Occupy Wall Street and the Poetry of Now-Time

The reason the protests in Zuccotti Park are so powerful is that they are more about love than anger.

“I’ve had powerful clients. I’ve also had a lot of middle-class clients and a lot who just lost their jobs and don’t know what to do and are freaking out and they want fetish relief from all the pain. I’m like, ‘Sorry, I didn’t want to take your money, but that’s what it’s about.’”

“Political people?”

So many times.”

“People you recognized?”

“Sure. I’m not going to give you names. But like, I’ve had clients before who are very close to Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, for instance. And I’m just like, ‘Really? Really? You hang out with them every day?’”

Mr. Boyer suggested his girlfriend come to Zuccotti. She said no. Her room was overlooking the reconstruction of  the World Trade Center site, and at one point, Mr. Boyer stood on the balcony, peering down at what felt to him like a graveyard. Then he turned back to watch her on the luxurious bed in the sleekly minimalist room. “She looked so isolated. And I was like, ‘You sure you don’t want to come to Occupy Wall Street?’” No thanks, she said.

“I think that division of psychic-ness is the main reason why we had to go our own ways.”

It seems clear that the lack of demands is not the problem with this thing but its engine. We ask the usual questions because that is how we understand—or, not understand at all, really, but control and contain, and then dismiss or exploit, according to our individual agenda or cast of mind. Those of us standing outside the park—who could, at any moment, simply step across the threshold—want to flick it aside it or put it to use, because that’s what we have learned to do. Box it up, slap on a label, file it away.

Like Mr. Bey said, “As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind an empty husk.”

Which might be why everyone keeps asking.


Mr. Marinovich is married and has a place on the Lower East Side. He doesn’t sleep in the park but hangs out all the time. He has taught poetry at Columbia and the St. Marks Poetry Project. He had a wild beard, and soft eyes and was wearing a hooded wind-breaker.

He compared Zuccotti Park to Sherwood Forest. “It’s the true Akademia,” he said, referring to the original school founded by Plato in an Athenian grove of olive trees. He, too, struggled to remember the person he was before Occupy Wall Street. “There’s this huge clash and rift between everything that came before and now. It’s so full of danger and possibility and opportunity and ecstasy and everyone’s falling in love and everyone looks so beautiful and you just want to walk through and have sex with everyone.”

Not that either poet had had any actual sex in the sacred grove. Another literal question we had to ask. Truth be told, we too were falling in love with this movement, but we remained affixed to the other zone, ever alert to the clickable headline.

Anyway, the point was not about sex, both poets agreed, laughing. “There’s a tremendous psychic eros going on here, this connection that we feel together,” Mr. Marinovich explained. “It creates this courage to stand up to whatever happens.”

“The TAZ is an art of life in continual rising up, wild but gentle,” Mr. Bey wrote, inspired, to a large degree, by the great Sufi poets. It’s “a seducer not a rapist, a smuggler rather than a bloody pirate, a dancer not an eschatologist.”

Mr. Marinovich added that most interactions in the world outside are money-centered. Not in the park. They had no money, and yet they were well fed. Nobody mentioned Jesus, or the communities of early Christians, but you have to think those disciples had a brightness in their eyes that these poets would recognize. They, too, had crossed a threshold between then and now. The followers of Jesus had abandoned their families, had given up concerning themselves with money or anything practical, feeling certain the messiah was coming (to ask whether he did or not is to miss the point). They had loaves and fishes that fed a multitude. The occupiers have pizza—sometimes 300 pies a day—that somehow just arrives. They trust that they will be O.K., that fellowship will sustain them, and so far they are O.K.

Mr. Marinovich marveled at the “immediate, urgent intimacy” he felt in the park, among the occupiers. “It’s completely natural and unforced,” he said, “and it has so much to do with the absence of money as a center, because when that’s not in the center, what is in the center we don’t know, and into that opening everything can flow.”


Mr. Marinovich views Zuccotti Park as sacred space. Mr. Boyer’s description of ground zero as a “graveyard” seemed apt, he said. There was a reason, maybe subconscious, that they were occupying this place. Close to Wall Street, yes, but closer to where the towers fell.