When the polar bears are drowning and the salmon cross the street
And late summer’s on the non-existent breeze;
When the yellow clouds are frowning and the snow is always sleet
And there’s only five of what were Seven Seas;
When it’s ninety in December at the Arctic Circle’s edge
And the birds are flying south to beat the heat,
When it’s too hot in the office but it’s cooler on the ledge,
And you fall the thirty stories to the street:
It’s change, change, wonderful change,
Bears, fish and birds all must change.
Change, change, beautiful change,
All things in nature must change.
When the president is lying (as he’ll very often do)
Of skullduggery in some distant, ancient land;
When the church is proselytizing (which it likes to do to you)
Of a thuggery that flows from Jesus’ hands;
When professors teach tradition as reactionary tripe
And work tirelessly to win you to their creed;
When recruiters say adulthood’s getting beaten with a pipe
And young Buddhists come to chant and watch you bleed:
It’s change, change, meaningful change,
If you will live, you must change.
Change, change, almighty change,
All of life’s nothing but change.
When the hurricanes come blowing and a thousand people drown
It is just a sad statistic, as you know;
When the higher courts come ruling they can bulldoze houses down
If they’re owned by folks who can’t invest no dough;
When the factories move to Asia cuz your fellow grunts and you
Wouldn’t take two fifty hourly for pay;
When they catch the mortuaries making steaming pots of glue
From the bones of your dear family where they lay:
It’s change, change, all needful change,
Dead or alive, we must change.
Change, change, all things must change,
Even the dead accept change.
When you hear the lefties raving as they try to hawk their rags
And they squabble in their sects that won’t agree;
When you see the homeless slaving over shopping carts with bags
You can murmur: “Better you, old man, than me”;
When you smell the smokestacks burning but they smell so funny, sweet
As the greasy smoke comes out and scalds your eyes;
It’s the cooling winds of progress and the living is so sweet,
Say to all who doubt it, “Arbeit macht frei.”
It’s change, change, come dig the change
All things must yield to the change.
Change, change, oh lovely change,
If you’re a thing you must change.
Michael Hureaux Perez, “Dominican-Haitian on his father’s side,” is a teacher in Seattle. He is a member of the National Education Association and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He is a poet. His chapbooks Black Dog Blues (1992), Hallelucinations (1993), and Fool Moon Rising (1996) were published by Nine Muses Books.