Fred Pollack – Combined Development

Combined Development

There’s a number to call in Calcutta,
standard overseas rate plus a percent,
for guilt-trips. Everyone involved
checks out: no bride-price murders,
female infanticide, eight-year-old hookers. Also, no
intern or whiz-kid programmer sending
half of her half-scale wages home from
Dallas or Frankfurt, and
no embarrassing politics, just hot stinking poor.
These extremely polite and depressed
voices tell you, with that funny sing-song,
the circumstances of their lives, answering all your
questions (it’s your dime) until you’re
guaranteed to feel like
shit or your money back
(except for the cut that pays them).

I call to complain. In these viciously hot
(at least for North America) days, I
can’t get the air-conditioning
where I want it: it’s either too chilly, or still
and airless. That sort of thing.
They struggle to imagine,
to remain polite, remain on the phone, simply
to persist. We have a relationship.
I say things like, “Remember that flower
I described, in a yard down the street
from me, the blue wildflower? I stole it.
It’s no longer in nature.”


Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. Has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Kalkion, etc. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.