible says in John 3: 16,
"For God so loved the world, he gave
his only begotten son that whosoever
believeth in him shall not perish

And all you need to do for this precious gift is
close your eyes,
bow your head
and accept Jesus Christ
as your Lord and Savior.

You say you're not trying to convert me
to Buddhism so why am I trying to convert
you to Christianity?
Well you see, my misguided friend, Buddha
has not risen from the dead
but our lord Jesus Christ has
and he says, "I am the way, the truth and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, BUT BY ME."

You think I could use a little Buddhist
peace myself.
You're full of Zen crap!
Get out of here!


I understand you're an esteemed scholar
but you know, my learned friend, it doesn't
matter how intelligent you are or how many good
works you've done, unless you've
closed your eyes,
bowed your head
and accepted Jesus Christ
as your Lord and Savior ...


You're an atheist?
You accept nothing on blind faith?

Better be careful here.
The Bible says, "The fool has said
in his heart, There is no God."
Let's say for the sake of argument
that you're right and I'm wrong.
Nothing then would really matter when we die
because this life is all there is.
But what if I'm right and there's a heaven
to gain and hell to lose if only we say

Even, in the most highly unlikely possibility
that this inferno actually exists
outside deluded imaginations like mine,
it'd still be a more desirable option
than spendIng an eternity in paradise
with ignoramuses like me.

You atheist asshole!
Get the hell out of here!


You're certainly a glamorous movie star
but beauty and fame are fleeting.
Now the Bible says it's appointed unto man
once to die but after this the judgment
and O, my beautiful friend, unless you've
closed your eyes,
bowed your head
and accepted Jesus Christ
as your Lord and Savior ...

You know Jesus and thank God every day
for his wonderful love ...

Say -- would you by any chance be married
or have a boy friend?

You aren't and don't ...
If you're free tonight, I know
this restaurant which serves the best lobster
this side of Mama's kitchen
I would love taking you there.

You have a girl friend.... You're a lesbian.
Just what kind of church do you go to?
An Episcopalian...?
No wonder!
That's the apostate denomination which ordains
queer priests.
Well, my Bible says, homosexuality is an ABOMINATION
In other words -- FAGS MAKE GOD PUKE!

According to Leviticus, shellfish is also an abomination.
Judging by my dinner invitation, I must have
a stronger stomach than my homophobic deity.
Screw you!

I wish?
Aw, get out of here!


So you're a CEO.
Well, you know, there was once this rich
young ruler who came up to Jesus one day...

That man was you?
You had everything that money could buy
and yet you couldn't find the peace with God
you were so desperately seeking.
Then one day you met Jesus ...
closed your' eyes,
bowed your head
and accepted him
as your Lord and Savior.

Say, I've got an extra ticket
for this prayer fellowship breakfast
tomorrow morning and I'd be honored to have
you as my guest.

You can't.
You've got to fly to a developing oountry
to discuss measures to end resistance
to necessary market reforms of deregulation
and privatization.

I hear you ...
still some commies around.
Well, the Lord be with, bless and keep you,
my brother, till we meet again.

By Calokie




If hell is down then we are standing right on top of it

the pentagon secretly spent billions in a great effort to make
every cloud mushroom shaped, to camouflage the use of nuclear weapons
they only relented when additional funding was needed for a project
to locate the human soul, and split it
the saved among them understood that their soul, created in the image of god,
has a much bigger blast potential than any silly atom
there are volumes of classified material debating the killing power
of a man’s soul vs. a woman’s or a child’s
or a christian soul vs. a muslim soul vs. a jewish soul
some at the pentagon have suggested that a buddhist or hindu soul
after lifetimes of reincarnation would “make the biggest boom”
but most at the pentagon do not like to consider that
for them reincarnation means that in the next life they are fucked good
some think the newly saved might have an edge
they have it all mapped out, in theory they can tell if an exploding soul
is agnostic or atheist or an unwed mother or gay
they have pages and pages on the difference in megatons
between a red soul and a red, white, and blue soul
they have researched the possibility of finding the souls of past military heroes
to blow up in spectacular tribute
a program is already in the works that would allow any one of us
to immortalize our soul as a shiny new bomb
for a very moderate manufacturing fee plus upkeep costs
so let your dead soul go kaboom!

By John York





Mourn the death of the poet Susana Chávez, murdered in Juarez, Mexico

“Sangre mía, sangre de alba, sangre de luna partida, sangre del
silencio”, así empieza el poema Sangre, que le da voz a una mujer
víctima de un homicidio y que escribió la poeta juarense Susana
Chávez, de 36 años de edad, asesinada el jueves anterior en la colonia

En el servicio funeral se encuentran dos amigas cercanas a Susana.
Armine Arjona lleva en su mano el libro “Canto a una ciudad en el
desierto”, publicado años atrás.

“Representa un grito de fuego desde el corazón de la poesía contra la
violencia que adquiere múltiples formas, entre ellas las más
inadmisible: los asesinatos de cientos de mujeres. La frontera del
norte mexicano es una vieja cicatriz y no sanará hasta que no haya ni
una muerta más”, cita el prólogo del libro que contiene el poema

“Sentimos impotencia, tristeza, es una gran pérdida como tantas más en
esta ciudad, producto de esta locura que parece contagiosa, la
violencia nos sigue pegando a todas”, dijo la también escritora.

Para ella, los crímenes de mujeres están repuntando, pero lo más grave
es que los autores de estas muertes aberrantes son niños.

"My blood, blood of the dawn, blood of a moon divided in two, blood of silence,"

so begins the poem "Blood," which gives voice to a woman victim of
femicide in Juarez, Mexico.  The poet is Susana Chávez Juárez, 36 years old,
killed last Thursday (Jan. 6) in the neighborhood called Cuauhtémoc.

At the funeral service are two close friends of Susan's. Armine Arjona
carries in his hand Susan's book "Song of a City in the Desert", published
years ago.

"It is a cry of fire, of poetry from the heart against the violence, which takes
many forms, including the most unacceptable:  the murders of hundreds of
women. The northern border of Mexico is an old scar that will not heal until
there is not one more death,"  the preface of the book declares.

"We feel helpless, sad, it is a great loss like so many in this city, product of a
madness that seems contagious, a violence that is hitting us
all," added the writer.

The crimes against women are rising, but more serious is that

the perpetrators of these heinous murders are children.

-- material provided by Dorinda Moreno of Fuerza mundial





Song of an old warrior

To revolutionaries who
keep at it no matter what.
For Axel and Andy

You live in my heart


I stayed
long after
the old comrades had died
or disappeared
eaten by worries
or debts
spat on sometimes

I stayed after
long after
the rumble of marching feet
had fumbled or died out
long after the fumes of cigarettes and coffee
mixed to the smell of paint for the slogans
of class war had evaporated
and the lies
of false prophets reigned
in our ranks

I stayed after
long after
alert and silent
watching for
the old spark of truth
and justice for toilers
to light again
with disdain for cowering and lies
-- maybe the young generation…?
O! That clear ring must live again --

Lost in my memories
keeping my strength
on meager sustenance
I watched and watched...
Sometimes a girl
a youth
a man in a crowded meeting room
made my heart thump
Under my frowning eyebrows
a light would tremble in my eyes,
my bony index would call...
How many times in vain!

Sometimes in hurried surprise
they brushed aside
that lamp of hope in my heart
Other times
old before their age
they sat
worried and gray
heads lowered in dismay
listening to my exhortations
patient and polite
and shame within their heart
crawled away
tired of struggle
before it even started
bright eyed
the tales of past struggles
rambled in their feverish brains
burned with passion
fired their adventurous minds
flickered and died
Sometimes, thoughtful
listening, they stored
the history of their class
looking attentively

I knew I had to wait.
One day
despair was near
hunger creeping
and the roof leaking
a steady unknown rap
tapped my door

Old but clean shoes
used washed clothes
hat in his hands
a grown man before me stood
He spoke of other lands
of struggles there
His thirst never quenched
for finding others
How to band our strength
how to fight and who to fight
what he saw
lived or read
The fights he threw or led
some they lost
few they won
many never saw the light
but he always learned or tried

Eager but careful
he asked of what I knew
He had heard I was an old red
Right there my heart slowed
hot, hopeful tears welled
behind my old eyelids
I kept them in check and
shy like a child
with a cracking
low but firm voice
searching my memory
I told him
of struggles past


Night after night
we went
through history
lives and fights
arguing hotly

With him
came again
young and old
women and children
choking with joy
watching my last fight
with red banners floating high
tight fists cutting the fresh morning air
I finally closed my eyes
and gave my soul a rest
Whirling, hissing
sirens came
The sheriff's car
swirled butt up
breaking in a brutal sway
smack on the sidewalk
Angered by the crowd's strength
the driver brushed
the old warrior of class struggle
who stood bent
at the edge of the strikers' rally
In his fall
his head caught
the bright yellow bolt of the fire hydrant

Two weeks later
he died of hemorrhage
at the city hospital.


The strike keeps on
sullen and strong,
with sudden fights
and watchful nights
By the glowing barrel
where strikers warm their hands
and tap their feet back to life,
long after debates
where actions are weighed
decisions made
and tasks agreed
when endurance test
creeps in the dark blurry hours
where silence tries to blanket the will
on the picket line
to keep awake
someone counts the old warrior song
The C.B. radio purrs in an open car
to keep contact
One striker's
dark silhouette
lounges in the front seat
attentive and
like a cat before its jump
Little red dots of cigarettes pierce the chilly dawn
bitter smoking coffee is passed around
Eyes blinking
but on the look out for scabs
reigns a short while
in the coming light
before struggle

By Madeleine Michele Eggers





In Memoriam
To an old comrade, Irene Kubik, who died June 19, 1990, in Cleveland

Daughter of an immigrant worker
who once heard Lenin speak
to a secret forest meeting in Poland,
you were raised
in the hard-nosed coal mine hills
of southern Ohio
where the coal barons,
like feudal lords,
coined the miners’ “very lifeblood
into gold.”
Your father taught you
of the bright hope of socialism
at an early age
and it never faded from your heart.
In the 20’s and early 30’s
the Communist Party,
when it still did honor
to the name “communist,”
held meetings at your family’s farm house.
One day
so as not to get caught
you hung leaflets
on the barbed wire of a fence
where the striking miners
would find them;
to rise up
for the future of our class
became your life.
You met vigorous young Paul,
a revolutionary miner,
and established another tie
that never broke.
Then you saw the movement decline
and disintegrate
as the revisionists sold out the Party
and Capital regained its control
over the workers’ movement.
But through the stinking swamp
of 40’s and 50’s politics
you kept your faith.
And when we,
the children of the 60’s revolt,
looked for older forebears,
there you and Paul were.
You did not try to restrain
our struggle
as did the fraudulent “communists”
of the CP;
you were stirred to new life
by our rebellion
and this is how we knew
that we had found in you
a sister, a mother,
in Paul, a brother, a father.
The revisionists had deprived you
of communist theory
but you could feel
that as we embraced Marxism-Leninism
we were walking on the same pure path
your father had learned from Lenin.
Falling short of revolution,
the movement declined again,
this time almost to nothing.
Age began to slow you both.
Fighting to keep
a spark of struggle alive,
we were only able to visit you
a few times a year.
You survived amid political quacks,
hare-brained reformists, CP’ers
still tarnishing the mantle of socialism,
but you never ceased to curse
the crimes of the rich
and the government.
You often recalled the days
of the 30’s and 60’s
and flung at the opportunists:
“Why can’t you do like
the comrades did then?”
And you always had the warmest welcome
for any traveling comrade
who passed through Cleveland.
On June 19th of this year
diabetes and heart failure
brought to an end
your long life of struggle,
but I say that your heart,
dear sister, mother,
Irene Kubik,
never failed to beat
for the working class.

By Tim Hall






You dwarf the words of the poet: you,
the warriors of Stella D’Oro.
For the best I might ever do
is recount this story which your deeds
have already written.
The end, it seems, was composed by others --
who have more power but less humanity.
A toast, therefore, to all still holding
heads high, proud of their humanity.
For this is the common cause any poet
might share with those who fight
for justice.
Each one of you will always have
your humanity: the many-thousand acts,
small and large, of sacrifice and sharing,
the comradeship, the sheer magnitude of what
you have achieved.
Not one crossed the picket line. No,
not one.
For these things can never be taken away
no matter how much equipment
is dismantled, moved to another state --
just as the poet will always
have the written word, even if
our world might not be ready yet
to listen.
It seems you spoke too soon, you
the warriors of Stella D’Oro,
before our world was ready to listen.
Still, I refuse to lose heart, assert
that one day the bosses and billionaires
will spend a little time of their own
on the unemployment line – after
the working people of New York City
have taken control.
And then we will turn that old building
in the Bronx (you know, the one that used to be
the Stella D’Oro bakery) into a must-see
destination, marked on every
tourist map, a shrine which pilgrims
can visit in their millions to learn,
remember, offer a tribute
to your struggle – writing, thereby,
an alternative ending to the story
of Stella D’Oro.
And the poem that you have composed for us
during this strike year of 2008/2009 will touch
their hearts as each one listens to its words --
overflowing with your humanity, the many-thousand
acts of sacrifice and sharing, the comradeship,
the sheer magnitude of what one,
work-place was able to achieve
and finally understand.
Yes, each one of them will,

By Steve Bloom




Cycle of time

Born in a web without properties of silk or fabric, yet as
complex as the feathering of an Aztec headdress.
Graced with the fiery spirit, cast-iron endurance, and
conscience to address.
An embryo, then infant warrior who upon time will
flourish as the Mexica once did throughout the valley
of Mexico.
Devouring all erudition with the appetite of a jaguar
Knight in his quest for betterment and self-determination
for the people, for books are his vehicle.
Heartfelt engagements and brutality of the
baton will mold his character.
The cannonade will create a resistance, a thick
callous as tempered steel which will enable him to
shine as a leader of the people.
The lingering of fresh cordite in the streets is but
screaming alarms from Chicomostoc, the first barrio
of Aztlan, sent to these neo colonies we now call home.
And the beautiful quetzal bird that gives us hope
with its melodious song sung throughout the jungle kingdom, from
the tops of the highest pyramids to the lowland mountain
trails, the sharp cry of the quetzal rips through the
silence of the valley floor only to echo from the deepest canyons.
From the freshest smelling earth to the concrete
and steel cages – people of the world unite! As this
is our cycle of time.

By José H. Villarreal




To those who meet

There are people who meet
Yes there are lots of people who meet
They have
strategic plans
budgets and
vision statements
they have all read the same three books
with titles like
7 Steps to Good Communication
They work to meet
They meet to work
and all they do
all day long
is meet work
There are people who work
The people who work
get paid a lot less than the people who
meet/work work/meet
The people who work
pull onions from the ground
strawberries from the plant
apples from the tree
The people who work
wash dishes
clean toilets
soothe crying children
chop wood
run electric lines
build roads
build houses
They have no vision statement
It takes a long time to write a vision statement
years and years
of meetings
and once its all sorted out
that vision statement is so 80s
so 90s
time to meet again
to work on a new vision statement
that meets the unique challenges of the future
So the people who work have no
time to meet
too busy

By Janine Fitzgerald





The time of my life

Hot summer afternoon

It’s ninety-seven in the shade
And more
Inside my gear
White paper dust mask
Padded rubber on my ears
To stop some of the noise
A pair of safety glasses
Dark blue coveralls on top my clothing
Heavy leather gloves

Thick socks and steel toe boots.
Holding this powerful electric drill
Eight pounds of heavy metal
Spinning wire-brush wheel
A blur of blue and gray
Against the rust that has accumulated
On eight tons of angle iron
My job.

Eight hours inside a cloud of dark red dust
Fire storm of sparks
Bristles fly off
Go though this fabric armor
Into sweating skin
Dust makes it hard to breathe
My glasses fogged by body heat.

I watch the slow shop clock
Selling the time of my life . . .
Six-fifty an hour.

By Bruce Dodson


Press Release

Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010 Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net; Faye Sanders, 478-550- 7046, reshelias@yahoo.com

            Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights.  The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.
            These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following demands:
·         A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
·         EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:  For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
·         DECENT HEALTH CARE:  In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
·         AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS:  In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
·         DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS:  Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
·         NUTRITIONAL MEALS:  Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
·         VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
·         ACCESS TO FAMILIES:  The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
·         JUST PAROLE DECISIONS:  The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.
Prisoner leaders issued the following call: No more slavery.  Injustice in one place is injustice to all.  Inform your family to support our cause.  Lock down for liberty!

(The largest – by far – prison strike in U.S. history took place in Georgia from December 9 to 14. Strikes of all colors and nationalities set aside past strife and refused to continue to work for nothing. The authorities reacted with violence but the strikers remained calm. On Dec. 14 the strikers decided they had made their point for the moment and returned to work, while negotiations continue on their demands, printed above. – T.H.)