Caroline Grondahl

“A Poem about Credit Card Debt” by Caroline Grondahl

A Poem About Credit Card Debt

There is an open wound inside of me that can only be filled with Things. Capital T.

I have an insatiable need to buy Things – just Things. Flower vases. A used copy of Crime and Punishment that I will never finish. It was only $4. Does it make me look smart? отлично.

A bag of oranges, the ones with skin so tough I can’t peel them with my thumbs. A pair of Maryjane loafers. A squishy mat to stand on when I cook, a hat for my girlfriend that she will never wear but that’s not why I bought it. A pack of cigarettes because I thumbed through Lunch Poems the other day.

I flirt with minimalism only for the thrill.

I need my stuff in order to live.

Some may call this clinical depression. I think that’s an easy way out. I bought a green scarf with the letter C on it. Just in case I go missing and you can’t remember who is at the center of all of these Things. A to go coffee mug for my morning walks where I pretend to be a rich Brooklyn Socialite.

As you can see, I’ve been quite busy spending money that I don’t have, baking brie with figs and working on my old Hollywood drawl.

I’m waiting for the train, holding pink frosted cupcakes in a crisp white box. I ignore the news alerts about record colds, tsunamis, snow storms where there shouldn’t be. I touch my mask, it’s hugging my nose tightly. I check my bank account.

It’s so weird. My credit card bill keeps increasing, even when I try to pay it off. At least give me a fighting chance against myself.

At least let me pretend, just a little while longer.


Caroline Grondahl was born and raised in Albany and Guilderland, NY, and uses she/they pronouns. She lives in Brooklyn with a stray, injured cat she rescued. He’s kind of just a very small human in a cat suit who now lives there and does not pay rent. Caroline works in the nonprofit humanitarian aid world and writes about small, silly things that mean nothing and everything. You can follow them at @carogrondahl on Twitter.

This poem won Third Prize in the 2022 HVWG Poetry Contest.