As Far As He Could See

He wanted to be
a working-class hero
not the fucking peasant
John Lennon sang about.
He left the university
went straight to the rank and file,
learned to smile with a snarl,
and conceal his knowledge
of Marx & Mao.

He was pragmatic.
He absorbed the grit and grease
cut the dialectical edge
with obscenity.
He was gambling on the glory
of a revolutionary day.
He worked the crowd,
ridiculed bureaucracy,
fought the boss,
and got elected to a union job.

It wasn’t long before
he impressed the International.
They knew they could use
a man like him,
someone who combined
ideal words
with a predator’s instincts.

He joined the gang at
Solidarity House
where the office rats were
afraid to fight,
afraid to lose,
afraid they’d be out
on the street

So they devised
the Modern Operating Agreement
for the rank & file
to abide
as if it were a passing style.
Then encouraged cooperation,
and trumpeted partnership
as year by year
the membership
was laid off,
sold off,
bought off,
spun off,
while the office rats
at Sold Our Dignity House
played golf
with the boss,
padded their cushions,
and feathered their pensions.

He still thought of himself
as progressive if not
When he drove his Crown Vic
through pickets
at the gates of
Solidarity Heaven
he donated a buck
to the cause.

But he had the ex to think of,
a second family,
kids in college,
the house on the lake,
and his retirement.
He couldn’t forsake it all
for a cause.

Besides, they were just
fucking peasants
as far as he could see.

Gregg Shotwell may be contacted at <>.  See, also, <> and <>.

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