My revolution was born in a Mississippi courtroom
A statue honoring the Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Corinth in 1862 stands outside a courthouse in Corinth, Miss. | Rogelio V. Solis / AP

A poetry submission for the CP100 Series.

 

I became a Communist in the summer of 2019,

not through my reading of Marx, Engels, Connolly, or Lenin,

but by sitting in the humid air of a Mississippi Justice Court,

keeping tally as tenants, one-by-one, lost their home

to their landlord’s uncontested petition for

“immediate possession of the premises.”

 

The landlord, judge, bailiff, and clerks are co-workers

colleagues for whom this procession of

removals,

orders to pay,

and the administration of blind justice was their task.

 

The tenants, outnumbering the others, by a ratio of 45-to-1

are isolated from one another even though they are standing and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder

waiting for their hearing.

The tenants are

hungry,

thirsty,

black,

pregnant,

mother,

father,

son,

elder,

worker,

student,

unemployed.

Unorganized, psychologically outnumbered by this assembly line of justice.

 

This courtroom and unorganized proletariat work together to turn

housed families into urban nomads,

workers into beggars,

students into vagrants,

elders into corpses,

fetuses into wards of the state.

In this Feb. 20, 2019 photo, Destiny Johnson’s son, Hayden Howard, 2, steps on roaches in his mother’s apartment in Cedarhurst Homes, a federally subsidized, low-income apartment complex in Natchez, Miss. The complex failed a health and safety inspection in each of the past three years. | Rogelio V. Solis / AP

 

This system expunges expired commodities from units

so landlords may usher another isolated and unorganized individual into a dwelling

haunted by broken windows,

crooked doors,

dusty air conditioning,

brown water,

and the odor of drug abuse.

Insecurity deposits are first and last month’s rent,

non-refundable if the commodity is removed,

interest generated over the course of their lease is stuffed

directly into the pocket of the petite-bourgeoisie.

 

The Fair Housing Act, doctrine of habitabilities, and equity are strangers in this court

by design.

When the last tenant had spent their day in court,

the judge looked at me, and asked me what I was doing here,

I told her I was observing the court.

“What’s my grade?”

“We don’t give grades, your honor.”

“When I ask a question,” she said over her glasses, with a smile, “you’re supposed to answer it.”

“Yes, your honor, you passed.”

I convinced myself that the court performed exactly as I was told it would.

Fast-paced, in favor of the landlord, and with wanton disregard for the rule of law.

 

In the wealthiest nation in all the history of the cosmos

no one should sleep on the street because

a person can’t generate surplus capital for the landlord,

the court lusts after the landlord’s campaign donations,

the tenants are unorganized,

I didn’t have the voice to tell the judge she had failed.

2019 marks a century since the founding of the Communist Party USA. To commemorate the anniversary of the oldest socialist organization in the United States, People’s World has launched the article series: 100 Years of the Communist Party USA. Read the other articles published in the series and check out the guidelines about how to submit your own contribution.


CONTRIBUTOR

C. D. Carlson
C. D. Carlson

C. D. Carlson is a law student in the U.S. South.  When not studying or working, he enjoys reading and writing poetry, studying politics and history, and spending free time with his partner and cat.

Comments

comments