‘Late Capitalism,’ a Prose Poem by Alissa Quart

From Her New Collection, Thoughts and Prayers

August 22, 2019  By Alissa Quart

Late Capitalism

A gloss and a hair mask.

Meet the shareholders?
Not at these shareholder meetings.

The best headlines have internal tension.

Band-Aids with emoji prints. I’ll Venmo you. We really need concealer for our eyes. For everything.

A general practitioner available only through the special paid subscription service.

The first pot dispensary like a wine bar.

Flying the unfriendly skies.

Bush I celebrated for his decency, even by Democrats.

On C-SPAN I didn’t move my face when I responded.

I did this to maintain my aura of authority.

Unpaid deductible.

Young and old play YouTube videos loud on subway cars, 11 PM.

“Where do we go when we die?” is bro humor on a Stephen Colbert skit.

No wonder so many people are religious.

Just dye the roots.

My daughter holds her ears during the loud drumming of the indigenous children’s play.

It may be sensory avoidant or it may be childhood.

Almond milk in the coffee drink. Lactosa nervosa.

No sulfates, no problem.

Woman’s recorded voice on elevator says “lobby:” the “l” sounds

A professor of networking.

Organic daikon.

Climate-weirding: birds of the city shock us with their seasonally appropriate appearance.

The sensitivity reader made to withdraw his own book from publication due to alleged insensitivity.

Prestige TV is the new Romanticism.

The cheese plate: a hard sheep called RBG.

Is that man actually looking at me?

The billing department ultrasound bill is $736 and according to the supervisor all unpaid deductible.

I told an older man in a Dr. Zhivago–style hat and moustache (masquerade?) to lower the volume of his cellphone video on the subway.

And now another school holiday for a very minor saint: the school’s founder.

Attention economy.

One woman in the South told me how she drives to the NICU so she can feel better, just going there, just holding the babies.

Wealth tax not philanthropy.

Climate weirding: no lobsters left to catch in Rhode Island.

200 pages of scandalous transcripts about rich people.

“Dr. Zhivago” on the subway told another man I was obnoxious (meaning female?), without ever addressing me.

The second pot dispensary like a medical spa.

On a C-SPAN show about inequality, right-wing callers tell me that immigrants steal their jobs.

Under-eye illumination cream made with diamond dust.

Some students call their pain “climate anxiety.”

Bush II is now a Sunday painter, his works depicting the very soldiers whose mutilation he ordered.

I changed subway cars to get away from “Dr. Zhivago”’s insults.

His commentary is now called microaggressions.

How many times such things had happened to me before and I hadn’t called them anything.

The indigenous children’s play made me take “Mother Earth” seriously.

Unpaid deductible.

In a hysterical touch, my “organic” makeup is called Vapour.

My daughter’s face illuminates me.


From Alissa Quart’s Thoughts and Prayers, available from O/R Books.

Alissa Quart
Alissa Quart
Alissa Quart is the author of five acclaimed books of nonfiction including Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream (Ecco, 2023, out now in paperback). They Are Squeezed, Republic of Outsiders, Hothouse Kids, and Branded. She is the Executive Director of the non-profit the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She is also the author of two books of poetry Thoughts and Prayers and Monetized. She has written for many publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and TIME. Her honors include an Emmy, an SPJ award and a Nieman fellowship. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.

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