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Those People

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Those People

My cousin cleans other people's houses
for what little living she makes,
and owes over a hundred thousand
dollars for her dead, Korean War vet
husband's medical bills, so the bank
is poised to pull her trailer
out from under her.  But she won't
stand in line with us in church parking lots
or outside the Salvation Army offices.

It's rough outside in the twenty-
five degree February evening
waiting on the County Food Bank
distribution line, where
many of us are old,
most of us are women,
some are missing teeth,
few can afford our own glasses,
and none of us have seen a dentist,
an optometrist or a physician
for at least the last two years.

A lot of us are fat
since that's mostly what they give us
and most of what we can afford:
fat and sugar and flour, white
rice, pasta and potatoes and
on a good day dented cans
of vegetables and outdated ice cream

And how would you look if your couturier
were the church thrift shop? 
So she refuses to stand
in that line.  She won't.  She can't
in the richest nation on the planet
it's shameful to need, to appear
to be lower class, probably
trailer trash, a moocher, a user
too irresponsible to save
what little money you make
for food after the rent is paid,
so no, how could she afford
to be seen standing in line
with those people?

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Vi's works appear widely both in print and online. She conducts Poetry Workshops and gives readings in Central New York. Her latest chapbook is "Sine Qua Non Antiques (an Arcanum of History, Geography and Treachery).

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