Friday, November 09, 2007

Global Is Local


Under copper ceilings

alongside limestone and glass walls
in a gallery where looming television
screens repeat everything that’s said
again, again, again, again, again —

I, and some friends of mine,
activists I’m proud to work beside,
watched the city council
in our home town
on the eve of a new election cycle
tear a significant hole in the local
water quality ordinance
and then congratulate themselves
for retrofitting pollution
by incentivising
more of it.

The called it re-development,
which encourages environmentally sensitive
land to be built up in violation of code

Their play book comes from
Karen Hughes.

Lobbyists and developers won
last night in my home town
with arguments that used to be easy
to spot —
speakers in dark suits,
who drove black SUVs,
left multinational business cards —
but now their guy wears blue jeans
and old shirts, claims to be a volunteer
in spite of huge pay checks
from the mother lode,
and city staff lines up the slide
shows in a data on demand
department where truth goes
to the highest bidder.

Some who used to stand with us,
have drifted to the other side, alongside
political operatives, with their green wash guy
on the Council, and his snow job. —
They don't see the giant in the hood.

Our new City Hall bustles with life
in the early evening when moms and dads,
friends and family members come for
proclamations, certificates — last night
there was cake for Veterans.

But by midnight
there's an acrid odor —

Funny numbers, false science
and raw ambition ooze into the air —

We watch it on the big television screen,
on the television screen, on television,
on the big screen, on the television screen —

I say as we leave the building,
I don’t like politics.
Someone says,
“It’s because you are an idealist.”

but I’ve always thought it was
because of people like this green wash guy,
or the budget wizard who can’t count,
who despoil the earth
then brag about it, congratulate
themselves on television, on television,
on television, on television,
on television.

© 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-ninety 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.

Announcement: The Plain View Press e-store is online.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks SB. SP

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent entry here, Susan.
And o so sad.


7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan, I am reminded that one of the things that we are seeing is how the great defensive movement Austin rose up in--all of us together in 1990 and thereafter, the movement that demanded some measure of rationality in the public officials confronted with economic boosters (developers), the movement that brought us the SOS Ordinance and made it harder for wanna-be builders over the aquifer to lie to our faces, the movement that has made Austin special, is being hijacked by our current council and Chamber of Commerce. Our very movement helped keep the city the special place it is, and they are taking the credit.

12:19 PM  

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