24 September 2008

Next IWW Meeting

The next meeting of the IWW Vancouver will be on Wednesday,
September 24, 7 PM at Spartacus Books, 684 E. Hastings.
Thanks to Sean for informing us that the 24th is the
90th anniversary of the IWW being declared illegal in
Canada. All are welcome to attend.

http://vancouverwob.blogspot.com/

8 September 2008

Kenneth Rexroth's Rebel Poetry

Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was an American poet who acted as an inspiration and mentor to the burgeoning Beat Generation of the 1950s. In addition to this he was an IWW member with a long involvement in radical, anarchist, and anti-war causes. His poem "The Bad Old Days" (1956) reflects upon how he spent his youth gaining a growing class-consciousness and awareness of capitalist monstrosities.

The Bad Old Days

The summer of nineteen eighteen
I read The Jungle and The
Research Magnificent. That fall
My father died and my aunt
Took me to Chicago to live.
The first thing I did was to take
A streetcar to the stockyards.
In the winter afternoon
Gritty and fetid, I walked
Through the filthy snow, through the
Squalid streets, looking shyly
Into the people’s faces,
Those who were home in the daytime.
Debauched and exhausted faces,
Starved and looted brains, faces
Like the faces in the senile
And insane wards of charity
Hospitals. Predatory
Faces of little children.
Then as the soiled twilight darkened,
Under the green gas lamps, and the
Sputtering purple arc lamps,
The faces of the men coming
Home from work, some still alive with
The last pulse of hope or courage,
Some sly and bitter, some smart and
Silly, most of them already
Broken and empty, no life,
Only blinding tiredness, worse
Than any tired animal.
The sour smells of a thousand
Suppers of fried potatoes and
Fried cabbage bled into the street.
I was giddy and sick, and out
Of my misery I felt rising
A terrible anger and out
Of the anger, an absolute vow.
Today the evil is clean
And prosperous, but it is
Everywhere, you don’t have to
Take a streetcar to find it,
And it is the same evil.
And the misery, and the
Anger, and the vow are the same.