debt ritual: class by Katie Naughton

(with a debt owed, formally, to Tyehimba Jess’s Olio)


debt means                           my household things
even the rich                         are possible
can feel poor                         with my work
a balance                                nothing else
accumulation                       when my job’s gone
hours in                                  the rain outside
                      the apartment
                      daylight passing
                      and fading into
the couch                               someone else’s
things picked                        stocks
to signify                                making money
just so                                      I see
there are                                  in-
differences                              -what is
though                                    not for me


Katie Naughton is the author of the chapbook Study (Above/Ground Press, 2021). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Bennington Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Jubilat, and elsewhere. She is at work on two collections of poems, Debt Ritual and the real ethereal, which was a finalist for the 2021 Nightboat Poetry Prize and the 2021 Autumn House Press Book Prize under the title Hour Song. She is the publicity editor for Essay Press, editor and project manager at the HOW(ever) and How2 Digital Archive Project (launching in 2022), and founder of Etcetera, a web journal of reading recommendations from poets ( She lives in Buffalo, NY, where she is a doctoral candidate in the Poetics program at SUNY – Buffalo. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and was a supported resident at the Vermont Studio Center in 2019.