Honorable Mention Poetry by Will
THE 1 % MANSION
The golden bars of sunlight fall over the green
velvet lawns and hit the windows of the mansion,
turning them into winking jewels.
In the bedroom, the Master awakes. He pulls back his silk sheets
and calls the valet, who helps him out of his brocade robe.
He showers and shaves in the bathroom with its gleaming Italian marble and gilt mirrors. The servant dresses him in an
immaculate business suit.
Breakfast is laid out for him on a tray, like a sacrificial offering.
The Master dismisses his employee with a wave of a manicured hand.
He forks his food slowly into his mouth, appraising each bite of the gourmet meal. The Master sets the tray down and sweeps
out of the room, moving down wide corridors lined with canvases, each one costing more than a house.
The Master pauses at the top of the grand staircase and looks down, a contented smile on his face. The foyer below is cavernous.
An immense chandelier dangles above the waxed parquet floor like a
miniature crystal palace.
The air hangs heavy with expensive scent.
The Master glides down the steps with an easy arrogant gait. Two uniformed flunkies hold open the front doors.
He walks down the broad steps and moves with
an egotist's purpose toward his limousine.
The door is opened for him by a liveried chauffeur.
He climbs into his cocoon of soft leather and polished wood.
Far from this idyll of wealth, the Master's workers toil in misery and
squalor. Crushed and oppressed, dreaming of one day being the one
in charge; dreaming of one day owning a place like their employer's.
But it will never happen,
not with the Master at the top.
I walk along the beach,
the cold gritty sand whispering
under my bare feet. Behind me,
families gather their umbrellas
and folding chairs and move
in a procession back to their homes
like a retreating army.
Gulls circling overhead cry with victory,
mocking the fleeing humans.
I stand at the lip of the ocean and stare
out at the roiling waves, turned to ebony
by approaching night.
A few splinters of ruby
from the dying sun glimmer bravely
in the sea before slowly fading in the dusk.
I stand, still as a statue, a watchful sentry,
the glacial surf lashing my ankles,
breathing the tang of salt water and seaweed,
and sensing the gloom around me
devouring the beach.
Rows of identical houses face each other
White picket fences frame pristine
Children frolic on the smooth asphalt
of the street.
A sleek Audi cruises into a garage, its
windows catching the last of the afternoon light.
Tall trees, their leaves turned to gold,
stand guard over this perfect
The moment comes: the bulging grey clouds
release their load down on the earth below.
The air fills with white snowflakes
parachuting down to the ground
draping towns with a thick white blanket
in a towering drifts
To those outside in the raging storm,
the glacial air, the blizzard is a foe,
a bitter enemy, a threat.
But to those in warm living rooms
it is entertainment,
as they sip mugs of warm cocoa
and stare out at the furious weather beyond
I stand in the concourse of the mall
leaning against a pillar.
Around me the crowd pours by,
shopping bags swinging from their arms,
full of goods they will never need.
They hurry by with purpose, with satisfaction,
with joy, but their eyes tell the truth.
They stare ahead, shallow stares that know only
prices and fashion.
Eyes as devoid of life as the plastic mannequins
packed behind the store windows like prisoners.
The crowd streams on, oblivious, indifferent,
their vapid gaze straying over the gaudy
kiosks, the laminate posters advertising
the latest vogue.
I take one last look at this massive parasite, this
obscene monument to consumption.
The I turn and hurry away, bile rising in my throat.
As I swing the heavy plate glass doors
behind me, consumed by revulsion,
I almost fall to my knees.