these days (for tent village)

they said,
people will write about you
for years to come
you will be like seattle, like quebec,
moments they study in social movement theory / from-local-to-global
organizing and organizers


i look around this created village

he sits in a corner
essays about anarchists in his lap
as soft eyes dart across the parking lot
looking for now-familiar residents
aware of everything other than the pages of his book

he stands taller,
always the strong gait
always the generous smile
one hand a cigarette
two radios three hooded sweatshirts four people calling his name

the pace quickens

she, she has cameras in her face and slogans on her lips
a hat woven of thick fibres and soft wool
she sleeps on hard floor makes excuses and insists
we take the first two out for their birthday

we smell of earth,
mixed with smoke,
mixed with fire embers in our eyes and mud stuck to the soles of shoes
we smell of bananas and onions,
and a closeness without which
would be unimaginable

you taste of tea
of warm herbs and softer hands
water, fire, leaves,
the elements


this city is lit up before the sun sets,
distress signals loud and clear, streams of wasted energy piercing the sky
the face of the moon taunts us
campers see the stars
replicated in sixty thousand people and thirty-eight million dollars
to create most expensive constellations on an audience cloaked in blue screen
removed, discarded to reveal bodies at the end of the night
branded, unaware
all we see is ashes

and as the red and white travels
so glaring it is
as a plague through the winding streets
pouring out, every restaurant bar patio overflowing with contamination,
we melt
we blow
into heated glass
molded with warm fingers
cracking under the pressure


what is it about this place?

the way the mountains descend
a horizon only feet above your head
holding the earth firm, it would yet crack under the weight of justice
urban planners line streets with oak trees
canopies of suburban paradise
on the other side

tents, tarps, rope, pegs, stones, gravel
bricks and wood and an axe
grilled cheese sandwiches
chain smokers
a sacred fire

what is it about these people —

an unending stream of metal carts
creaking wheels across uneven ground
dirty or clean, washed wet back forward and return again
invisible armies of bread
and those who slice it fill it grill it eat it
between shades of sunlight and black

it is beginning to be unclear
how privately owned concrete birthed a universe
to nationalism
the wingspan of an eagle over top provides some clue

but i find duct tape and you find homes
he carves soapstone statues
and sells them to passers-by eager for authenticity
only to return,
once more,
to rain-soaked arms


One response to “these days (for tent village)

  1. Lawrence Boxall

    The poem effectively conjures the harshness, complexity and depth of the experience. Sounding as raw as the harsh reality of camping out in the open sights of the oppressor but cognizant of the earth and the life forces that challenge oppression, the poem maintains a well-crafted rhythm that amplifies the sense of the poem. I really like it.

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