Thursday, October 6, 2016

labor (spoken word)

I am a man

unleisured, unlettered, i am heir
to as much of sky: i too partake
in 15minute nicotine drenched midnight breaks
of stars flung no less wide
thronged no less deep

than you
Sleeping in your mattress in its solid wood frame
in your 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bathroom
woodfloored wifecleaned roachless yardmowed

Look at you reaping
the fruits of your labor
casting bread on the water
did the debt snowball
you're the good Christian version
of american dreaming:
save and amass, one day you'll pay cash
for a palace like Dave Ramsey
till your taxes go to benefit
like me

(second shift third shift

what does it profit
a man
if he gain)

My name
is no less heavy
in God's hand
because it's on those documents of shame
(I have a name:)

wal mart employee
delinquent rent
stacked up infractions
unpaid child support
godforbid food stamps
haven of the shiftless unprincipled

Do you know my name? 
Your granddad called my dad
worse than a n-------
How do you figure the worth of a

white trash
no class
Back then at least he had his white skin
not at the bottom if there's someone less than

My sin
is no less grave than yours.
Your sin
My sin
For the same damn wages

And the rate of my redemption is not one drop less
of God's own blood.
I am a man

It is a much diminished thing to be a man
We lost sight of justice
we love our private school educations
   family vacations
   college savings
   club cards
   Chik Fil A (my kids eat free lunch and PB&J)
more than the rawscrape shape of love
and mercy

it is better to walk proud
in our righteous bootstraps
our heads so full of prudence up on those clouds
american dreaming
oh holy nation of white middle class self made

You want to work 9 to 5
and eat the fruit of that righteous toil
and eat, and eat
the little thistle prickles make it sweeter

A day will come
(it won't be my day)
when we at last go home
Work the earth together like we were made to

and you, with your Protestant work ethic, your prudence, your priorities
your middle class opportunities
You will own not one inch of it
that sweet black soil, wormrich and warm beneath your hands

Beside you I will weep
barehanded, bury deep this angry pride
This bitter seed, humiliation
I will reap humility

We will receive the same wages

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