To All of You Workers...

Posted on Monday, May 02, 2011, under ,


In the age of financial/industrial conglomerates it seems the Workers of the world, Unite! slogan has never been more relevant. And yet Unions have never been weaker (correct me if I am wrong), Capitalism is winning even in China and Russia. The bastions of Communism, North Korea and Cuba, have pushed ideology to the edge of self-grandiose insanity. Kyoto city itself used to be a traditional stronghold of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), up until about mid-nineties when a major change in the voting system (multi-member districts became single-member districts), made it much harder for the JCP candidates to get elected. Still, in the city council election of April 2007 the JCP took 19 seats, only 4 less than the ruling LDP.
Anyway, Horikawa-dori around 11a.m. today was a sight to behold, so surprising in fact that, still somewhat shocked, I sat down and wrote this poem few hours later.

Different City

For a moment it feels a different city:
red banners, loudspeakers, chants,
the traffic at a standstill.
Then we remember it is Kyoto –
the flow is a two-row column
bracketed by colours, kanji
and union-logos, duly stopping
at red lights. I ask my son,
who is eight, what the fuss is about.
Hmm…Maybe they want money.

Unable to pass through
we make a pushbike detour
ending up at a local shrine
where two tiddly daughters
are throwing bits of bread
to the always hungry carp;
nearby a group of workers sit
on holy slabs, drink beer.
It’s a blessed Sunday after all.

Later I’m at a local grocery.
The mobile rings. It’s Luke,
confirming it’s the wages…
the higher wages they want.
The shop is empty. There are three
check-out girls standing by
the cash-registers, standing
and smiling. They probably want
to be out there with the crowds today.
I pay in cash, wishing for once
the onigiri weren’t a bargain.

May 1st, 2011

'Bandiera Rossa' turned raw punk-rock, courtesy of the Slovenian band 'Pankrti' from 1983. Celebrate the Labour Day, hopefully by thrashing your head about in existential despair.

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