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I come from a part of the country

This piece marks my first 'return' to poetry, and the first original I have performed with GPI.

I come from a part of the country
Where the first thing they ask you
Is "What do you do?"

This single question is misleading
Its casual nature hides its true meaning
They don't ask what you do.
They question it.
It's loaded with an understanding
Of class consciousness.
With your unguarded answer
You tell me

If I trust you
If I respect you
If I fear you
If I hate you

It opens wounds of a people sold out
By their own dedication to a job
These people are the sons, daughters and survivors
Of corporate warfare and meme combat

While I grew up
An entire race of working class people was
Systematically destroyed and economically plundered

Pensions, dreams, hopes and lives all sold overseas
To other countries whose people still had blood to sweat

I go back to the neighborhood where I grew up
I see them, haunted and enslaved.
Gaunt faces and broken down homes
The have become indentured servants
Making just enough to live and rarely enough to leave

Others are sold off in the market place.
They are shipped around the country,
And work on electronic plantations where their every move
Is watched and monitored by a machine called efficiency.

Still others flee to the new west in the modern gold rush.
Large homes, fertile lands, and jobs that pay.
It does no good as they get herded into service jobs
And their sub-divisions begin to take the form of reservations.
Living museums of a broken people

Unlike the victims of war before them,
Their eyes don't shine with the pride of survival
And the knowledge the worst has passed.
They are forced to live in the shadows of their pride
Under the watchful eye of the corporation
Reminding them they are to blame. It's all their fault.
If they had worked harder, asked for less.
Internally, the give up, and cant find the strength to rattle their chains
And still, as they have begun to accept their new slavery
They ask, "What do you do?"

None of us wants to be the slave master
Though we all want to own the slaves.
Living in the plantation house free from drudgery

When I get asked, I always hear "What have you done?"
We educated you, fed you, supported you.
What have you done?
We broke ourselves that you might have a better life.
But not like this. Not like this.

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The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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