Tag Archives: OWS

The Reason America Won’t Change (with thanks to W.H. Auden)

In Europe the rich man and the poor man were thought of as being two different kinds of men; the poor man might be an inferior kind but he was a man: but here the poor man was not, as such, a man, but a person in a state of poverty from which, if he were a real man, he would presently extricate himself. The newly arriving poor…were treated by their predecessors, it seems like freshman by upperclassmen, i.e, subject to a process of ‘hazing’ so as to toughen their character and stiffen their determination to rise to a position of immunity.–W.H. Auden, Preface to Anzia Yezierska’s Red Ribbon on a White Horse

The reason America won’t change
because 1%  of people own everything
is because our country is like high school
the poor are like freshmen
and they see the seniors
who get so many privileges
just because they worked hard for a little while
and waited and suffered
the unpleasantness of beginning
with the hope of someday achieving
the promise
for freshmen it’s graduating
and senior skip day and prom, etc
and for the poor it’s wealth
it’s having that 1%
it’s being a king
because ours is the only country
where anyone can be a king
–not everyone, that’s statistically impossible–
but anyone that wants and suffers
can make it to senior year.

Why would freshmen ever give up
the chance to be seniors?


What were doing at Times Square

When we all went to Times Square
we didn’t really do much
we stood close to one another
we danced sang chanted screamed

and we stood on the other side
of fences the police put up
but we didn’t break them down
we just looked at the police
and the police looked at us.

This is what we went there to do, I think:
Look at the police together.

One time we were hitting around a beach ball
with 99%! written on it
and it fell into the street
where a bunch of police were standing
and at first the police didn’t look at it
they seemed nervous to get involved
but then one of them smiled and shrugged
and hit the ball back to us.

We cheered and cheered and clapped and laughed
and chanted “YOU SHOULD BE HERE WITH US!!”

That’s what we were doing at Times Square.
That’s why we do anything at all.

US IS THE IS OF THIS POLIS: a poem for Occupy Wall Street

What we demonstrate when we demonstrate
is a logical argument.
It is most logical argument any of us can think of.
We demonstrate that this is our polis,
that we all have power
to make good decisions
and that recently some of us have made poor ones.
We assert a major premise:
And a minor premise:
THIS POLIS HAS DENIED US US.Therefore, our conclusion is
WE WILL BE US.This conclusion is a culture
and culture just is us
all together all over the world.
Every person living life.
So we don’t really have ‘demands’.
But we can generate some little proposals
consistent with our conclusion.

For example:
First, regarding the money civil society gave to its banks.
Its location must be revealed. Where is the gift we gave?
This was a public gift
a gift for all of us.
So we ask that those who received the gift
tell us where it is
and what it was used for.
It is ours too.
$787 billion.
We propose that those of our polis who received the gift
use it to relieve debt throughout the polis
and employment and infrastructure projects
and other reparations for damage done thus far.
Second, regarding future ‘economic crises’
like the one that necessitated the aforementioned gift.
There will be a new court system
that decides whether economic transactions
of a certain size
that affect a certain number of those in the polis
are just or unjust.
It will be an economic court system
with lawyers for both sides
and judges
and a jury of peers
so all the fathers and mothers and children
anywhere in the polis
–which is everywhere, not just here–
can live and grow together well.These are little proposals
and we can make more. So many more.
as many proposals as there are humans being.
Because that’s what we are doing.
We are demonstrating
that we are.