Heather Egret

Debtors' Prison

Just try to find room in my debtors’ prison,
Where smoking is allowed and shops abound
And everything one buys, including diapers,
Encourages friendly-user finance charge
To party hardy—up to 30%;
If debtors can pay anything, it’s that.

Use of the lavatory is not free,
Rates dependent on manufacturers’ ease
The inside, foregoing the outside long ago,
Won’t recall there’s an outside after all.
Those hit hard by default are more broad
And inmates tend to roam around smoking.

Here cigarettes are worth more than all the gold
In California. Sideshow ethics,
Tobacco companies, consumer advocates,
Courtroom entertainment for the condemned,
Who struggle that not to borrow or steal
It’s as likely to find a home mortgage

Allotted inside a banana peel.
That’s why institutionalized smoke,
Both cloudy and clear under all this pressure.
Bless the downtrodden, grown increasing sane!
O, how to work hard to pay for our sin
When profits reaped to not turn round again?

Heather Egret works in nonprofit finance in New York City and lives in Queens, NY. Her poetry has appeared in St. Luke’s Review, The Register Citizen, and the Paradigm Journal. Her full-length play, Oracle Bones, has been developed at Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and read by New World Theatre, NY in its summer reading series.

(author retains copyright)