(Press photographer takes photos of those of us taking photos during an October protest march)
This week, I was a featured writer for the No Name Reading Series produced by graduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. One of the poems I read, "Occupation," was in honor of those working to support the Occupy Wall Street movement in general, and my daughter's work with Occupy Lincoln specifically. I thought regular readers would like to see how a poem I posted in June continued to evolve, and became something else entirely within a few months. What I like about writing is that a draft, until published, can grow with the seasons, can transform as one's thinking transforms.
(Protesting should be fun, creative, because it's a representation of self. There is a joy found in standing up).
Occupation by Erica F. Rogers et. al.
“So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds … Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.” – Molly Ivins
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to another: We stand together, no longer behind our walls in rented rooms, no longer buying what the few are selling, certain our collective voice can restore the greatness of our nation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: We are tired of empty pockets, long hours and short paychecks, Swindlers and Spenders, underwriters of war, profiteers who diminish Democracy even as they export it, package terror in subterfuge and call it a global cause, while our neighborhoods burn with shame, bankrupt.
If Corporate America is anything, it is a king. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty &; perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
When we march, we put the youngest and our elders first so their innocence and wisdom can lead the way. We believe that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights even as we may disagree as to who that Creator may be, even as we may doubt the origins of human existence.
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness cannot be bought at Walmart, found on grocery shelves lined with products less organic than the cans and boxes containing them. The Corporate King has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
Despite our hunger, our freedom is not for sale. Despite the coldness in our tents, we will not warm ourselves beneath a blanket of silence ignoring the King has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. Deaf to the pundits’ spin, just as they too have been deaf
to the voice of justice and of consanguinity, we can hear the fear of restoration of a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, as we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. The long train of abuses and usurpations has made the absolute despotism
visible. The Corporate King is also a Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. So we err on the side of Freedom, and petition for Redress in the most humble terms. And though Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury, by silence, by ridicule,
we will not forfeit our consent of the governed to the Wall Street kingsmen. Though Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, do not make light of this: We are tired of the hostility and arrogance turned against us like weapons by
companies demanding money as they take our homes, our diginity. A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires us to declare the causes which impel us to the separation. It will take more than mockery and arrests to clear our streets. We are not feckless spectators, mindless consumers of the privatization of public
concerns and bubble-sheet answers to complex questions. We are not struck dumb by the enormity of business and its investors. We stand together as one eye above the dollar’s pyramid, pointing to the broken trust they cash and carry to their coffers.
We are tired of being tired, of waking up knowing our neighbors are hurting too, or hurting each other, or howling into the night with wild eyes and gunfire mouths, speaking pieces with staccato Glock diction and syntax. We are tired of books unread, poems unwritten, blank canvases and the Corporate King’s god Moloch.
We are tired of hope and love cast as radical deviations from the efficient mass production of loneliness, violence, hate, racism, sexism, classism and denial because those are just easier to buy. We are tired of The Suits pretending they don’t produce poverty to their profit, of surface masking depth, the virtual masking the real, and that most can’t tell the difference.
We are tired of the rich waging wars against the poor, and the poor raging against each other while bobble-headed broadcasters dole out the business instead of news. The watchdogs are sleeping among the King’s hounds – and the comfortable rich hunt nothing but Murdoch’s FOX.
We are tired of the Constitution wielded as a hammer instead of taking flight like a dove. Fear – the tyrant of the heart, Greed – the tyrant of the soul, Ignorance – the tyrant of the mind: Such as been the patient sufferance of The People. The history of the present King … is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. So we are tired of the idea that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. We right ourselves to the Left because we left ourselves to the Right for far too long.
And in our expression, our art is not suspect, ridiculed, dehumanized by those without the guts to create and stand by their creations, who litigate and mandate the vibrant hues of human experience be relegated to the censored but stable black and white. Instead, we paint boldly the red, white, and blue. We sing. We dance. We play our drums to beat
back all that makes us small, insignificant, unseen, unheard, unloved. To break the silence of our suffering is to break the mutual bonds of association, of subjectivity to the King who has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing
them into compliance with his measures. We stand in loving opposition and demand the king and all of his men, recompense the Bill of Rights. We don’t want their filthy handout. We are not jobless. We have an occupation. We know and believe our First Amendment right comes with tremendous, patriotic responsibility. We are in service to just one common covenant: freedom of press, of person, of speech, isn’t given, but a right to claim.
And we’re too tired to refuse.
Italic emphasis: excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.
(Sort of a quality of life protest, speaking back to those who think only of quantities)