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.
What the hell is restrained about
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
For the reference to Otto René Castillo’s “Apolitical Intellectuals” click here.