? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 7

Poetry

Jim Daniels

The Grievous Math, The Revised Definitions, And The Continuing Adventures Of Economic Reform



Employees sent on their way 
with handshakes atremble 
seared by the wobbly seal of the bad deal. 
*
Use the words “Health Care” 
in a blank verse poem 
and mark your stresses. 
*
Bootstraps barked all night 
chained and abandoned in the neighbor’s yard 
till you had to go out and shoot them.

You felt bad. Your children grimaced 
their crooked teeth 
like bad cartoons from the fifties. 
*
Chickens have learned to fly 
and are taking over airports. 
They have stopped giving out peanuts. 
*
The first crash site became a shrine to real estate greed. 
The second became an ATM distributing 
religious pamphlets. The third sold Chinese ice cream. 
*
Compromise was laughed at for its tall hat. 
The Harumphers danced till midnight 
then strangled the clock and shred the videotapes. 
*
They color-coded FOR SALE signs. 
AS IS became the AKA for CABLE READY. 
The banks hired elves to construct smiley face dollars. 
*
The grandfather rolling over in his grave bumped the father 
rolling over in his grave. The son sold his blood for scrap 
and wrote one last bad check before he began digging.


“Honey, I’m home,” the True Believer said. He took off 
his hat. He took off his clothes, He bent over and waited 
for the gloved hand, but the gloved hand was counting money 
in the sterile room. 
*
Wordplay was admired, along with the skillful use 
of silence. They hung out at the Above All That Club 
and sighed, then transcribed their sighs. 
*
Our Hero was arrested on suspicion of providing free steroids 
that promoted honesty and compassion. The drug companies 
exported him to Canada, where he continues to live quietly. 
*
Big Oil and Big Money had a child 
and that child was so spoiled 
he never got potty trained. Those giant diapers 
only soak up so much. Storks 
drop bundles of shit on the rest of us. 
*
If rage does not become us, can we become rage? 
It’s like everybody’s on the same quiz show 
and even the cheaters are losing, but then the sponsors 
give the cheaters consolation prizes for getting caught

that far exceed the price of admission 
of guilt. 
*
In a few years, we’ll all look back on this 
and still want to vomit. Today we stand 
with our fingers down each other’s throats 
imagining we’re all in this together. 
*
How’s the fairy tale end again? The Big Bad Wolf 
huffed and puffed, I remember that part, 
but did he throw that big party before or after 
he ate granny? The pig with the brick house— 
what kind of mortgage did he have? Fairy dust 
and a glass slipper, an apple that puts 
us to sleep for all our good behavior 
and trust. 
The porridge is cold. 
I got that part right, didn’t I?