by William P. Meyers
Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor.
I will hoe them in the cotton fields,
Spin away their lives in mills,
Reduce them to patterns in sweatshops.
Give me your brawny brave men,
I will smelt them in steel mills,
Lay them out alongside rails,
Machine them into automatons.
Give me your farmers eager for soil.
On lands fertile with Indian graves
I will plow their hearts into
Amber waves of grain.
I will grind them in the flour mills
Cut them up in the meatpacking plants,
Flatten them in tin mills
Bury them in mines.
I will batten on them in company stores,
Pave them into roads for my commerce,
Make them the bricks and mortar of my banks,
Rivet their attention into skyscrapers and bridges.
Tell them, across the oceans,
They will be fortunate; over the last centuries my kindness has grown.
For they will not arrive in chains from Africa,
Or indentured from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,
To be worked to death before our contract requires
My granting them freedom and a suit of clothes.
"Give Me" won first place in the 2012 Gualala Arts poetry contest and was originally published in the Redwood Coast Review, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer 2012
Copyright 2012 by William P. Meyers, all rights reserved