There was a city on a hill, a magnet for religious exiles,
bone headed and strict, tough and resilient in a new world.
There was a surge — immigrants from everywhere
trading anything they had for a chance at a new world.
There were cities, and more cities, hills and more hills
the sky black with smoke, streets slick with mud
and carriage wheels, then trains, and cars.
There was a surge full of fury and hunger, insistence
on warm shelter, a good fire, a place where children
could learn to read.
There was an enormous threat to the common person,
to the new world — kings thought they were gods,
made people’s lives intolerable.
There was a surge — a revolution,
because people wanted a warm fire, education
for their children, said these rights were inalienable,
natural rights, said the right to revolt was a divine right,
said the right of each person to life, liberty,
the pursuit of happiness was set by God.
Coal blew out of mountains, crops leaped up
from fields, sweat poured from the backs of slaves,
and farmers, workers, workers so hungry you’d bet
another revolution would manifest.
It did. The sky grew black. Blood clotted the earth.
Slavery ended. But worker rights never rooted here.
The schools weren’t good enough, the fires were too cozy.
The revolution sold out. Oil poured out of sand.
There was a surge, too many cities, too many hills —
houses were warm enough, society threw out safety nets,
the poorest died in silence, too many silent gods.
America is over, Annie said tonight.
We had our chance to right the world, and blew it.
The question is, Will we stop this President, this
corporate owned government in time?
Are we cold enough? Or hot enough? Or smart enough?
Will the planet finish civilization for a species
that couldn’t fix itself?
There will be a surge all right. And it will come
directly, at us, because our government is unjust,
is owned by multinational corporations who profit
from war and have no minds, or souls —
a few centuries ago they were called, royalty, feudal lords.
The question will be, as it was for the Germans
who disapproved of Hitler, Did we resist seriously enough?
Did we even get it?
Are our fires to cozy? Are we content to say,
The president has the authority to sucker the world
into an endless war, into annihilation.
Today American soldiers invaded an Iranian embassy
in Iraq, confiscated computers, records, imprisoned
diplomats. Last night President Bush told us,
in front of a cardboard library, he has ordered —
did he say two (?) — new battleships into range of Iran.
The Archduke is on the bridge.
Are we poised to careen to world war? What are
we doing to stop it?
There will be a surge all right. If it’s not a Peace Surge —
we’ll hear, feel, the sucking pull of annihilation.
Do the corporations own so much, they can buy
another revolution, another Islamic revolution,
another American revolution? Is government
There will be a surge all right.
Or have we gone back to snug fires? Smug minds?
Bruce said tonight,
It’s ok, when it’s over, we’ll have nice
big SUV’s to live in.
The thing is, American’s are honest people,
not idiots. We want our troops out of Iraq.
We want this president impeached.
We just have to find the courage
to do the right thing, stop blaming the victims —
(We have to let Iraqis know we're not going
to help them indefinitely???) Help them?
Cut the lies. Stop buying war.
Bring the troops home now.
©Susan Bright, 2007
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
*Pics by SB. This demonstration was one of three demonstrations in Austin on 1/11/07 against the troop increase announced by Bush. Everyone let your legislators know you expect them to cut the purse strings. Tell them to support Sen. Kennedy's bill to stop the troop surge.
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