If I Had a Guaranteed Basic Income …

I would glue magnets to the back of beer bottle caps and give them away as gifts.

I would make every recipe in Gutes Essen: Good Eating in German-Russian Country, brought to by Prairie Public Broadcasting and the Tri-County Tourism Alliance.

I would perfect my broken Spanish by speaking and reading solely in Spanish for an entire year.

I would pay the fines I owe on overdue library books from three years ago.

I would check out a copy of Atlas Shrugged from the library and accidentally lose it in the dumpster.

I would fast one day a week because I’d never be hungry by accident.

I would write a series of critical essays in Spanish about Juan Muñoz.

I would write a really long patriotic poem to America titled “Now That I Have a Guaranteed Basic Income.”

I would find my audience, and my audience would find me.

I would make elaborate wind chimes out of thread and spent needles.

I would continue to give money to anyone standing on street corners asking for money.

I would hunt down every tick carrying Lyme disease and burn them all alive.

I would raise a couple Shih Tzus and a cat, but still not have children.

I would spend more time with my parents before they die.

I would walk no less than 10,000 steps a day.

I would start a blog and publish transcriptions of conversations I overhear in coffee shops.

I would sleep 10 hours a day because the full productivity of my labor cannot be realized without dreams.


About this poem
This poem is about what I would do if my life wasn’t organized by the need to make money. It’s about what life might be like if I never had to worry about paying for food, shelter, and health care.

The Broom and The Spider

When the calloused hand that grips my handle
sweeps my bristles through your fragile beauty,
the threads collapse and cling in clumps to me.
For the love of god, I feel such pity,
said the broom to the spider.

Brace yourself and wipe away the spent threads.
Symmetry provides me nourishment.
The laboring hand destroys what I invent.
It should be so. Nothing is permanent,
said the spider to the broom.


About This Poem

I started this poem in 2012 or 2013. In the early drafts, I wrote “guiding hand,” in the second stanza. I didn’t look at the poem for a long time. Now it seems obvious that “guiding hand” is too easily interpreted as “invisible hand,” which is not what I wanted to communicate.

I tried “reckless hand,” “juvenile hand,” “senseless hand,” “thoughtless hand,” and “hasty hand,” before settling on “laboring hand.”