The Bank

Before our livelihoods went down the drain,
Everyone said it’s all good and that,
At the end of the day, there is no end of the day.
Risk reigned. We were good to go.
So, going forward, how appalled we were
To see things going backward, downward badly
Every day, what we worked for dumped
As damaged goods for the greater good of all.
Ruin whispered in the very word
No one cared to look too closely at:
Subprime, bad, a bad end
Just waiting to occur. And when it came,
Pulling down a venerable house of cards,
Mostly jokers, we paid for what we were.

One Hundred Pounds of Myrrh

for Joyce Polistena

You knew her simple name and called to her,
allowing that we often make mistakes.
That night, she thought she’d seen the gardener.

You looked upon the coins of Lucifer
and took, withal, what you had come to take.
You called to him, as you would call to her.

You lay amid a hundred pounds of myrrh
where few can tell what is and isn’t fake,
and there you were at night, the gardener.

But what is truth, and what were you to her?
Some nights, not even Peter stays awake.
You knew her name, and so you called to her.

Bile

i

My thing is kind of like, you know, the lie,
the lure of personal productivity,
with many of my friends exhausted now.
It’s sort of bad. It’s really sort of bad.
My sense of self, at best, is notional.
The gurus and consultants charge a fee
and talk about the management of time,
while back at home their kids are smoking weed,
their wives involved in multiple affairs,
upended by the darker urgencies.
I’ve been to all their seminars, but still
I think a lot about futility
and what to do when everything goes wrong.
I walk my dog and like a glass of wine.

Boxer Shorts

My boxer shorts were made in Vietnam,
and there they are, at Walmart, on the shelf,
but from what hands? A woman’s or a man’s?
Or was a child impelled to work? My self
I sing. I do not have the luxury
of time to think about the ones who make
the clothes I wear. They do it overseas.
Presumably they’re paid and get their take.
In Southeast Asia, labor costs are low
for Hanes, the GAP, and even L.L. Bean.
It’s what we know, and all we need to know.
My shorts won’t creep and have a double seam.
If I don’t like what’s in my Value Pack,
well, I can go and get my money back.

The Payment Plan

……..You, too, will be officially enrolled
in what we’ve come to call the Payment Plan,
….and while it’s true this isn’t optional,
our policyholders will, we think, attest

……..that parity is what we’re aiming for.
The plan is quite unique in that you pay
….in the universal currency of pain.
Our actuaries first consult the charts

……..and calculate, for someone of your age,
the ratio of grief to be applied
….based on tribulation indices,
and then a consultation is arranged.

……..One of us will come and sit with you
to individualize a strategy
….that fits what we believe you can endure.
We have a range of policies we think