Criminal Interest

Debt wedged sharply on the shoulders,
         necks, heads and bodies of state.

A debt to others, burrowed
deep, deeper, deeply into
         caves of criminal interest.

Debt composed of
mounds of soft bills, notes, and
hard-edged instruments of finance,
a percussion beating, in
         a nation’s ears.

Clanging sounds of resistance,
echoes of agony
         the old — pensionless
         the young — jobless
         the middleclass — cashless,

on the blurred boundaries
of a hungry currency
craving more interest.

Interest, not in living flesh
but in the beasts of a mathematically
unbearable form
          of blunt, blind greed.

One nation against another, again,
unleashed on the unlevel
         playing fields of finance.


Joan Greenbaum is professor emerita of environmental psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center and of computer information systems at LaGuardia Community College.  Among her numerous publications are Windows on the Workplace (Monthly Review Press, 2004), Design at Work (Erlbaum Press, 1991), and In the Name of Efficiency (Temple University Press, 1979).