1. You cling like a frightened child to the legs of predictable men
  2. Why is a poem about you so political so quickly?
  3. You dried husk of a living thing
  4. You false art
  5. You disgusting excuse for a trinket
  6. You failure of human thought
  7. You meaningless god the width of a fingertip
  8. You maggot incapable of passing your own shit
  9. There is a kind woman in an HR department who has a file on her computer that says I am worth X amount of you per year
  10. Every two weeks a series of electric impulses sends some of you to a holding cell in a plastic card I keep in fabric near my butt
  11. You are a reminder of my animal impulse
  12. You make death so much more complicated
  13. I see your language
  14. You tell me when I can visit my family
  15. You privilege manipulation over sincerity
  16. You make the suburban class
  17. You make complete fucking idiots into role models
  18. You make all poems about you sound like the bitter ramblings of a failure. Your love doesn’t make any sense because when I have a lot of you, you don’t really give me anything unless I spend you but then I have less of you and feel less like I’m alive or something
  19. You make my grandmother stay married to my grandfather which yeah I guess is her own choice but not really because how could she feed herself without the you that he has. You make me sound like an idiot. You reveal my hypocrisy. There is little I can say about you that hasn’t already been said. I had not thought you had undone so many beautiful people. I had not thought you could undo so much of the work of humanity. I think you are the hands I use to pull apart a pillbug. You are the finger I use to falsely accuse my brother of stealing something I stole. You are the words I use to tell my wife I love her. You have pillaged the country of my ancestors and the country of my children
  20. Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!
  21. When the engineers we paid to build the atom bomb accidentally killed 100,000 Japanese civilians or when the dumb ass drug dealer we pretend to like accidentally works for a chain of people responsible for the murder of a 5 year old  in Tijuana. You know, collateral! Profit! You can’t earn a dollar without someone else losing a dollar. There is a geometry  to the transfer of funds
  22. When has doing hard drugs made you a better person?  Let kindness guide your finances.
  23. Our perceptions of goodness might differ, sure. That’s fine. But let us work out our goodness with the way we treat our possessions. Let us forget the word possession in any content outside of art. What is the difference, then, between a lemon tree and an ATM? How are our roots members of the same family
  24. Where do we choose to draw the line between our health and our possession? How can we establish a consistency required of gregarious consumption
  25. How very middle class of me to rail against you. How very cognitive dissonance of me to think I can ridicule you, who has been my shield against actual labor. Who has blanketed me in higher education, the bourgeois to be nostalgic, the privilege to write poetry on a Saturday afternoon while drinking a 4 dollar cup of coffee while typing into a $1200 computer. How very very American of me to preach against the love of you while being enslaved to you entirely to $40,000 in student loans for an MFA in creative writing. But still, I have to do something. I have to recognize that even though I need you to survive, I also don’t need you for anything. That there is beauty in illogic, in ambiguity, in self-aware dissonance
  26. There is nothing more lovely than a typical American family at Disneyland for Christmas. There is nothing more lovely than a typical American family gathered around a Christmas tree in a lovely suburban home
  27. How can I effectively scare you when I pay 13 dollars for a six-pack of beer, which is in and of itself completely useless.
  28. If we, together, as thinkers and feelers, as compositions of matter who for whatever reason have been given life at the same small insignificant moment in time, can’t recognize each other’s faces without artifice, what do we have? We have completely nothing
  29. We all want to believe we’re making it. We’re Americans
  30. It is impossible to write poetry about it without that poetry coming off as political to such a large degree that it sounds like a parody of political poetry
  31. What pisses me off about money is that it makes us shitty judges of a person’s character
  32. What pisses me off about money is that it makes me feel the need to convince myself of why I am actually better than my friends who happen to have a lot of it
  33. What pisses me off about money is that it forces us into routines when many people were wired to live in an unpredictable manner
  34. Let goodness dictate how you spend your money
  35. What pisses me off about money is that it is used by the upper class as a carrot to dangle in front of the poorer class that works for them
  36. What pisses me off about money is that it makes shitty poetry
  37. There is a small choir of lemon trees in the backyard of my grandmother’s house. Well okay not a choir, there are 3 lemon trees. They are sort of nowhere near each other. These trees are the reason I lay underneath them. These trees were paid for. These trees are shitty judges of a person’s character. These trees are making it as Americans. There is no way to understand how to get the anger in. And I want to be angry laying in bed with my wife as she tries to hide the fact that something is wrong in her body but we don’t have the insurance to pay for it because it would cost $256 dollars every two weeks to add her to my plan which costs me $25 dollars every two weeks because I am employed by the company and she has been hurting for at least 3 months and her legs are so so tired and her feet are so so tired and I don’t want to pressure her for sex tonight because really she’s in so much pain and I feel like it’s sort of my fault because instead of saving money to get her insurance I am paying off student loans I acquired to learn to write poetry for a few years. It’s difficult to write without the lights on. I was the most poor in the back of a Volvo a few years ago. I was the most poor working for Taco Bell. I was the most poor serving three nacho cheese chalupas to Snoop Dogg one late Saturday night after he’d gone to see Chris Rock at the Improv. I was the most poor on the blow up mattress on the floor of our first Chicago apartment together. I used to give 10 percent of my paycheck to the church but now that I’ve moved on from all of that I can’t get my money back. That’s on me though. There is an awkward familiarity to thinking of five dollars in terms of a lunch at Wendy’s. Do you assassinate me? Do you know the feeling of an insect between your fingers? Have you done this with your eyes closed?
  38. Money is the first time I see pornography in a dirty bed. A series of magazines that feel so slick I can’t even turn the pages without hearing the familiar crack of the spine. There is an insane memory at the table. There is an insane memory in this bed
  39. Money begins with the hazardous paperboy flinging rolled up packages of news at stupid porches all across America or when a skyscraper opens for the workweek. It is three nacho cheese chalupas. Money is a squirrel chuffing at me from a lamppost and the quacking of my mammal heart. It is the 500,000 words I have to choose from or the length of a Tweet. It is the stupid clacking keyboard outside. A little girl on a moped or a series of sunburns stacked on summer skin
  40. How much does a mariachi band get paid every time their songs are played on a boom box in Humboldt Park? Is it cool that the battery on my laptop has needed service for 5 months?
  41. In the middle of the night we have been woken by nightmares about hallways for 130 days. There is no color to a mugging other than the quiet desperation of paradigms colliding. How do you plan for a severe case of the middle class? What antibiotics are covered in my HMO. Can you speak a poem without someone yawning? Is the yawning a currency itself?
  42. How do you distill the economy of the earth into five minutes of English
  43. Every time I press a key on my laptop, does Apple get a cut? Should I acknowledge them in the front matter of my first published chapbook? What does it cost to wake up my foot after it’s fallen asleep? How much am I supposed to tip my friend? 35%? If I don’t tip her enough will she stop hanging out with me? How much does it cost to maintain the respect of your peers? Is it possible to decorate your house with leftover twigs?
  44. How much more beautiful are expensive flowers than the lemongrass that grows like debt in our shared backyard. How much are you willing to pay for this vintage resume?
  45. There is a particular seagull worth watching out for in Humboldt Park. Mainly because it’s 8 feet tall, but it’s also fairly aggressive. If you plan on bringing egg salad, he’s going to want to get in on that. Also he speaks Polish fluently so be careful about what kinds of slang you use around him
  46. I fill my pockets with cabbage moths so I can tip my friends with handfuls of silver powder so easily taken
  47. Is there a purpose to the number of leaves in a lemon tree?
  48. We use little moments of connection to pay for things
  49. When the bus driver has the same bags under his eyes that I do on a ragged Tuesday morning, and we both spend a half-tic too long focusing on the shape of the others wrinkled skin, we both get a full serving of potatoes and leeks for dinner that evening
  50. There is no stanza as important as a yacht owned by a 16 year old rap prodigy
  51. How much more beautiful is lemongrass stranded in your crooked teeth
  52. Common weeds behind our shared apartment.
  53. Will we save enough of this free energy to fly into the sun
  54. Wilted squash leaves show our lack of support to their investment in being a living thing
  55. We water judiciously
  56. In our first winter together we eat whatever cut of chicken we can pay for and still have enough left over for chunky tomato sauce. Is this middle class or what! If we can remember the 90s then we are middle class and that’s that. My father would never forgive himself if I slipped into poverty so for him I’ll pretend I’m not there every Christmas
  57. We are all dually convinced things are working and things are falling apart
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© Raul Rafael Alvarez