Restraint: Another Poem About The Evening News

Restraint: Another Poem About The Evening News

by Lew Rosenbaum

“A vulture of silence

will eat your gut. . .

And you will be mute

In your shame.”

for Guatemalan poet Otto René Castillo

Charlie trumpeted it.  Allison repeated it. Phil intoned it.  Julie confirmed it.

Every damned one of them said it.

Remarkable restraint. 

Remarkable restraint.

Remarkable restraint.

Remarkable restraint.

What the hell is restrained about

Protestors confront police outside of the 2012 NATO Summit at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, May 20, 2012. Approximately 20,000 protestors marched on NATO’s biannual summit. UPI/Mark Cowan

Months of propaganda about

Special weapons and tactics developed

For a National Security Event?


Admired objective press corps of the city that works

Explain how the relentless assault

On the airwaves about terrorists

Invading Chicago compares with how

You reported the tactics of John Burge

And his cohorts, our official home grown

Terrorists in blue uniforms.

                                         (This is not a metaphor)

Please tell me

Why informants and provocateurs incited

A plan to insert explosivity into a planned

Peaceful demonstration, and the said

Restrained police raided the apartment arresting

The foolish but undeniably entrapped

Residents planning to brew India Pale Ale?


Dear sweet objective journalists of Chicago

Please tell me the thousand robocops lined

Up six and seven deep surrounding

A few hundred demonstrators, after the

End of the protest march, on Cermak and Michigan

Cutting off their only route to leave –

After thousands had already left

After Iraq and Afghanistan U S Armed Forces

war veterans had solemnly hurled their

Medals, tossing them at the NATO warmonger

Summit — tell me that these robocops, looking more like

Ninja turtles than humans in their shin protectors,

helmets with heavy plastic visors, marching boots,

Gas masks, bullet proof vests, truncheons at the ready,

Closing in, pressing protesters against the

Barricades at the curb, uncorking their pepper spray,

Tell me again about remarkable restraint.


Apolitical objective writers of my city

Explain to me once more how clubbing

Demonstrators and watching the blood flow,

Preventing medics from getting in is

Also remarkable restraint.  Unless you

Mean that, in the wake of overwhelming

Force the demonstrators could muster nothing

More than empty water bottles to toss at the

Police who then refrained from firing their

Weapons.  And no one was killed.  Not like the

Restraint at that other demonstration

125 years ago, called the Haymarket Massacre.

Then police — just as now they outnumbered

The protesters — marched up to their victims

And fired.  They say a provocateur hurled a

Bomb  in their midst, inciting the incident.


The martyrs of that distant Chicago conflagration

Executed for what the Chicago Tribune called

Terrorism, these heroes blazed the trail for the

Eight hour work day.  The congealing blood that

Pooled on the Cermak Avenue pavement May 20

Foreshadows the end of capitalism itself,

When the poor of my city

Will require you

To account for

Your objectivity.

For the reference to Otto René Castillo’s “Apolitical Intellectuals”  click here.


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