“Australia’s natural wonder is in mortal danger. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest.” —The Guardian


First sprawled there 50, 60 years ago
the first mall in Jersey was craving’s newest thing
(one of the best things money’s ever known)

Following the grunts of backhoes and dozers
came cranes that stacked a matrix of steel,
came masons and glaziers, came drywallers
and square miles of gypsum, came plumbers
and electricians who’d light and make it
Paramus’ blazing jewel  —and then
(the point of it all) came cars, drawn like flies
that circled its sanctuaries of stuff
buzzing till each found a spot to dock
and disgorge its contents of devotees
who came to be sated, to be soothed,
to be calmed by the incense
of freshly made shirts and shoes,
and who, like flies themselves,
lit upon ordered heaps of future refuse
stacked by size and color under the vacant gaze
of manneqins lining walls in odd postures
in mirrored niches like plaster saints
flanking altars ka-chinging like communion bells
at the head of queues of communicants
doling offerings of sacrificial benjamins
beneath hung ceilings pocked with bulbs
that raked all with unnatural light
and ricocheted from the high polish
of acrylic floors

This konsumtempel was the first church
of a luxurious future unknown to past peasants
who’d built sublime cathedrals of sweat and stone—
spired fingers pointing to clouds—
serfs with no premonition of the polyester excesses
of advanced societies that rose
to heap their wants upon the world,
sapping its abundance, spewing waste,
suffusing the air with smoke,
as they bleached its fragile corals,
killing them and themselves
as they should certainly know

Jim Culleny