On the Loss of Energy (and Other Things)

By June Jordan 1936–2002 June Jordan
no more the chicken and the egg come

one of them   
before the other   
be fadin (steady)   
from the supersafeway/a&p/giant   

         the pilgrim cornucopia   
         it ain’ a pot to pee in   
         (these days)

gas is gone   
and alka seltza runnin gas   
a close race   
name it
         toilet paper
         halfway honest politicians   
there’s a shortage   
step right up)   
a crisis   
(come in closer)   
A International Disaster   
Definitely Takin Place   
(give the little lady down in front some room)   
and (how about the brother in the back row/can   
you hear me brother?)   
                  I SAID THE HOT AIR’S RUNNIN   
                  I SAID   
                  THE MEAT’S NOT GOOD   
                  FOR KIDS TO EAT   
                  TOO FULLAFAT   
                  AND STUFF LIKE THAT   
                  IF YOU EAT MEAT   
                  HOW YOU PLAN TO PAY THE RENT?   
                  I SAID   
                  THE OILWELLS DRIBBLIN   
                  LOWER THAN A SNAKE   
                  AND SOON WON’T BE NO HEAT   
                  AND SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL EAT MEAT   
                  EXCEPT THERE AINT NO   
                  MEAT TO EAT   
                  I SAID   

                  BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?

these things/they gettin more and more worse in   
the time it takes to tell   
how the country’s bound to hell   
if you be middlin poor or poor or Black or Black-and-poor   
this profit-makin mess the worst   
mess we been force to handle   
since the civil war   
close down the crackers   
how the north won   
into victory the crackers like to celebrate/a   
reconstruction of the facts   
on poor and Blackbacks   
I am digressin/folks   
please settle down and listen good
I say you know   
you know
the affluent society   
starvin high   
on the hog as pigs can get   
I say you know   
we all been pigs   
but mostly we been little pigs/I say   
the big pigs   
got the whole big pigpen   
underneath some tasty big-pig pigs’ feet   
dynamite can move   
where is the dynamite?   
How come we tryin to cooperate   
with this “emergency”/this faker/phony   
got you plannin   
not to die and not to have a baby   
on the weekends   
not to do too much/   
much less to start to die or start to have   
a baby   
on a Sunday   
or on early Monday   
got you/stiff and slow and hungry   
on them lines the richboys laugh about/   
Will somebody   
real and prominent and smart   
please stand   
up here   
and tell about inequities and big and little pigs   
and other animals and birds/and fish   
don’t know a thing about no hog behavior/where’s   
the dynamite?   
I say you know/I say   
you know.   
And so do I.

June Jordan, “On the Loss of Energy (and Other Things)” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. Used by permission of The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.

Source: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005)

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Poet June Jordan 1936–2002

Subjects Class, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Race & Ethnicity

 June  Jordan


One of the most widely-published and highly-acclaimed African American writers of her generation, poet, playwright and essayist June Jordan was also known for her fierce commitment to human rights and progressive political agenda. Over a career that produced twenty-seven volumes of poems, essays, libretti, and work for children, Jordan engaged the fundamental struggles of her era: over civil rights, women’s rights, and sexual . . .

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SUBJECT Class, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Race & Ethnicity

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