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Too much to lose, he thinks, for anything else, picking pockets,
say, casually, without arousing suspicion out front of downtown’s
Banks and boutiques where late-afternoon yellows shop-windows,
yellows this gabardine’s hushed protest as one more wallet’s lifted,
Palmed, and repocketed in the darkness of a credit score’s grave.
Another round on me echoes as the first handful of earth drops
Without ceremony on the casket’s lid. Just too much at stake
for anything so romantic, so this: the legal, if not entirely ethical
Raid on their children’s college funds. In truth, he barely skims
the top. An adjunct’s wage. Nothing, really. Still, the students,
Over half of whom this semester are majoring in Business
Administration, hardly get what the parents pay for.
They ought to be learning something useful, how, for instance,
to begin without the slightest pang of guilt yet another memo
Which though one could never know it by reading the thing
will mean the disappearance of another thousand jobs, workers
Waking to confusion one morning as the sun reveals nothing
where, once, a livelihood had been. Instead, empty parking lots,
Temporary fencing. How will these kids ever learn the dead
and bureaucratic English in which inevitably the worst of news
Is delivered when he’s leading again what may someday become
a discussion on civil disobedience? How can they hope to master
Those conjugations and suffixes which most effectively liquidate
blame, responsibility, when he keeps count of third-world states
Toppled this week alone in foreign-backed military coups?
He should be precise, teach the five-paragraph essay’s perfect
Compartmentalization, its solid structural apparatus capable
of pacifying any guerrilla conscience, any full accounting
Of an argument’s collateral effects. Twelve-hundred words, please,
on a streamlined workforce and profit maximization. Don’t forget
The bibliography. Too much to lose then for anything much beyond
debating whether to add his name to another online petition,
An act too likely already to get a person placed on a watch list.
He couldn’t stand a night in jail even for those things he does
Believe. So nothing: after-work afternoon buried in Happy Hour’s
mass grave, the hinge of his briefcase’s shoulder strap adds
A cricket’s chirp to his cadence. He walks to the bus, imagines
the stand of trees wherein the revolution must be gathering.
All the way home, he practices. He’s learning Spanish
and just drunk enough not to care what the other riders
Think of this crazy book-bagged and brown-blazered white boy
as he mouths the words along with the voice in his headphones.
No, not white boy. Gringo, he thinks, his lips parting to the useless
yellowing expanse of his vocabulary: libre, liberar, libertad.
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Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.