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In the Marketplace • Living in America • OCD • All I wanted was

Paul Lojeski: In this dungeon of thick, sweating, concrete walls, in the rank stench of slaughter, traders bark out numbers while bankers twitch with every transaction, with each breath sold.
marketplace

In the Marketplace

In this dungeon
of thick, sweating,
concrete walls,
in the rank stench
of slaughter,
traders bark out
numbers while
bankers twitch
with every
transaction,
with each breath
sold; commerce
the soiled air
of this stumbling
world, the exchange
of cash, more important
than love or peace or,
for that matter, your life.

Living in America

Every waking hour violence
dressed as reason takes

us by the hands, leading
us into darkness.

OCD

The pressure’s gotten to her.
Washing hands till red often
in the furnace of teenagerdom.

Pounded by school and driven
to score high for college,
aware of its crushing cost,

an unstable, violent country
and world threatened with nuclear
or environmental extinction,

she’s up till all hours, worrying,
worrying, pacing, pacing; a young
woman fighting to survive.

All I wanted was

to revel in the event.
We’d gathered
in the school library

to hear precious young
people, including
our daughter play

music and be inducted
into the music honor society.
But before we could

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sink into that particular
joy with other parents,
we were ordered in soft,

sweet tones to rise
for the pledge of allegiance.
And the iron might of an

age old nationalism yanked
us to our feet to mumble
the ever vapid pabulum

of power, ensuring fealty
to the glorious state.
For almost two decades

this relentless repetition
of noxious lines poisoned
the true delight that

should’ve been the glory
of enfettered childhood,
those years of unblemished

exuberance gradually imprisoned
by the invisible barbed wire
of political obedience

and conformity. I pledge
allegiance to war crimes,
racist murder, the rule of the

super rich, gender bias
and hatred, environmental
death and the denial of peace.

You may be seated.

Paul Lojeski