Sunday, August 11, 2013

Society of Consumption and a poem

As I was walking to my poetry reading in a crowd of people at a local infringement festival, a woman stopped and pointed at me.  “Flax,” she said.  “What?’  Then I looked down at my shirt; she was identifying the brand of clothing in a recognition that must have provided connection in this deeply disconnected realm.  Your brand, even if you pay little or no attention to it, serves as an identification.  It’s just one more puzzle in the world of consumption that is America.

    Today I just redeemed a $10 coupon, plus 15% off, plus another $5 off in what must be the most brilliant of sales techniques.  It brings me to a store I would never have gone into otherwise and which now I frequent though I need nothing at all.  What does this consumption replace? 

   In Barcelona, consumption was massive crowds on Saturday afternoons.  Shopping gave a sense of a happening, an event that was not to be missed.  Here in contrast, it is what takes over a part of your life that could be reserved for meeting friends, having a coffee, doing anything at all to contact with people. 

    And there no one would admit to a bargain.  While here in the US I can brag that after all my discounts the dress I’m wearing only cost $10, that would never happen in BCN.  There’s no merit to admitting you got your shirt at the rebajas at Zara.  Maybe you’re supposed to pretend everything you wear is full priced high quality that will last forever.  And that’s never the case.

    So tell me, why do YOU shop?


I’ve found some poems.


                  Common Prayer

Upstairs alone

I check off countries

Gambia, Bahrain, Sudan

from a list of possibilities.

Downstairs I hear

your child announcing

her love, your voice

smooth surprise in return.


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