Poetry, August 2009


The Prisons Are Full of Convicts (After Yang-Yi, 974-1020) Citizen concern & Zero Tolerance has filled the prisons
Those ancient buildings, creating nothing of value
Dedicated to the further devolution of man
Represent the nation's single growth industry
While in the suburbs, the gated communities, dwell the Judges
The Wise Men, the Thoughtful Voters
The Blonde Moms with laptop & latte, driving their kids
To soccer, ballet, karate

Are these kind people responsible for the world's misery?

--Michael Shepler Michael Shepler is poetry editor of Political Affairs.

Why We Must

because someone once told me
the stars in our sky
burned out long ago
and if one had decided
to turn in early
who knows
i might not have had light
to write this poem tonight

so you never know how much depends
on your bus ride to the march
or what café poets learn
from my piece on Menchú
or how many kids will live
off your vote to hunger strike
or who my toddler nephew tells
of how we demonstrate downtown
or how far into the future
your voice over bullhorns
will carry

but even if you keep on
just to keep on
keeping on
so i can keep my sister
with three babies and rent due
to keep them keeping on
or if my Tata knows
that in board rooms and on picket lines
we'll keep him keeping on

it will be worth the heart
that thumps out of your chest
when you instruct the business man to
step aside
for the young momma on the bus
it will be worth burning oil
over poster board and paint
it will be worth arrests
nervous breakdowns
weary eyes 'cuz
if a fizzled star can shine
for a thousand years or more
then i know we must keep on
because the people will survive
these wars on the Middle East
and when all the madness dies
and you look down on the world
from the place where starlight flickers
someone will bask in your glow
and after night passes
she will rise with dawn
and keep on

 Felicia R. Martinez --Used with permission from Blue Collar Review.

A Nice Suburban Neighborhood

It seems maudlin to get sentimental
about a house, yet we all do it.
Even when a crane nibbles
on a building exposing the once
inner walls, they're posters

of a family's life. Sometimes
the demolition people make fences
of doors and you see the marks
of children's growth years, posters
no one had time to take down,

old graffiti: Knock before Entering,
Love Shack, Tim's Batcave. Now
on this street where lawns are turning
to fields again, houses gape.
Deserted dogs roam in packs.

Starving cats crouch under bushes.
This deck is littered with condoms
and a few syringes, beer cans.
That door has been busted open.
Two windows are smashed

and an overstuffed chair leaks
innards to the sidewalk. Three
houses scattered down the block
are still lived in, mortgages paid off
or not yet foreclosed. They live

under siege in this new no man's
or woman's land, murder
of a neighborhood by banks,
by derivatives, by who cares
for those not deemed important.

--Marge Piercy Used with permission from Blue Collar Review.