[Starting with April 1 we begin a series of poems, leading up to Jack Hirschman’s visit to Chicago in May, sponsored by the Chicago Labor & Arts Festival. The first, by Luis J. Rodriguez, is excerpted from a longer poem and taken from The People’s Tribune‘s “Fists on Fire: Poetry from the Heart of the Revolution” — Lew Rosenbaum]
Nightfall: Poems to Ponder in War and Uncertainty
When prisons become the fastest growth industry
Our minds and hearts become the imprisoned
When the past of blood and conquest is denied
The land gives back this blood in torrents
When war is the only imagination of the people
The people’s imagination becomes an insurrection
When we sacrifice lives, including our children’s
Evil becomes as common as breathing
When truth scares us to apathy
Our only truths come from the most fantastic lies
When enemies are whoever our leaders say they are
We won’t know an enemy from a rainbow
When power and wealth drives social policy
All policies are subject to poetic death
When my son asks, do I have to go to war?
A father’s duty is to war against war first
When people say peace is the absence of conflict
They have no idea what they’re talking about
When war forces us to die outside of ourselves,
We have to learn to live from inside our bones.
I see the lost youth of America
finding their way
with plenty to fight for, not just against.
Thousands marching across the land,
walking out of schools, putting up signs,
and talking the ears off their friends.
Rigorous, animated and brave
instead of sad and silent down the hallways.
The above poems are excerpts from a longer poem published in My Nature is Hunger by Luis J. Rodriguez
Biography of Luis J. Rodriguez: Luis J. Rodriguez has emerged as one of the leading Chicano writers in the country with fourteen published books in memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and poetry. Luis’ poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award, a Paterson Poetry Book Prize, among others. His children’s books–America is Her Name and It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Barrio Story-have won a Patterson Young Adult Book Award, two “Skipping Stones” Honor Award, and a Parent’s Choice Book Award. A short story collection, The Republic of East LA, and a novel, Music of the Mill, came out in 2001 and 2005, both from Rayo Books/Harper Collins. A a poetry collection, My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, appeared in 2005 from Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition. Limited-edition hand-made art books and broadsides of Luis’ poems have also been made by C & C Press of Pajaro, CA for sale to collectors, universities, libraries, and other institutions, including Seven, Two Women/Dos Mujeres, and Making Medicine. Read more from Luis Rodriguez’ web site . . .