for the everyday Consumer (poem)

For the everyday Consumer

It’s not my story to tell
but it must be told
must be heard

and if it was really heard, don’t you know,
the entire empire would crumble,
brought to its knees

your life would turn itself
inside out.

it’s not my story to tell
but i find i’m standing in the story, holding it with bare hands
in these Levi
with this
Colombian Valentine rose

Power, Profit —

the Mexican government housing bows in honor of these gods,
the finger no longer
on the hand,
lost in a maquila “accident,”
a sacrifice to these gods,
no not our gods,
but the gods of the
the race to the bottom;
the union busting that
will ensure the lowest wage
most exploitative jobs,
the gods of pesticides
that will grow
the most beautifully flawless
roses, and destroy the life of an entire community–
the Father of these gods was, is, and forever will be

I could say things like
“maquiladora,” “workers rights,”
“NAFTA,” “globalization,”
but would any of that penetrate?
would it say the most important thing of all to say?

there is blood in my jeans.
the destruction of
is woven into the fabric
of our over-consumption,
of our cheap tricks.

it’s not my story to tell
but the story becomes muddled,
becomes my story because i am eating it
buying it
giving it as a symbol of love
on Valentine’s day.

It’s not theoretical, don’t you see–
here I am handing it to you
the petals stained red by the blood
of a poisoned worker

and perhaps the other most important thing
is to lay down our ideas of what’s wrong and how to fix it,
our brains, pens,
our border wall,
and sit down to tacos

there is so much laughter
to be shared
and so many tears to cry

March, 2013


Writer, attorney, Lawprof Emerita from Northern Illinois University.
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