poetry 101, Day 5: graffiti; uniters of the world work

Paris fence with running man and birds; photograph 8 x10

Uniters of the world work

Labour Day


wooden 6 foot high wall

surrounding the blocks wide and deep


where once history stood

houses, factories, lives

the genealogy of the neighbour hood

written out in brick and stone

mortar, scaffolds, masons

street names wiped off the map

not to be remembered

“too old to be new”

“too old to be trendy”

“not the new economy”

gone, the only memorial

the wood fence

a few posters fluttered from it

curses and spits and spews

by activists, labour and unions


with starless sky black paint

a precise hand drove these letters

into the fence’s seemingly smug face

Uniters of the World, Work*

A clarion call to artist’s, activists, and

well, those with no higher motive or purpose

than to smash the fence with colour;

transformation of society not their agenda

Secret societies with mid-night meetings as

muralists emerged at night.

First big blitz mural wrapped around corner of the fence

a colourful “blow” for our side. 

New mayor invited patients from the sick children’s hospital

to design, to draw, to pain, to laugh, to smile

other fences sprouted murals

other fences sprouted tagging and warning

dragging the oft argued line between art and vandalism

Eventually, the hole became the whole of office towers

with glittering, glinting windows

commerce, trade, money

Luxury apartments grew gangly

taller than the skyline limit

with balconies tongues stuck out to dare those

avengers of conspicuous consumption

And, as the buildings rose, the fence came down.

Our wall, our canvas, our confessor,

chalk board of hope.

I will research to see what happened to the fence.

It was, after all, a monument, a testament,

had a genealogy, a history too


* “workers of the world, unite [sometimes followed by “you have nothing to lose but your chains”] is a phrase loosely taken from Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto (1848), becoming the rally cry for unions, unionists, labour. A city with a strong tradition of unionism and anti-unionism, the flippant flip around stayed with me.

Written for Poetry 10: Day 8

Andy Townend, an amazing photographer, poet, writer and blogger, generous with his time and comments, provided the image and theme for today’s write.

© a darkened house, 2015

2 thoughts on “poetry 101, Day 5: graffiti; uniters of the world work

the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things . . .

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