Today's poem is by Denise Duhamel

Recession Commandments


thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house
thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's corner lot nor thy neighbor's broadband connection
nor granite countertops nor thy neighbor's ease in large groups of people
            nor thy neighbor's two-car garage nor pool nor marble the nor screened-in porch
            nor thy neighbor's healthy eating habits nor closet space nor billiard room nor
            central air nor salt-and-pepper shakers nor thy neighbor's direct sunlight
thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor garden nor gardener nor Lexus
            nor thy neighbor's perfect children nor thy neighbor's popularity
            nor clean driving record nor thy neighbor's husband and his sweet job
            nor thy neighbor's credit score nor vacation plans nor thy neighbor's wardrobe
            nor washing machine nor friendly hello's nor energy nor energy drinks
            nor hair-styling products nor kayak nor spice rack nor thy neighbor's Jacuzzi
thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Merry Maids nor contractors nor pedigree dogs
            nor thy neighbor's manicures nor thy neighbor's spa memberships
            nor backscratcher nor matching luggage nor table manners nor graceful walk
            nor thy neighbor's passport nor trust fund nor safe full of cash nor curtains
            nor down comforter nor leather couch nor thy neighbor's charity work
thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's oxygen bar nor ass nor Assembly of God membership
            nor anything else that is thy neighbor's—not tennis rackets nor rollerblades
            nor art collection nor wine glasses nor Costco membership nor ice cubes
            nor commanding presence in a room nor junk mail and catalogs
            nor flawless articulation nor perfect posture nor political connections nor gutters
            nor scrapbook nor table runner nor encyclopedias nor vintage postcards
            nor brand new hammer nor chopsticks nor straight white teeth nor snow globe
            nor banister nor microwavable popcorn nor private jokes nor flirtatiousness
            nor TVs nor sound system nor shoe collection nor recessed lighting
            nor magazine subscriptions nor umbrellas nor umbrella stand nor sense of humor
            nor king size bed nor Sunday afternoon bicycle rides to get fresh air


for six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work
for six days thou shalt post thy resume, hand deliver thy resume, rewrite thy resume
            to best suit labor sought, mail thy resume overnight or priority, fudge thy resume
for six days thou shalt kept track of all thy efforts to qualify for an extension
            of unemployment benefits
for six days thou shalt feel guilty, cry, wring thy hands, redo thy checkbook,
            pawn thy TV and thy jewelry
for six days thou shalt fill out applications at chain restaurants, hospitals, retail stores,
            schools, offices of all types (including temp offices), banks, nail salons, hair salons,
            supermarkets, nursing homes, construction sites, topless bars, hotdog stands
for six days thou shalt set up an e-bay account to sell thy dishes, and thou shalt bring
            thy best clothes to a consignment shop
for six days thou shalt call up favors and let go of thy pride
for six days thou shalt apply for no-interest credit cards
for six days thou shalt fill out applications to become a telemarketer, a customer
            service employee, a tutor, a nanny, a janitor, a maid, a dog-walker,
            a dogcatcher, a cashier, a mail order bride
for six days thou shalt write letters to government officials when unemployment
            extension benefits are denied
for six days thou shalt labor and do all the work thou can find


thou shalt watch American Idol, whether on TV or podcast
            thou shalt watch anything that will give thee false hope—that thou could compete
            on a show like America Has Talent or I Love Money to earn a windfall,
            that thou could once again afford Heavenly Hash ice cream, Earth shoes,
            or a new Brita water filter
thou shalt not even dare window-shop for a killer purse, adult DVDs, sunglasses
            that last year thou would have thought a bargain
thou shalt ignore the news—the Pacific Island nation of Paler threatened
            with disappearance; houses in Shishmaref, Alaska, plunging into the sea;
            a redrawn map of the United States with Florida (where thou livest)
            chopped off, submerged
thou shalt not relive the hurricanes, especially Katrina, after which thou bought gas
            cards and boxed up all the little toiletries, shampoos and soaps, thou had takes
            (though thou shalt not steal) from hotels, to send to New Orleans
            because even people who lost everything might want to smell good
            and rub a little lotion into their arms
thou shalt not buy too much gas, thou shalt not go too far, thou shalt not replace
            the stove nor the lightbulb nor the shoelaces nor the baking soda in the fridge
thou shalt not be nostalgic
thou shalt not bear witness to the sad stories around thee—the abandoned hotels,
            once swanky, but now full of crack; the girl squatting in an apartment
            with nothing but a mattress and a webcam; the man living in his car,
            washing in the outdoor showers at the beach before he heads off to work
thou shalt not believe it, thou shalt not inflate thine own suffering
            nor the suffering of others
thou shalt not believe it could happen to thee

Copyright © 2013 Denise Duhamel All rights reserved
from Blowout
University of Pittsburgh Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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