Alex Cigale
In Defense of Commodification

When we boarded the Staten Island ferry
the decrepit hour turned crepuscular.

The rush-hour vocalizations of the locals
gave us tourists a bout of knipshitz. The boats’
elongated prominence evinced a promenade
evicting our viscera in a flurry of versing,

a police action squalid as a scrofula,
the sixth-sense-apparatus of social Darwinism.
The meek played dead before the collared raptors,
ostracized fragments of the proving grounds.

A jingle plucked out on the fetid bones
of a tone-deaf piano crackled on the videophone
broadcasting testimonials to long-extinct junkets
picked over clean by hands like gnarled catgut.

Passing our national colossus, Lady Liberty,
we fondly recalled the domes of Wall Street
exorcizing the livid ghosts of Ellis Island,
exhorting us to greener grand-naïve pastures,

our ancestors’ magnificent egress in dry-dock
grifting our lease into hock and foreclosure.
When our ship landed, a cargo cult delivery
of pita pocket manna for the shopping outfits,

the proud Mayor of Newark materialized
with truckloads of brass trinkets and sufficient
schwarma for the bride price flouting enough yams
to survive the coming of the apocalypse

while placing us all in the uppermost quartile
of the top tax bracket, his palace scoured secure
entirely of cowry shells. The evacuation
of the refugees proceeded according to plan,

by hook and by crook, by eligible helicopter,
the ragtag army of the bedraggled survivors
stumbling rudely over the craven landmines
to bombed-out remnants of designer outhouses.

Slurping then scarfing down our squirrelly drinks
we bewailed the incontinence of market forces,
swamp gas gangrene, uncomfortably cornered
in the deliquesced miasma of the Meadowlands

norming the American landscape. This elevator
is going up! Take the descalator down.