Backpack and Nut Indexes

Forget the DOW or Nasdaq, I give you
The backpack index. Meet Aslim, a
Purveyor of backpacks and purses
At Philly’s half dead mall, the Gallery.
It’s back to school time, so backpacks
Should fly off the rack, but not this year,
Since everyone is broke, after years
Of drowning wages, or none at all, yet
The cost of anything has gone way up,
Including the price of nuts, which have
Been crossed from your grocery list, for
Who needs snacks, when there’s not enough
Quarters and dimes left for regular meals?

Out of nuts, rice or beans, you can sell blood.
Out of blood, you can sell your lower half
For half an hour at a time, or else
Have it shredded overseas, under the flag.
Like a nutcase, you lunge forward, yelping,
“Better to kill ‘em here, I guess, than there,
Though I hardly know which country I’m in.
Even home, I no longer know where I dwell.
Fighting for nuts, I’ll leave my nuts right here.”

Nutless, you will be deemed a hero, fool or freak,
As you roll down the street, with your small flag,
But at least you’ll eat with what’s left of your jaw,
Though you may have to loiter outside all day,
Nutless, you’ll recall that hazy, sweet night
In your Chevy, after much Schlitz, when she
Rotated those dice in her winsome way.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.