My economy is circular: I earn money from an institution that owns most of
the businesses where I tend to spend most of my money.
My economy is quasi-medieval, trade-centered, and guild-like.
My economy is not canonical.
My economy is a misfortune that recently befell me.
My economy admits foundational narratives.
My economy is language.
My economy is the executioner’s reversal of fortune.
My economy has no essential features.
My economy admits parallax critiques of ideology.
My economy owes something to over 4,136 dead soldiers.
My economy does not intimate and would rather not split hairs about what
belongs to whom.
My economy can’t stay out of things, but can’t make it into the thick of
things either.
My economy has questionable purchasing power.
My economy has no surrogate.
My economy has no interpretative skills but is rife with interpretative communi-
My economy is of trees chopped down in Brooklyn, and the gradual encir-
cling of brick.
My economy is the new red.
My economy thrives on shades of gray.
My economy is an unremarkable tuna sandwich that is missing the slices of
tomato that I had asked for.
My economy is a liter bottle of Poland Spring water coming not from
Poland but from Maine and bought at a university cafeteria in Uptown
Manhattan where there are quite a number of water foundations that deliver
water with a funky metallic aftertaste.
My economy is a poem called “First Purchase of the Month” consisting of
two stanzas with six eight-word lines each within a larger poem that could
be endless but won’t be:
                                 Could’ve been an outfit for the Whitney Biennial
                                 Couldn’t afford one, nor did I need it.
                                 Who cares how you look at the zoo;
                                 it’s about the animals, stupid. Which reminds me,
                                 could’ve been the trail mix I snacked on
                                 & which I managed not to purchase myself.

                                 It was tuna on whole wheat, lettuce, jalapeños;
                                 a one liter bottle of water (Poland Spring.)
                                 Asked for tomato too, which the lady forgot.
                                 You Puerto Rican, she asked? Don’t think so,
                                 said another one in Spanish. Let me answer.
                                 No, what made you think so? The peppers?
My economy needs contractions and abbreviations.
My economy is not fixed.
My economy is broken, mispronounced.
My economy has cold feet, even if there are plenty of socks at home.
My economy would like to be wholesome and sound.
My economy is a gift certificate that is not enough for what I’d like to have,
so I end up spending money at a store that I dislike in the first place and
will never visit again.
My economy is a business lunch where I end up paying the bill instead of
the person who’d like me to work with her.
My economy consists of performing tasks for which I receive no quantifi-
able pay.
My economy grows when it’s enough to buy someone else a drink, or a
My economy does not allow me to say no.
My economy pretends to be booming, but instead, is shaky and imploding.
It doesn’t matter, because my economy is predicated on virtue, and it posits
that it’s purer than yours.
My economy has no exchange value.
I’d like to think of my economy as one of resistance and tactical difference.
My economy is not a disposable good.
There are no surpluses in my economy.
I already owe what I just wrote.
My economy is derivative, parasitical, and residual.
My economy is a hand-me-down.
My economy is not environmentally friendly, although it’s not ravaging
non-renewable resources either.
My economy doesn’t force me to put my money where my mouth is. Were I
to pay for what I say, it would be a different story.
Thirteen cents a word is not fair trade.
My economy mistakes what it means to trade in futures.
In theory my economy is not the result of deliberate choice, it is makeshift
and a tag-along.
My economy has double standards.
My economy has attention deficit disorder.
My economy is the symptom of an incurable disease.
My economy is not even mine.
Word count: 682

Monica de la Torre, "$6.82" from Public Domain.  Copyright © 2008 by Monica de la Torre.  Reprinted by permission of Roof Books.
More Poems by Mónica de la Torre