America’s Weak Constitution

What purpose is a social contract if
the electorate doesn’t honor it?
Such laws are just embodied in a stiff
that mocks its stock-in-trade as counterfeit.
Oh, its organizers punish those who
misbehave, the way a corporation
gives customers a refund when it’s due
to employees’ blatant demonstration
of shoddy work. But is it wise to deal
with a company whose personnel show
little regard for its customers’ weal?
I’d put my money in a bordello
before I’d trust it with a bunch of skanks
who gave me damaged merchandise for thanks.

Oh, once I was impressed by its service
and its philanthropic advertisements.
But some of its workers made me nervous.
For I noticed the disenfranchisement
of selective customers. Staff refused
to patronize specific neighborhoods
whose straitened circumstances were abused
by prejudicial holding on to goods
that were needed. Instead, they sent them some
creditors. I’d be nuts to join a club
who pilfered my disposable income
to gift others and then gave me a snub
accompanied by nothing in return,
beyond the bitter lesson that I’d learn.

For even those who benefit the most
from able-bodied contractors who built
their homes, soon function as a stern riposte
to gulls whose chiseled compacts turn to stilt.
They laud illicit acts of engineers
defaulting on once evenhanded deals.
And shoppers who see neighbors in arrears,
instead of fighting for them with appeals,
now look the other way or even back
the crooked firm who did alright by them.
These hacks are not exactly crackerjack
concerns I would depend upon to stem
dishonesty. But since they’ve been consigned
to me, I’ve left consumer rights behind.

Consumer advocates are what we need,
indeed, to make sure that the customer
who paid his fee with finances and deed
is managerially fussed over,
not stigmatized like he were in arrears.
Nor should acquaintance with the boss’s son
give precedence to any of his peers
in cases which he’d otherwise have won.
As Martin Luther King succinctly wrote,
some of us have checks with insufficient
funds. But defaulted promissory notes
have a lot to do with maleficent
backers to whom they were given in trust –
who should thus justifiably go bust.

Frank De Canio was born and bred in New Jersey, and worked in New York for many years. He's been published in Danger, Pleiades, Genie, Write On!, Red Owl, Blue Unicorn, Ship of Fools, and Dissident Voice among others, He loves music from Bach to Amy Winehouse. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. As poets, he likes Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath. He also attends a Café Philo every other week in Lower Manhattan. Read other articles by Frank.