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Price Gouging

By Robert Milby

“I was offered coin to stall my vengeance.”

- from In the End, by Attila Jozsef (1926)


I.  Planning

In the family’s lockdown home, awaiting a peasant relief check,                                                                  

you fear water and electric shut off; no food from hoarding’s duress.                                                                                                                        How will you plan next week’s meals, when supplies at the market are stressed?                                            

Who can justify Wall Street bailouts, while ignoring hunger’s effects?


II. Breadlines

If masses queue up for breadlines, will you sit home, or face the wrath of price gouging?               

Six feet apart from the fearful; defining America’s right to assemble, for redress of Hunger?                     

If class distancing gripped the country before; class warfare has opened another door;               

unto dangerous paths through uncharted woods,                                                                                                

and traps of trampled trash, in shadowed neighborhoods. 


III. States’ Fate

What is the states’ fate, if people are forced to domestic exile,                                                            

where news readers and fear feeders, chant endlessly to stay safe?                                                               

Safe from what?  Stocks of processed foods?  Truths revealed, via home-school?

Endless fights destroying Silence; children exposed to drunken violence?                                                                                               

Falls in halls or down flights of stairs? 

Stay put as human currency in a Safe House,                                                                                           

where Main Street becomes Side Street                                                                                                             

as Wall Street, heals profits for trader heretics,                                                                       

exorcizing impending Depression, under the cover of pandemic. 

Even Utzi had a Corona

                             -for the Iceman

By Robert Milby

The Iceman had a Corona;

Covid 19 BC version.

He had Lyme, sores, Consumption,                                                                                                        

Bowel problems, and genital worts.                                                                                                                  

He herded sheep and stepped in shit,                                                                                                    

breathed smoke in campfire emphysema.                                                                                              

Utzi, was sick from eating pork, and curing beef.                                                                                    

Went vegan in snow before alpine meadows prepared his Spring salads.                                  

He had no tribal medical insurance,                                                                                                            

for shamans worked overtime, during lean winter months.                                                                        

He walked with an arrowhead stuck in his back.                                                                                        

In his isolation, he used dried herbs, made clothes, and ate the mushrooms                                                                  

his parents had the nerve to prepare for the coming warmth

Utzi wore the crown of survival, which makes our endless crying trivial. 


Robert Milby of Florida, NY, been reading his poetry in public, since March, 1995.  He is the author of several chapbooks, books, and CDs of poetry, and hosts four Hudson Valley poetry readings series in the Hudson Valley.        Milby served as Orange County, NY Poet Laureate (2017- 2019) 

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