A Selection of Poems by Tim Hall


Working People, Why Still Slave?


Working people, why still slave
For men who ride you to the grave?
Why still toil, drip sweat, shed blood
For lords who tramp you in the mud?

Why still serve to those who shirk
The banquet flesh of you who work?
Why give away unbounded wealth
That geysers from your laboring self?

Galley-slaves of factory,
Why still forge in misery
Chains that bind your very life
To your foe in bitter strife?

Do you have leisure, peace of mind,
Unstressed love, food, shelter, time?
Or what is it your hard work buys
While unrest in your heart lies?

The cars you build you buy to drive;
The wealth you coin keeps rich alive;
The clothes you weave are sold to you;
The guns you forge defend the few.

Build cars -- but build your strength to rise;
Coin wealth -- but also, organize;
Weave clothes -- and fighting network tight;
Forge guns -- to seize for your final fight!

Then build cars -- for working folk to keep;
Then coin wealth -- but let no rich man reap;
Then weave clothes -- delight in your struggle's fruits;
Then forge guns -- lay low the lords in suits.



(After Shelley's 1811 poem "Song to the Men of England")




The Cabby's Lament

The cabby's work is never done.
He sees the rise and set of sun.
In a Fury's hot front seat
He toils in summer's boiling heat.

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
Being used by the cab boss-man?

He longs for snow and bitter cold.
A "wind-chill-factor" brings a little gold.
O pity him if he leases cabs!
What he makes the owner grabs.

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
Being robbed by the cab boss-man?

The cab boss rides a black Cadillac,
Bought by the sweat from the cabby's back,
And lives like a king off the fat of the land
While the cabby dies at the gunman's hand.

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To be left in the cold by the cab boss-man?

Darnell was murdered at Sacred Heart.
Overwork and a stroke made Bob depart.
Gunmen killed Skip, Ted and Peterson.
The list is long. Who's the next one?

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To shed your blood for the cab boss-man?

Pity the cabby when he gets sick --
He must pay in cash and pay it quick.
And when he reaches sixty-five,
No check will come to keep him alive.

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To be discarded by the cab boss-man?

The cabby flies down the darkened street --
Another cabby he must beat.
But when he gets the address right
They wave him off, saying: "That's all right!"

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To run yourself ragged for the cab boss-man?

Ride on, you cabbies, ride furiously!
Battle each other desperately!
Each one of you make sure that crumb
Goes to you and not your chum....

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To compete for crumbs from the cab boss-man?

The owners love it, it's jungle law.
On their way to the bank they laugh, "Haw-haw!"
At the cabbies in the streets competing
To see which one of them will be eating.

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To be exploited by the cab boss-man?

And curse the dispatcher! It's all her fault!
(As the owners lock their cash in the vault
And pay the dispatcher minimum wage --
That's all she'll get until old age.)

Cabbies, dispatchers, how can you take it?
Under these conditions can't nobody make it!

Let the dispatcher take the blame
For what you lose in the owners' game!
Ride on, cabbies, till a heart attack
Or maybe a bullet lays you on your back!

O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To be rode to death by the cab boss-man?

Traffic Manager Terry will engrave
On the stone above your grave:

(O cabbies, cabbies, how can you stand
To be held to blame by the cab boss-man?)


O cabbies, cabbies, when will you rise
Up against the boss-man's capitalistic lies?
When will you shout with a mighty voice
That being exploited is not your choice?
When will you park your cabs around
Michigan and Trumbull and shut it down?
Give the owners a big surprise!
Cabbies, when will you ORGANIZE?!




Big Boss Man

Tune and refrain from Jimmy Reed's blues classic



Big Boss Man,
can't you hear me when I call?
Big Boss Man,
can't you hear me when I call?
Well, you ain't so big,
you just tall,
that's all.

SPOKEN: You ever tried cabbin' in Detroit?...

Well, I pushed a Checker Cab
12 hours every night.
I bought my boss so many cabs,
but my own car ain't right.
Big Boss Man,
can't you hear me when I call?
Well, you ain't so big,
you just tall,
that's all.

Well, the cab boss rides a Caddy,
lives off the fat of the land,
while the cabby roams the ghetto
and dies at the gunman's hand.
Big Boss Man....

In the plants now, in the plants....

Well, I worked for Henry Ford
in his Cleveland Foundry hell,
lifted a hundred cores an hour
just to keep from gettin' bored.
Big Boss Man....

I worked for Ford's in Cleveland,
Engine Plant Number 2,
72 hours on the crank line
until my feet turned blue.
Big Boss Man....

Listen, Mr. Foreman,
slow down that assembly line.
You know I don't mind workin',
but I surely do mind dyin!*
Big Boss Man....

Workin' twelve hours a day,
seven long days in the week,
come home and lie down in the bed,
Lord knows I'm too tired to sleep!
Big Boss Man...

Enjoy it, Hank,** enjoy it
in Europe and Grosse Pointe.
Someday us poor workers
Gonna take the whole damn joint!
Big Boss Man....

Well, he didn't take it with him did he?
All right, now, Chrysler's....

Six months from retirement,
known to be in bad health
they doubled his workload at Chrysler,
they worked that man to death.
Big Boss Man....

Great Lakes Steel....

They spilled some molten metal
down at Zug Island Mill.
30 days later he died of burns --
now how does his wife feel?
Big Boss Man....

On the streets....

My neighbor couldn't make it
on a stinkin' welfare check
She sold her body on the corner,
now she's just a wreck.
Big Boss Man....

So let's get political....

Well, Reagan got elected
to make the rich more rich,
(That goes for Bush too....)
while you an me are scufflin'
down here in the ditch.
Big Boss Man....

You hear them thousand candidates
promise lovely shit?
But you know that winner's gonna have
a big amnesia fit!
Big Boss Man....

Did you see Jesse give Bush the bro handshake?
I guess George is part of the Rainbow Coalition now!

We voted for the Democrats
(I'm talkin' 1964, now....)
to keep a war away,
but we got sent to Viet Nam
"All the Way with LBJ!"
Big Boss Man....
Yeah the Democrats are just as big a war-makers
as the Republicans,
They're just trickier that's all....

Maybe you didn't want it
but they're gonna start a war
Save the world for Standard Oil
that's what you'll be fightin' for!
Big Boss Man....

Pick it up now, pick it up....

Well, why don't you take some action,
march or go on strike?
Hit the boss where it hurts,
do what he don't like!
Big Boss Man....

We're gonna get rid of these boss men,
cause they don't treat us right.
Workin' folk gonna run everything
so we can sleep at night.
Big Boss Man,
you can't hear me when I call!
Well, you ain't so big,
you just tall,
that's all.








A Job Well Done!

Chrysler workers, hail to you!
It was a victory, through and through,
The day you brought brave Curry back,
Who laid the foreman on his back.

You know well the dollar sign
Pushed your brother back toward the line
Weary, sick from his heavy load --
A greedy boss made his wrath explode.

And when they gave the sick man time
(Self-defense his only crime),
With courage you unleashed a mass
Struggle to defend the working class.

Weak alone, the workers united;
Rapidly the wrong was righted.
See how well the wildcat's claws
Made the bosses fear your Cause!

Right quick your Party came to help
With leaflets telling what you felt,
Told the truth to the whole work-force
And praised you on your fighting course.

Compare to this the traitor actions
Of UAW's leading factions:
Frightened, cuddling with the enemy,
In contrast to the MLP.

So workers, be proud, but don't relax.
Watch out! The bosses plan more attacks!
Fight Iacocca's productivity drive!
Mass struggle, your Party, keep your hopes alive!



This poem refers to a successful wildcat strike which took
place at the Chrysler Jefferson plant in Detroit in the early 80's.
It was opposed by the UAW leadership and received strong and
prompt support from the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA. This poem
appeared on the back of one of the MLP leaflets and was also
posted in the plant by the militants who led the strike.





The Ice Cracks

Noon. February 25.
A gray day in the 40's.
Chrysler headquarters, Highland Park, Michigan.
A grassy boulevard.
A semi-modern, 1940's architecture, complex
of offices, plants, parking lots.
Somewhere behind that brick,
that concrete,
that glass,
sits Lido Iacocca,
don of the Chrysler empire,
master of the lay-off,
Simon Legree of the speed-up,
godfather of concessions.
You wouldn't expect
a brand-new sprout of the workers' movement
to crack the ice
of Reaganite concessions in the auto industry
on a day like this,
but weather is funny in Michigan
and somehow
the lay-offs had come too often,
the speed-ups had drained too much life,
the concessions had robbed too many pockets
too many times,
and now don Lido proposed to sell
the parts plants,
condemning 28,000 workers to joblessness
or wages not much above the McDonald's level,
and the workers couldn't stand it any more.
The seed of rebellion
had been germinating
and now a brand-new sprout,
one among many,
broke through the cold winter soil
and surged upwards.

The UAW hacks,
Lido's doting lackeys,
felt the hot anger of the workers
on their behinds.
Against their will,
they had to
call a march,
organize buses,
plan militant-sounding orations.
As for the workers,
they came out.
2000 of them.
They came from Ohio,
wearing white-fronted baseball caps,
veterans of wildcats from the Toledo jeep plant.
They came from Jefferson,
militant black workers
whose wildcat backboned the contract struggle
three years ago
and who were now organizing
a fight against job combination and lay-offs
with the Marxist-Leninist Party.
They came from Dodge Truck,
where the assembly line is called I-75
for its speed,
where robots run amok
and two workers do three workers' jobs.
They came from Sterling Stamping,
where anger against the proposed sale
forced the hacks to call a strike vote
which passed by a wide margin.
And they came from Ford in Utica,
GM in Pontiac
and elsewhere.
They carried home-made picket signs:
"Cooperation and Concessions Mean Good-bye!"
"Keep Acustar, Sell Iacocca!"
"Solidarity with Kenosha, To Hell with Iacocca!"
They came out,
these auto workers,
slandered by the media as slip-shod laborers,
slandered by the UAW hacks as lazy absentees,
slandered as "apathetic" by the "left-wing" opportunists
who praise the hacks
while the hacks suppress
the workers' every struggle.
The workers came out,
and when each new busload arrived
a cheer went up
as the workers discovered still more
of their own strength.
And as the picket line circled
it blocked off the street,
and as if shaking off the bourgeoisie's slanders,
the workers spent the first half an hour
hailing each other, greeting
old friends, discovering new,
laughing and joking.

The Marxist-Leninist Party,
party of the revolutionary workers,
hated by the hacks and the company,
was represented by only three comrades,
two of them postal workers,
one a cab driver,
all others being at work.
But still
the Party used the mass gathering
to raise the militancy of the workers
up one notch,
to spread class-consciousness
still wider.
While the workers were gathering and circling,
the comrades approached every one
with leaflets and The Workers' Advocate
laying out the orientation of the struggle.
Over a hundred took
Party picket signs
saying "No Lay-offs, Fight for Every Job!"
The workers drank up
the revolutionary literature
like dry soil drinks up
a summer rain.

after the greeters had been greeted
and the jokes had been told,
the workers settled down to serious business.
The demonstration needed
a unified voice.
Two black workers from Detroit
took up a chant
Joined by a comrade,
they did it in harmony and rhythm,
exhorting the opposite side of the picket line
as it passed
and soon the line rocked with a single voice.
Militant groups marched down the center
of the circle, chanting
and shaking their signs,
cursing Iacocca.
Fists raised,
private conversations ceased,
eyes turned toward the headquarters
where behind brick and glass
the godfather of exploitation
sat with his 20 million,
his new face-lift
and his failed marriage
to a woman half his age.
On television
this don always seems to be saying:
"Do it my way, or sleep with the fishes!"
But the workers didn't give a damn
for the threats of this
two-bit automotive mafioso.
The picket line rocked for a good hour.

Then the hacks,
silent till now,
called a rally.
They droned their usual
respectful introductions
and nauseating drones,
but the workers didn't
want to hear it.
they shouted
till the nauseating drones gave way
and up jumped
the Big Cheese of concessions groveling,
the maestro of bootlicking,
the two-faced demagogue
of the militant phrase
squawked from bended knee,
Marc Stepp,
who once wore a "militant" black turtleneck and a
black beret
while giving away $20,000
of each worker's pay,
and later sported
a Banana Republic safari outfit
and flirted with Nikki Grandberry of Channel 2
while the militant workers protested
the hacks' sell-out
inside and outside of the Jefferson local union hall.
Up jumped this dog
to speak to the workers.
And he babbled
something about how we have tried to cooperate
with the company
("YOU GAVE IT ALL AWAY!" a worker shouted,
"STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!" went the chant),
something about how we can no longer trust
("NEVER DID!" a worker shouted,
"WHO CAN WE TRUST?" another yelled,
"STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!" went the chant),
and something about how a strike
vote was taken on grievances
at Sterling, etc.
("STRIKE THE WHOLE COMPANY!" a comrade shouted,
"STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!" went the chant),
till Marc Stepp,
the Great Black Hunter,
ended his joust with the lion Iacocca
and stepped down
in disgrace
and soon
the rally ended
the chant
as the workers prepared to take home,
back to their plants,
the militancy of this day,
and milled around talking
for a moment,
unwilling to depart from
the scene of their solidarity.

And before the day was out
the demonstration was discussed
on the afternoon shift
in every plant.
In Toledo, at Jeep,
they talked of strike
in their baseball caps,
proud of their militant history.
At Jefferson
they talked of strike
and thought of their laid-off comrades.
At Detroit Forge
they talked of strike
in the heat and smoke
to stop the sale of their plant.
At Dodge Truck
they talked along the 1-75
assembly line
of strike
and how it was the only answer
to the high-handed bosses.
And within three days
don Lido,
the omnipotent mafioso,
had to change his plans.
A strike would cost more
than he would make by the sale,
so he backed off,
yet still planned to close four plants.
The "sacred management prerogative"
to absolutely control jobs, lay-offs and plant-closings
had crumbled before the workers'
militant struggle.
But the hacks,
ever alert to an opportunity
to kill struggle,
bragged of "their" victory,
and the media gushed about
"Marc Stepp's victory"
and together they buried the strike
and abandoned the workers of the four plants.

And the workers,
aroused but unorganized,
simmered with indignation
at the abandonment of their brothers and sisters.
in ones and twos,
respecting the Party's long work,
they came around to
the Marxist-Leninist Party
as their only true friend
to actually organize the struggle.
There was a new crack
in the ice.
It joined the cracks
made by the Jefferson work stoppage,
the Curry wildcat,
the contract wildcat three years ago....
It was only a crack.
Immense hard work remained.
But distrust of the hacks
had grown,
the ice had
definitely cracked.

-- April 1988







Union Boss

A song in honor of the retirement of Douglas Fraser
from the presidency of the United Auto Workers

To the tune of "Union Maid", also known as "Red Wing"


There once was a union boss
Who was never at a loss
At selling out the workers' cause,
Delivering us into the capitalists' jaws.
When the bosses said, "Concede!"
He did the dirty deed:
A contract flushing down the drain
What the workers fought to gain.

CHORUS: Oh, you can't tell him from your employer,
Or a bourgeois lawyer, he's a destroyer
Of all the rights you fight and die for
In the class war for liberty.

When Reagan said to jump
His carcass he did hump;
He kissed the feet of Henry Ford
And joined Iacocca on the Chrysler Board.
When Kennedy ran for election,
He hugged him with affection
And swore that he would go to bat
For every Democrat.


A mighty fist he made
At Japanese foreign trade.
Oh, loudly he would shriek and cuss
At "aliens" so "devious"!
But when the Big Three came around
He'd kneel down to the ground,
And when they hawked their wage-cut plans
He'd always BUY AMERICAN!


This boss is not alone;
His followers have grown
Like rabbits to a numerous host,
Occupying cushy union posts.
When the bosses holler: "Trouble!"
Here come these thugs on the double,
Cowardly wielding baseball bats
Against the workers' wildcats.

CHORUS: Oh, you can't tell them from your employer,
Or a bourgeois lawyer, they are destroyers
Of all the rights you fight and die for
In the class war for liberty.

Now as this boss retires
To Cabinet he aspires
To prettify the helm of state
And seal in blood the workers' fate.
His proteges are no better;
The rank and file they fetter,
Against concessions how they scream!
-- While hatching brand-new sell-out schemes!

CHORUS: Oh, you can't tell them....

You workers must rebel
Send union hacks to hell,
Declare that you will not concede
A single penny to the capitalists' greed.
Reject the rich men's factions;
With powerful mass actions,
March forward into the street
To fight the bourgeoisie.

CHORUS: Then they'll be kicked aside like their employers.
No bourgeois lawyers can restore them.
Then the workers all across the nation
For emancipation will be battling!








Postal Doc's Song

Tune: "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy"
from the musical "South Pacific"


You may think I'm naive
As a babe to believe
Every tale that you tell
About pain in your neck!

(Background) Do-doot, do do-doot, do do-doot, do do-doot, do doot!

But they pay me good dough
Just to tell you all "NO!"
That you're health doesn't call
For a Workers' Comp check!

(Background) Do-doot, do do-doot, do do-doot, do do-doot, do doot

Fearlessly I'll face you and order
Your rights away!
Loudly I'll yell that you are
Flatly I'll stand on my big flat feet
And say:
Is a grand and a beautiful thing!"

I'm not ashamed to reveal
That world-infamous feeling
I feel:

Oh, I am as greedy as Lee Iacocca,
As mean a boss as you've ever seen,
And if you want to know
Just what makes me say "NO!",
I'm in love with that wonderful green!

(Waves money)

I'll wear out your fingers
Till the pain really lingers,
And then kick you out in the street!

I get a big bonus
For being dishonest,
And you won't have nothing to eat!

Oh, I am in a slave-driving frenzy,
I'll wear out your wrists on my brand-new machines,
And if you hurt your hand,
Well, I don't give a damn,
I'm in love with that wonderful green!

(Waves money)

I'm patriotic,
Quite idiotic,
I say work hard for dear Uncle Sam!

I'm militaristic,
When I tell you to go fight Japan!

(Dancing with supervisor)

We are in a slave-driving frenzy,
We'll wear out your hands on our brand-new machines,
And if you hurt your hand,
Well, we don't give a damn,
We're in love with that wonderful green!

We are as greedy as Lee Iacocca,
As mean a bosses as you've ever seen
And if you don't like it,
We'll tell you to hike it,
Cause we're in love, we're in love,
We're in love, we're in love,
We're in love with that wonderful green!

(Waves money. Lights out.)....





Chris's Song

Tune: Hedy West's "500 Miles"


I carried mail through snow and rain
Till it left my back in pain
Then they laid me off and left me
Without pay.
Without pay, without pay,
Like a piece of rind that you throw away,
Oh, they laid me off and left me
Without pay.

Workers' Comp refused to see
That my job had injured me,
And it turned me down with nothing
To this day.
To this day, to this day,
I have never been repaid,
Though I was hurt at work I got nothing
To this day.

My unemployment checks ran down,
The finance company came around,.
They foreclosed my mortgage
And took my home.
They took my home, they took my home,
Left me and my children all alone.
Oh, the lords of greed and profit
Took my home!

I blame the bankers' greedy souls,
I blame Workers' Comp also,
I blame greedy postal management --
They took my home!
They took my home, they took my home,
They didn't care if my babies froze!
Yes, that greedy postal management,
Took my home!

So what did my union do?
Good old Al and the NALC crew,
They sat on their butts and left me
All alone!
All alone, all alone,
To me their hearts are cold as stone,
But they love the postal bosses
On their throne.

I had no one to turn to
Till we formed the IHPWU,
Then we started fighting back
On our own.
On our own, on our own,
Rank-and-filers united as one,
We can be a mighty power
On our own!

So postal workers, learn from me,
We face home loss and injury,
For the bosses and the union leaders
Do not care.
They do not care, they do not care,
They cause oppression they do not share,
So let's build a workers' movement





We Are Injured Workers

Tune: the civil rights song "The Ballad of Harpman Turnbow"


Oh, we are injured workers
And we are mad as hell,
Cause management won't give us
Conditions to get well!
We get no rest,
We work quite late,
We get no weekends free,
And now the ones who injured us
Have put us in the street!

From LSM and OCR
We come with aching wrists.
We've sorted flats, we've carried mail,
Our backs have many twists.
And through this all
Our labor's made
The bosses fat and swell,
But still they show
No gratitude
But make our life a hell.

So postal workers, look and see
Where overwork will lead:
You'll wear your weary bodies out
To serve the bosses' greed.
The union "fights"
With grievances
That take two years to lose,
So rank-and-filers,
Let's US fight
This management abuse!



The three songs above are from a play by the author which attacked the U.S. Postal Service's abuse of injured workers, entitled "Pain in the USPS." The play was given a live reading (and singing), to great enthusiasm, by postal workers active in a protest movement organized by the Marxist-Leninist Party in 1990. The meeting was a celebration of the activities of Struggle magazine.






Fight the Sell-Out Union Bosses!

To the tune of "Solidarity Forever" ("Battle Hymn of the Republic" or "John Brown's Body")


A truly fighting spirit through the workers' blood does run;
We wield the greatest power anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet our lofty hopes and cherished goals by traitors are undone,
But the rank and file is strong.

CHORUS: Fight the sell-out union bosses!
Fight the sell-out union bosses!
Fight the sell-out union bosses!
The rank and file is strong!

Is there aught we hold in common with the servile union boss
Who has helped his greedy masters throw the workers for a loss?
He has sold out to the bosses and betrayed the workers' cause,
But the rank and file is strong.


We who built the modern world can scarce afford to eat,
Yet the idle rich have got our leaders cringing at their feet;
When we overthrow the flunkies then their masters we can beat,
For the rank and file is strong.


It is we who built the unions at the cost of blood and sweat;
We have made the haughty bosses pay a little of their debt;
Yet today our union leader is the bosses' little pet,
But the rank and file is strong.


In our hands is placed a power greater than the bureaucrat,
Compared to which his baseball bat gives just a little pat.
Shake off these union bosses! Give the capitalists tit-for-tat!
For the rank and file is strong!


This world belongs to Labor's hand and Labor's hand alone,
Though company and union bosses claim it for their own.
But when we flex our muscles we will sink them like a stone,
For the rank and file is strong.






The March On Washington, 1963


Twenty-four years have passed
since my heart first pulsed with hope
for a better world
when I saw those black youth marching,
arm-in-arm, their faces bold and clear in purpose,
under the trees beside the pool
at the Lincoln Memorial.
I didn't really listen
to the melodic words of Martin Luther King;
they seemed to be a little rhetorical,
not quite down-to-earth enough
compared to the vibrant, rebelling
life on the march, the young people
arm-in-arm, under the trees,
chanting, singing -- militant choirs, their
voices welling up from the long years of black resistance
and bursting forth into the air that day
in a pure joy at seeing
half a million faces
dedicated to burying racism.

I didn't listen at all
to the pompous, empty oratory of Walter Reuther;
inexperienced as I was, it revolted me nevertheless.
I saw even then that it lacked
the depth and resonance to express the lives
of the oppressed and turbulent people;
I didn't even much like
the uniform, stale, detached slogans
on the unions' perfect picket signs;
I sensed in them something bureaucratic,
not poetic, and I demanded poetry
to express the feelings of the people.
But I loved the faces of the workers,
warm, resolute, lively, varied,
experiences of great depth evident
in the lines on their faces, in their unevenly
developed muscles, and I noticed
that the hundreds and hundreds of buses of workers
carried the most vivid variety of people --
they, more than anyone else at the March,
already trying to live out
our belief in equality.

I was too naive to notice
a slight difference in tone
in the speech of John Lewis,
the young SNCC field worker from the rural South
who knuckled under to the big shots
and, moments before he spoke,
hastily removed all militancy from his text
and lost any chance
of presenting a radical alternative
to innocent but questioning
characters like me.

I was also too ignorant
to question the absence of Malcolm
who would have scourged the union hacks
and official black "leaders"
With a fiery exposure
and sent an insurrectionary spirit
running among the gathered masses
like a flame sweeping across
a spill of gasoline.

There were many things I missed that day,
many a lesson that went past me,
but that one fragrant blossom of hope
embodied in those singing, marching youth
and in those hundred thousand united workers' faces
changed my life for good.









Yalobusha County

Ridin through Yalobusha County in an old SNCC car
In Mississippi, in 1965
Four civil rights workers, tryin to stay alive
Two of us Black an two of us white
Three freedom riders had already died
The Klan might not catch us, but they sure was gonna try
There was Howard, from Holly Springs
SNCC Field Secretary, which he didn't hide
Cream levis blue workshirt cowboy hat an Black pride
An Pepper from Fayette, aint scared of a damn thing
Big an roly-poly jump on him an see that man swing
An Freda from New York, Jewish an all guts
She'd go anywhere for freedom, she didnt care
The crackers thought she was nuts
An me a white Ohio boy new scared but pissed off
When they killed those little girls in Birmingham
I said that's not how I get off, you'd better lay off
I had to fight that racist shit, I had to take my name off
Or how could I face my children, how could I wash the shame off?
I was drivin my '56 Ford,
Bought in Memphis, crackers knew what for.
They put sawdust in the crankcase of the Chevy, but not the Ford
Got duals an glass packs with that deep exhaust roar
Drivin out of Holly Springs we were feelin good an flyin
On our way to Shaw, the Freedom Labor Union town
But the shit got serious at the Yalobusha line
Cause the spies in Holly Springs must have got on the line
With the courthouse gang in Oxford an tol them the time
Cause the sheriff was waitin at the Welcome to Yalobusha County sign
An I started to sweat as I checked the speed limit sign
An the speedometer an eased my foot and put it in a glide
An saw the sheriff car pull out an come up from behind
An tail us close like they planned a lynch-time
An Howard busted out with that old freedom song rhyme:

(verses sung to the tune of the civil rights anthem "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize")

We have hung our heads an cried
All for Herbert Lee who died
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on!

We have walked through the shadow of death
We have walked all by ourself
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on!

Now that sheriff car was ridin right up on our ass
But I didnt dare floor it, couldn't let him hear the glass packs
An that baby was fast but not that fast
So I drove slow an sweaty tryin to make the minutes pass
Pepper said, "That motherfucker givin us a test
Or they got some cars layin for us somewhere to the wes
We better slide on slow an look our bes"
He said, "You drivin good, just don give it no gas
Le me tell you a story to make the time pass
How we fucked up the Kluxers the year before las
Le see, it was in Fayette, cross the Tennessee line
Where we started to reddish Black people, a hunnert at a time
Them crackers went crazy when they seen us in the courthouse line
They tol the white bosses all of our names
An before we knowed we was off of our farms
From land we sharecropped since slavery time
Some freedom riders helped us organize
And we set up a Tent City on a Black man's land
The Kluxers got pissed, called it a crime
Night riders came by shootin at the tents at night
But they pick the wrong damn people to fuck with this time
My Daddy was in Korea an so was Jesse Lyon
An Duke an his boys from down by the line
So we all layed in ditches that very next night
An when the Kluxers come by we give em a fire-fight
No one got hurt, boy that was a surprise
But the Kluxers lef squealin, goin 95
An the very nex day when I went into town
Somepin had changed in the white man's min
They useta call me boy an expec me to grin
Now they just waited on me, didnt say a goddamn thing
We started carryin our shotguns way up high in our truck racks
An they didnt say shit cause they knew we was gonna talk back
An that's how we gave those crackers the rainbow sign
Said, No more racist bullshit or the fire next time"
The sheriff was still tailin, creepin into Oxford town
Like a wasp round your head in the hot noontime
So I drove slow an perfect, watchin every sign
And we bust out again with the freedom song rhyme:

Aint but one thing we did wrong
Stayed in the wilderness a day too long
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on!

Aint but one thing we did right
Was the day we began to fight
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on!

My glass packs whispered into Oxford town
With the wasp on our tail, followin us around
The clock on the courthouse showed high noon
An brought to mind a Bob Dylan tune
"Oxford town, around the bend
Come to the door an couldnt get in
All because of the color of his skin
Now what do you think about that, my friend?"
We was goin out past the town limits sign
When the wasp turned on his light an made his siren whine.
"The shit is goin down right here"
Said Howard, "Power! Dont show no fear!"
Didnt see no other cars but us an him
But they could be waitin around the bend
The sheriff an his dep, their guts hangin down
Waddled out of the car with dark glasses on
They advanced to our windows an I cracked mine
"Lemme see yaw license an registration" said a voice like turpentine
The deputy rapped on the windows with his stick
Told Pepper an Freda to show theirs quick
All but Howard had Tennessee shit
All of us were legal but it didnt mean a bit
Freedom ride through Yalobusha -- you were in for it!
Sheriff said, "Where you boys gawn wit yer Jew bitch whore?"
(Proving to us he knew who we were)
I said, "We're goin to Greenwood to see my sister-in-law"
He said, "Youre lyin boy an breakin the law
You know you cain drive niggers 'roun wit yer dirty white whore"
"You," he said to Howard, "Yous the head nigger in this car
Get yaw ass out an show us what kine a nigger you are!"
Howard said, "We aint broke no law
An our people is expectin us before nightfall"
"So we got us a smart-ass nigger! We'll show you what for!"
Howard said, "Sheriff, I know who you are
Your grandaddy lynched my great-uncle in 1924
If I die it's gonna be in this here war
But we aint scared of your kine no more!"
Sheriff an Howard stared for a long, long time
Then he rapped on my window
"Nigger-lover, hit the county line!
An if I see yer commie asses in Yalobusha again
Ahll hang yeh like we did yaw people way back then!"
So I eased off the Ford, creepin in low
An we headed for Shaw with still some Yalobusha to go.
Pepper said, "Watch out, he might have some Kluxers jus waitin
To grab us when we aint anticipatin"
As I eased out onto the open highway
We started up that song in that old freedom way:

We been buked an we been scorned
We been talked about sure as youre born
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on!

You can talk about me just as much as you please
You'll never make me bend my knees
Keep your eyes o-on that prize
Hold on! Hold on!
Ho-old on! Ho-old o-o-on!
Keep your ey-es o-on that pri-i-ize
Ho-old on! Hold on


-- 1998







The STRESS Goes on...
and on... and on...


In '67 the Blacks of Detroit
Rose up in a great rebellious exploit
And told the rich man's brutal cop
That racist brutality had to stop.

But the rich bloodsucker sees only the buck --
For Black or poor he don't give a fuck.
He put the people back in a mess
With a killer-cop unit by the name of STRESS.

STRESS killed 20 Black kids and men
Till the masses threatened to rebel again
So the rich decided a Black Young administration
Would pacify this dangerous situation.

Blacks came on the force and they were trained
So that many learned to beat and maim,
While the white STRESS cops were allowed to stay
To club and cattle-prod in their old brutal way.

Blacks were told that things were fine,
Black government officials would keep cops in line,
But this freedom won was a false impression.
Black faces, high places -- same old oppression!

The white STRESS cops continued their career
Of beating and killing and spreading fear.
They beat to death a young black male,
Then cattle-prodded him in the Fort St. Jail.

The Black cops, too, joined this brutal scene,
Killed Dartavian Sampson and Donzell Dean.
The Black officials imitated the white
And turned their heads from this terrible sight.

Then Rodney King was beat in L.A.
And his video'd clubbers got away
So the L.A. Blacks and poor rose up
With rocks and fire and shouted "STOP!"

This call reverberated throughout the nation
For Black and poor folks' liberation.
But back in Detroit, "Starsky and Hutch"
Continued to beat with that old STRESS touch.

On a Thursday night Malice Green
Whose crime (they claim) was to be seen
Grabbing his glovebox with a balled-up hand
Was beaten till he could not stand.

White STRESS cop Nevers and his buddy Budzyn
Clubbed the life out of Malice Green
While Sgt. Freddie Douglas, the Black boss cop,
Said "Take it easy" but didn't say "Stop!"

The young Black worker sat dying in the street
With his head bashed in by that old STRESS beat.
All the neighbors and even the EMS
Declared that they were a murder witness.

The cops are the club of the ruling class
To beat and control the working class.
You or they may be Black or white --
They'll still beat your head in the dark of night.

So Black folks, working folks, we'd better unite
Cause we face a long and bitter fight
Against the whole rich man's Establishment
And his racist, brutal government!








July 1967 Detroit Rebellion Blues

To "Rollin' an' Tumblin' Blues", a fast, hard-
driving Mississippi Delta tune


Let me take you back
20 years ago.
Let me take you back,
oh, 20 years ago,
when Detroit blacks
like a volcano blowed.

If you was poor and black,
you didnt have a chance.
If you was poor and black then,
you didnt stand a chance.
Detroit police would kill you
and plant a knife in your hand.

On a hot July night
the po-lice made a raid.
On a hot July night
the police made a raid,
arrested so many people,
12th St. was enraged.

Well, a brother threw a bottle,
broke a police cruiser's window glass.
I said a brother threw a bottle,
broke a police cruiser's window glass,
Well, that kicked it off,
an the people they were kickin ass!

Gunfire in the ghetto,
from the police, the airborne and the Guard.
Gunfire in the ghetto,
from the police, the Airborne and the Guard.
And gunfire from the people
fightin back from their own back yards.

Well, the white bosses held a meeting,
told the Uncle Toms to dance.
Well, the white bosses held a meeting,
told the Uncle Toms to dance.
Sent the Toms to stop the people,
but they didn't have a chance.

SPOKEN: I'm talkin bout John Conyers, now.
Arthur Johnson, too.

Took the police, the Guard, the Airborne
to put black people down.
Took the police, the Guard, the Airborne
to put black workers down.
To protect their rich white bosses they gunned
43 poor folks down!

Today we got a "Detroit Renaissance",
but workin folk are even more poor!
Today we got black cops and a mayor,
but black kids are at death's door!
There's a new Detroit Rebellion
a-knockin at the door!



This song was performed by the author on public radio in Detroit, WDET-FM on Robert Jones' program "Blues from the Lowlands," during the week of the 20th anniversary of the July 1967 Detroit Rebellion.






Lessons from Malcolm Remembered


O Malcolm, Malcolm,
where are you now?
Your clarion call
needs repeating.
Malcolm, Malcolm,
though you're dead and gone,
In the black working masses
your heart is beating.

Daily the respectable
high-placed faces,
Who waded to "glory"
through the black workers' blood,
Kiss the ass
that you stood for kicking
And drag your name
in the mud.

While the welfare mother
the laid-off fellow,
The high-school wanderer,
the gnarled old man,
The serious student,
the woman on the line,
Fight the oppressor
any way they can.

Tell them, Malcolm
tell them how
You saw freedom fighters
from all different lands,
All different colors,
speaking all different tongues,
Fight for freedom,
arms in hand.

A flexible man,
reasonable, too,
"The ballot or the bullet,"
you said one day.
But Tom took the hint,
saw Charlie's displeasure,
And promptly threw
the bullet away.

See them squirm now
so hard to prove
Martin not a red
at Ronnie's decree!
But Malcolm, you called
capitalism "a vulture"
That lives by eating

O Malcolm, Malcolm,
in your name
Let the young black fighters
arise once again.
With their white working comrades,
raise your mighty voice and fist!
Let Tommie join the pigs --
it's an integrated pen.








Who Says?


Mis amigos are not legal
So they say
Who rob the Native American
To this day.

Mis amigos are not legal
So they cry
Who fried Viets with napalm
From the sky.

Mis amigos are not legal
So they curse
To those who lived in California

Mis amigos are not legal
So they swear
As our savings in their S&L's

Mis amigos are not legal
So they scream
At we who sweat so they can
Live the dream.

Yes, mis amigos are not legal
That's what they say
Who make the laws and break them
Every day.

If mis amigos are not legal
Then the rich
Who made such laws should be thrown
In a ditch.

For mis amigos are our comrades
Since we work
And as comrades we will battle
All who shirk.




Elegy for Becky Bell

Murdered by "Right To Life," Sept. 16, 1988

The Indiana summer nights are green
And perfumed with a joyous, blooming life
But in their shadows stalks a right-wing fiend
Howling like a hound of "Right-to-Life."

A young girl, Mama's darling, fell in love
And love upswept her, in its current, a bit too far;
To shatter in her parents' eyes her too-pure image
Was altogether more than she could bear.

The law was stern: a child would be
Forced to bear a child unless
She could face her father's rage
And mother's disappointment, and confess.

Or go before a judge and bare
The inmost secrets of her deepest love
Before this cold and callous vulture
Who would presume to judge her from above.

Thus the door she faced was locked too tight:
At 17, alone, she could not unlock it.
No matter where she turned, how hard she tried,
No words would come, no key would fit.

"A party" was the tale she told her Mom
And in the Indiana evening she went out
And took her desperate action in the town
And came home pale and shaking; no one found out.

Then came the purest torture: for a week
She worked and studied, dying all the time.
Until death she kept her lips sealed
To pay for what she deemed a crime.

O hypocrites of "Right-to-Life"!
For this young woman did you give a damn?
You scream "murder of the fetus!"
While murdering young mothers: what a sham!

And you Republicans and Democrats,
You bankers, brokers, Chairmen of the Board,
Grabbing gold while young girls die,
Always hollering about a "Lord,"

You are the ones who take away
The right of women to decide.
You want them held in second place
For you and your damned vulture class to ride.

Yes, the Indiana summer nights are green.
The streets and mills and factories teem with life.
Young women, workers, are learning from your crimes.
Someday they'll turn on you a revolutionary knife.







Even though
it only took
a light wind
to set the last winter leaves
to shaking,
she still stood tall
like a young aspen.

At times you could see
the lovely, tall young woman
sitting among the reeds at Chautauqua,
looking like she had just rode a bike
all the way from Auburn, New York,
but was ready
to spend the evening with Theo
-- "not alone," she said --

Even though she could
get up on her tin ear
and tell off the aides
at the nursing home
for the injustices being done her,
these Black women
loved her anyway
because they could appreciate
a fighter against injustice
who did not believe in
going "gentle
into that good night."

Even though she died peacefully
beside her daughter
for whom she had a special soft spot,
I saw her many times
"rage against the dying of the light"
and fight to keep her faculties
intact, her wit precise,
her laugh ready,
her talk flowing.
She talked in that old
kind of sing-song way
as if to say,
"Yes, this is how the world is,
you will do your best
and I,
your mother,
will understand it."

She had the Vassar education,
she had the training
"way ahead of her time"
but she did not aspire
to the corporate board room
or to be a money-grubbing
to her, a career was to
serve the people,
to teach stumbling
children of the workers of Eastlake
to read
so they could keep afloat
in the torrent of life

And even though,
as some might think,
I threw away
the Cornell education she and Daddy
worked so hard for
on fighting for the rising of the poor,
the Blacks,
the proletariat,
the so-called "rabble" despised
in those corporate board roams
and in the groves of Academe,
she and Father
never once reproached me.
Somehow the truths taught
by Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York,
and old John Brown,
and orated by Daddy
in a maudlin voice
over a bottle of Gallo pale dry sherry
("the crimes of this guilty land will not be purged
but with blood!"),
had sunk in too deep
and in 1964
had acquired a new meaning.

As I sat by her body
in that Detroit hospital room
and rubbed her shoulder
through the sheets
I remembered how
as a small boy
I would lie with my head against her belly
and listen to her stomach gurgling.
It caused me no end of wonder and amusement.
Rut now I know:
That was where I came from.
She brought me here,
and I will try to stand as tall
as she did.

(But, to speak of appetite,
she did go on learning to the end.
Although she raised us on
beef stew and mashed potatoes,
in the last years she acquired a taste for
fresh carrot juice and vegetarian pizza.
Afterwards, though,
as the sun set,
she preferred to go
down to Belie Isle
and watch the ore boats pass
up and down Detroit River
and kill a good

bottle of beer.)

Yup, that was my Mom.



Written while driving to Cleveland to attend my mother's memorial service
and read at that service September 11, 1988.









El Casino Real


morning light
(in world outside)
dribbling quarters
slots ding-a-ling
watching the spinner
come round
a seven
a carrot
a blank
a carrot
a seven
a blank
savings go
other slots
a blank
a carrot
a seven
this America
land of free
savings go
children go
husband passed
Pampanga province
everybody gone
no home
no more
slots ding
maybe hit big
get lot of money
go home
but no home
no more
back hurt
can't work
José pension
pretty not big
no union
his job
die from
bad chemicals
slots ding
oh money
mi Dios
baby granddaughter
go with bad guy
do dem drugs
sell body
no see no more
oh this bad country
Manila same
give me money







The Difference between Capitalists and Dogs

Wars between the capitalists
Are, like death, inevitable.
Just as dog will fight a dog
For bones to fill his belly full.

The difference? Dog will fight the dog
And with his own teeth gore him.
But capitalist makes the hungry worker
Do his fighting for him.









In Answer to Pacifists


Meek-eyed, pious, you tell me not to hate
The war-hawk Reagan who, in lust for gold,
Lightly threatens to obliterate
All life and turn the very planet cold.
And if I hate the bootlick Democrats
Who rubber-stamp the Cowboy's every whim
And sweet-talk workers for the plutocrats,
You call me an aggressor just like him!
And when, like Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee,
This wolf and wolf-dressed-like-a-sheep debate
Which weapon's best in war for slavery,
You call me wrong to want to smash the State.
You cannot hate the killers of the mass:
Then you, sirs, hate the working class.









The Liberal

A Song Concerning the Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan
to the tune of "Rebel Girl" by Joe Hill


The humble New Dealer from Dee-troit,
With his hair combed back over his pate,
Has done a dovishly good job
Of defending the imperialist state.
He's supported Cruise missiles in Europe,
Advisors in El Salvador,
He's a hawk-dove defending the Empire --
He's a lib-e-ral.

CHORUS: He's a liberal,
He's a liberal,
To the ruling class
He's a precious pearl.
He serves the capitalist class
By deceiving the working class.
Oh, we've had libs before and we'll have some more
To defend the dollar 'round the world.
He's a sweet-tongued defender of the Empire --
He's a lib-e-ral.

He votes for a sub called the Trident.
He votes for a bomber called Stealth.
For the M-l tank he votes billions,
And he votes to Israel's health.
Behold! He's a gentle peace-monger
Preparing a mass funeral.
With honey he sweetens a world war --
He's a lib-e-ral.

CHORUS: He's a liberal,
He's a liberal,
To the ruling class
He's a precious pearl.
He serves the capitalist class
By deceiving the working class.
Oh, we've had libs before and we'll have some more
To defend the dollar 'round the world.
He's a sweet-tongued defender of the Empire --
He's a lib-e-ral.

On domestic issues -- my goodness!
Japan, not Big Three, he'll deplore.
'Gainst Reagan he fights like Quixote,
Tilting at windmills once more.
He'll talk up for workers and black folk --
With big words his yap is so full! --
But talking is all he is good for --
He's a lib-e-ral!

CHORUS: He's a liberal,
He's a liberal,
To the ruling class
He's a precious pearl.
He serves the capitalist class
By deceiving the working class.
Oh, we've had libs before and we'll have some more
To defend the dollar 'round the world.
He's a sweet-tongued defender of the Empire --
He's a lib-e-ral.








Are You Saved?

"Have you found Jesus? Are you saved?"
The faith-peddler Falwell said.
As gentle Jesus hid the cause
Of two thousand Mexican dead.

"God is good, omnipotent"
The faith-merchant Falwell cried.
"It's not His fault -- they all were sinners!
That's why those people died!

"Taiwan miners, Utah, too --
Sinners every one!
Bhopal victims, murdered Sikhs,
Starvelings African --

"All rejected gentle Jesus,"
The faith-healer did declare,
"So Jesus had to punish them;
Let us kneel in prayer:

"O dear Lord, All-Powerful,"
The faith-seller Falwell prayed,
"Carnage so beneficent
Has seldom been displayed.

"The Mexican explosion's flash --
There I saw Your hand.
The death of Sikh, the Bhopal gas --
Almighty, this You planned.

"On Taiwan's and on Utah's tombs
I saw you lock the door;
And starving folk in Africa --
Who felt Your Mercy more?

"And since, Almighty, You are good,
We thank you here today
For these lessons You have taught us
To live the Godly way.

"So build the bombs, and start the wars
To suck the workers' blood!
Massacre for Capital!
We have been taught by God!





The Crime Was Done in Grenada

"El Crimen fué en Grenada" (the crime was done in Granada) is the first line of Antonio Machado's great elegy for Federico García Lorca, murdered by the Franco fascists


"I do not know why young men die,"
The hypocrite general said
As the hypocritical bugle blew
Taps for the Reagan dead.

And the hypocritical media
Hushed up Grenadian dead,
As if when Blacks were massacred
It was not red blood they bled.

And the hypocrite Democrats, too,
Kissed Reagan's blood-red hand.
"Tip" and the freezeniks backed aggression
With a bipartisan stand.

"It's Viet Nam! I've seen it before!"
Rushed through tormented brains,
As if the ghouls Dean Rusk and Lyndon
Napalmed kids again.

As if it were 1967 and,
Returned from Viet Nam's shore,
The 82nd Airborne big-sticked
Blacks in Detroit once more.

Why should we murder working folk
For the rich who suck our blood?
Is the Dow Jones Average, or the dividend, cause
To die in foreign mud?

They want to starve us workers
While they sip our blood like tea.
To save the world for Texaco
We're sent across the sea.

So No to the imperialist wars of Reagan!
No to their venomous lies!
Say No to "My country, right or wrong"!
Spit in their jingoist eyes!

The enemy of American workers
Is not a foreign one.
It schemes in plush-lined offices
In Wall Street and Washington.

The blood that's shed by imperialism's
Aggressive war machine unloosed
Will come back. Like Malcolm said of Kennedy:
"Chickens come home to roost."






A Nicaraguan Worker

To the tune of "Mi Amor, Mi Corazon"


A campesino I was born,
Nicaraguan country town.
Went to work when I was nine,
My school was cutting sugar cane down,
My mother was a rich man's house-maid;
Dad died in the fields when I was eight;
Mostly I was left alone --
Before La Revolución.

The Somocistas sucked our blood;
The poor man's choice was crumbs or death.
The Yankee and the fascist's boots
Nearly crushed our people's breath.
For fifty years since they killed Sandino
Us poor folk fought for rights and freedom,
Fought to make this land our own --
Fought for Revolución.

At age nineteen I got hired
At the U.S. refinery.
I met a MAP(M-L) comrade there;
It was he taught me to read.
At many a strike or secret meeting
I read the truth, my heart was beating:
"The rich men we must overthrow!"
In the workers' paper, El Pueblo.

When the insurrection came,
I fought in the MILPAS' militia ranks.
We laid the Somocistas low,
Storming fortresses and banks.
Always MAP called on us workers
To lead all toilers, don't be shirkers,
To bring the tyranny firmly down --
No half-way Revolución,

The tyranny had breathed its last;
The Sandinistas grabbed the state,
Our revolution had advanced,
But the toilers' demands remained unmet,
El Pueblo told the masses:
"Fight still harder the parasite classes;
Don't stop till power is your own --
No half-way Revolución!"

We broke the U.S. imperialist yoke,
Smashed their big-stick diplomacy;
Their pet Somoza's neck we broke
Workers of the world hailed victory.
MAP, the Party of our class,
Warned the workers: "Don't relax!
Beware! The rich abroad, at home,
Hate our Revolución!"

The Sandinista waverers
Conspired to silence the workers' voice.
Weak-kneed reformists, they used their power
To try to choke the workers' press.
La Prensa, the rag of the bourgeoisie,
Lives on government subsidy;
But the workers must speak in an undertone
In our own Revolución.

Begging Reagan and the Democrats
Not to send the contra scum
The Sandinistas get this reply:
"Lick our boots, or there's more to come!"
Yankee and Nicaraguan capitalistas
Together make a common cause:
Crush the Nicaraguan people down,
Destroy La Revolución.

Therefore we must never beg
Imperialist or capitalist,
But firmly prepare to hit them both
With the toilers' mighty fist,
Workers of the U.S., American comrades,
Do like you did for Viet Nam!
Support our cause, our workers, press,
Support our Revolución!



-- October 28, 1984





It Loses Something in Translation


Dear Iraqi People,

This is General Norman Scheisskopf (shithead) speaking. We regret to inform you that due to the intransigence of your leader, whose name I cannot pronounce correctly, our weapon systems (planes) have been forced to visit (attack) you and deposit (drop) some ordnance (bombs). Fortunately, we
have not had to actually bomb you; instead, we have only suppressed your assets (bombed you). This has resulted in the degrading (blowing up) of your factories, the suppression (blowing up) of your stores and warehouses, and the neutralization (blowing up) of your water supply. Of course, we were really
aiming at military targets, but since you are Iraqi, you are also military targets. Sadly (and it makes me so sad, I'm a real Sadman), in some cases our targeting (aim) was ineffective (we missed), and the result was collateral damage (death of you). In these cases we have had to visit (attack) you again and retarget (bomb) your assets (yourselves) once more. We regret this occasional ineffectively targeted delivery of ordnance (carpet bombing of civilians). In the U.S. military we call this incontinent ordnance (bombing of civilians). It is something like the little boy who peed in the wrong place. We Americans place a greater value on human life than you do. This is why, in the words of my esteemed (inferior) colleague (sidekick), Gen. Colon Bowell, we are going to cut you off and kill you.

Many happy returns of the day.

Yr. humble (arrogant) servant (emperor),
Gen. Norman Scheisskopf (shithead)

P.S. We have had some problems with friendly fire (bombing our own troops). In fact, the majority of our (admitted) casualties have come from friendly fire (bombing our own troops). So, you see, our regard for American (grunts') life is equal to our regard for Iraqi life. Of course, none of our generals, politicians or big businessmen have been collaterally damaged by friendly fire. Our ordnance (bombs) is not that incontinent (inaccurate).








Nazis on the Run

A Ballad of the March 29th, 1987 Anti-War Rally in Detroit
Tune: "Brennan on the Moor"


It's of a gutless band of thugs a story I will tell.
They call themselves the Nazis, in some suburbs they do dwell.
'Twas at Cadillac Square and Woodward they resumed their foul career,
Where before the anti-war fighters these "brave" Nazis shook with fear.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

6000 anti-war folks marched, protesting Reagan's war,
Declared it's only tyranny that he is fighting for,
Demanded, "Hands Off Nicaragua!", "U.S., Out of El Salvador!"
And then ran off the Nazis, as so many times before.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

First it was a meager, rag-tag, anti-communist band
Who tried to drown out the marchers at Cass and Michigan,
"Stop Contra Aid!" the marchers roared right back
And left this handful of Reaganites a-babbling in their tracks.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

Then, in the midst of the rally, we saw a revolting sight.
Upon a monument pedestal, some Nazis were in sight,
Waving the brutal Nazi flag, and of the slave-driving Confederacy,
Insulting all the marchers fighting for working folks to be free.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

The angry youth rushed up to them, blood rushing to their eyes,
Balling their fists for a fight, the Nazis they despised,
8ut just as we rushed up to fight, stern as a thundercloud,
Coleman's "finest" came to the rescue to save that fascist crowd.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

"Nazis, Get Out! Nazis, Get Out!" the young folks shouted bold,
Protected by "boys and girls in blue," the Nazis feet got cold.
The cops rushed their dear brothers down past the Greyhound Station.
"Run, Nazis, Run!" we shouted then, in loudest condemnation.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

Right out onto Jefferson, the po-lice led this crew,
And down into a parking garage the Nazi cowards flew.
The cops then blocked the entrance, with billy clubs pointed our way,
And that is how the Nazi scum made their getaway.

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!

So come around, good people, and heed my best advice:
You can't deal with Nazis and racists by treating them real nice.
Come out against Ron Reagan's war and the Democrats who protect
The vicious Nazi criminals and grab them by the neck!

Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!
Nazis on the run, Nazis on the run,
Cowardly and gutless split those "brave" Nazis on the run!










Was You There?

Based on the African-American spiritual


Was you there when they
occupied Haiti?
Was you there when they
occupied Haiti?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it causes me
such anger, anger, anger!
Was you there when they
occupied Haiti?

Was you there when they
let the generals go?
Was you there when they
let those killers go?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it causes me
such anger, anger, anger!
Was you there when they
flew those dogs away?

Was you there when they
helped the thugs escape?
Was you there when they
sheltered the attachés?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it causes me
such anger, anger, anger!
Was you there when they
helped the torturers hide?

Was you there when they
tried to fool the poor?
Was you there when they
said to fight no more?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it causes me
such anger, anger, anger!
Was you there when they
tried to stop the poor?

Was you there when the
working folk fought back?
Was you there when the
working folk fought back?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it fills me with
such freedom, freedom, freedom!
Was you there when the
working folk fought back?

Will you be there when the
Haitian people get free?
Will you be there when we
see a free Haiti?
Ohhh -- ohhhhh
oh-o-oh --
some of the time
it makes me feel
so joyful, joyful, joyful!
Will you be there when we
see a free Haiti?










To the Iraqi Dead


There will be no memorial wall
in Washington for you,
just as there is none for the Vietnamese,
none for the Grenadians,
none for the death squad victims in El Salvador,
none for the people thrown into mass graves
in Panama.
Like them, you were too non-white,
too non-American,
too non-rich
to be considered human.
The generals, the oil barons, the media
the Democrats,
the Republicans,
didn't give a damn about you.
They made their soldiers bury you alive.
Their pilots got a bang
out of blowing up your water system.
"It was a job and we did it," they said,
They shot you down on Kuwait expressway
"like fish in a barrel."
When you rose against Saddam
they let him kill you, too.
You were their target,
not him.
They blamed Saddam
but killed you.
He and Bush
bully on
but you rot
while your families mourn.
You weren't people;
you were "targets."
They didn't "kill" you
when they killed you;
they just "degraded" you.
They called killing you
"collateral damage"
but, in fact, it was
the kind of damage they wanted.
They killed you because
you are what they fear:
you are the non-rich
the non-elite
the nowhere
the nowhere
the nowhere
like "niggers"'
so insignificant,
so unimportant,
that they had to spend
billions of dollars
killing you
and millions more
hiding the fact.
the non-entities,
had to be negated
and then the grave had
to be hidden
and the newspaper revelation
and the TV report
the protest march
never mentioned.
When they killed you
it was so unimportant
that they could not admit
that they did it.
They could only use a
you were "attrited".
Killing you
was so insignificant
that they spent
24 hours a day
and millions of dollars
not saying they did it.
And now it has been a year
and they are still
not saying it,
100,000 nobodies
died in Iraq.
But this is a contradiction.
If it cost so much to kill you
you must have been somebody.
If you were really nobody
then the Establishment
could admit it.
They could say:
Nobody was killed in Iraq.
But this lie is too big
even for them.
So to us
the American nobodies
they beat around
the Bush.
We are not supposed to know
that our fellow nobodies
have been killed.
We might think of
Rodney King,
Willow Run,
Los Angeles.
It might remind us that we too
are treated as nobodies
in the land that we built.
We might think of
the Black chattel nobodies
brought here on slave ships.
We might think of
the Native nobodies
slaughtered for gold, or land,
the Asian nobodies
worked to death,
the Mexican nobodies
stoop-labored, pesticided,
the white indentured nobodies
bought and sold too.
We might think of
the children nobodies
in the mines.,
in the mills,
the immigrant nobodies
worked to death,
deported for radicalism,
the women nobodies
raped, assaulted, beaten to death.
We might think of
all the worker nobodies
slaughtered by machines,
mine disasters,
shot for organizing.
We might think of the Denmark Vesey
Nat Turner
John Brown
the Emmet Till nobodies,
the lunch counter assaulted
the Freedom rider beaten
the Birmingham fire hosed
the Bull Connor dog bitten
the church bombed little children
the assassinated Malcolm,
the assassinated Bobby Hutton,
the assassinated Fred Hampton,
the assassinated George Jackson
and all the assassinated
communist nobodies
when communists were really communists
and not phony bureaucrats.
We might think of
the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire nobodies,
the Ford Hunger March nobodies,
Reeltown nobodies,
Republic Steel nobodies,
Haymarket nobodies,
Kent State nobodies,
Orangeburg nobodies,
Greensboro nobodies,
Wounded Knee nobodies,
Miami nobodies,
Detroit nobodies,
Watts nobodies,
We might think of
all our nobodies
who the Goverment, the Military, the Police,
the Capitalists, the Media
wiped out
turned into dead bodies
just as they killed
wiped out
the Iraqis.
We would think of them!
We would realize that
with the poor of the earth
we have mingled
our blood.
Spit upon by the rich,
we, the working class,
will rise and overthrow
all the militaristic tyrants
because we are sick and tired
of being treated
as nobody!
We owe this to
the Iraqi dead.








Persian Gulf War Curse


Damn you liars
Damn every last one of you
I know a lie when I see one
Damn you big shot liars
I'm not going to shut up
be a good boy scared for my job
Damn you Big Oil liars war-lovers
you bloodsucking capitalist vampires
sending our children, brothers, sisters
to kill and be killed by
Arab children, brothers, sisters
claiming it's against aggression
having committed countless big and little Vietnams, Panamas, Grenadas
having backed countless Duvaliers, Pinochets, Shahs, Shamirs, Marcos's, Mobutus, Amins
innumerable mirrors of Hussein
Damn you fucking liars
I'm going to tell on you and I won't shut up
Damn you emperors you're naked
and I'm going to tell it

Damn you preppie Bush
collie-faced in cardigan sweater preppie pig
Eastern aristocrat ex-CIA chief
blood in your mouth drooling
climbing a mountain of young workers' bodies
to make America Number One Numero Uno
Chief Cop of the World again
You won't make it fool
We won't let you

Damn you Norman Schiesskopf
(German for shithead)
big tough football coach killer
from a long line of imperialist oil-grabbers
your father helped install the Shah
torturer of Iran beloved of American Oil Barons
and now you're marauding for oil again
Damn you pig Schiesskopf
or whatever your name is
I hope you live through the Revolution
so we can try and execute
your militaristic ass

And you Colon Bowell side-kick
Damn you for a traitor to African-American working people
pimping the oil war to Black folks
so they can kill and die to enrich the preppie oil bosses and harem-slaving sheiks
you're going to "cut IT off and kill IT"
IT being Iraqi working boys
trying to make it just like us
Take your Tom act back to
hell nowhere get obliterated you're worthless

Damn you Billy Graham
up all night with Bush to help that poor
misunderstood mass murderer "agonize"
You show us the true role of religion
to reconcile us to war and exploitation
for "pie in the sky when we die"
I don't buy it
You're a pig like the rest
pimping an oil war
to those who have lost hope in changing the world
and can only hope for a better life in the hereafter
Damn you for spitting on their distress
Damn you for a religious hypocrite
Where is your "right-to-life" now?
Oh no! The Big Oil bosses demand death
so you give it
their dick up your ass to the hllt
you orgasolining like a motherfucker
and you send our children to die
for their dividends "In the Name of Jesus Christ Our Savior. Amen"

Stick that shit up your ass
you self-righteous militarists
We're going to live and fight against your war
We want a world without any rich
a world where money doesn't kill

Damn you Talking Heads newspaper editors TV bosses
the whole sold-out profession of newspimps
full page photo you give
to thirty Legionnaires in Pellston Michigan
drooling for their grandchildren's blood
but a blackout on 200,000 anti-war
marching in SF two weeks in a row
a blackout on millions around the country marching anti-war
a blackout on the anti-war seizure of the Washington State capitol building
a blackout on anti-war blockading of the Bay Bridge, freeways in Berkeley, Boston
a blackout on high school and junior high walkouts nationwide
a blackout on dozens of GI's resisting
being sent to Saudi in shackles
a blackout on all that
but half a page about some poor brainwashed idiot
who claims you are too anti-war
You have to be picketed to even mention postal workers
thrown in the streets
Damn you pig journalists
your tongues shackled to Wall Street and you love it
playing Nintendo with our kids' lives

Damn you Democratic Party politicians
no better than the Republicans
you "doves"
you were all for "debate" before the war
but what a "debate" it was!
War Now versus Starve Now War Later
but when the Commander-in-Chief said jump
how high how high how high?
An oil war before it started
an oil war today
pipsqueak rubber stamps
who rubber-stamped the Reagan cutbacks and
brought us Vietnam
you're naked too
you and Bush Republocrats
(ooh! I said it! Nasty Marxist word!)
collaborating for a
Screw-the-World Order

Damn you donkeys and your junior partners
Damn you union leaders labor fakers
false friends real traitors
to the working class
saying we must "support our troops"
What kind of support is it
to send them to their deaths for the Oil Barons?
If you want to support them
bring them back
If you want to support them
support the ones who refuse to go
but no you scabs
you want worker to kill worker
so the Oil Barons can
keep sending their daughters to Mt. Holyoke
and their sons to Yale
while our kids sweat at McDonalds
which you won't organize because you're in bed with the bosses
Our kids will be eating from dumpsters and sleeping on grates
or DEAD FOR OIL ("all you can be")
and you will still be junketing to Vegas
and sucking up to the Democratic Braying Asses

Damn the shit-and-shebang Establishment
Damn it to hell!
Is this the life we want
we the working folk the working class
who build and run everything
do we want to be mercenaries
Cops of the World
to kill and shed blood
to die
for the sole benefit
of a tiny handful of rich
vampires in America
vampires in Iraq
vampires in Europe and Japan etcetera?
I say we rise up
I say we put ourselves in power
If it happens here it will happen worldwide
I say we can be like a mighty wave in the ocean
if we want to be
while these pipsqueak militarists and emperors
who look so strong right now
are just a thin layer of pondscum
slimy and stinking
temporarily riding on our backs









Pledge of Rebellion


I pledge rebellion
against the flag
of the Capitalist
of America
and against the Republocrats
for which it stands,
junk-bond nation,
profit God,
with exploitation
so that the greedy parasite
gets it all.







In Memoriam

To an old comrade, Irene Kubik, who died June 19, 1990, in Cleveland


Daughter of an immigrant worker
who once heard Lenin speak
to a secret forest meeting in Poland,
you were raised
in the hard-nosed coal mine hills
of southern Ohio
where the coal barons,
like feudal lords,
coined the miners' "very lifeblood
into gold."
Your father taught you
of the bright hope of socialism
at an early age
and it never faded from your heart.
In the 20's and early 30's
the Communist Party,
when it still did honor
to the name "communist,"
held meetings at your family's farm house.
One day
so as not to get caught
you hung leaflets
on the barbed wire of a fence
where the striking miners
would find them;
to rise up
for the future of our class
became your life.
You met vigorous young Paul,
a revolutionary miner,
and established another tie
that never broke.
Then you saw the movement decline
and disintegrate
as the revisionists sold out the Party
and Capital regained its control
over the workers' movement.
But through the stinking swamp
of 40's and 50's politics
you kept your faith.
And when we,
the children of the 60's revolt,
looked for older forebearers,
there you and Paul were.
You did not try to restrain
our struggle
as did the fraudulent "communists"
of the CP;
you were stirred to new life
by our rebellion
and this is how we knew
that we had found in you
a sister, a mother,
in Paul, a brother, a father.
The revisionists had deprived you
of communist theory
but you could feel
that as we embraced Marxism-Leninism
we were walking on the same pure path
your father had learned from Lenin.
Falling short of revolution,
the movement declined again,
this time almost to nothing.
Age began to slow you both.
Fighting to keep
a spark of struggle alive,
we were only able to visit you
a few times a year.
You survived amid political quacks,
hare-brained reformists, CP'ers
still tarnishing the mantle of socialism,
but you never ceased to curse
the crimes of the rich
and the government.
You often recalled the days
of the 30's and 60's
and flung at the opportunists:
"Why can't you do like
the comrades did then?"
And you always had the warmest welcome
for any traveling comrade
who passed through Cleveland.
On June 19th of this year
diabetes and heart failure
brought to an end
your long life of struggle,
but I say that your heart,
dear sister, mother,
Irene Kubik,
never failed to beat
for the working class.





The Martyrs of the Working Class

Tune by the author


The martyrs of the working class,
They gave their lives so free.
They never thought about themselves,
They died for you and me.
As we go marching to the fight,
Their memories spur us on;
We'll sing their names the day we see
That lovely, blood-red dawn.

There was Albert Parsons of Haymarket
And all his gallant crew,
Lynched by Chicago robber barons
In a court of bourgeois law.
They pledged their lives, they gave them too,
They never flinched or bent,
But singing "Annie Laurie" they
Into the night were sent.

There was Wesley Everest,
A Wobbly through and through,
Defended a Wobbly meeting hall,
Was lynched by a legion crew.
His gun still smoking, they captured him,
They took him late at night,
And cut and hung him from a bridge --
So gruesome was their spite.

Frank Little he was half-Indian.
"This war is a son-of-a-bitch!"
He cursed in 1917
And called for war on the rich.
One day the businessmen of Butte
Tied him to a car;
His broken leg still in a cast,
He died amidst class war.

Ella Mae Wiggins, a cotton-mill lass,
In Gastonia, that old mill town,
Sang out bold songs of union fight
To gather workers 'round.
Led by the CP the workers fought.
And laid the sheriff down.
A coward's bullet from ambush put
Ella Wiggins in the ground.

There was Harry Simms, a communist,
A boy of teen-aged years.
Among the miners of Bloody Harlan
His voice rang loud and clear.
One night along a railroad track
The gun-thugs lay in wait.
To liberate the working class
He met a martyr's fate.

Three Black workers on Chicago's South Side
Met death at police hands
While fighting to take eviction power
Out of the landlords' hands.
The Party held a meeting then
For workers, black and white,
Who vowed to be true to their fallen comrades
And carry on the fight.

In '32 the workers marched,
Led by the bold CP,
To the gates of Ford Rouge Plant
For jobs and for relief.
Ford's fascist gun thugs met them there
And killed with their Gatling guns
Four worker brothers, black and white,
But the struggle thundered on.

The International Brigade
Came from mill and mine and field
To fight the Franco fascists with
Proletarian steel.
The fields of Spain were watered with
Blood from every land
As the workers struck a trial blow
With their scourging, calloused hand.

The martyrs of the working class,
They gave their lives so free!
They never thought about themselves,
They died for you and me!
As we go marching to the fight,
Their memories spurs us on;
We'll sing their names the day we see
That lovely, blood-red dawn.










Party Work

To the tune of Stan Rogers' "The Field behind the Plow"


Type the leaflet on the page
In straight, dark rows:
Another mask ripped off,
Another boss exposed.
Catch the union hacks at work
At selling out the class,
Giving up concessions
To the boss.

At the factory gates at dawn
The leaflet's grabbed by most.
Some come back for two,
Some say they'll read their friends'.
There's some grumbling from the hacks;
Their discomfort only shows
Another blow is struck
For the cause.

You've been doing this for years;
You'd think by now it'd get a little stale.
Your inspiration never fails:
When the line stopped work last week,
The Party's close supporters were in front.
The leaflet tells the tale
Of how the workers closed the plant.

You see a smiling face,
A wink, a grin, a fist.
Some fold it in their pockets
To read it on their break.
It will pass along the tables
Or on a body down the line:
Another seed takes root
In fertile ground.


Catch the contacts when they're home,
Explain the Party's line;
See their eyes light up
When they see the way to fight.
Do your best to draw in both
The husband and the wife
Into the struggle of
The rank and file.

Ask the solid ones to come
To the meeting Sunday night.
Show the need to fight
Both bosses and the hacks.
Draw around the MLP
A pro-party trend.
Forge another link
In the chain.

Some have known us from way back,
Been reading all our leaflets now for years.
The time of action's drawing near.
Once a week, in sun or rain,
Since the many fights at old Dodge Main.
One workers tells us every time:
"The revolution is still on!"

Tell the comrades how it went
With every single one.
Discuss their points of view
And make the meeting plan.
Try to find a way to stress
The need to organize,
Building up the Party
Of our class.


Well the strikes are picking up,
We've been marching 'gainst the war.
The anti-racist fight
Has flared up here and there.
Groups of youth are coming up,
Asking questions of all kinds.
The masses are preparing
For a fight.

Every question's coming up
For study and debate.
Some want to understand
Why we fight the Arias Plan,
Why we call the Soviets
A capitalistic state,
Or why we fight the hacks
To the last.

Through the years we've carried on.
While the opportunists gave up one by one,
We fought against their lies.
We kept faith in our class
And strove at every chance to organize:
We saw revolution in their eyes
And kept the red flag high.

Years of ebb have come and gone
And there may be several more.
But you can feel the fight;
It builds up more and more.
Now the seed begins to sprout;
We must water it with care.
Let our Party help
The struggle grow.

Now the seed begins to sprout;
We must water it with care.
Let our Party help
The struggle grow.









In East Germany the Workers Rose


In East Germany the workers rose
Demanding leaders whom they chose
And no more phony communists
Getting rich like capitalists.

They burst the Wall and filled the streets
Where gaudy goods wink out of reach,
Where super-rich fat cats create
The homeless poor, while blaming fate.

Back home, they stormed the police stations
For proof to clinch their accusations
That rulers posing as communists
Had stolen just like capitalists.

Some said these leaders never stood
For what Marx, Engels or Lenin would:
A genuine workers' democracy
Without the rich man's tyranny.

Control of production by the state
Does not as socialism rate
Unless -- real reds reiterate --
The workers themselves control the state.

Bush and Thatcher, Kohl and crew,
That parasitic vampire few,
Cry that "Communism has died!"
But it was phonies that stepped aside.

Fearing real ones would fill the gap,
They sent Baker to yell and yap
And pondered whether reunification
Would best keep capitalist the German nation.

But by the dim lights of East Berlin,
Or in the West's more boisterous din,
Or here, across the Atlantic swell,
In capitalism's showcase "democratic" hell,

The workers work but also think
And talk and struggle and learn to link.
Someday we'll surprise the world -- that's certain!
On the rich man's play we'll pull the curtain.






Karl Marx Was Buried


Karl Marx was buried
When the Soviet Union fell.
His cause was finally laid to rest --
He went to Rebel Hell.

Yes, Karl was finally buried.
He left nothing to fight for.
The workers cause? It's hopeless!
Tycoons grab more and more.

He's really, really buried --
Yes, yes, there is no doubt!
Some say his heart still beats a beat
But I'm sure it would get out....

-- Yes, Karl Marx is buried,
But is this something new?
It seems we've heard this tale before
In a history book or two.

The Paris Commune was slaughtered
And Karl died right then,
Yet from that lifeblood rose a movement
Of socialist women and men.

As soon as Karl sprang from his grave
He died all over again
As worker killed worker for the rich
In the trenches of World War I.

Yes, Karl was buried, but no, he wasn't!
Back he sprang from Hell!
The Russian workers overthrew the bosses --
Karl was alive and well!

Then Stalin thought to bury him
While claiming to be true.
He took all power from the workers
But they and Karl weren't through.

In the 60's Karl sprang back to life
Like a zombie from the dead.
But unlike zombies he had liberation
Theories in his head.

Eager young picked up his banner
And brought him back to flush,
But when the tide ebbed many hastened
To bury him in a rush.

And when the Soviet Union fell
Along with the Berlin Wall
The bosses claimed he'd died once more --
Though he didn't live there at all.

So Karl is buried -- for a moment.
He's in and out of ground!
A cat with 999 lives
And another coming round!

2000 years they wait for Jesus --
He hasn't yet come back.
You'd better bet on Karl --
He's like a jumping jack!









Poem for China

On the Occasion of the Massacre at Tienanmen Square


I saw them kill you
on television.
What were your names?
Lacking your names,
I will name you
to fight the falsifiers


Wang Chen,
Fung Shu-chih,
Han Po,
all three of them,
Wang Chen by a peasant soldier told he was fighting counter-revolutionaries,
Fung shu-chih by an officer with a pistol,
Han Po by a tank-tread in Tienanmen Square before the Great Hall of the People.

Wang Chen,
Fung Shu-chih,
Han Po,
all thre of them,
Wang Chen as he called on the peasant to defect to the people,
Fung Shu-chih as she defended her patient's IV tubing,
Han Po as he defied the tanks sent by the capitalist-roaders.

Wang Chen,
Fung Shuh-chih,
Han Po,
all three of them,
Wang Chen as an example displayed by the students,
Fung Shuh-chih a name scrawled in blood on a hospital wall,
Han Po stacked in a pile "like fishes" and set afire
by the Army that "belongs to the people."

Wang Chen,
Fung Shu-chih,
Han Po,
martyred droplets in the river of struggle,
all three of them,
Wang Chen by an unwitting tool of the false men in power,
Fung Shu-chih by an avaricious officer who wanted to prosper with the regime,
Han Po by a tank commander loyal to the fake communists
who have betrayed the road of Marx and Engels.

Wang Chen,
Fung Shuh-chih,
Han Po,
figures burned into our brain tissue,
three hundred of them
(at the lowest report),
three hundred Chinese mountains,
three hundred young giants,
three hundred unformed fighters of the people
among the one billion Chinese searching
for a way towards socialism with democracy.


Li Peng,
the brass of the People's Mutilation Army,
like flies,
searching for death, and putrefaction, and decomposition,
dragging China backward, restoring capitalism
with its profiteering, its gross hucksterism, its arrogant brutal wealth,
its teen-age girls working for pennies in Shanghai garment factories
and sleeping in shifts in their beds like the Irish workers
in 1840 capitalist England.

and the brass,
three vicious flies on the back of working China
biting to get slapped.

Three flies,

and a drone,
I saw them rape the Chinese Revolution
for a stinking dollar bill,
for a villa with servants, for a banquet with 12 courses,
for a U.S. education for their grandchildren,
for a Japanese-made VCR,
for a memory in the minds of the people
that stinks like a three-day old corpse.

Three fascist flies,

and a drone,
they killed the students
who sang the Internationale
and those who mistook America for democracy,
they killed the workers who burned troop transports,
they killed the schoolgirls who built barricades,
they killed
Wang Chen,
they killed
Fung Shu-chih,
they killed
Han Po,
but for every one they killed
ten thousand will take their place.
History and the class struggle
are hard teachers.
The Chinese proletariat
sheds blood like rain once again
to throw the blood-sucking flies
off its back.
Mao's alliances with the bourgeoisie
could not slap these worshippers of dung.
The Gang of Four
wanted to fight
but could not break with Mao
to rely on the working class.
None could see a truly communist revolution.
None could help the workers themselves decide their duty.
None could carry the fight to the end.

But now,
from the blood on the dust of the square,
from the names scrawled on walls at each corner,
from the flames that devoured illusions in the "socialism" of the capitalist-roaders
(and from critiques of the "democracy" of the rich in the West)
must arise
the knife-straight fighters,
the new proletarian revolutionaries,
with stainless steel courage,
with organization hard as rock,
with consistent Marxism-Leninism,
with fists
and teeth-like barricades
and red bullets.

And when the soldiers come,
sent by the new bourgeoisie,
breaking down doors, pulling hair triggers,
splattering militant brains, geysering defiant hearts,
they will never suck all the blood of working China,
the parasite will never defeat its host.

Like flies,
one day
the working folk will crush them.





Pledge of My Allegiance


Today you say that we are free,
Our land not stained with slavery,
That all have equal opportunity
To share in sweet prosperity.

But we who work just cannot see
How you can call this liberty
When we struggle desperately
Providing you, not us, security.

From week to week we ache and sweat
Feeding you, while you feed your pet.
A dog knows more than you of right:
Its feeder's hand it will not bite.

We are not slaves, in that old way --
There's a newer slavery today:
Massa John on the old plantation
Has been replaced by a corporation.

It doesn't own your body, true,
But you can't live unless it hires you.
You do not sell your body to it,
Just your labor-power, bit by bit.

Bit by bit it sucks your blood
And then it tramps you in the mud.
You're never paid for all you do,
Just a crumb to get you through.

From chattel slavery we got free
To fall in capitalist slavery.
No corn and cabin it gives to me;
Survival's my responsibility.

And yet around me I see plenty
Enjoyed, at best, by one in twenty
Who then turn round and preach to me
Of being "all that I can be."

Is this what Frederick Douglass sought?
Was it for this that John Brown fought?
Or Sitting Bull, or DuBois,
Harriet Tubman, the Wobbly boys?

The revolutionary folk who dreamed
Of smashing up this evil scheme --
Did they fight so a few could rule
And treat us millions as their tool?

Not for that did Malcolm die,
Nor the '60's fighters cry!
We fought for true equality
Of class, race, sex in one humanity.

This dream surpasses Martin's dream
By eliminating the rich man's team.
As we approach rebellion's edge
I raise my calloused hand and pledge:

I will use my hand and pen
To help the working women and men
Bring down these rich and make, at last,
The working class the ruling class.









Is it over?


Sweating, dirty, still on the clock,
I sneak away and rush across the street
to buy baked chicken and potato salad
in Happy's store.
He is Lebanese, Habib his proper name.
I pumped gas for his brother long ago.
He knew my wife and comrades
in the '70's, when revolution seemed near
and Palestine seemed about to rise
like a brilliant sun.

"I want to talk to you!" he calls.
Through the strong lines and wrinkles
of an Arab peasant,
his smile recalls a deep, old love.
"Still coemooneest?" he asks.
He likes the word, always has.
"Yes! Just because the Soviet Union fell,
we didn't stop," I say.
"We didn't like the Soviet Union since the 30's.
Now we see it's been wrong since Lenin died."
"It's over," he says, sadly.

"No!" I answer. "Look
how the rich still get richer,
the workers get poorer.
You'll see!"
I am thinking of my friends, my brothers
across the street
sweating in the cut-hole, on the scales, the K-ramp,
my sisters feeding and sweeping the machines,
their muscles and tendons straining to survive the years.
"We will fight!" I say.

"Do you remember Muneef?" he asks.
Why did he think so quickly
of my Palestinian comrade?
"Yes, I think of him often."
(He died in Youngstown in an auto accident
in the '70's, we think a suicide
despairing the Palestinian defeats.)
"Do you remember Walid?" I ask.
"A little guy with long hair," he says.
(He died in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.)
"He was coemooneest, too," he says.

We talk of Muneef's family, of mine,
of my present life.
He owns a store.
He cannot see where the next
workers' struggle will come from.
I have no evidence to give him.

I carry my food back
to where the machines pound and clatter,
the bugs and forklifts toot and whine,
to eat lunch with my real family,
my real comrades,
to plot and plan our next fight.
This is where.










How You Are

Tonight you are my woman.
Tonight the muscles across my stomach
sing like guitar strings rocking with the strong chords
of your love.
Tonight you talk to me with the wisdom
of the oppressed women of the ages. Your voice
flows like tupelo honey into the open wounds
of my battered psyche.
I have a sweet tooth
for your strawberry mouth.
We are like two rivers
flowing together;
I greet you with violets.
You are my cinnamon girl,
my teacher, pupil, lover, friend.
For you
I make my music,
your breath
is in my song.
Tonight I am no longer I,
and you are no longer you;
we spring from an old guitar
singing on a front porch this evening
somewhere in the Mississippi Delta,

The girl I love is just as sweet as she can be,
The girl I love is just as sweet as she can be,
Every time I kiss her cold chills run over me.







How I Am


After a few minutes
with your warm voice on the telephone,
I am filled with optimism about life.
I have come through hard trials.
I have walked into the den of the enemy
and looked him dead in the face.
I have persisted in the hard path I have chosen.
And tonight,
as I look out at the full moon
over the whispering trees,
as it shines on the dark roofs housing
my brothers and sisters, the workers of Detroit,
resting after the day's labor,
I remember our conversation
and the sweetness of knowing you
and I am glad to be caught here
on this turbulent planet,
fighting for the oppressed,
working, creating, loving.
A breeze cools my body.
In the deep grass behind the house,
the crickets saw at their tiny crystal violins.
a fountain of pure joy
springs up within me
like a young deer
clearing a fence at one bound,
strong, clean, and graceful.



Tim Hall has been an activist since going South in the civil rights movement in Fayette County, Tennessee, where he participated in mass campaigns for anti-racist political power in 1964 and 1966, sit-ins at lunch counters, rural labor union organizing and a 60-mile march of Black high school students across West Tennessee in 1966 (see slide show linked to the Struggle home page). In the late 60s Tim embraced an anti-revisionist Marxism, which opposed Trotsky and Stalin, Khruschev and (later) Mao in the name of Marx, Engels and Lenin. This trend created the Marxist-Leninist Party, USA, and continues as the Communist Voice Organization (www.communistvoice.org). Tim has been active in the working-class movement since the mid-60s. At Cornell, which he attended on scholarship, Tim edited the undergraduate literary magazine The Trojan Horse and won first place in the campus poetry competition in 1963 and 64 and first and second in fiction in the same years. He also had a play produced. Tim launched Struggle in 1985, with the support of the MLP, and it has appeared continuously, missing an issue here and there, ever since, supported by its readers. Tim's writing has mainly appeared in Struggle.



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