Friday, October 21, 2011
Three poems too big to fail for Occupy St Louis
Occupy St. Louis' leaderless poetry organizers Kristin Sharp and Susan Spit-Fire Lively tell me they need poets to perform at Occupy St. Louis tonight and Sunday from 3 to 5pm. Don't be shy, just go down to Kiener Plaza and do it.
A third-grader has my dance card on the weekends, so I may not make it. I am posting some poems that Kristin or Spit-Fire can read to the people in the event of a shortage of live poets.
The last time I posted poems for Occupy St. Louis, I poked fun at the leftist critique of Occupy Wall Street as incoherent. As I continue to think about the movement (admittedly, with little participation beyond thinking, writing and editing), I want to emphasize something different now.
The 1% of the wealthiest people with the most invested in the financial sector convinced most of us that their institutions were too big to fail. Fine. Well, I think the Occupy movement is reminding people of something as true or more true: that the 99% also is too big to fail. To put it less tendentiously, the middle class is too big to fail. If the banks are worth saving, moreso the people and our future.
OVERHEARD AT THE DISASTER
There was a lot of concern
in Coffeyville. The hospital got destroyed.
Took them awhile to get death
out of the basement. It gets hard to measure
your performance when the best
outcome is nothing unusual happens.
If I was in the business
of counting dry goods shipped by truck, it would be
quite simpler. Say, disposal
of carcasses of cattle killed by the storm.
Or, how to bury bodies
in the middle of the night. Or, burn pits, which
I’ll get to, in a minute.
As we burn and bury, people are getting
married, still, toasting fluted
glasses circling necks of ice flamingoes. Mass
fatality planning must
go on. Worst case corpse scenario? Ice rink.
-- Chris King
RUMORS ON THE OUTSKIRTS
OF CHEYENNE, WYOMING
Singing quiets the cattle.
Dog eat dog, dog shit dog out. I did cut it
off. Not too good a feeling
and I had to walk away. It was a flop
of a Gold Rush. Chinaman
got out of Dodge. Let the cattle rustle for
the cattle and old Tom Gin.
Now you might be bread in old Kentucky but
you’re just a crumb around here.
People said iron from the rails would bring rain.
I didn’t buy it. Even
gold was just a flash in the pan, duck feathers
for soldiers’ beds. He gave up
a few old knives, kept back pails of kitchen fat
for soap and bombs, if need be.
Some uranium craze in Pumpkin Butte.
-- Chris King
BEST ASSESSMENT OF OUR PRESENT SITUATION
AT FREDERICK’S MUSIC LOUNGE
Greed above, dreams from below,
the first known photo of the moon, earth quakes, buds
fall from trees, bums directing
traffic, all this activity, hives, stars and
ladders, a room of Spaniards
and a guitar with a broken G string. She
gets upset, cassettes topple
and apples, Furry Lewis, leave your muddy
shoes by the back door. Shadow
puppets stuffed under her bed. MY HAIR FEELS LIKE
A FUCKING WIG! A friend of
fond jugglers, a faithful wife of poverty.
Maybe what we need right now
lead sleepy lives for awhile. These here pieces
I accumulated in
the cremation grounds, you can have your own if
you sleep in the cremation
grounds. When all the trees are gone and the birds stand
on the sturdy heads of men,
they celebrated their unwillingness to
sing in a forgotten tongue.
-- Chris King
These poems are cast in the 7/11 poetic form innovated by the poet Quincy Troupe. The form calls for alternating lines of 7 and 11 syllables, starting with 7. I have added the rule of alternating stanzas of 7 and 11 lines, starting with 7, or at least limiting stanza lengths to 7 and 11 lines (though I cheat as needed).
Image from Boilr.