Poems of the Living Dialectic

Sam Friedman

Summary: A series of 7 poems on the dialectic — Editors


As these days of a frigid October

forewarn of a winter of dread,

the media may chortle prosperity

but I’m thinking of deaths they’ll ignore—

of grandmas of ice in rooms without lights

and of babies’ pneumonia untreated,

of families converted to ashes and bone

when arson pays better than taxes—


as the stock market tanks

below a cold barren moon

with Mars now ascending





Thinking that is isolated from practice

Theses on Feuerbach series Thesis 2

While Don, I and the City Health Department

discussed waiting lists for drug treatment,

statistical power,

research design,

and the queasy qualms of street-distant ministers,

and Kathy Oliver argued health insurance with the

purveyors of the bottom line and the power

of a heartless 1%,

junkies got infected

from blunt-nosed syringes

they had no choice but to share.

Junkies got sick,

were cared for, but not cared about,.

Junkies died by the hundreds—

did I hear somebody cheer?


Such was the stasis of thought

and research

before David grabbed a table and some syringes,

stood to swap the new for the old

on Tacoma’s hollowed streets,

thought deeds to power,

and re-made the theory,

re-taught the thought.

v. 1 February 6, 2013


To educate the educators

Theses on Feuerbach series Thesis 3

“.the educator must himself be educated …”


When the task is to turn off the spigots

of oil fields, gas fields and filling stations

and yet not call forth the Horsemen of Starvation and Counter-revolution,

how can we billions learn solar,

storm strengths and windmills?


When the task is to seduce all soldiers

from the State, from every State,

so no remnant general, President or Prime Minister

can unleash Hell Bombs or viruses of mass destruction,

how do we learn to seduce?


And how do soldiers learn

to turn?


How can we learn to talk

across divides of tongue, racism and oceans?


To decide what tasks to do when,

which spigots to turn off when,

when the dollar no longer rules,

when we the billions make the news

and billionaire newsmakers no longer even exist

to stir our fears and lead us by our shaking spines?


The body dialectic

I sing the body

dialectic, the body

both battered and self-destructive,

resistant, ever-thinking, and alive,

assaulted by daily labors set by others,

threatened by viruses and

by hurricanes


by the growing warmth.


I sing the body


eaten inside by cancers


from organic molecules and radiant atoms

bred as products to earn the profits

without which Ginsberg’s Moloch must starve,

a Moloch which both embodies and masters

all tyrants, all individuality.


And yet, the body ever sings the


a never-ending negation that embraces

the Freedom songs and sit-ins of my youth,

Solidarnosc’s leaps of imagination and organization in 1981,

the many We’s united

who ousted Presidents


in two short weeks in Argentina,


and the body truly


5 billion raised fists

100 million struck workplaces,

5 billion fertile minds

when we reject Moloch’s seizure of our time,

reject the endless wars of recent decades,

reject the battered, overworked, underslept bodies

that Moloch commands we be,

in a deep-thinking,

deeply angered

emergent dialectic of a freedom We

to transform our world

and perhaps even,


save it.



In the after years,

if anyone lives to see them,


if hearts and minds and fists finally rise up

to usher Mammon from the Earth,

if capitalism dies dismantled

and somehow we survive to build an



then, in the after years,

as men and women and everyone else

build levees, help refugees settle in

as neighbors and friends,


what will children make of their




Will they laugh boggle-eyed

at tales of slavery?

Find racism the most ridiculous thing

that ever ruled the planet?

Wonder how great-great grand dads

put up with bosses, cops

and so-called statesmen

who led “their peoples”

to kill each other,

get maimed,

and have to beg for coins?


And wonder, puzzled,

laughing inside,

why anyone wanted coins so badly?

Sure, coins were groovy toys

to spin like tops,

but why would anyone

beg or kill for



The urgency of normal

Let the elderly die



Let Black, Brown and Red people die



Let meatpackers, nurses, housekeepers and other essential workers die,


as they have lived


underpaid and




Let normal hatreds



Let the chains of normal daily living—two jobs,

housework, and the care of spouse and children—

and the normal silence





lest essential workers think too deeply,


lest workers learn they are all essential,


lest workers




This Greater Loneliness

Sometimes at demos, I lose touch

with my friends,

march alone in a crowd of tens of thousands,

singing or chanting together

in a chorus whose rage or transcendent love

besieges the thunder-clouds,

but thinking and feeling alone, maybe even lonely

until some friend from Vermont

or California calls, “Sam!”

and I commune with long-lost saints

as we chat and think

about ending forever

this greater loneliness

which twists us all.


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