Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Sure, I’ve seen it. Mortgage six months behind,
even the crickets monotone song crying past-due, past-due,
electric off for days and candles melted to paper plates,
gas shut off so you’re heating water over a fire
just to take a warm bath before they’re knocking on the door
eviction notice in hand, red lettered foreclosure sign
pounded into the overgrown yard,
then it’s life on the road, restless nights spent half asleep
on a car seat that doesn’t fully recline, ducking the repo man
parking lot to parking lot, wandering the aisles of stores
just to be where it’s cool, air conditioning a luxury
away from the vehicular dutch oven your whole life
is packed into, wadded up clothes and trash
crowding every window, empty fast food cups
and napkins tossed haphazard on the dash,
cupholders overflowing with cigarette butts and ash,
before you know it all the cash is gone,
the plasma center says it’s two weeks until
you can donate again, your wrist is cramped from scribbling
the same addresses, phone numbers, job histories,
the same reasons for leaving work or work leaving you,
wondering if the phone will even be activated
if anyone ever calls, but they never do,
so you find yourself lost at gas stations,
wandering between cars in fast food drive-throughs,
at super-markets and seedy spots downtown
pretending you’ve run out of gas
or you’re just trying to get enough change
to catch the next bus to somewhere anywhere USA
when you’ve really not eaten anything but stale Doritos
the past three days and your mind’s getting hazy,
you could use a stiff drink or five
or even just a fucking Dasani
to clear the smog from your eyes, to sharpen all these
wavering lines the world takes on around its edges
like you’ve been looking at your life underwater
and maybe you have, maybe you’re drowning
and you’re the only one who knows it,
so who gives a shit if you stole some crackers
and a twelve pack of Bud, there’s mountains somewhere
of food being thrown away, and today, just today
you’ve chosen not to die.

Provocative truth teller, author of 19 poetry collections. Cat dad. Dog dad. Currently working from Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: