01 September 2013

Labor Day 2013

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Facebook timeline photo from the 8/22/2013 rally for funding

Watching teachers gather,
I note my worried forehead
and red tee matches theirs

Observing from the other side
of the employed-and-not divide,
I allow my heart to join them

Working on the national holiday,
red hearts move through concrete
streets and buildings tremble

But not the hearts of policy
makers, not those of wealth
who turn labor into a circus

Three rings fill up: one with
hearts, one with dollar signs
and one with rests between

To endure the show, they divest
of hope that new generations
will have a zest for democracy

I imagine people at rest trying
to recall free public education
and representative government

Public land and clean water
trash pick-ups and scholarship
uses for three-plus-syllable words.

Watching teachers gather
I check my cynical loss of hope
and allow my heart to join in.

Posted for Poetry Pantry #165 at Poets United and at Open Link Monday at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.  When President Grover Cleveland established Labor Day in 1887, he was giving labor organizations an alternative to May Day and shifting focus from the horrific Haymarket Riot.   

(More thoughts and Pics are HERE.)

Copyright © 2013 S.L.Chast


Brian Miller said...

i wonder at times in my loss of hope...i feel it at times...when i feel the cuts to education and wonder where our money goes and...

Mary said...

An interesting Labor Day perspective. Our students don't start school until the day after Labor Day. You have given a lot to think about, Susan.

TALON said...

We celebrate Labour Day here in Canada, as well, this Monday and the whole spirit behind the idea has been lost. I loved this poem and I especially loved the ending and the hope tucked inside every line. Beautiful.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Susan, such a timely post. Yesterday I watched a documentary American Teacher which describes how under paid dedicated teachers are, many of whom have to work a second job to survive, when teaching is one of the most vitally important professions there is. It is unfathomable, like so many other things in this cock-eyed world.

We have come a long way down, the last 50 years.

LaTonya Baldwin said...

Ditto Sherry. Susan, I allow my heart to join in.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Education is in a sorry state in many parts of the world. Just today our Grade 12 Preparatory Exams have been hijacked by one of the teacher unions who has announced a boycott.. It is so frustrating.

Marian said...

excellent, Susan. thank you.

Unknown said...

Very well penned depiction of such a tragic debacle. Why our educators are no longer valued is beyond my comprehension. Very astute conveyance here of the degradation of the educational system in America. Thank you for sharing.

ScottlB said...

How so many forget if not for teachers would they be living the life they live today.

Susie Clevenger said...

Susan, a great tribute to labor and teachers. Teachers here in Texas are so bound with government red tape it cuts into their teaching. So much of our money here has gone into football stadiums...everything gets cut so much it seems except football..it is ridiculous.

Kay L. Davies said...

Looking back, I appreciate my teachers, every one. Even the sewing teacher who hated me because I couldn't sew, and she thought I wouldn't sew. Even the math teachers who despaired of me ever getting out of high school (I did, with 51% in math). Most of all I appreciated then, and appreciate now, the teachers who cared, who recognized my talents lay in one direction and who helped me nurture that spark.
Very well done, Susan. I hope Labor Day doesn't go the way of all good things.
Luv, K