April 1, 2017 orangeq2017

8 Confessions Before the Occupation, 2011

Benjamin Walker


“Our trouble / the trouble with our state / with our state of soul / our state of siege– / was / civil / obedience”

—Father Daniel Berrigan


Father, my friends are street medics
occupying McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza
until the Rapture, the Great Collapse, or victory,
whichever comes before the onset of winter.

Father, when I was four and tagging the apartment
with crayon, my father lifted my thirty pounds to the wall
and with a half-smile told me his name was Bubba, that
I was in a heap of trouble now, boy.

Father, the Chinese caught me in sixth grade taking pictures
of their clay soldiers in the National Gallery. Years after, the Capitol
Police found me recording diplomat plate numbers
in the Chinese Embassy lot, threatened to lock me up all night.

Father, the judges in Pennsylvania will trade
your teenage years for kickbacks: you’d be caught
with a pipe, sentenced, shuttered in a private prison
called PA Child Care for the whole lost decade.

Father, I want to be that wooden shoe, wedged between gears.
I want to bake loaves of unleavened bread that endlessly divide.
I want consensus on our way forward, before my nephews
follow the pipers out of Hamlin, disappearing into half-light.

Father, my mother has no words of encouragement:
I’ll be arrested if I’m dumb enough to follow
my friends to the occupation. I’ll be as good as dead
to future employers, another Wite-Out child.

Father, tell me how to endure a thousand bookings so I’ll risk one more.
Tell me how much bail money America needs – I’ll take out
one more loan. Tell your congregation the Occupiers
need weatherproof tarp and blankets to keep on going.

Father, that Capitol Police officer asked me if I wanted
to stop making trouble and rejoin the Burmese monks.
My mother asked if I really want to fight a losing battle.
Bless me, Daniel, for I told them what they wanted to hear.


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