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