"Descending the Ladder"
"It was the worst day of my life!"
Chelsey complained, waving a hand
in front of her perfectly made up face.
"I broke a nail right before the charity ball,
and there was just no time to have it repaired.
I felt like everyone was staring at me the whole time,
and nobody donated more than a hundred thousand."
"Now that you've survived the worst," said Millicent,
"we'll see about your refurbishing your manicure
and then do some damage control."
Preston yanked off his tie and threw it
over the back of his dressing chair.
"I didn't get tenure," he said.
"I don't know if my career can
survive this. What am I going to
do now? This was my life's work!"
"I'm sure you'll think of something,"
Blaine said, patting him on the shoulder.
"There are other colleges where you can apply."
"He left," Clara said numbly.
"I love him, and he just dumped me.
This is worst thing he could possibly do --
it's not even a month after our wedding."
"Come on," Anne said, tugging her hand.
"This calls for some emergency chocolate."
José rubbed his hands over his upper arms
as he shifted from one foot to the other.
"Gang's not happy with me, man,"
he said. "They're gonna kick my ass.
If I don't survive this, you tell
mamí that I love her."
"Tell her yourself," Roberto said. "You can
hide out at my uncle's until this blows over."
"Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it got worse,"
Latisha said. "Thanks to that robbery, now we got no tent
to sleep in, no food to eat, and no fuckin' coats."
The snow drifted down over the two girls
huddled in a grimy corner of they alley.
"Still got each other, sis," Quanda said stoutly.
For this poem, I drew on Maslow's hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. I have replaced self-actualization with utter frivolity because I rarely see any evidence of rich people actualizing themselves.