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“Ode to the Hostess Un-Dead”: A Poem
Row after row with strict impunity
The aging packages yield their labels to the element,
The wind whirrs through the factory without recollection;
In the riven gutters the splayed boxes
Pile up, of financial warfare the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of liquidation;
Then driven by the greedy scrutiny
Of corporations to their prominent placement in the vast supermarket,
They stand as an apocalyptic barrier to physical decay.
Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand bodegas where these sense memories grow
From the inexhaustible factories that are not
Dead, but feed the peckish row after mouth-rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!–
Ambitious November with the popular brands of the year,
With a particular zeal for every convenience snack food,
Staining the uncomfortable survivors that rot
On the slabs, a fruit pie chipped here, a Ding Dong there:
The brute curiosity of a pigeon’s stare
Turns you, like them, to eternal chewiness,
Transforms the fruited air
Till plunged to a heavier, denser world below
You shift your weight out of the couch groove blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.
Dazed by the negotiations, only the negotiations
The paperwork flying, plunge
You know who have waited by the fridge
The twilight certainty of a hungry animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the stomach
You know—the fiddly wrappers, the gooshy cream
Of the Twinkie, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The burning emptiness left by the mounting appetite,
Of muted Family Guy and Robot Chicken.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of bankruptcy
And praise the hunger
And praise the sad circumstance
Of those employees who refuse to fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision–
Here by the HR desk, threatened by capitalism.