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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Marcher

Demonstration, Joe Jones 1935

This is the fifth year

I have marched across America;

get outa town and

keep movin

the factories are rust-scabbed and silent,

prairies are dry and desolate,

stopped the sheriff sale

no evictions here

farmers solid

breadlines eat like ever-lengthening worms

into the guts of the cities.

My brain is slow

and slowly I am learning

that this is wrong

and I must set it right.

Don't expect much longer

that I will be held back

by words and laws that are not mine.

I know now

that more than words are barriers

cops, machine guns, clubs,

courts, armies, tortures,

and priests and tear gas, lynchings ...

This is the fifth year

I have looked in America's face:

how goes it


shifting, silent men in breadlines?

yes we've demonstrated

stopped evictions

we gotta do more

factory workers stretched and wracked with

conveyor belts and speed-up.

Many are they, strong and angry.


is damned behind the clouds

that are their eyes;

sullen as thunderheads,

banked against the night.

It can't be held back much longer.

Your flimsy words and futile weapons

will be crushed, turned back against


by the tempest of steel sickles,

by red thundering hammers of millions up-


- Harlen Crippen, 1934



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