The Invisible Hand

The Invisible Hand

(The story of the market, told by itself)

1

Trade was my father
private property my mother
I am their blind offspring

my invisible hand
weaves the net
where the strong struggles
where the weak sinks
I am my own law
above all laws
the harsh and lush jungle
where offer and demand
copulate in total freedom

I am the market

In my veins flow
gold and silver
myrrh and incense
a river of desire flooding
the Stock Exchanges
I crown ephemeral kings
crashing on the morrow

TSX 300
Standard&Poor’s  500
New-York Montréal
London Tokyo Toronto

I relish the panic
shaking the floor
under the sheep
running for their Freedom 55
all selling at the same time
then jumping off the cliff

Black Tuesday
Ash Wednesday
Techno bubble collapse

I am the funnel
of frantic day trade
the competition black hole
the goodwill abyss
the glue binding
always bigger mergers
blessed by the Minister
catalysts of a wealth
more and more concentrated

capitalism is dead
long live monopolism!

2

I remember
the merchant fleets
sailing to new worlds
intrepid soldiers sparing no foe
northern spruces cut for timber
tropical forests burned to the ground
tribes decimated by small pox
fur trade  slave trafficking

anemic African colonies
drained to the last drop

today
vampire derricks are sucking up
Earth’s rich dark blood
spilling it over the oceans
so many Exxon Valdez capsizing
on the beaches
where goo-covered gulls
totter on soiled sands

still I hunger

tomorrow I will bite
into the tender flesh
of the planet
eating my way
to its liquid iron-nickel core

that I will drink
with a long straw

3

I am the joyful dance
of the sales not to miss
Halloween Christmas
Boxing Day Easter
Mother’s Day Father’s Day
summer sales
back-to-school sales
giant warehouses selling adjusted fares
look at the price wars

my grocery manager is now
a humble cashier at Mega Mart

I am the peddler
of staggering mortgages rates
accordion indexes
volatile currencies
lost homes
ordered bankruptcy
consumers chained
to their credit cards
it’s like the Titanic

the rich in their safe boats
the poor drowning in their debts

I am the supplier
of private prisons
filled to the brim
with bodies fallen
between the cracks
of a social net
cast without conviction
by tamed governments
following a hard right diet
their deficit girdled
by savvy promoters

safe behind their gated communities
watched over by their praetorian guard

I am the call-girl
catering to the cartels
of organized cupidity
sitting on the pyramid’s summit
not seeing the children
at the pyramid’s foot
running from the death squads

I speak trough the mouth
of your machine guns

I am the market
of import-export
made in China
self-made men
who never smell
the decrepit shops
delocalized in Asia
close to the slums

where workers and rats
compete for scraps

I am the Free Trade
built on slavery
and inherited servitudes
of the cane workers
tax-free zones
maquiladoras eating
fifteen-year old
peasant girls worn out
by fifteen-hour days
like their shoes
then consumed
and forgotten

like the eight hundred roses
crushed in Ciudad Juarez

I am the market
of civil wars
in my Name
democracies fall
I freed you
proclaims the Titan
setting up a Tyrant
please taste the freedom
of buying my goods
at the price I ordered

otherwise
(suspension points)

I am the race
for the nuclear mushroom
to put fear into thy neighbor
and steal his place
on the checkerboard
I am the race to arms
filling bags of munitions
to better kill your fellow citizens
I am the race
for outer space

quick, quick, let’s find
a virgin world to bleed dry

4

I am the market
of good conscience
of charity well ordered
beginning at home
wealthy foundations
dainty patrons
aristocrats and oil kings
nabobs and starlets
all shining glittering
in those charity balls
listen to those fiscal escapees
singing hand over their heart

we are the world
we are the people

while their right hand
doles out drops of manna
to the poor
their left hand
scatters their savings
speculates on their rents
hides a treasure in the Bahamas
destroys their unions
negotiates with sub-contractors
in order to keep

a steady reserve of indigents
in dire need of their charity

I am the market
of preachers
selling eternity with a rebate
under a red and white striped tent
condemning flesh sins
forgiving venial sins
against hard currency
of born-again Christians
who forgot the Christ
but not the cash
praise the Lord !

all the faithful will ascend
to the fiscal paradise

I am the media’s Big Brother
putting fear in you
with scandal sheets
incendiary headlines
stirring hatred
towards the Other
the shabby
the scruffy
the dirty
the downtrodden
with their proffered hand
but what is the police doing
lock your door at night
and don’t forget

to give generously
to charities

I am the Leviathan
of agrobusiness
patenting Nature
cloning and copying
in the name of freedom
forcing its genetically
marvelous seeds

on workers’ families
doused with pesticides

5

I am blind
still I can hear

the shop hand whimpering
under the foreman’s weight
children soldiers trashing in their sleep
dreaming of their dead parents
muffled cries of the carpet-girl
nursing her bleeding fingers
shouts of the protesters
defying the tear gas
dry laugh of the machine guns
the last breath of the labor defender
murdered in my name still
as disappeared

Chico Mendes
Iqbal Masih
Digna Ochoa y Plácido
and countless others

I am the theater
of opposing wills
from quarrel to clash
see my hand becoming more visible
see the wool shorn from your backs
that you buy later at a dear price
see the dirty clothes on the shop girl
and the spider web linking her
to your signature dress

I am the mirror of your desires
the infinite sum of
your small gestures
your decisions
your demonstrations
your Porto Allegres

your imagination unhinged
to build something new
I hear billions of voices
murmuring

otro mundo es posible

6

I am the market
with my eyes opened
I see
looming over the horizon
a strange New Deal

countries celebrating
their fair prosperity
neighbors buying selling giving
helping around
taming abuses
green houses
healing nature
the Earth at peace
all fears vanquished

callousness running away
dignity coming home

*

how strange
I never knew
I had a soul

and eight billion bodies

7

We are the market
present and future man-woman-kind
creative force

a galaxy of exponential freedoms
mixed fragrances
of spices and fruits
gossamer fabrics fluttering
in the winds of change
fireworks without pain

children of the global village
laughing running jumping singing
under their elder’s eyes
holding passionate debates
in a hundred dialects

*

We are the market

and from now on
we walk together

****

(cc) Michèle Laframboise 2011

A first version in French of this poem has been read aloud at the Théâtre Nouvelle-Scène of Ottawa, on September 30th 2010.

This version has been rewritten for the day of Occupy Wall Street, happening on the same day as the Toronto Spec Fic Colloquium, on October 15th 2011.

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