‘the worker is limited to producing the value of his labor power (the longest fall)’ by Raquel Salas Rivera

— Andrew Sargus Klein

I’ve read through this poem a half dozen times, and each time it says something different to me. The poem is ‘the worker is limited to producing the value of his labor power (the longest fall)’ by Raquel Salas Rivera in The River Rail (an offshoot of The Brooklyn Rail), and it is chorus of labor and poetry, family and communication, plea and celebration.

cannibals, this is a call to action!
let’s devour the hearts of our benefactors!
breadless, let’s cook the thin fingers of the humanitarians
for whom we are a crisis!
let’s drown the colonizers, even if blue and red crosses
hang from their chests in hospitals without saviors, or lights,
with faithless nuns that wordfill death!
the help we need is freedom!

Resilience defines the poem’s sinew. Every exclamation point like a hammer to a nail.

i can’t help loving my people with the fever
of one sick and without meds,
in a hospital of san juan,
in a bed, in a house
on some block of some town
that screams like i scream,
let’s devour the colony!
let’s vomit screams
with a tempested terror!

The whole issue is worth your time, though this one is worth multiple readings—at night, waiting for the bus, alone at work—since it’s moving too quick for one visit.


The River Rail