corporate tax: or, losing friends to investment banking

remember the first day of freshman year of college when we were nothing but a name and a dot on the map at the front of the hall?

remember when we did 
not cry when our parents left us in those rooms too cramped  for all of our expectations (and, perhaps, naïveté)?

remember the first time we met and you told me that you were still open, but you were pretty sure
you’d declare a major in philosophy or english because

you wept the first time you read perks of being a wallflower
and we shared a sacred and unquenchable lust for bad science fiction

remember how hopeful we were –
that this school would
allow us to “find ourselves,”
“change the world,”
and other slogans we

recited from all the view books
the ones we stitched to our throats
when they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up

so when you changed your major to econ,
so when you pledged that fraternity
,
so when you replaced t-shirt with j-crew,
so when you accepted that ‘prestigious’ position at an investment bank
and expected me to be proud of you because you were going to ‘dismantle the system from within’
because you were different from ‘them’
i couldn’t help but wonder at what point
we become the tucked in shirt, the
wallet in pocket, the 9-5
we grew up fearing

you, whose love of learning stuck longer than the stickers your teachers adorned your homework with
you, who couldn’t fall asleep after reading marx in debate camp because things finally made sense again
you, who came to this university with a spirit unable to be disciplined

what happened to you?

you who sacrificed dream for diploma,
revolution for resume,
in that factory that produces profit out of potential prophet
where change falls from hearts into pockets
don’t give a fuck bout teaching you to stop it
'cuz gotta make that endowment rocket!

‘liberal arts college degree’ becomes a fancy way of saying
‘can spend 8 hours designing power point slides’ 
OR
‘can forget all promises for promotion’
OR
'can quote classic literature at business dinners to seduce the clients'

so what if i told you that they lied to us about what we’d be taught?
would you believe me?
so what if the best way to dominate a world is to pretend that you are saving it?
so what if this education was really about making you so ignorant that you forgot how to think for yourself?

you, the twenty something year old
idealist gone corporate in your
first suit throwing your theory at a Wall that will swallow you up and spit you back on the Street discharged like the cold hard cash
of an ATM machine your heart beat reduced
to a series of transactions
when you hugged me goodbye i almost expected you to ask me for a receipt:
proof of purchase for a friendship you
consumed when it made cents for your
career trajectory. sorry i did not make
the cut for the walking resume
you mistake as a body

But
I want to believe you because I want to believe in the power of a creativity undisciplined: that time we read our first book, saw our first eclipse, saw her smile. The joy and chaos of it all.
So what if it’s just chaos?
That space and time before friendship got postponed by deadlines
future segregated into interviews and internships

So what if we are really insignificant like the dot on the map from freshman year?
Why does it matter?  What if we are nothing? What if that is beautiful?
What if we cried when our parents left us but didn’t tell each other?
What if I am crying because you are leaving me but will not tell you because I do not have the market value  to make you listen
that I think you are worth more than any salary increase they will give you, that your mind cannot be transcribed on a spreadsheet of numbers, that I am waiting here for you, broke, but not broken,
remembering what you could have done
before you
sold out.