Towel Cakes

5th of October 2008. Capitalism is
teetering, tripping, reeling.
At 1:25am on a Sunday morning I’m not
at an anarchist punk gig. I’m awoken
by a scream on TV. Samantha (12)
has friends ‘sleeping’ over.
I get up, yell ‘for fuck’s sake, Samantha!’,
and go back to bed.
I dream the New York Stock Exchange is on fire —
literally — and other financial houses across America.
I don’t know if it’s Al-Qaeda
or spontaneous combustion.

We said ‘bring a plate’.
Two of the parents get the Green Left Weekly.
I hope for sandwiches, homemade popcorn,
maybe crudites and hommus
but it’s prepackaged dips,
may-as-well-be-empty packs of cornchips,
single-use plates. I put out the rubbish twice.

In the post office
that has to survive by being a gift shop
now that it’s no longer a government service
but a profit-making enterprise
they’re selling ‘Towel Cakes’:
strawberry slices and chocolate rolls
made from washcloths compressed and served
in transparent plastic boxdomes.
I pick one up. No recycling symbols. (For what they’re worth, anyway.)

— $9.50! and it’s a washcloth, I remark
to the senior woman queuing in front of me.
— Ridiculous, she agrees.
— And think of the packaging, the waste of resources, I add.
— They’re going to have to do something about it, she says.

— There is no ‘they’, I say.

Samantha’s birthday is International Women’s Day. Mine
is Buy Nothing Day.