“Pandemic, Profits”

Poetry--even in the flu! Here's to universal
health care and a system that doesn't make
money from our being sick.

A third week sick with flu, coughing fits, green
sputum, amoxicillin, the specialized vocabulary,
of illness, the ailing body of words still ready
for poetry, and to go to work. The dandelions,
slope-shouldered lean their burnished heads
toward the early sun. Nature never did betray
the heart that loved her. A few feet further on
the flowers are white-haired, gone to seed, one
breath will finish them. Last year our human
breath spread pandemic around the world, when
pigs gave us their virus, some called them swine,
we gloved and masked, thin armor against Nature
as she tested us in her favorite game, Evolve or
die, a 3-D global living color beta run-through,
while the last tree I passed before my office door
ramified toward the sky, lifting up green obelisks
out of what, a month before, were nubs of buds
I didn’t even notice as I walked by, while frisky
pharmaceutical prices rose, motel hotel airline
profits fell, right-wing pundits blamed people
from other countries, and CNN never opined
on links between hog factory-farms in Veracruz
and North Carolina, lagoons of manure, vast
wastes of rotting pig parts, fumes, flies, birds,
the “free flow” of capital across borders, NAFTA,
anti-immigrant anti-union laws, the fecal pigsty
draining into the aquifer, fever, throats and bodies
sore everywhere, the coughing workers, neighbors,
the first death doubtless not the first: "Fighting
this disease for months…the pig waste for years,"
Erasto Bautista of La Gloria. Building up resistance.

For more info on those links, see:
Hillel Cohen, “Swine Flu, Pigs and Profits”

Bautista quote from:
Fintan Dunne, “Cover-Up: Mexican Government Lying About Swine Flu,” 29 April 2009

“Nature never did betray…” is from William Wordsworth’s
“Lines Composed….Above Tintern Abbey.”

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010


"Burning Water"

A poem in memory of the eleven oil-rig workers
who died in the British Petroleum Deepwater
Horizon explosion on 4.21.10--and for the countless
beings on land, in water, in air, and in between,
who are suffering because of that
completely preventable catastrophe.

In the YouTube video a man flips a lighter, flare,
holds it to a belching faucet, the water catches fire,
not a miracle, the companies hydro-fracking us
for gas, the movement of capital in ground water—
And there’s that unpoetic word again, so overt,
admittedly abstract, some even say clichéd, a word
I’d never even heard when me and the cousins sat
in the shrimp boat stern, grownups on vacation
playing penny poker all night in the front, as we
watched the dark horizon line between deep sea
and deeper sky fall behind us and never change.
We hung our legs into strange bioluminescent foam
flung up by our wake, if we’d scooped the water
up with a glass jar as we did the air for fireflies,
we’d have caught eighty species, galactic diatoms
invisible to our eye, to us just some murky water
from the Gulf, which is licked over today with oil
from the blown-out rig, all for lack of a cut-off
trigger, costs half a million, comes out of the foul
profit now crawling on sand—or the drill was too fast,
after all time is money, that is, less for the workers,
more for the company, yes, theory again—or pooled
experience, since there is a connection from abstract
to specific, the translucent organisms that work
to filter water are this morning drinking in oil,
when they float to the surface, when the sun stares
down on them long enough, they will begin to burn
from inside out, microscopic dying stars in the Gulf.
But not the result of a natural, inevitable process.
What I mean is once I saw a flock of little sting rays,
each no bigger than my palm, arrowing like tiny geese
where water met sand in the shallows of Tampa Bay,
I stood in the Gulf and they winged between my feet,
going somewhere I didn’t know. Now what will they eat?
The connection between there and now not inevitable,
matter striking my mind, me trying to catch the spark,

Watch hydro-fracked water burn:

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution--No Commercial Use--No Derivs--
Creative Commons 2010


“The Wednesday after May Day: Η προσπάθεια συνεχίζεται”

A poem for the massive protests led by
working people in Greece last week.
They continue to resist a government
“bail out” of banks with revenue
obtained by cutting their jobs and benefits.
The AP and the AFP reported marchers
chanted "Thieves! Thieves!" and
“The struggle will never end!"

Today I saw a tanager fly its black-winged red flag.
I stood watching in the rain, waiting for its whistle.
The radio had announced finance ministers to consult,
sounded quite deliberate. But the TV split realities:
On the right, a money trader, hands over eyes, hid
from the crevice of loss his numbers were falling into.
On the left, a sound I’d never heard, a firey whoosh
like a furnace, some kind of engine pounding, unison
rhythm, a crowd in Athens chanting to advance,
retreat, advance against a thin grey fence of police,
their barbed arms. The people outnumber the police,
they raise fists again, again, to break down that fence
The world watches the line bend, the people create
a rift, the numbers shift, the people shout no, no,
they won’t work til they die so the banks can live,
corporations into corpses is their cry, and the state?
On the asphalt blackened by rain, green-winged
maple seeds scatter the same small mathematical
symbol, the angle reads lesser than > or greater than <
Repeated by the millions, the meaning depends on
where they stand and what they mean by equal.

--Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010