When I released the first draft of ebt poems in April, it was the "last hours before May Day." The chapbook was an ongoing work. But I'd wanted to put out something in print that responded to the crisis of hunger and housing from within the organizing movement where I was fighting for my own survival. I'll say part of it now because I'm back inside the same housing emergency where "the word eviction splinter[s] every other / conversation" since the queer people around me who lost work when the pandemic started never got back on their feet, and I don't know what will happen to us.
We were a self-organized group of tenants who were pushed to the brink of rent striking because our landlord (one of the largest in the city) refused to grant the broad relief we demanded and needed. We did collectively, across a number of households under our same landlord, withhold rent for a time in an action that we couldn't carry out to its conclusion, the strike. And we were working with other tenant groups who were fighting for to survive alongside us; many of them took similar, grave risks for themselves and in solidarity with struggling tenants they were organizing alongside of. But this work took place almost entirely independently from the local tenants union because they simply weren't there -- they didn't have the capacity -- for whatever reason in those early months it felt as if they existed in name only.
That's where the poems emerged from: the actions we took then. And the actions of the summer where the focus of the struggle shifted to racial justice.
The moment of crisis was only deferred for a few months by unemployment benefits and acts of solidarity that eventually ran out. The tenants organizing movement was cut off at the knees by temporary concessions the city was forced into time and again but never made permanent, just as the movement for Black lives was repressed by the overwhelming force of reformism and electoral politics (fascism by another name).
Not that any of us are defeated yet.
But ultimately the subject of ebt poems is that question of structural transformation: that our personal complicity with the violence that shapes this world is profound almost beyond understanding; that nothing changes until property is eliminated, all social relations are fundamentally upset, and hierarchies eliminated. White supremacy has formed a world of the housed that rests upon the unhoused, a world where prisons and universities and reformist policies and elections all work together toward the same goal of keeping the structure of white supremacy intact. All of it must burn. Though, like George Jackson said, it's going to take an underground press, the creation of a revolutionary culture, a vast political organization that can provide mutual aid, and an army of revolutionaries slicing through cops like they're made of cake.
Attached is a 32 page pdf of the ebt poems chapbook. You can print it off yourself at no cost (use the booklet setting in Adobe Acrobat Reader) or pick up a print copy at my Gumroad page here (it's $5 with shipping included).