Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Voices for Jobs, Equality & Peace POETRY

The Voices for Jobs, Equality & Peace People's World Amistad Awards Concert was extraordinary. Hillhouse High School auditorium was filled on Sunday, December 5 with the fabulous jazz of Jeff Fuller & Friends, labor songs by Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers, and poetry by Baub Bidon and Ken Brown / Analysis. John Olsen, president of the CT AFL CIO, Carmen Boudier, president of New England 1199, and Juan Figueroa, president of Universal Health Care Foundation reflected on their years of commitment and called for stepped up unity and struggle in the tough times ahead for working people. Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA presented the awards along with members of the YCL on the occasion of the 91st anniversary of the Communist Party. Commemorative t-shirts are still available with the event logo embroidered. Video and photos will be available before the holidays. Here are the poens performed by Ken Brown.

Immigration Acrostic
By Ken Brown, June 2010

Asinine interjections of anti-immigrant hate create
Bathos to any expectation of intelligent thought
Coming from those who, in their own insecurities,
Denigrate those who cross oceans and cross burning deserts—having been
Excluded from all that mutual wealth
Free trade agreements egregiously guaranteed.
Greed runs rampant as big bosses make profits while
Hypocritical descendants of immigrants clamor about an
Imagined invasion, their ignorance exceedingly ugly.
Jokes are played on folks from around the world who anticipated
Kind and warm welcome to this “land of the free.”
Labor under-rewarded is order of the day,
Manipulated by rulers of capital capitalizing off the
Need of poor folk and refugees to replenish their children’s bellies,
Or remit something home to stave off starvation.
Prejudice is prescribed through parapets and prohibitive policies.
Queries as to how we might best welcome our new neighbors are deflected by
Restrictionists who reroute public thought with lies of how immigration
Supposedly steals from “our” surplus and sacks “our” social order.
Those tainted by Tanton tout English-only as the only form of acceptable communication, and
Undervalue ethnic studies that enhance a healthy society. My people:
Void from your souls all such vitriol against those who arrive.
White America is threatened, in the minds of the haters, and
Xenophobic fear is what they will tempt you to.
You, however, must be wise to such lies, and permit
Zero tolerance for hate against the newcomer in this place.

Poem for the Farmworkers Freedom March (with particular mobilization against Publix Super Markets, Inc.), led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, April 16-18, 2010—Ken Brown

As I bite into a delicious Jubilee
I’m forced to wonder if the person who picked it is even free.
You see, I grew up with images of the noble existence of those who collected
The fruit of the earth, in idyllic scenes perfected
By a peaceful farming life; no oppression, no strife.
At least that’s what they told us.
Brainwashed us with some wholesome image; a bill of goods they sold us
‘Cause the goods they sell us come to us from pain they don’t tell us about.
So when the workers cry out, we react with doubt.
Finding it hard to believe that what we buy from our supermarket isn’t always retrieved
With the due respect we thought all farmworkers received.
But, for real--this isn’t Green Acres or Hew Haw, yall;
This ain’t the Little House on the Prairie or even Smallville; naw,
This is how most of our food gets to our plate,
through this county’s traditional estate
of labor exploitation cultivated in hate.

A Steinbeck scene put into current context;
I never could have guessed what would be next.
Human beings being stressed by oppressors,
Stomped like grapes of wrath run through presses
Weighted down by pails of 30-plus pounds.
Long, backbreaking days and incessant rounds
Of picking those green, red-orange delectables that we find so acceptable
To be on our plates, bountiful, the corporation not accountable.

Statue says, “Give me your…masses yearning to be free.”
Seems to be a lie to me
‘Cause if you don’t look like one of the dominant culture, but have a hue more like some of you or me,
You might end up yearnin’ for a freedom you can’t see.

Free trade agreements give the poor the “freedom” of starvation
Or of sending a loved one off to a plantation
To be welcomed with greetings
Of locks and chains, pistol whippings and beatings.
Workers putting their lives at stake for a beefsteak! The bosses know what they’re doing; it’s no mistake.
They’re more interested in the quantity of their Better Boys and Big Girls than in the quality conditions that would allow workers’ children be better boys, or grow up to be big girls.

“You say tomato, I say tomato;”
Corporations say the same old bullshit bravado!
Creating mix of publicity and tricks
With which to confuse the public’s wits;
Concealing the public’s knowledge of the battering and the sticks.
Making a profit off the public’s ignorance is how they get their kicks!
Tricking the public into hopping on over to where shopping is a pleasure—
As long as you don’t measure the blood, sweat and tears
Harvested in this treasure that supports executive leisure.

But, collectively, the workers grow stronger like a fine wine!
We follow their leadership; ally with them, knowing that over time
Justice will prevail in the fields and
Human rights will be deemed more important than what a crop yields.
Their spirit is strong, and even in the midst of tears they sing freedom songs.
So, with them, we continue the Struggle. Though the road may be long,
Integrity is ours, and to us the victory belongs!

Kultivate, mwen v’ swete fos te a pou ou!
Kultivate, mwen v’ swete fos te a pou ou!
Trabajadores, que la fuerza de la tierra es suya!
Trabajadores, que la fuerza de la tierra es suya!
Farmworkers, may the strength of the earth be yours!
Farmworkers, may the strength of the earth be yours!
Coalition, may the strength, may the strength,
may the strength of the earth be yours!

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