California Poems,  Poems from the book Id Biscuits,  Poetry

Break out your Duster & Sweep ’em Out!

These are two poems that I wrote in response to the ORCEM/VMT issues in Vallejo, CA.
I read the second one to the city council and a group of about 200 citizens on January 5th, 2016, among several citizens and Fresh Air Vallejo activists who spoke out. (If you’re so inclined to watch the video, it’s about 58 minutes in.) I believe our town deserves better.


Break Out Your Duster

I saw the good people of my city today.
On the steps of the city hall, they gathered.
They chanted, “orcem, orcem, go away.
We don’t want you in our city by the bay.”

The big cement company and its dust,
Aren’t a company that we can trust.
They claim in their adverts it’s all green,
Talking all progress and growth again,
While leaving out pollution from their scenes.

Promising only a couple hundred jobs,
While from our lungs, the air they’ll rob.
A couple hundred salaries it ain’t worth.
Risking 118,000’s health is far worse.

And underneath all that cement dust,
Laid a serious breach of community trust.

When the people of my city found out,
They took to the streets with a shout.
It was time to hold a recall for Mayor,
Because he’d become a betrayer.
This city, here, well, it deserves better,
Than back room deals for the highest bidder.

None of this poem is written in cement,
Only just giving my two cents.
This is no time to sit on the fence.
If you agree, voice your dissent.

January 5, 2016, Vallejo City Hall
January 5, 2016, Vallejo City Hall

This Project’s a Lemon: Sweep Em Out!

In this city of opportunity live workers and dreamers
propelling us forward as an artistic, successful place,
one of community, happy families, and open space.
What I can’t understand is why you won’t stick to that plan?

Your dusty cement plant scheming
needs to be swept right out of here.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-union,
pro-high-wage-jobs for this city’s peoples,
but this greenwashed pollution ain’t the solution
if you give a hoot about our schools, homes, and steeples.
A few jobs aren’t worth risking the lungs of our young ones.

Now with all due respect, I gotta ask what the heck?
This secret back room dealing just ain’t right,
and the good folks of this town will give you a fight
in the courts or by ballot boxing.
See the people with their protest signs,
asking you to follow the voters’ designs, or maybe resign.

If you’d like to stop this city hall circus,
then please, just follow the voter’s choices,
and listen to all of our voices.

We didn’t elect you to abuse our trust,
so please listen because it seems that you’ve lost us.
If you work in the shadows, you’ve got to recuse.
because if you go against the will of we the people,
you’re just bound to lose.

D.L. Lang is the current Poet Laureate of Vallejo, California. She is the author of ten books, and one spoken word album. Her poems have been published in the Benicia Herald, Jewish Journal, Poets Are Heroes Magazine, the Benicia First Tuesday Poets anthology Light & Shadow, and in A Poet’s Siddur: Friday Evening Liturgy through the Eyes of Poets. Lang has been a featured act at several events including the Vallejo Man March, Unity Day, Solidarity with Charlottesville, and International Peace Day. She is also a regular at Poetry by the Bay and leads the Poetry in Notion poetry circle. She has won ribbons and rosettes at the Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, and Solano County Fairs. Her poems have been transformed into songs, liturgy, and used as a means to advocate for causes.

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