"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Friday, January 6, 2012



Everything Tastes Better with Two Forks and Whipped Cream

A greater mystery than faith, than love, is money, in my life at least. So the Great or Most Recent Recession hasn't depleted me of accumulated wealth because I had none and neither had I a clue as to how to garner—to “attract” as we new agers like to think we are capable of doing—money. No depletion. Great enervation. Much better than enervation would be innovation.

I freelance as a copyeditor, mostly medical, in ad agencies, a job title I migrated to when I accepted the fact that I couldn't reliably support myself as an adjunct professor.

In the corporate terrain—and nearly all advertising agencies are subsumed by greater, international corporations and accumulations of ad agencies (weird but true)—financial decisions are fickle and self-serving, which is to say they are, repeat, corporate in its most malign manifestation.

Management will proclaim, Cut back on freelancers (and don’t hire any more temps), although that line in the budget is minimal. But it is a decision which sounds good to capitalists who want for themselves and want to want nothing. It serves the money accumulators, while creating stress for the editors on staff. They work long and longer hours without any freelancers to help with overflow.

One of the more amusing corporate decisions came down three or four years ago, at one of the great lead-ins to the great recession. The CEO of American Express announced his pay cut of around five percent, which is the equivalent of you or me mistaking dropping a few pennies on the street. A CEO's pay cut means nothing, a nothing mocked at by his private elevator, jet, various houses, remarkable perks, payouts, parachutes.

The CEO of American Express took an (approximately) five percent cut while the wages of the temps were cut by approximately fifteen percent. Now that cut meant something. I know, because over five years, I was hired two or three times a year, along with a team, each member, like myself, in the arts—playwrights of note, lighting specialist hired by theaters around the country, vocalists, writers. Ironically, or cruelly, we were hired to copy edit and proofread the SEC filings which are, in spirit and fact, justifications, er, uh, “explanations” for the benefits and salaries of the board members of American Express (or any corporation).



Before the great recession hit I wrote this playful poem (published by Pool Poetry, #8):
Commerce for the Good of the Peoples

At the shop of good moral character
you bought five grams of valor and
a strong chin

For your love, essence of steadfast heart
in a vial

Good gosh, that's pricey stuff

You speculated over glasses
Horn of Africa-rimmed so you could
spot a swarthy pirate, yo-ho

For your love you thought, Titanium frames!

You passed on the steady gaze for its claim on
There's only so much
good moral character a person can stand
in a day
You and your love pledged to
utilize purchases
soon as you were home and
would have but for a stop
for wines and tidbits,
brandy and later a few tokes
from that joint
in the car ashtray

your love left her steadfast heart
in the Audi whilst the cat ate
your strong chin (at least you
brought your purchase into the house)

You and your love split the valor
Everything's better with two forks and whipped cream

In the midst of the great recession I finished the following poem:
Ambivalent Queen

The parade of vanities is everything hoped for
and nothing gained. A few chipped teapots
won't win you out of hock.

Once whispering sweet somethings from its enjambed arch,
that Rolex with diamond fittings
now whimpers from back of the shop,

circumspect in entitlement everyone (everyone) enjoys.
What does it mean to enjoy, and is it a variable of
entitlement, an actuarial curse?

A professor stared at her breasts and to her protest said,
But you’re not wearing a bra.
Life is brutish, nasty and short-haired as

a cat’s accordion, a lyrical magnificence of purring.
Faith’s is an illogical residence, mapped by
the golden thread winding north of pawn shop and parade.

Insincerity's basic to this plaything.
When a Wedgwood saucer is held to light
to see its roses bloom, a foreclosure gets its wings.



Sarah Sarai's poems are in Boston Review, Minnesota Review, Threepenny Review and others; in Say It Outloud: Poems About James Brown (Whirlwind Press); in her collection, The Future Is Happy (BlazeVOX [books], reviewed on Galatea Resurrects. She is a co-facilitator of Occupy Language; presented a manifesto in the Tendencies series in honor of Eve Sedgwick at CUNY; featured in the Mary: A Literary Quarterly benefit for the Ali Forney Center for homeless GLBT youth. Her MFA in creative writing is from Sarah Lawrence College. Find links to her poems, short stories (Fairy Tale Review, Tampa Review, The Writing Disorder and others) and interviews at http://my3000lovingarms.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html.



Leigh Harrison said...


I wish I could afford a car
I simply can’t,
that’s how things are
I surely can’t
afford a Hummer –

(c.) Leigh Harrison, 2004

Sarah Sarai said...

Leigh, Thank you for commenting. Yes, the hummer bummer. The desire to pollute the planet as effectively as the 1% can do! :-) Cheers to you and all of us for a gentler 2012, but not so gentle OWS doesn't continue in its impact.

et said...

Great stuff, especially about being at the low end of the white collar. It's dispiriting, to say the least. Thanks, Sarah!