Labor and Capital


The softness of this motel bed

On which we made love

Demonstrates to me in an impressive manner

The superiority of capitalism.


At the mattress factory, I imagine,

The employees are happy today.

It’s Sunday and they are working

Extra hours, like us, for no pay.


Still, the way you open your legs

And reach for me with your hand

Makes me think of the Revolution,

Red banners, crowd charging.


Someone stepping on a soapbox

As the flames engulf the palace,

And the old prince in full view

Steps to his death from a balcony.


Charles Simic

from That Little Something, 2008

Mariner Books, New York-Boston




Picture: ‘I’ll tell you a story. Years ago, after a workshop, I got very powerfully involved with somebody who left at the end of the week, while I stayed on. I took one photograph in the room where we had been, just moments after he left. I was emotionally shaken, I had no tripod there, and made the picture at a quarter of a second, hand-held. A couple of days later I saw on the contacts that, not surprisingly, the image was “soft”. So, in a much calmer state of mind, I went back to the same room with my tripod. Everything was the same, the light, the things in the room. The picture I made that day is perfectly sharp – and totally sterile. I have shown both versions to people without saying any of this, and they have invariably preferred the “soft” one. Surely because the sharp one is emotionally empty, there was nothing going on in me except trying to “get it right”.’

Eva Rubinstein