Poem published previously in “Rise: An Anthology of Power and Unity” by Vagabond Books
We like to classify our levels of destitution-
The news will often report the rates of homelessness,
The un-employed, the under-employed…
I’d like to add to this hopeless list
Those who excel at scraping by,
Who get confused by a day off,
Whose car/bus bag is full of hangers
From switching uniforms between jobs,
Who feel like it’s a luxury to eat a meal sitting down.
This category of people don’t do “Well.”
They are mostly too busy to “get ahead,”
“luck out,” or “take advantage of opportunity.”
Instead they get/luck/take
Shopper’s discount promotions,
And public transportation.
We may not have what you could mark on an application
As “special skills,”
But we know how to cook dried beans into something
That seems elaborately planned.
We know how to get on our knees in front of a bathtub
And wash our clothes by hand.
We know a dozen alternate ways to make money
If/when our second or first jobs fall through (again).
We are the elite set of humans that never get up very high
Yet always end up having to land on our feet.
We work hard so your statistics don’t have to.