Tuesday, April 3, 2018


                                          Elegy for the American Dream

its not when, its if the car starts
its when you the bill comes due
you realize no matter how much
you worked, it ain’t enough
its when they say go to the doctor
but you don’t have insurance
even if you did there’s a deductible
it’s going to work so sick you can’t
stand up but you can’t miss the pay
it’s threatening yourself with the free clinic
if you don’t get better
its choosing the gas bill
or the electric bill this week
its trying to stretch two meals
out of everything
its standing in hours long lines to drop off paperwork
for food stamps only to get the interview
and find you make $50 more than the cutoff
its peanut butter sandwiches
its grilled cheese sandwiches
every night, because you bought
that loaf of bread and you can’t even
let the ends go to waste
its shoplifting milk
its making forty dollars last two weeks
its counting quarters to buy gas
its counting quarters to buy detergent
its counting quarters till payday
its chasing after you’re pay
its called being cash strapped
it’s the rent always being due
it’s the collection agency on the phone
at eight am everyday
so you never need an alarm clock
its realizing that minimum wage
means you mean nothing
it’s a ten-cent raise, or a quarter raise
or a percentage raise that barely
adds up to an extra $20 in pay after taxes
its having your debit card stolen
and everything bounces
its feeling rich when you get your tax
return only to be broke the next day
it's always bottom shelf or in a box
it’s not buying things new until the old is broken
even then, its trying to get by broken
its regretting every unnecessary transaction
its counting wasted time
its being too stressed to do anything other than waste time
it’s the two-job exhaustion
it’s not saying no to cash side work or overtime
its someone telling you to pull
yourself up from you boot straps
when you can’t get a break
its you telling them fuck off
because they never needed one

--Jason Baldinger

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