Grace Paley





Street Corner Dialogue

Thank God for the old Jewish ladies
        though their sons are splendid with houses
        and brilliant from college
        they take our leaflets

Sometimes they say
        pishers   what’s on your mind
        don’t get excited    Hitler is
        dead    where are the sweatshops

Then we say    Missus
        did you forget Vietnam
        I won’t speak about Israel    turn
        around 80°+- you’ll see a few
        sweatshops    not to mention
        imperialism’s furnace    the nation
        of Africa

They answer    of course
        oh yes    as usual    we heard it
        before    naturally    ai    the poor
        people are dying    dying    dying
        foolish girl    listen    you’ll never
        stop it    the dying from killing

Then we tell them only five words
        So    why did you live?

Uh Oh    a fresh mouth    but
        darling you’re right    in your life
        you shouldn't give up the ship    so long
        you got strength    maybe this world
        wouldn’t turn out a total disaster