We only honor the greediest–
Carnegie, Rockefeller, Trump, Hearst–
and never speak of more humble chiefs
who chose to pay themselves less
than a thousand times their workers rate.
Just as no one remembers the name
of the humble apartments behind the Vatican.
When I was twenty I saw St. Peter’s,
its orgy of polychrome marbles
a shrine to papal conceit
built by thousands of peasants.
Did they go home every night
to half-starved wives in broken-down shanties,
and dandle malnourished children
on underpaid, bone-weary knees?
I want a world
with no Carnegie Hall
and no Carnegie slums.
Charles Joseph Albert runs a metallurgy shop in San Jose, California, where he lives with his wife and three boys. His poems and fiction have appeared recently in Quarterday, Chicago Literati, 300 Days of Sun, Abstract Jam, The MOON magazine, Literary Hatchet, and Here Comes Everyone.