We'll Be Fine - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

We’ll Be Fine

The presidential scholar

drips delicate fingers down his chin.

With smooth, white, Ivy-infused

certitude, he promises.

Our institutions are strong.

We will be just fine.

 

Let’s hope, the anchor replies,

profusely praising his brilliance,

deftly slipping into the day’s

obscenities,

Congressional subservience.

Judicial malpractice.

Regulatory grand larceny.

 

Leave the scholar to his analysis.

Leave the anchor to her hopes.

 

But leave no institution

inviolate or immune

To ignore the pain,

Justify the plunder,

Prey on the vulnerable,

Assault the truth,

Escape the will of the People.

 

The people for whom things have

never

ever

been

just

fine.

 

The strong-backed mother on her second job,

pushing a wheelchair,

feeding a blank, wordless patient,

trading recipes with her sister in clipped Creole.

 

The tattooed millwright in the Harley T-shirt,

Copenhagen tin in his back pocket,

drawing tools out of his sagging leather belt

like a sheriff in a gunfight.

 

The firefighter, stumbling in exhaustion,

pulling a young body out of a

charred row home,

ducking cameras, questions,

accusations.

 

The cabbie in the blue turban,

listening to NPR,

his badge listing everything

save his advanced degree,

flipping the bird at the Uber driver.

 

The teacher,

balancing

tough and tender,

taking her tough

to the picket line.

 

The father,

kissing his son goodbye,

to rush to school,

passing a monument of balloons,

teddy bears, flowers, a cardboard sign,

RIP, Jasmine.

 

The People,

who know their fallibility,

whose hopes are conditioned by their sacrifices.

 

The People,

whose dreams are resilient,

annealed in the terrible blue flame,

fanned in the whipping wind,

gathering gale

Of Struggle.

 

“Medicare for All” Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Backbone Campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 


About the author

Len Shindel

Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a White Marsh resident and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he spends most of his time in Garrett County, writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his seven grandchildren. Contact the author.
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