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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Breakup kit

Our breakup kits contained hammers and glitter
hammers so we can rebuild our feelings of security
and knock down the walls we've built around our hearts--
Glitter so we can return the sparkle to our eyes when
we're done crying it all away.
Was it a bad sign that we had breakup kits ready to go?
How long did we stay together after we knew it wasn't
going to last?

Every couple has to break up in their own way and this
is how we're doing it.
We call each other for support every night
But we finally stopped fucking for old time's
We are doing this in our own time.
You sleep in a room with a skylight for a ceiling but
you've blocked out all the windows with heavy paper
so the light can't seep through
and I think it is a shame to waste all of that natural light.

I've been dreaming of elimination
Elimination is a euphemism for
piss and shit
I wonder what it is I am letting go of--
It's too obvious if I say I'm letting go of you.
But there it is.
Every night I dream of taking a shit.

Sometimes I dream I'm shitting in my own bed
How long, out of our three years
was I shitting in my own bed?

Everyone lets go in their own time.

I dream I am in NY City, in an apartment
with ten other people living there--
It's a large apartment but we all share one small
bathroom and it's always damp because it has no
window, what is it with all the windowless metaphors--
is it because I spent so many months not seeing the light?
Because you still can't see the light?
I wake up disappointed to find myself still in the desert,
sleeping in the bed where we once shared so many long nights
Maybe I should move to NY City,
There's more queers there
and maybe I could use my hammer to rebuild
faster and break down the walls of my heart
by fucking hot butches.
Everyone rebuilds in their own time.

I am pregnant
with possibility.
Positively bursting
with it
Every dream a poem
in the making.
In the mornings I wake
and try to unscramble
some of the words
on my tongue
from dream to page
daylight dissolves
them into oblivion
like so many cobwebs
brushed away
by a careless hand. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The injustice of a bare cupboard and a 40-hour workweek

I thought I'd never be
broke and angry again.
After divorcing my children's daddy
the man who could not hold a job for
longer than six months
in the last years of our relationship
the man who wanted to be "freelance"
but during the months between clients
when the cupboards were bare,
refused to let me apply for food stamps
"No family of mine will live off welfare."

And so I'd scrounge together
five dollars in quarters
buried in the couch cushions
and scraped off the floor of
my car
to go buy the fixings for
dinner for four.
Cupboards all bare,
I'd walk through the aisles
looking at expensive food
I could not afford to feed my children
and I'd pick up $1 box of spaghetti
$1.50 store-brand sauce
99 cent head of iceberg lettuce
I'd call "salad"
and $1 loaf of bread.
Can't afford butter so
I'll sprinkle it with garlic powder
and call it "garlic bread."

Going home I will put this food on the table
and I will wonder how I will pull this off
and what the kids will eat for breakfast now that
the cornflakes I bought on Monday
are gone
and the half gallon of milk was all
used up two days ago. Remember childhood
of powdered milk & refuse that
think this must be why my husband
refuses to let me get food stamps.
He grew up eating orange blocks of government
cheese, peanut butter in large cardboard
containers, black and white block letters
denoting what free food was inside
and that memory is too painful
for him to relive.

I hope that my children will not
understand that we are struggling
will not notice the empty space
on the shelves where there used to be
individual cups of apple sauce
and juice boxes
and endless varieties of Goldfish brand crackers
(Flavor Blast, Xtra Cheddar, Xplosive Pizza)
all within their easy reach. No more.
I try to distract them with puzzles and
videos- Finding Nemo on the TV
and just when I think I've pulled off
this illusion,
we'll go visit my sister
in Tucson.

When my oldest (who's seven) looks in her pantry
the first morning we are there,
he will stop in his tracks,
shout in awe, "WOAH."
"Where did you get all of this cereal??"

And I will turn my face away from him
so that he and my sister will not see
that I am crying.
Deep breath.
We will eat well for the weekend
and then we will go home to our empty cupboards
(I am too ashamed or proud to tell my sister we are struggling.)
And the father with no job and
I, forbidden from foodstamps,
"No family of mine will be on welfare,"
will try to fashion dinner out of
corn meal
and tofu
and oil.
I will cut them into finger-sized strips and I will
place them on the plate before my children
with a big, painted-on smile
and I will call them "vegan fish sticks"
(dinner for four, $3.00) and I will
go to bed hungry.

One afternoon I will go outside to
have a good cry where the kids can't hear me
and I will pick an orange absent-mindedly
from our tree
and pull it apart with my fingers, bring
sticky flesh to my lips, juice running down my chin
and it will be the sweetest, juiciest taste
I have ever had upon my tongue.
Because I stopped buying soda a month ago
and any juice we can afford to buy
is watered down for the kids to make it last longer
and I haven't had a piece of fruit in my mouth since Tucson--
Deep Breath.
I thought I'd never be this angry
or this broke, again.

Now it is eleven years later.
I've worked my way up from temp
jobs to a good, steady job
to support my family on my own-
won't rely on any man or woman to support me again.
My pride will not let me
my self-preservation will not let me
my Mama-bear-Do-Not-Fuck-with-my-children
will not let me.

My hours have been cut.
Paychecks no longer stretching like rubberbands
from week to week.
Cupboards are bare again
and I am broke and I am angry.
DES says I still make too much to qualify
for food stamps.
My empty fridge would beg to differ
my bank account would beg to differ
Can't make the rent and also afford to buy food
would beg to differ.
Cashed in all my jars of change for thirty-seven dollars
would beg to differ.
I am broke
and I am angry.
Worked too hard, for too long, to put up with this shit