The conquered were not citizens,
Livia Drusilla knew, so her Roman etiquette
was attended by invisible hands
whose bodies sometimes came into view
when their assistance became indispensable.
The more familiar the help, the more likely
servitude could acquire a personal name,
especially as being of service
became a desire to stay indentured
to the wealthiest families.
These days, consumers purchase
at such a distance that they never witness
the child labor or the abattoirs where
cattle are slaughtered, or the zinc mines
whose workers live and die underground.
In the free world, economic slavery
is maintained through a system of laws
so a migrant from Peru
can be blackmailed into working
twenty-four-seven, on call
for sex any time with her employer.
[Disposable Poem February 2016]