The Children

March, 2001

(i)

I have seen the curious bright faces of the Nicaraguan kids,

in a small village far from the terror of the world;

And I have splashed with the wide-eyed children of the Cuban countryside,

in a mountain stream barely ninety miles from the belly of the beast;

I have heard the evening echos of children in a Spanish campsite,

in the mountainous holy north, among ancient Cathedrals of hand carved stone;

I have seen the children in the slums of Dhaka,

bright colored saris on the girls, curious and unafraid;

I have seen multitudes of tiny children in Calcutta, in the light of first dawn,

wrapped in threadbare blankets, no pillow on the concrete walks;

I have seen Iraqi children, twisted and swollen with strange diseases,

their pain screaming silently, even through the innocence of a young life;

(ii)

And I have known the beast, lived in its belly — the beast of greed, of power twisted,

its systemic, dispassionate hatred for the children of our world;

I have seen the poisonous weapons of destruction throughout the globe,

chemicals sprayed on farm children of Columbia, child soldiers in El Salvador and Sierra Leone;

I have known it selling weapons in the global marketplace, protecting ideology:

marketing free enterprise and jet fighters — selling children into prostitution.

And I have shuddered at this insatiable gorging of gold, clutched by twisted minds and hands,

factory children lacerating fingers and hearts in Haiti, India, and Brazil;

I cry each night for the children without parents, without homes, without hope,

the skies of Afghanistan and Serbia rain cluster bombs, smart bombs, uranium bombs.

I have seen the swollen veins of greed and power, towering banks, traffic jammed Wall Streets

and monetary funds, extending tentacles through all green lands where children sing and dance;

(iii)

And my heart pours out to the children of the world in their sun-lit golden play,

to their blind faith in the power of life — that is about to betray them;

My heart bleeds for the children — and for the cruel innocence,

of a fate that will soon strangle bright faces into hopelessness and dead eyes;

I have seen those curious bright faces of the children of the world – everywhere,

against the bitter black background of capital accumulation;

And my heart recoils from the managers of our global death camp,

neck-tied accountants, uniformed officers, manicured politicians, prominent investors;

Whose dead hearts and greedy fingers pump limitless gold-black blood,

through the insatiable belly of their beast.

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