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A poem by Sam Friedman

In this poem, Tempest member Sam Friedman considers how, through collective work, we can resist the apocalyptic threats of capitalism.

Sometimes, when hot and tired,
I wonder why I dream
of future societies
where all can live
Won’t the warming kill us long before,
driven by the metastatic cancer
of capital’s neverending need for more?
But then I think:
Maybe so.
But maybe not.
And while we wait the decades
before we know what doom awaits us,
think of the miracles of love
we can create
if our angry crowds banish capital
from off the Earth.
We can build dikes together,
load ships with grain
for starving survivors
in South Africa, the Italian
Archipelago, and the migrants
after the deluge sinks Florida
like Atlantis long before.
And as we work together
to save what can be saved,
perhaps build the long-sought,
beloved community,
dike by dike,
grain by grain.
And perhaps even salvage some new civilization
where our remnant few
can thrive among the ruins.

Two illustrations sit side-by-side. The left illustration shows a punctured pipeline, with oil spilling out and covering grassy land and plants. Two workers' helmets float at the edges of the oil spill. Smoke arises from three oil frackers lining the horizon. In one of the smoke clouds, it reads ‘CAPITALISM.’ And in the oil spill, it reads ‘HURTS THE WORKER. HURTS THE PLANET.’ The right illustration shows a collage of imagery representing things harming the world with things that could help the world. This includes a sunflower plant destroying a bomb, plants growing out of a police car, mushrooms growing out of a spilled bucket of toxic liquid, a person holding a sword and wearing a t-shirt that says DEMILITARIZE.
Movements and different futures can grow out of today’s destruction. Photo Credit: (Left) Ariel DiOrio and Nevena Pilipović-Wengler; (Right) Molly Costello.

Featured Image credit: Molly Costello; modified by Tempest.

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Sam Friedman View All

Samuel R. Friedman is a lifelong social activist and long-time socialist. His writings on social justice topics include about 50 publications on workers’ movements, how we might create socialism, political economy, racism or social movements—including Teamster Rank and File (Columbia University Press, 1982) and “What happened in Ukraine” (2015). He currently is a research professor of Population Health at a leading New York university and previously the Director of the Institute for Infectious Disease Research at National Development and Research Institutes in New York. He has published two books of poetry (most recently A Precious Residue: Poems that ponder efforts to spark a working class socialism in the 1970s and after. October 17, 2022. as well as several chapbooks and many individual poems. He is the author of over 500 publications on HIV, COVID-19, STI and drug use epidemiology, prevention and harm reduction. He is a member of the Tempest Collective, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Ukraine Solidarity Network, the Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, and the People’s CDC. He can be reached at