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Wednesday, December 29, 2010


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Undocumented poem

This poem has traveled a thousand miles
And risked its life to get here
Now it waits on the corner hoping
That someone driving by will offer it work

Homeless poem

When the cops see this poem in greasy fatigues
Sleeping in an alley
They roust it out of its cardboard shelter
Jab it in the ribs and tell it to move on

Jobless poem

This poem asked to use the toilet
Once too often during its 16-hour shift
And was fired from its job
Making $150 jeans for $2 a day

Indigenous poem

The reason this poem is lying
Beheaded in a ditch next to its murdered infant
Is that it refused to vacate its ancestral land
To make way for mining corporations

Orphan poem

When this poem was still in utero
Its mother sought treatment for AIDS
But couldn't afford to pay for the drugs
And died soon after the birth

Collateral damage poem

This poem lost both of its legs
And all of its friends
When the school they'd taken refuge in
Was repeatedly bombed

Incarcerated poem

When it complained about the food
This poem was dragged from its cell
Savagely beaten
And placed in spirit-crushing isolation

Evicted poem

The banker misrepresented 
The abstruse technicalities concealed
In the fine print of this poem's mortgage
Which caused it to lose its home

Uninsured poem

When this poem was diagnosed
With breast cancer
Its insurer fabricated a loophole
And cancelled its policy

Indefinitely detained poem

This poem does not know
What it is charged with
Or the evidence against it
And will never go to trial

Combat veteran poem

Tormented by what it saw and did in the war
This poem tried several times
To commit suicide
And finally succeeded

Amazonian poem

By the time the oil company stopped drilling
The pristine waters of this poem's home
In the rainforest
Had become toxic sludge

Campesino poem

This poem was forced to leave its fields
For sweatshops on the border
Because agribusiness corn
Destroyed small-scale farming

Dineh poem

The government hired this poem
To dig up uranium on its own lands
And paid it with
Radioactive tailings and cancer

Enemy of the state poem

While it was handcuffed to a metal bed spring
Thousands of volts convulsed this poem's body
After which it was raped
Again and again and again

Enemy combatant poem

Sold to the CIA by a rival faction with a grudge
This poem endured years of torture
To force disclosure of information
It did not have

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals.  With his wife Cynthia he is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, Outside In,  and co-editor of the forthcoming book About Face: GI Resisters Turn Against War (PM Press, 2011).  He is also co-producer/director of the documentary Por Que Venimos.