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Meaning Poetry

The Displaced of Capital

…so how can I today warm myself at the sad heartening narrative of immigration?

“A shift in the structure of experience…”

As I pass down Broadway this misty late-winter morning,
the city is ever alluring, but thousands of miles to the south
the subsistence farms of chickens, yams and guava
are bought by transnationals, burst into miles
export tobacco and coffee; and now it seems the farmer
has left his plowed-under village for an illegal
partitioned attic in the outer boroughs. Perhaps
he’s the hand that emerged with your change
from behind the glossies at the corner kiosk;
the displaced of capital have come to the capital.

The displaced of capital have come to the capital,
but sunlight steams the lingerie-shop windows, the coffee bar
has its door wedged open, and all I ask of the world 
this morning is to pass down my avenue, find
a fresh-printed Times and an outside table;
and because I’m here in New York the paper tells me of here:
of the Nicaraguans, the shortage of journey-man jobs, the ethnic
streetcorner job-markets where men wait all day but more likely the women
find work, in the new hotels or in the needle trades,
a shift in the structure of experience.

A shift in the structure of experience
told the farmer on his Andean plateau
“Your way of life is obsolescent.”- but hasn’t it always been so?
I inquire as my column spills from page one
To MONEY & BUSINESS. But no, it says here the displaced
stream now to tarpaper favelas, planetary barracks
relatives on the altiplano, pushed up to ever thinner air and soil;
unnoticed, the narrative has altered.

Unnoticed, the narrative has altered,
but though the city’s thus indecipherably orchestrated
by the evil empire, down to the very molecules in my brain
as I’m thinking, can I escape morning happiness,
or not savor our fabled “texture” of foreign
and native poverties? (A boy tied in a greengrocer’ apron,
unplaceable accent, brings out my coffee.) But, no, it says here
the old country’s “de-developing” due to its mountainous
debt to the First World – that’s Broadway, my café
and my table, so how can I today
warm myself at the sad heartening narrative of immigration?
Unnoticed, the narrative has altered
The displaced of capital have come to the capital.

Anne Winters

By Anne Winters

Anne Winters is an American poet, leftist, and professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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