Poem Going Nowhere

Poem Going Nowhere
Frederick Pollack

Greece. Piraeus. Neo-Nazis
twice in an hour attack
anarchists, then fall back
through police lines, which open
for them. Finally, shots –
not from the cops, but the casings
are police issue.
A girl falls, twenty, former student,
the beauty and brains of this part of the world.

At a demonstration, later,
in Parliament Square, an anarchist
recognizes neo-Nazis
but observes the tacit truce.
He imagines workers’ committees,
vegetables among ruins,
emigration to villages,
goatmeat for all – the tub
of capital leaking here and beginning
to drain. Or perhaps he
has long abandoned fancy.
The Nazis meanwhile, scanning
the crowd for likely prospects
to recruit or beat, are showing
“national solidarity.”

Ten thousand grandmothers’ feet
slow, and banners
droop in the hands of the young
at the spot where Dimitris Christoulas,
retired pharmacist, shot himself
“before,” he said, “I have to eat
from dumpsters.”
In their shields, face-shields and helmets,
with which, as with the job, they try to merge,
police bar the route.
Children sing. And everyone
looks at or for cameras,
wondering if in distant rooms
tailored men are watching.

They aren’t. Those rooms are vacuumed,
shut. The bankers drink elsewhere.
A firebomb strikes the wall
of the Palace; the police charge.
Harassing immigrants along the way,
people return to apartments
or lean-tos. Ceilings drip,
and pipes that haven’t been torn out.
A boarded corner, after a year,
seems to retain
the smell of a butcher shop,
and squatters there encounter
the gaze of the ghost butcher.

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