After the rain washes some of the pollution out of the air
the workmen with their shovels and their picks
stand along the street
—Just before the elections and the roads are being paved
because the governor wants us to remember him
in the dark of the voting booth next month—
In Beijing this year I hear the fashionable women
are wearing four and five-inch heels,
driving the Chinese feminists crazy,
some say in emulation of the West,
some say in a renaissance
of ancient foot binding tradition.
The problem is that they feel beautiful,
and how do you disagree with that?
I am thinking about this
while on hold with the phone company,
waiting to speak to the person stationed like a punching bag
at the gate of that major corporation.
Their power is to add a mysterious charge to my bill;
my power is to shout at their least powerful employee.
Maybe you really want people to be happy,
but you also want to be thanked for it.
Maybe you’ve memorized the names of your mailman’s kids,
because you like getting your mail.
I don’t want to be the one to mention
what should be already obvious,—
but the world could give a fig about your soul.
Just pay your bills on time,
and spread some flattery around.
Just set the mousetrap in the basement
with a dab of peanut butter—the extra crunchy kind.
Big news flash: That’s all that people want these days.
We don’t need to be pampered, or lectured, or adored.
We’re not goddamn babies anymore.
We just want to be manipulated
with a little fucking consideration.