Under the hard light of January
everything is ugly;
shoes my daughter’s toes will poke through
and slave-made poisoned toys my son wants
winking through excess packaging, things built
to break and none of it fixable, all of it hungry
to reseed already pregnant landfills

what feeds can never sustain,
potato buds boxed next to ramen–
no apples, but there are cans
swollen with salt and pallid peas.
There is milk from rBGH cows,
eggs from exhausted, beakless birds
and we buy it,
stuff it in those black/yellow bags

we wonder why we are dying
and why death is not so easily paid for
as this, sent off to bulk burial
in thick plastic caskets stacked high
in the aisle next to kinked hoses
no one wants.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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24 Responses to yellow/black

  1. Now that is one that makes you think…. excellent Sus

  2. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    I am thinking over your last stanza and two things immediately come to mind: We are dying and yet some of us are living longer than ever before. I wonder if what is so frightening, even so treacherous about the current “situation” is that things are just familiar enough that the degree/the scale of the violence and the destructiveness around us eludes us because nothing seems so outwardly different.

    The “hard light of January” seems to me here to be not what some other folks might think that it is: cold; snow; the post-holiday hangover; debt; the need to lose weight. It is that the evidence mounts and you see it and nothing changes. I think “hard light” is the light shining down on you. That’s where the power of the piece lies, in my opinion.

    • Jeremy–thank you. January was not there initially–had that in the last line, but it seemed to make much more sense there, in the first line. I like how its positioning in the piece changed everything.

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        It seems to me to be an excellent choice. I think January as a subject is full of meaning (as you know from my pieces). I like the way it tied these observations together for me when I was reading this.

  3. Susan,
    Poetry as social activism. There is a long and venerable tradition of this. Lovely writing.

  4. You and I should collaborate sometime on a writing together. I think we’d make a great team. This poem of yours blow me away and makes me think a lot. 🙂 I love this piece. 🙂

  5. nelle says:

    So true. We separated one product at a time. We jumped and fed its popularity and emboldened further explorations away from the natural, to the point we – me included – often prefer artificial creations to that which we can watch grow. This is my weakness.

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