Common Cause by Jack Marshall

Common Cause by Jack Marshall


            Common Cause


Strangers in the streets, helpless together, pool

in protest their mixed motives in common

cause, searching for work they would be grateful


for this side of bondage. This is our time, what

we mean whether we mean to

or not.


On board ship, descending a spiral

staircase, Linus Pauling thought protein

molecules might travel


the same way: spiral over a wavy base.

What arises in imagination often

answers the needs of the nation. This


is where the invisible, having gained

momentum and mass, leaves

a trace in the visible, and remains.


There’s so much else said and made of

the little that’s worth making

less of,


then vanishes, quickly aging more

than minutes, like a stuck

entry in the orbit of hours.


How often coincidence decides

our pretenses, defenses, pride’s reflecting

pool, our senses plied,


as the weight of the greater

power in the hands of a few outweighs

the power of the many to quell their hunger,


trading their lives to the ones who already

own their breath and home and bread,

who own the real estate of the streets


run by police, who own the bullets.

This place money built, keeping count

of what you owe until you forget


payment is this wanting to live

with all that it takes to keep awake.

Take it, or leave


in the moment you discover

you’re here, and not only here,

but still here.


Don’t believe that intense physical pain

would not make you

fold like a napkin.


Don’t believe

the legend you’ll become

after you leave.