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Why don’t they just negotiate?

A poem

In this poem, Tempest member Sam Friedman observes the limits of pacifism while children die and catastrophe looms.

Doves and vultures

chit and chat,

and canaries hatch,

sing warnings for years

before they die,

and generations of children

are born, get degrees,

and grants to study

the whys of peace but praise for war,

while doves and vultures

still chit and chat

and presidents and ministers

flap their wings to Stockholm

to collect Nobel bling,

and doves and vultures still

chit and chat

and presidents and ambassadors still

yak, yak, yak,

and profits slump and profits peak,

and climate talks also

chat and yak

as glaciers melt and icecaps crack,

while canaries hatch, and canaries die

alongside miners, underground,

and ministers speak, and yak, and yak

while soldiers and airplanes attack

Palestine, Iran, and again Ukraine

and profits peak

and children die

as shells and missiles strike the land,

and doves and vultures

yet chit and chat

and presidents, ministers

praise the peace process,

and children wait,

and children starve,

and perhaps grow old—

unless they die


and some peace-loving fools,



“Why don’t they just negotiate?”

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons; modified by Tempest.



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Sam Friedman View All

Sam Friedman was a rank-and-file editor for the daily strike bulletin at Montclair State in 1974. Later, during the Reagan/Bush years, he organized a PEF local at the non-profit organization where he was working. He is the author of Teamster Rank and File, and also the author of a book of poetry about efforts to organize a socialist worker current in the 1970s and early ‘80s, available for free at Friedman is also a member of Tempest Collective, the People’s CDC, and the Central Jersey Coalition against Endless War.