“Preoccupied”: A poem

“Preoccupied”

I got my head chopped off in the ’82 dive

Though I was just one of the one out of five

We stood in line forever out on the street

We burnt lips on coffee and shuffled our feet

We were bent on trying to keep our bodies warm

We bundled up our dignity away from the scorn.

 

That’s why we been preoccupied

Democracy filleted is democracy denied

Them that’s cut – them that’s not – that’s the great divide

That’s why we been preoccupied.

 

But there came a rotten day when they started hirin’ scabs

Though I never met a worker whose back that I would stab

I hear a pencil-necked woman who waddles snorts and scoffs

“You think you’re too good to work – they should just cut you off

I sure hope they stop your check if you nix this job”

So I gave her a wink and misbehaved a big yank – on my thingamabob.

 

That’s why we been preoccupied

Democracy filleted is democracy denied

Them that’s cut – them that’s not – that’s the great divide

That’s why we been preoccupied.

 

Bedraggled by unwanted ads – somehow the family made it

It’s our blue cross to bear the baby – unless we prepaid it

We haggled with the kaiser for maternal bennies

Thanksgiving from the bighearted boss – we juggled every penny

They say “Just tell us again – what the day was she conceived”

That got me wearin’ and laissez faire-in’ my colors on my sleeves.

 

That’s why we been preoccupied

Democracy filleted is democracy denied

Them that’s cut – them that’s not – that’s the great divide

That’s why we been preoccupied.

 

It’s a rich man’s diversion of cheatin’ and stealin’

It’s up to us ninety-niners to commence with the healin’

We’ll get together – set up our own shops

We’ll honor the weather and divvy up the crops

We won’t get fixed in his emergency room

’cause the whole damned system’s en route to the tomb.

 

That’s why we been preoccupied

Democracy filleted is democracy denied

Them that’s cut – them that’s not – that’s the great divide

That’s why we been preoccupied.

 

2013

I was laid off for about one year during the ’80’s recession. Unemployment in the northern state line region of Illinois was about twenty percent.

Photo: via tx.cpusa.org


CONTRIBUTOR

Tim Mills
Tim Mills

Tim Mills is as an educator/activist and began this life as a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam War and on to a rank & file union member. Mills has been an elected union official, but is proudest of the time spent on our local union newsletter. Mills writes guest columns in the Rockford Register Star for over 20 years. Mills says his politics are left of center, but believes progressives must start with the world as it is, not as we'd wish it to be.

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