Poetry: ‘The Next’
Minneapolis, April 14, 2016. On that date, fast-food workers around the U.S. walked out on strike. Protesters gathered outside the McDonald's restaurant at Lake St. and 3rd Ave. in Minneapolis, calling for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, paid sick days, and union rights. Among many others, the cities of Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour. | Fibonacci Blue (Creative Commons)

The Next

A fight for a minimum wage
among food workers won,
and the struggle continues
to organize the unorganized.

It is not the revolution,
but it is not a setback either.

Through marches
rallies and picket lines
you have won
an important reform
in a difficult time.

It is a breathing space,
it is a breathing space.

The banks and corporations
are still in place
with all their power
to exploit and conquer.

You are not the first
to have done this dance;

other fighters came
before you.

Others will come after
in their own burning time.

It is a breathing space,
It is a breathing space.

Now you must make use of it.

The bosses certainly will,
with their cops and courts.
and paid-for politicians.

It is a struggle
that makes a greater struggle

Call things by their right names.
Working Class. The bosses’ class.
A rule by capital that survives
by divide and conquer.

Unite the many
against the few.
Build the left wing
of the possible.

Whatever you do
don’t call a war peace
or paint a system white.

If you need to compromise
explain to workers
the compromise.

It is a breathing space,
a breathing space,

nothing more,
nothing less.

Rome wasn’t
built in a day,
is socialism.

Honor the dead,
fight like hell for the living.

Whatever stage confronts you,
tell the truth to people
about the struggle,
don’t lie.

it makes it
that much harder
for the next generation.


Chris Butters
Chris Butters

Chris Butters is a socialist and labor activist, retired NYC court reporter, and a former DC 37 (AFSCME) chapter officer. In addition to participating in anti-racist and labor struggles, his poetry continues to be published in Blue Collar Review, a quarterly journal of poetry and prose published by Partisan Press, and many other literary and left poetry magazines.