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Thursday, August 02, 2018


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

T***p Administration Mulls a Unilateral Tax Cut for the Rich 
The New York Times, July 31, 2018

I see him frequently

When I drive downtown,
A small, bent, gray man
Dressed in greasy, ragged clothing
And dragging a wooden pallet,
Piled high with overstuffed black trash bags,
Along the sidewalk
Heading to God-knows-where,
If anywhere.
The effort required 
For each Sisyphean step he takes
Is an act of heroism,
And he trudges on,
Almost doubled over, eyes never looking up,
Past fast-food restaurants and taquerias,
Beauty shops and appliance stores and locksmiths,
Pulling his load 
Like the ant impossibly towing the elephant.

I have seen old women and men on the street,
Our sisters and brothers,
Pushing grocery carts full of torn jackets and frayed blankets,
Broken radios and artificial flowers,
Empty bottles and unmatched shoes,
On their way perhaps to the midnight shelter
Or the encampment under the bridge
Or the cardboard boxes behind the supermarket.

I am 75 years old
With enough resources, 
Barring calamity,
To remain housed and fed
From now until the final tick-tock
At the end of my time,
And what I ask myself is not
By what blind, stupid luck am I not they,
The wretched and exhausted and defeated, 
But instead,
Why does America not take care
Of all those in need?
Why does America create suffering
Rather than relieve it?
Why do some few matter and most do not?
Is the United States of America a country
Or a crime?

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.