Victoria, Continual

by Tadhg Carey (age 18, Kildare)

You have the right to protection from work that harms you, and is bad for your health and education. If you work, you have the right to be safe and paid fairly. Photograph: Getty Images

You have the right to protection from work that harms you, and is bad for your health and education. If you work, you have the right to be safe and paid fairly. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Part I

From the dry

and sliding air

of the brick kiln

to the tannery baths

of formaldehyde,

chromium and cadmium,

mercury and lead,

from mine to battlefield,

from Hell to waste heap,

all along the red, red threads

of this world,

the little hands twisted

to scavenge and sell,

to spin and dig,

to weave and sow.

Barefoot and jackbooted

indentured, in danger,

he is taking his aim,

she is caught in the machine,

he is caught in the wreckage,

she is hiding from her husband,

they are still waiting

for Santa Claus

and his western sleighful.

Part II

The latent colonist

is slow in retreat;

Titania and Oberon

must have their Indian boy,

Europa, shipping her laundry

across the sea,

must have her diamonds and her cobalt,

her mica and her nikes,

darling upholstery

Bengali black,

gifts from the Maharaja,

fruits of the shamba.

To speak of devils,

these marketeers!

Beyond insidious

in fealty to the empire,

I mean enterprise,

well-trained in the fine arts

of ethical erosion;

hiding the means of production

eradicating choice and

breeding apathy,

scrubbing just enough

until we can’t see

the blood on our own shoes.

Article 32

You have the right to protection from work that harms you, and is bad

for your health and education. If you work, you have the right to be

safe and paid fairly

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