THE RICH WON’T EAT WHAT THE POOR DO
The rich won’t eat what the poor do.
The rich have always thought throughout history
the poor are why they suffer.
The rich pass laws in frozen Toronto
to have the homeless picked up off the streets
like dog poo they don’t want to step in.
The rich don’t pay taxes
but they bitch about a mother on social assistance
receiving fifteen hundred a month
while they wait for billions on Wallfare.
And it’s socialism for the rich
like a tax break on a corporate lifeboat
if they go under
and free enterprise for the poor
whose bodies are washed ashore
like jellyfish on public beaches
where the rich don’t swim in their own pollution.
The rich believe they’re a season unto themselves.
They resent the poor like winter.
In all kinds of private weather
the poor must suck
the milkless dugs of the earth
like a foodbank with empty shelves.
The rich sink their money
into old continents like Atlantis
christening the hubris of another Titanic
with champagne on icebergs
and when the market panics
feed the children of the poor
to the jaws of the economic laws of a praying mantis
then jump ship like plague rats in Genoa.
The poor know that most of the rich are thieves.
Like the Inuit do for snow
the rich have twenty-six words for greed.
The poor have one for need.
The rich think you can turn a maggot into a butterfly
if you invest your worm in the right cocoon,
that you can wash blood off with blood
and dirt with dirt
with the shirt off another man’s back.
But even when the rich reek
like waterlilies in a swamp
trying to pretend they’re loveletters they’re not
the poor can still smell the stench of the rot they’re rooted in.
The rich indulge in plastic surgery and Hollywood implants
and lavish their poodles on manicures.
They give their death masks a facelift
and change their socks like chins,
but the poor can still see the lies in the eyes
beyond the cosmetic spin
of the tucked-up buttocks
of the tight-assed politicians.
The poor know their are cures in the world
for what kills their children,
they know there is food to eat
and water to drink
and land enough to build a house
on the ancient cornerstone
of the unshakeable mother
who shelters us all like a planet.
The rich take up both sides of a war
like a nightshift quota of guns
to arm the poor against the poor
by the hundreds of millions,
children against children like hand grenades.
The rich give the poor cancer
and then sell them bandaids.
The rich have only one answer
when poverty questions privilege.
An air force general in shades
with a camera crew in a bombed-out village.
The poor eat bitter bread with the dead.
The rich eat the living like locusts.
The crumbs of the dreams in their eyes
when they wake up to the next nightmare
fill the larders of the poor
with a harvest of thorns
as if there were no past or future
in the timeless plight of the moment.
The rich fill their siloes with missiles
that live off the fat of the land
like serpents live off liposuction
or surgeons off the thighs of Rhode Island.
The poor plant their seed in quicksand.
The rich plant theirs on the foreheads of the poor
and breed their young to feed
on the nanny of the living host
like a caterpillar with a butterfly ghost.
The rich have lawyers to break the law for them.
The poor are doing eight to ten
in a maximum security pen
with razor-wire and weights.
The rich are swinging golf clubs at the moon
without fences or gates
doing their time like June in a white collar
laundered like the crisp new dollar
that feathered the misdemeanors of their fates
like summer snowflakes.
The poor come to the garden
like birds to the leftovers
that have fallen to ground in Eden
from the tables of the rich
who trickle down the foodchain
like mosquitoes in a gangrenous ditch.
The rich say to the poor
the more we eat
the more there is for you to taste.
The poor say to the rich
thanks for the shit sandwich.
You could educate a province or a state
with what the rich waste.
The ants tax the poor like aphids.
The poor have a monopoly on despair.
The rich are still rich without money.
The poor swallow killer bees with their honey.
The rich invented evolution
to justify the ways of their species to the poor
who live like Neanderthals on the brink of extinction
who bet on the wrong bear
to survive the genetic distinction.
The poor are too often corrupted by compassion.
The rich feign poverty like a nose-ring of fashion
that pays the children of the poor
to put holes in their clothes
in the sweatshops of HongKong for Armani.
The soles of Nike running shoes
have more of a fingerprint
than the logoless identity
in the eyes of the skinny kid who made them
so that the rich could stay fit.
The rich sport full bellies in heaven.
The poor are boiling dice to make a thin soup
of the snake-eyes
that scaled their seven come elevens
like bad risks in the back-alleys of paradise.
Heaven’s the slumlord of hell
where poverty’s a vice
and there’s no doorbell.
The poor experience the worst.
The rich quote chapter and verse.
The rich build Taj Mahals of the spirit
with other men’s hands.
The poor build their own hovels
in ghettos of consumer quicksand
that anyone can own without warning.
The rich tell the poor they have a future
that looks like them in the morning.
The poor know how hard it is
to make the most of a present
like a dead lottery ticket
where everything is missing.
How can you get from now till then
as if less were truly more on easy street
when the future’s already been turned out like a whore
on a sleazy block of sexual charades
where the rich pimp their floats
like civic parades they ride
like golden chariots through the slum
that came of the kingdom on earth
the poor were promised
like the afterbirth of their afterlives hereafter.
In the house of life
the rich know they’re the rafter.
The poor know they’re the falling plaster.
Flesh and bone.
Blood and marrow.
One, a limousine.
The other, the empty stomach
of an overworked wheelbarrow
that’s been coupled like a locomotive
to the front end of the gravy train
for the long haul
up the world mountain
that keeps avalanching like Sispyhus
down upon all of us
like a banking failure
that walks all over us with our own feet.
The rich sell hope to the poor like the front door
on a piece of real estate.
And over the full moons of their harvest plates
the rich say grace for what they’ve received.
The poor curse the blighted grain of the pre-emptive eclipse
that swallowed the moon like the cosmic glain
and disgorged them like the withered shells
of cosmically empty wallets.
The rich squeak like the hinges on a prison door
to the poor about liberty,
but the poor are not deceived.
They take their seat
below the salt of the flat earth
like anxious dogs under the table
hoping some scrap of life will fall off
like the fat of the superflux
from the overstated laps of luxury
where one planet’s never enough
to fill the insatiate siloes of a black hole.
One, a peacock with Persian eyes.
The other, a star-nosed mole.
The rich are the new theocracy of economics
and free enterprise the creed of their holy war.
Pleonaxia is a Greek word
adopted into English to denote
the disease of more and more and more.
But the poor understand the politics of the trough,
the bread and circuses,
the breaking of loaves,
the fish and the fishing nets
that drag the Dead Sea for humans
and how the laziest lions are first to the feast
and the vultures and hyenas and jackals
must wait with the worms
to snatch their fill of what’s left,
knowing full well that one man’s meat
is another man’s roadkill
and the obesity of the glutton is a kind of theft.
The poor understand the free-for-all laws of supply and demand
are subjunctively simple and neat.
All over the world tonight
if the poor weren’t hungry
the rich wouldn’t eat.
The rich sell hope to the poor
if the poor weren’t hungry
the rich wouldn’t eat.