In America, even the old are expected to work.
No rest for the wicked. How true.
Even in retirement, one goes to bed exhausted.
There’s no relief. We all are required to pump
our own gas.
We used to buy our clothes off the rack.
Now we sift suits off the floor. There are no clerks.
Profits are up. They’ve figured out how to serve
the masses without a waitress.

Do-it-yourself people. I blame it
all on pampers. No one does the wash.
It’s a throwaway nation. In just a matter
of time, we’ll be picking through the garbage,
as they do in Jakarta. Why have stores?
Why build shelves? There’s no point in placing
clothes on hangers. Dump it all in a pile
and let the masses go for it. Sell the
merchandise by the pound, regardless.
Books, too!

Enron nation. The companies are bankrupted.
The CEOs live in mansions with basketball courts
in their living rooms. There’s a movie theatre, spa,
and a panic room in which to hide. Where’s the
ballroom? There are seventeen bedrooms and as many
toilets, but no library. America’s elite no longer reads.
There’s no dining room table, just a trough. There’s a drain
on the floor as in a pig sty. America’s elite goes directly from
middle-school to the boardroom. They skip the 19th century
education; the Latin and the Greek are unneeded;
they begin their study of criminality.

The department stores are gone. If they were anything,
they were places distinguished by their neatness. They were places of order,
cleanliness, and public appeal. They were an escape from the streets.
Now we have warehouses, where customers do the unpacking. The underwear
can be found on Aisle 9. Get your stuff and head over to the checkout counter.
You don’t need cash or a card. One can scan one’s own wrist. Look into the camera
and say Kraft.

The only people working in the store are floor detectives in uniform.
They’re there to discourage shoplifting and to prevent customers from building
meth labs. Take your rifle and your box of ammunition to Aisle 7 for a license,
on sale this week for $89.99. Illegals can buy an ID on Aisle 11. While
shopping today, why not get a flu shot? That’ll be at our self-service kiosk, Aisle 3.
Returning customers get a discount. The deceased are free.

We were promised more. The malls now are filled with the homeless.
There’s no air so they break down the doors. The atrium was once filled with
Bird of Paradise and stuffed toucan. Today people shop online. Marauding
teens play knock-out games but the tattoo artist set up where Kabakoff’s
Bakery once stood refuses to get involved. The Kabakoffs who once baked
the best rye bread in town sold out when their daughter never came back
from Sarah Lawrence. Their son Nathan became a heroin addict and a drag queen.
He finally died of an overdose. When paramedics found his body, his teeth were black. His
mother, Melinda, was said to have cried because her son had stopped brushing his teeth.

So it goes. A society can take a lot. Look at the Russians. Think of Cambodia.
The killing fields are now paved over. There’s a Howard Johnson’s next to
the Pol Pot Museum. You can order a chocolate shake after viewing the torture chambers.
One can no longer find a good rye in downtown Cleveland, but one can order
a decent cheeseburger in Shanghai. Corporate America reminds us of the USSR,
with its long lines of people and empty shelves. The plumber will be there at some time
next Tuesday between 8 and 5. Americans learn to wait. It’s just as well, as there’s nowhere to go.
Don’t despair. Starbuck’s will send a drone with a donut and a cup of coffee. It may
interest you to know that the coffee was handpicked by native virgins on the slopes of Hawaii’s
last active volcano. It’s organic. The coffee and the donut will be $39.95.

 

Image Credit:Frits Ahlefeldt Hiking.org
David Lohrey grew up in Memphis, studied at the University of California at Berkeley, and now teaches in Tokyo. His plays have appeared in the UK, Switzerland, India, and, most recently, in Croatia. Recent poetry has appeared in Softblow, The Blue Mountain Review, Otoliths, Cecile’s Writers, and Quarterday.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sure the “native Virgins” on the slopes of Mauna Kea are grateful to be considered some haole’s fantasy.

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