Poems and Texts

“Industry Self-regulation” by James Hannaham

Industry Self-regulation

Next vote. Shall we maximize our profits while poisoning something or someone in a pretty far off place populated by strangers we consider primitive and inferior? All in favor?

Yeah, the hotel had a clogged toilet, bedbugs everywhere, and no heat, but they waived my fee and paid me $300 to write a positive opinion for their website so that was a great experience.

Now we come to Item #5. Should we create a complicated algorithm that eliminates all risk for banks and transfers it to the poor? Yes?

Look! Over there, in our subconscious! They’ve convinced us that our happiness depends on their generosity.

From: CEO
Re: CEO Compensation
As the CEO, I feel that the CEO should be the best paid executive in any company. Since you are me, I am sure that you agree. Also, I should be paid more than any other CEO because it would be embarrassing for the company. This firm would look cheap and poor if I paid myself less than any other comparable CEO, and I would find my lower rate of pay awkward in many social situations where I represent the company. Since I am the CEO, I hereby unilaterally vote to pay myself more than all other similar CEOs.

Can I get a six-pack of Clean Air, a couple of Thoughts—the mild, please—and one of those pouches of My Own Blood™? You’re out of AB Negative? Okay, I know it’s rare. I’ll take an O Positive then, thanks. Wow, Air is getting so expensive. I’m gonna put that back. Do you take AmEx? No?

The next item on the agenda: Should we maximize our profits while poisoning something or someone in a much closer area without a lot of political clout? Hands up. Don’t worry—kids will die, yes, but not that many. And I mean kids kids, not like, babies.

Hi, I’d like to speak to— Oh! Are you also a machine? You sounded so real.

Photo: Ian Douglas

James Hannaham

James Hannaham is the author of the novels Delicious Foods (Little, Brown 2015), a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book for 2015, and God Says No (McSweeney’s 2009), and has published stories in One Story, Fence, Story Quarterly, BOMB, and one in Gigantic for which he won a Pushcart Prize. He has exhibited text-based visual art at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 490 Atlantic, Kimberly-Klark Gallery, and James Cohan. He teaches in the Writing MFA program at the Pratt Institute.

Related Events