Two Poems by Jack Hirschman


for Sarah Menefee

A woman gives food to a hungry hand.
The law says that it is contraband.
That law must fall, must lose its teeth,
must gum along the desolate streets
and come to the line where blessed soup
is smuggled in between the lips,
and know subversion for what it really is
and how this mean-lawed land is dead without it.

From Endless Threshold (Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1992)


When I saw in the council chambers of the big city
the mouths of the council members
opening and coming down
on the fat sandwiches
that’d been delivered to their places,
coming down and chewing and leaning over talking
with half-stuffed mouths, or heads thrown back
laughing, their bellies chortling,
and all the while
one after another homeless person
stood not far from them
but far enough from them
before a microphone
requesting help for their most basic human wounds,
protesting against a syndrome without alternatives
except for skid-row hotels or a concentration
camp in the downtown desert; –

when I saw the indifference of this system
physically manifested
by those pigs of local government,
I thought: it can’t be quick enough
that they’re led to the sty they belong in;
it can’t be quick enough
that they’re forcibly removed
from the people’s chambers
and replaced by human animals who, at least,
can smell the heartbreak
and the enduring dignity of the American people.
Those pigs are worse than the rottenest
blue pork at the bottom of garbage-can Los Angeles.
Hungry men and women never should have to be
subjected to their poisonously filthy mold.

From Endless Threshold (Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1992)

[Dubbed “Red Poet” in a new documentary about his life, Jack Hirschman has been translator, poet, teacher, activist and revolutionary.  These poems give a small sample of his many published books, in this case from Curbstone Press’s Endless Threshold.]


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