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David Hines [userpic]

APED: "ode to the sweatshop"

February 5th, 2009 (06:55 am)

Samir weaves cheap rugs for a living
in Kashmir. He's thirteen years old.
Xiuping built your iPod in Beijing.
Her village has two hundred souls.
And this is Kimsong, who's from Vietnam.
Pray for these children of God.
Samir made your rug. Xiuping built your iPod.
Kimsong's sweater keeps you from cold.

They work in atrocious conditions,
and they work thirteen-hour days.
It's a fact that deserves recognition.
For they're cheap, so it's less that you pay.
They're far from their homes, and they work to the bone.
But it's a small world, in the end.
They don't speak your tongue. They won't be your friends.
But your Wal-Mart is not far away.

They hate it, I'm sure. For who wouldn't?
They're exploited. But don't curse their lot.
Wish them better -- I'm not saying you shouldn't.
But think, too, like them, what they're not.
Xiuping eats her fill, and knows each day she will.
Consider this carefully, now:
Samir isn't knee-deep in cowshit.
Kimsong isn't pushing a plow.

When you work inside, thirteen hours a day,
you aren't rained on and you're warm.
You've got four walls of concrete, steel, or clay
and a roof to protect you from harm.
And your stomach is full, and that's not much, I know,
but your hands aren't shaking with cold.
Your feet aren't covered in cowshit and mold,
and sometimes that's better than home.

So think of them. Wish them well. Pray for them.
Buy what you can, so they're paid.
In time there will come a new day for them,
as they have so often prayed.
And that'll make twice. For they prayed for these lives.
For others are worse off than they.
Samir and Kimsong save, to one day get wives.
For Xiuping, this is a new day.

And that is the ode to the sweatshop.
It's cruel, yes it is, and it's rough.
It's hard. It's the pits. It's not much, I admit.
But sometimes, that little's enough.
For while in this world there's no shortage of crimes
I know none crueler, none more corrupt:
for some people, some places, some terrible times,
going to hell's a step up.


Posted by: Mara (marag)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC)
Geek boys

Very interesting. Definitely something to think about.

BTW, I'm reading every poem, even if I can't think of something coherent to say about each one. I'm really enjoying the poem a day thing.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)

Thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying "A Poem Every Day;" so am I, though it makes me go a little insane sometimes to realize OH GOD WHAT AM I DOING. I don't expect everybody to comment -- during the workweek my internet is heinously slow, so I couldn't answer them all.

Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: February 13th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)

what's interesting is how many i notice for the first time when i go through the tags.

Posted by: Drooling Fan Girl (droolfangrrl)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)

When I learned about the ship breakers of Chittagong, I wondered what sort of life they left to do this kind of work.


Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)

Oh, yeah, that's an amazing story. Thanks for reminding me of it.

I think the saddest part of the whole thing -- the most compelling individual in the story, to me, anyway -- is the guy who turns the ships over. He loves ships, works ships, and he gets to take them out to die. It's like turning an animal lover into a Judas goat.

Edited at 2009-02-06 07:22 pm (UTC)

Posted by: violent_rabbit (violent_rabbit)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)

This is very moving. Thank you.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)

You're very welcome.

Posted by: madripoor_rose (madripoor_rose)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)

Oh, I like this one. A little blunt and a little bleak.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)

Yet a little hopeful, I think. So that's something.

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)

I told you these were getting better.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)

You did. There will still be clunkers, though.

Posted by: poemsfromgod.blogspot.com (ext_144224)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)

So easy to be sanctimonious.
So sure we are right.
So sure we know better.

Your ode to a sweatshop
tis a view of reality
invisible, yet true.

Do we arrest people
sleeping in their cars?
Impound the car so
they sleep in the street?

Your ode to a sweatshop
a view we don't see.
Helps us wonder
what else we don't see.


Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)

Thanks for your words.

Posted by: Elleria (elleria)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 06:59 am (UTC)

Hmm...very thought provoking.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: February 6th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)

Thank you.

Posted by: stalkere (stalkere)
Posted at: February 8th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Definitely Good

I just started coming to LJ again - been a crazy couple of months - just found your poem a day.
Fantastic stuff - and I have to qualify that, because I generally HATE poetry...especially the sort of junk I see touted as "poetry"
For me, poetry is just about anything Kipling ever wrote, and a few pieces here and there.
But, the odd thing, to me is, it was your post "No, John Ringo, no" that got me reading your stuff.

In it's own way, I think you've gotten the subtle point that John was trying to make with that whole "collecting hookers like cats" thing - "for some people going to hell's a step up.

I'll be checking back every day I can, from now on. I started a "Collected Poems of David Hines" file in my computer now.

Great job, looking forward to more.

Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: February 13th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)

this really spoke to me. been thinking about that, re some of Kristof's recent columns

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