In and Out Burghers (of Calais)

—Barbara Saxton

“I will give 99 percent, but the other 1 percent is way more than enough… I have never given a dollar that caused me to give up something I wanted to buy.” –Warren Buffett
“To not be able to house our people in the richest place in the world at the richest time in its history shows us that something’s completely broken about our city.” — Sandy Perry, San Jose Housing Advocate

Six rich dudes wore the English king’s chains,
offered their necks to an enemy noose,
relinquished the keys to a gleaming French village,
were paraded, half-naked, so their lessers
might live.

Despite the clear stench of political spin
(you see, Eustache de San Pierre and his cronies
would be ultimately spared by the Queen’s
kind reprieve), Rodin still caught
a vision we’d not see today: Scions of Industry,
stars of “What the boss makes” would balk
at being force-marched down Madison Avenue
barely clothed, shackled together like so much
prize livestock.

Buffett boasted he could donate nearly all
his vast fortune, yet want for nothing.

How would a modern-day Rodin sculpt
homeless folks forced from campsites
in San Jose’s Jungle, dragging belongings
through ankle-deep mud, headed nowhere in particular,
seeking shelter from the elements
in this, the richest time and place
in our inhuman history?

One thought on “In and Out Burghers (of Calais)

  1. I so love this poem! Our inhuman historical moment indeed. It’s even hard to imagine a modern day Rodin, or art that conceives of itself, and enters the world as pure ‘gift,’ rather than commodity. Thank you Barbara.

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