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Commodity chains

I can read the labels, I know what they say

but I still eat bananas, for pennies a day

I kick a can down the street to Circle K

and pay a buck thirty nine for fresh OJ

I lie awake at the end of every day

thinking of the repression it takes

to make sure that the prices stay that way

 

people must feel lucky, just not to get beat

and feel lucky to have a safe space to sleep

and they have some beans and rice to eat

because that’s how you keep their labor cheap

 

I can read the labels, I know what they say

the coffee, Nicaragua, bananas, Guatemala

but what makes human life worth less than a dollar?

— what makes human life worth less than a dollar?

 

almost every Latin American national border, engraved

according to the Habsburg plan for a New World Order

y’all can mock the idea as conspiracy mumbo jumbo

but ya’ll know the real OG, Christoph Colombo

the man with three ships

the nina, the santa maria, and the pinta

who said Guatemalans live

between the Montagua and Usumacinta

and that Nicaraguans

live between the San Juan and the Coco

across Latin America,

you can follow along as the pattern goes

 

but take a Delorean back to the time of the Victorians

and whether Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, or Ecuadorians

they all just labels for people we’re comfortable ignorin’

because we don’t see the murder, mayhem and men

who act like beasts, underneath, the “country of origin”

 

US dollars and UK pounds paid for all the trains

that ensured lines drawn by the Spanish stayed

 

the wheels on those trains have gone round and round

ever since the time of the sterling pound

round and round

like the sunrises and seasons and agricultural cycles

like the mass graves, dug for victims of assault rifles

like they told Arbenz, get back to reading the Bible

and don’t you dare criticize the Church’s land titles

— so time marches on, but human progress is stifled

 

we laced the spine of the Americas with trains

and kept the people bound in commodity chains

export taxes fund the extortionists and gangs

the midwives to New World Order labor pains

and we enjoy the fruits of their murderous labors

because advertising washes off the bloodstains

 

I hear rappers talk about going after the loot

but real G’s don’t run in the streets and shoot

they traffic in fruit and wear the finest tailored suits

 

the legal syndicates, of New York and London investors

who paid for rural paramilitaries to have Winchesters

who paid their salaries, for their camo, and their boots

the better to rip the indigenous villages out by the roots

 

when you eat fruit, do you think of all of the youth

who’ve sweat, screamed, and suffered, for generations

that we’ve written off in the name of building nations?

 

when you read the labels,

do you know what they mean?

the kids with no cradles,

the slaves to our machines?

 

we might not call for them to be hunted, as “illegals,”

we oppose the wall, but we’re at best the lesser evil

we still follow a social order that’s literally medieval

and we accept that borders make for different people

                                                                 —Jordan Bubin

 

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