The Killing Wage by Nicholas Gagnier

Filled neither with rage nor idealism, Gagnier provides an insight into the bitter ennui the socio-economic imbalances in Western society can raise in the enlightened underdog. Refusing to force an alternative on the reader, the collection nevertheless incites the reader to act by warning the current system moves almost inevitably towards a violent shift in one direction or another.

This chap-book contains 12 poems, all based around the dangers of purchasable political power.

As is displayed most clearly in ‘It Died on the Floor’ and ‘Americant’, Gagnier’s strongest opprobrium is heaped on the United States of America, the home of the fee and poster child for money as both moral and political power. However, many of his lines ring unpleasantly true of other purported democracies.

if I told you that sadness and struggle and pain was dealt in equilibrium, that the collapsed ecosystem in which you comprise the bottom
never made all men equal
but afforded most of them

– Sincerely, Deirdre

While Gagnier’s message might be a visceral scream against injustice, his use of language is both lyrical and intelligent, deliciously rhyming (for example) ‘quorum’ with ‘decorum’.

Casting a weary eye on the world, poems such as ‘Wince Upon a Time’ and ‘Election Day’ use the tropes of fairy tale and children’s story to showcase the current self-inflicted political infantilism of the masses. Some of the issues in society exist because they always have. Others because we assume the power of government to assume the role of parent is matched by the love and relative wisdom of parents. Either way, they still exist because we do not examine them.

Drunk and disorderly quarterly results took disparity and transformed it into a cult of trickle-down economics, salvation built on a promise we’d all be beneficiaries.

– Killing Wage

Poems such as ‘I.M.F’ and ‘Black Thursday’ take the alternative path of futurism; displaying a world in which fiscal disaster has hit harder. A world in which the worker is punished for not working hard enough to create more than the banker wants.

This chap-book is a message of anger, but a slow-banked anger that accepts the underdog can be responsible for letting itself be oppressed. Although hoping for a moderate and fair solution, it warns that a world where the only people acting for change are extremists will end up at an extreme.

Overall I enjoyed this collection. I recommend it to readers looking for a new entry point into the fiscal-moral-social network of modern society or passionate but lyrical verse.

I received an advanced copy of this collection in exchange for a fair review.


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