Seed of Revolution — Lew Rosenbaum
My name is Lew.
I’m an addict.
I’ve been searching,
Chasing the perfect mango
For twenty five years.
From Mexico each spring come
Haden mangoes, scarlet and yellow;
Golden, bountiful ataulfos;
Kent and later Keitt, light green with
Orange flesh the texture of flan;
Then with winter brilliant ruby colored
Tommy Atkins, the flavor of dry wood
All the way from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador.
None of this lands in Chicago
Without a revolution
In the economy.
First, let’s agree:
An abundance of mangoes floods the markets
(Even if some are barely edible).
Year round on the
Tropical, rainforested, plantationed
Second, selling a box of Kents —
Seven or eight of them —
Each one weighs almost 2 pounds —
For six bucks, give or take a buck,
In spite of transportation costs —
Did I mention it? That shipping from Mexico
And points south demands a level of
Sophistication unprecedented —
That cost demands the excruciating,
Exploitation of labor
Squeezed from the sweat
of the mango plantation workers
For the least possible price
Paid to those who suffer in peonage.
In Puerto Rico, and even Miami,
You can reach out, pull them
From heavy laden boughs
In your back yard.
Oil must flow freely to whisk mangoes to Chicago.
And more: now bursts the electronic
Transmission of information
(Creeping in with simple bookkeeping)
To automate maintenance,
To speed harvesting,
Pack the fruit,
Augment airplane technology,
Drive labor from the Mango Industry.
Where workers remain, they
Compete to earn less than
The cost of a silicon chip
Inside the robots everywhere
So here, my friends,
Within this 6 inch, juicy, sweet,
Sometimes with a hint of citrus flavor;
Hidden in the center of this nugget of nutrition
You will find the seed
Of a revolution brewing
Under our eager palates,
Posing profound challenges,
But incredible —
I do mean
Not to be believed —
To solve the satisfaction of humanity
To protect the planet from despoliation,
Where transport workers,
Packers and shippers,
Harvesters and retailers,
All workers on the road to replacement
By revolutionary silicon;
Where art and artists,
Poets and musicians,
Cultivators of new ideas;
Have an historic chance
To imagine and to build
A new America, a new world.