Because I Say So

by Mark Lipman


I own,

therefore, I’m right.


It’s an argument inevitably used

by every single landlord

regardless of the pretext

simply to get what they want.


No need for a code of ethics

or a guiding moral compass

certainly, without any standard

of community responsibility.


Simply, I want.


And the want is always more

… from those who have less,

from those living under the constant duress

of being unjustly evicted and made homeless.


It’s my way or the highway.

Do as I say, or else.

Because I say so…


The threat of violence

(yes, making someone homeless is a violent act)

is implicit.


It’s saying,

I’m going to call you a criminal on social media

then call the police on you for vagrancy

when you wind up on the street

due to an unfair rent hike.


It’s forming

a Neighborhood Watch

to get all cozy with the cops

to use them as your private security guards

to police the poverty that you created in the first place.


Now you can cry me a river

about how hard it is to be an owner,

about the plight of having to inherit property

about having to fix the plumbing or change a light bulb

of all the hard work, but at least your work is guaranteed.

You set your own salary and no one’s throwing you out on the street,

which is a lot better than the majority of us have it,

so, forgive me if I don’t shed a tear.


But hey,

nobody better stands in the way of my profits.

Nobody can tell me what to do with my property.


Well, that’s where you’re wrong.


When you start using your property

for business and the decisions, you make

affect the lives and livelihoods of others in our community,

that’s when the government has the right to step in to take

responsibility to make sure that all parties are being treated fairly.


Now, I know that doesn’t click

with the established ownership mentality

of maintaining wealth and privilege, of wielding the stick,

but that’s the very reason why we have a democracy

to ensure that the rich and powerful can’t just stick

it to the rest of us. The simple fact is it’s this same root of greed

that got us to the housing emergency we’re in to begin with.


But hey,

you can always form a PAC

to bring in millions of dollars from Wall Street

to stir up fear and anxiety in our community

to influence our local elections as a threat to any representative

who might step out of line and actually put the wellbeing of the majority

over the profits of a few.


Oh yeah, that’s right,

they already did that.


So much for election integrity and democracy

… but don’t forget to salute the flag.


Mark Lipman, founder of the poetry press VAGABOND; recipient of the 2015 Joe Hill Labor Poetry Award; winner of the 2016 International Latino Book Awards for The Border Crossed Us (an anthology to end apartheid); editor and publisher of RISE (an anthology of Power and Unity) and EXTREME (an anthology for social and environmental justice); a writer, poet, multi-media artist and activist, is the author of seven books, most recently, Imposing Democracy; Poetry for the Masses; and Global Economic Amnesty.  Co-founder of the Berkeley Stop the War Coalition (USA), Agir Contre la Guerre (France) and Occupy Los Angeles, he has been an outspoken critic of war and occupation since 2001. Mark uses poetry to connect communities to the greater social issues that affect all of our lives, while building consciousness through the spoken word.

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