Saturday, 25 November 2006

Poems about America

Not so long ago

Exhausted farms abandoned
to the banks and the birds

A Mass army of immigrants
sharecroppers, farmers and
unemployed moving west

Travelling through the
highways and the Idaho

Highways 30 and 66
Old Spark, El Paso and every
westward trail

They came in old beat up dodges
La Salles and Model T Fords

With every possession that
they owned strapped
to the running boards

But the banks had
got to California and Oregons’
valleys’ first

And the farmers
had to compete in line
fearing the very worst

For the first time in their lives
the lines of farmers talked and talked
of unions and real dignity
and the need to fight and organise

Pete Burton June 2006

To Two martyrs

It was the year 1920
And the need for examples
Was in the air

Sacco and Vanzettti
Became the heroic
Murdered pair

Of labour organisers
In Massachusettes charged
With murders they didn’t commit

Even the prosecuter and judge
To this they did admit

Opposition to war
And labour organising
Was the real charge over there

And two innocent men in 27
Then went to the electric chair

Peter Burton June 2006

I don’t hear America

Those of mechanics , each one ground down by
Downsizing and fear of the same

The carpenter silent as he signs on for welfare
The mason silent as he searches for work
The boatmen silent when there is no boatbuilding
The hatter silent, hats not in fashion

The woodcutters silence as this is mainly done
In the rain forest now, the ploughmans going
Nowhere anytime soon

The silence of the mother, ground down by
Drudgery and insecurity

Each introspective and worried about the future
Silence with closed mouths and post 9/11 thoughts.

Peter Burton

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