My Place

I know my place, here between the have nots and the one percenters. Aware of the inequities and the extravagances,

My heart catches at the injustices, the injuries, those who’ve not fallen through the cracks, as much as having been ground into them.

The ledge I occupy, precarious as it is, teeters on the edge of future fortunes and unseen pitfalls. I know my place.

Mark My Words

Take your big red pen and mark an x over the parts you find offensive. I guarantee you’ll cross out 

Obscenities right and left. But will you not obliviate the hunger of starving children? A curse word upsets

Your delicate sensibilities but the thought of a woman panhandling only causes disdain. Pull yourself up

By your bootstraps! you cry, without noticing she’s sold her boots to feed her children. You claim

To be pro-life, but in truth you are only pro-birth. Stop pretending you care when you voted for a heartless bastard.

Almost Fair

We learned young that there is no fairness to life, it takes money to make money, or

Something along those lines. I try to tell that to children who have nothing, 

Those whose families cannot provide medicine or proper health care. They listen

With big eyes, nodding. Their congressmen tell them they’re leeches.

Perhaps mum shouldn’t have had that one more mouth to feed. Sitting in their 

Judgement seats, deciding who deserves to be healthy, who gets birth control, 

Who thrives, who wilts. If one has the means the pearl has been pre-harvested 

From its calcified cocoon, sitting plump and pretty to be strung on a necklace of 

Achievement. While others dive deep, repeatedly, tirelessly in search of reward,

Often reduced to dashing their oysters against the rocks of their existence. 

On Facebook a friend and I were discussing food insecurity in the U.S. I related the following true story:

When I taught sixth grade one of my students, Charlie, was caught stealing from another teacher’s file cabinet. He only took candy bars, even though she had money in her purse. When we began questioning him we learned he was hungry. 

His stepdad had gotten a raise and they no longer qualified for free or reduced lunch. 

My principal was pretty astute. She brought Charlie’s little sister in and learned that the family decided she’d get to eat lunch. 

I kicked myself for not noticing that Charlie wasn’t eating. 

It turned out that Charlie was being neglected. He went to live with his grandmother in another state. Sent me a photo of himself smiling, with chubby cheeks. 

Until that experience I just didn’t have a clue.

Every time I hear that a politician wants to cut food stamps or do away with the free or reduced lunch programs in schools I think of Charlie. Our current Speaker of the House, Republican Paul Ryan, would have us believe that the free lunch programs in schools are a drain on our society. I say, let him try living the life of a hungry sixth grader for a year. 

“In 2014: 48.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. 14 percent of households (17.4 million households) were food insecure. 6 percent of households (6.9 million households) experienced very low food security.” From Child Hunger Facts and Statistics.

  

Even Hitler Could Be Charming

don’t tell me how
nice your
candidate is,
what a good
christian
he claims to be;
by his actions
he will be known:
does he care
for the sick,
the disenfranchised?
do his actions
help or hinder
the betterment of the
“least of these”?
does he threaten
shutdowns when he
doesn’t get his way?
do even members
of his own party
distance themselves
from him?
take a dose of
reality
look beyond
your own
narrow interests
and call me in
the morning.

Third World?

I. Third World you might say,

Or developing country

Depends on viewpoint.

 

II. Looking at my world

With fresh eyes and open heart

What might our guests see?

Saint Augustine, FL

III. Our ruins are fresh

Compared with Antigua’s own;

Centuries apart.

Guatemala

IV. Yet ruins abound

And for many life is hard.

Poverty lays claim.

Guatemala
United States

V. Third World existence

Among First World convenience

Which is most honest?

Single Mom, 3 Kids, Lost Job

I saw you standing on the curb

My car was fifth in line

Then fourth, then third,

And then I read your sign.

“Single mom, 3 kids, lost job”

My hand reached for my purse

Even as my head was saying “No.”

After all, it’s easy to write words on a 

Piece of cardboard: 

“Out of work,”

“Just lost my house,”

“Anything will help.”

Why did my heart win out over my

Head this time? Maybe because

I saw me in you. 

I saw my mother,

My daughter.

I saw every woman who has

Struggled, for whom

Life has never been

A crystal stair.

Every woman who has been

Close to having her own

Cardboard sign.

You cried when I rolled 

My window down. I cried 

All the way home.

I borrowed a bit from one of my favorite poems by Langston Hughes. I thought I should include it here: