Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Which produced more civilizations,
yellow grass or green?

Who made poverty legal?
Who made poverty at all?

Eating a cold pork sandwich
out of greaseproof paper
as I cross to Circular quay
looking down the last Harbour miles
that the world-ships furrowed
as they brought poverty

dates this day to my midlife.

Out of my then suburban city
rise towers of two main kinds:
new glass ones keyed high to catch money
and brown steeples to forgive the poor

who made poverty illegal
and were sentenced for it.

And the first Jumbo jets descend
like mates whose names you won’t recall,
going down behind the city.

This midlife white timber ferry
scatters curly Bohemian glass
one molecule thick, to float above

green dark of laws older than poverty
and I hold aloft my greaseproof rose.