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Untitled -- Anise

Guest poem sent in by Jade
(Poem #1485) Untitled
 What scares them most is
 They are ready
 They have machine guns
 And soldiers,
    Is uncanny.
 The business men
 Don't understand
 That sort of weapon . . .
 It is your SMILE
 Their reliance
    On Artillery, brother!
 It is the garbage wagons
 That go along the street
 Marked "EXEMPT
 It is the milk stations
 That are getting better daily,
 and the three hundred
 WAR Veterans of Labor
 Handling the crowds
 For these things speak
 and a NEW WORLD
 That they do not feel
 At HOME in.
-- Anise
Note: "Printed in the Seattle Union Record (a daily newspaper put out by
labor people)" -- Howard Zinn

I found this poem in one of my AP History text books at school ("A People's
History of the United States" by Howard Zinn.)  On February 6, 1919 (shortly
after World War I) Seattle, Washington started a city-wide strike.  The only
people that stayed on the job were laundry workers who did only hospital
laudry, firemen and authorized vehicles that had signs saying "Exempted by
the General Strike Committee."  Meals were prepared in thirty-five milk
stations and transported all over the city.  Strikers payed twenty-five
cents and the general public thirty five for as much beef stew, spaghetti,
bread and coffee.

   "A Labor War Veteran's Guard was organized to keep the peace.  On the
  blackboard at one of its headquarteres was written: 'The purpose of this
  organization is to preserve law and order without the use of force.  No
  volunteer will have any police power or be allowed to carry weapons of any
  sort, but to use persuasion only.'  During the strike, crime in the city
  decreased.  The commander of the U.S. army detachment sent into the area
  told the strikers' committee that in forty years of military experience he
  hadn't seen so quiet and orderly a city" (Zinn 378)

Many people believe that, without force, peace and civilization cannot be
maintained.  But this poem and passage speak contrary to that. The strike
stopped after five days.



An extensive set of excerpts from Zinn's text, giving the historical background

to the poem:
  [broken link]

55 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

> Guest poem sent in by Jade
> 'Untitled'
> What scares them most is

Now I know what it'd look like if Zippy the pinhead WRITES POETRY! :)


MrNiceGuy said...


While I may not agree with the exacts sentiments of the organizers of this particular labor battle, I do respect their contribution to the American society at large.

While a majority of strikes and labor struggles of this period were dripping in blood and malice and inhumanity on both sides of the issue, the 100k+ people involved with labor kept a mostly civil and peaceful prolonged demonstration.

Your comment comes more from the drawings of Bill Griffith than the author of this poem.

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