Ten Poems by Robert Plath

poor wasn't calloused hands, hand-washed clothes
poor was words sticking to our tongues like hairs
poor wasn't tightening our belts
poor was a strap
poor wasn't no monkey-money doughnut-money gasoline money
poor was hugs harder to scrape up than extra bucks
poor wasn't late rent no rent collectors
poor was separate meals every-man-for-himself
poor was cunt whore motherfucker bastard cocksucker
poor wasn't a broken palm
poor was no hand at all
poor was a fist
poor wasn't going without a radio
poor wasn't holes in shoes holes in sheetrock
poor wasn't leaky shingles bad tires
poor was no song no dance
poor was no laughter
poor wasn't lost job minimum wage bill-up-the-ass
poor wasn't downsizing factory closings two part-time jobs
high blood pressure heart attack
poor was no lovemaking through the walls
poor wasn't foodstamps
poor was no pride
poor wasn't nervous breakdown shock treatment
locked up in Valhalla
poor wasn't loaves of bread from the church
poor was flipping the dinner table over
poor was kicked out of the house
poor wasn't no inspection sticker no brakes no spare
poor wasn't no vacations
poor was no words for a year
poor was never coming up from Virginia
never coming down from Westchester
poor was alone in one's own skin
poor was coke alcohol horses
failure fuck-up bum no-good
poor was complete silence
a face hiding in newspapers racetracks
poor was crying in a dark room
poor was a knife at throat a fight at a funeral
poor was knuckles through windows doors
poor was another women
a hard smack on a cheek already bloody
poor was not one kiss ever
poor was only touching shoulders coming and going
poor was never reading your son's poems

(Evolution #58) <---Suffolk Community College literary magazine)