Haymarket Poem

Albert Parsons Speaks

Cook County Jail, November 11, 1887


I’ll hang for the eight-hour day.

I’ll hang for the lies of the Chicago Tribune,

for the wealth of Marshall Field,

and for that upstart son of a McCormick

at the Reaper plant. I’ll hang for the Haymarket,

for the right of assembly, for free speech. 

I’ll hang without a shred of evidence.

The four of us will hang because we dared

to be editors of a workers’ press,

dared to expose the moneys stolen

by the wealthy meant for relief of the poor

after the great fire, dared to remember

the war fought to free the southern slaves,

dared to consider another slavery

in the factories and the docks and the rails

dared to dream of fresher air and a day matched

to the rhythm of the sun, and god-knows                            

for work for all men, for all women.

I am not innocent of the knowledge

of greed and despair.  I am not innocent

of how men shed blood.  At twelve, I ran from

indenture to a Galveston pressman

to serve in a war, and came to see the injustice

of the cause for which I fought.  I fought

for the Confederacy, and then I fought

for the right of former slaves to work

for a decent wage.  I came to Chicago

for a new life, and found men who think

wealth the only citizenship, and money

the only privilege; men who pronounce

others unworthy of dignity; but

I found another form of comradeship

among those who fight for right.

You, the wealthy, will hang us now

for the justice of our cause. 



Möbius The Poetry Magazine, NY: 2011

Dr. Zylpha Mapp Robinson International Poetry Award. First Prize