June 9, 2011

A Bit of a Rant

Since ending my last job, I've been working a lot on generating new material, which has been going fine. Good news is that I've been writing drafts of new poems nearly every day. But these poems are lifeless. It's a strange experience to spend all this time writing and know that at the end of several hours of work, these poems will never go anywhere except into a folder. I know it's good; I know it's all an exercise and that I'll probably collapse several of these 'meh' poems into better ones in the future; that like any art, it's practice, but it also sucks. It's been months since I've hit one out of the park.

Joint Finance Committee (JFC) hearings have been going on at the Capitol this past week, and in response, progressives have erected a tent city called "Walkerville" around the Capitol. So far, the JFC has made decisions such as ending the early release program for nonviolent offenders (which will end up costing the state more) and cutting back meals for prisoners from 3 to 2 a day (which also won't save money when they become malnourished). Decisions of this ilk are becoming commonplace here in Wisconsin, and it's becoming increasingly difficult not to be desensitized by all of this because everyday seems to bring more and more and more depressing and soul-crushing news. All the work I did for canvasing was for (almost) nothing, and realistically the best we can hope for is to can some of these politicians, elect better ones, and maybe some of these things will be untangled, but that will take years. And this bill is so infuriating. I like to see the complications in such hotly contested issues, but this isn't complicated. It's evil, and it has an agenda. The idea that by giving tax cuts to big corporations such as Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart will in turn offer more minimal-wage, no heath-care job openings, but in order to this, we've got to fire 5,000 teachers (and even more state workers) so that they can get a job at Wal-Mart, which will drastically lower the quality of public education in Wisconsin, so that our students can also work at Wal-Mart.

I worked at Wal-Mart for a brief stint (very brief, as in less than 3 weeks), and before I started, I had to sign a waiver that if I was hurt on the job, I would not hold Wal-Mart accountable legally. Near the end of my time there, I did get hurt on the job. I smashed my thumb into a sliding meat case, breaking open  my thumbnail, so that blood filled the thumb of my latex glove. I thought I was going to pass out, so I stumbled out into the backroom and  held my head between my legs. My supervisor came over, grabbed my swipe card from my pocket, punched me out, and then asked me if I was okay. Because this was store policy. Because Wal-Mart could later argue that I didn't get hurt on the clock. And this is how our fired educators will be treated.

I'm so angry I'm numb.


  1. Oh, Lord. That is a sickening Wal-Mart story.

    Re the writing, I spent a recent year that way. It's awful, but as you say, it's not a waste.

  2. Ugh. In highschool, my ex worked for Wal-Mart. During the time he worked for them, the minimum wage went up. His pay did not, and he worked for under minimum wage for a year. He didn't really realize it because he was seventeen, and assumed everything was ok. Needless to say, he did not get the backpay.

  3. Wal-Mart is the pits. Also, thanks, Dawn, for the link / shout out!

  4. So we are all in danger here. But it is the intellectual danger of this that worries me: our minds are being dulled into thinking the way we are treated is "normal" and "okay." Why do we need poetry? To keep us from going that dull for one reason. If we point our poetry at what is wrong, and shout in intelligent voices that it is wrong, there is hope.