Recently I’ve been pondering the significance of what one of my college professors once said: “Every action or inaction you take is a political statement.” Since losing my job in the non-profit sector, it seems I’ve taken an unintentional hiatus from being consistantly in this mindset. Last month I went to a protest with one of my friends, reigniting my zeal for social justice. It made me ecstatic to know that I’m still familiar with the old protest chants, that I still get enraged by injustice, and that I require the knowledge of the world’s happenings and must leave my hiatus of apathy by the wayside.
Four years ago I journeyed to the Dominican Republic visiting organizations working towards social justice, toured a “sweat-shop”, visited cooperatives, and was struck by the immense disparity between the wealthy and impoverished of the country. In one particular location walking with some friends by a river scattered with houses made from corrogated metal and remnants from flip-flops from the local sweat-shop, I looked over a concrete wall only to see ostentatious houses on the other side. According to locals, the wall was erected so that the wealthy wouldn’t have to see the penury prevelant in their own backyards. This experience inspired the poem below which I’m planning on including in the poetry book I’m working on. You know, the one I wanted to create in a loteria style.It is of course a rough draft in need of editing but it comes from a place of rage and dissatisfaction with the status quo. Rage though is nothing without action. This particular rage takes form in this poem, sharing conversations with my peers about the injustice witnessed, being conscious of where my clothing comes from, and recognizing that the battle never ends.
I can’t keep sitting on this dividing wall .
Self-made sweat powers one side,
while the other side consumes their civilized mannerisms and will eventually fall.
Hands bear our daily witness to energy exerted,
sealing up life’s difficulties, measuring up the inertia.
Like lambs, the poor dig up the land with their callused hands
and I sit with my bloody palms trying to decipher
the lines of my unfulfilled prophetic fate,
I haven’t died just yet.
Time rotates the opposite direction of the moving dials
and I feel defiled
by this progression I see:
to rapture brought on
by claiming other’s lives as one’s own,
robotic maneuverings day after day,
more than these 24 hours
more than these 1440 seconds I possess
and the rich white men sit on the other side, sipping their martinis with Uncle Sam
and Capitalism gorges itself
on the red wine of human suffering
of childhood incessantly molting,
of decomposition occurring
in these sacred lives feeding the fire of unopened eyes
sacred lives blessed by mountain rain, plantain trees growing, rivers flowing
and cursed by policies to create pyramids of physically impoverished bodies
to lift up the soulless minds to the height of stratified society
who nibble sauces off their fingers,
have street kids wipe the dust off their leather shoes
so they shine and perfectly reflect their holier-than-thou magnificence
even looking down.
On my right, this no-man’s river land
fertilized by human feces,
shoeless people, shoeless hens, shoeless houses, shoeless babies
because their mothers’ breasts are dry.
That milk needs to be used to dye those GAP-made American clothes pure white
so that the teenaged in the United States can spend $30 bucks on a t-shirt to buy popularity,
money that could feed a family in what we call a developing country
(Developed countries= undeveloped minds)
but to you this is all fine.
Your selfishness has barricaded you into a system
the perfect equation
to the US made dream
still within my reach
but I’m thinking of jumping this fence
this reverse mojada,
is suffocating from marble houses being built across the street
from tin pan homes leaking hurricane rain.
Of course those assholes put up one-way mirrored towers to alleviate
their guilt-laced, covered-by-ignorance shame.
As people we are powerful. Our decisions impact the minds of our peers, the profits of companies, the direction of history. We are indeed a force to be reckoned with.
[photo credit: Photo-Fenix]