“There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” — Frank Wilhoit
I consider the safety placard on the wall inside the elevator
this windowless metallic tube
going down, down, down
to the parking garage.
I wonder how many regulations concern elevators
stifling innovation by demanding
inspections, alarm bells,
I wonder how many workers imploded
at the bottom of half-built shafts
trying to feed their sons
before such rules were
Did they think about
the cost of progress
as it squished them
under its steel boot?
I think about the hubris of cutting corners —
pressing your luck with the ocean and
the laws of physics, only to demand
a princely sum
to be proven
I mourn the teenager who didn’t want to go
who panicked in small spaces
who went to please his father
only to die under the
crushing weight of
Do you think his father told him to “man up”
before they were both enshrined?
I wonder if they died hungry and freezing
clinging to each other in their sock feet
a poor, huddled mass.
Or, were they so insulated from the consequences of their actions
that the universe spared them this, too.
I bet the amount we spent saving the already-dead
would feed a lot of sons and daughters.
Would put lots of computers in
libraries, where people could
look up facts, like
62% of first-class passengers survived the Titanic
While only 25% of third-class passengers did.
The naval budget is $230 billion dollars.
The education budget is $195.
I’m sure someone ran the numbers and decided
that five billionaires must outweigh
the millions howling distress calls
over the pundits calling for
I bet that money would put a lot of elevators in metro stops.
“Ding!” goes the federally-mandated button, as I think about
the concept of rock bottom, of morally bankrupt
before getting in my car, buckling my
checking my rearview mirror
for destroyed progress
and head off toward my destination,
obeying the speed limit.
After all, the rules
apply to me.