Published on Academy of American Poets (

What the businessman said

the business
man I shook
hands with
drinking local
whiskey at the
party Christmas
winter I mean non
religious for the
group where
his wife
donates her
hours bought
just bought
an old Victorian cheaper
than a Craftsman in
one of Portland’s
oldest best said
cost the cost
of doing
business one
cost of
business all of
life of costs
a cost the business
man made
exercise machines
in China for
the bodies of
to sweat upon
the muscles heart
and blood vessels
the lungs he said
they never
even counted
costs the labor
lives so cheap it was
the metal minerals
the plastic
parts they had
to calculate the labor
lives so
cheap they didn’t
even count


Copyright © 2014 by Allison Cobb. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“The ‘Craftsman’ style of architecture grew out of the British Arts and Crafts movement, which was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution’s devaluing of workers and individual craft. It also was a reaction against the opulence of Victorian style—and aimed at making well-designed homes available for the middle class.”
Allison Cobb


Allison Cobb

Allison Cobb is the author of Green-Wood (Factory School, 2010). She works at Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, and lives in Portland, Oregon.

Date Published: 2014-12-11

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