Frog Chant at the One Percent
The collective wealth of the world’s richest 1 percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent of the global population next year...
Kings of old, they had the decency
to bump each other off, hurling armies into swamps
of gore that ended often at their own court-
yards, their families raped and killed, their own
heads leering atop spikes at their battered torsos.
They had skin in the game, and owned the rest of us outright.
Blood and chains, not ratified trade agreements.
They built monuments to themselves
that made them unmistakable:
pyramids, palaces, castles with lavish
feasts and entertainments, never donning
rags to share a lice-ridden peasant’s gruel
—why on earth would a ruler do that?
Silks and jesters, not jeans and an iPad.
They were easy to envy, compose fairy tales
about, hate, occasionally plot against. Monstrous gods,
they made clean targets. Soaked up sun and arrows aplenty.
This new breed, though—you mingle middlingly, melt from
clear view. Perch perhaps in a condo thirty floors above the deli
we go to, wait patiently behind us in a Starbucks.
Tweet and update on Facebook, suffer trolls like
To scoop it all—and yet be safe. It seems
impossible, a trick no one could plumb
—no one really does, I think, and yet it deepens,
with pacts and accords, various tit-for-tats,
less a well-organized conspiracy than a messy
but inexorable convergence of interests over time.
Evolution of owning, wealth retardants bred away.
And now the planet’s on the line—what do you fear?
Little or nothing is my guess. Amnesia and distraction
have snared you like the rest of us, fogs of status
quo you lay down and are blinded by. When you peer hard,
do you see something like those oblivious frogs
in a pot of water brought slowly to a boil?
Limp amphibians, smiling as they scald.
It’s true—in pricklings, we realize it. Except—guess what?
There’s no safe perch on a cooking cauldron.
Bottom roasts first, but rim gets red-hot too
—it just takes longer. And the steam of seven billion
rotting will be some stench to suffocate in,
skin peeling in screams from your astonished bones—
Just silence then. No child left to damn, forgive or even