Poem of the Day

San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck is curating a Poem of the Day with San Francisco Public Library for every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check back daily for a new poetic offering from assorted local poets or view the archive of previous day's poems.


Poverty Tax
by Kelliane Parker-2019


The hand that holds you down
Sits on you
Looks down on you
Never fails to keep its hand out for more
The long lines, extra fees
The long commute
The multiple jobs
The so called American Dream
Was built on the backs of the poor

Save your way out of poverty
Hard to do when the only thing left to cut
Are RX and groceries
You see the lie tells us
That a perfect credit score is virtuous
That poverty is cause by mismanaged money
But mostly of laziness
But those without safety nets
Can tell you just how hard the ground is
Every time they have hit it
And got up the next morning
To again launch from wrung to wrung

But hear this

The cause of poverty is greed
Yes, the cause of poverty is greed
The romanticism of this country
Built on cattle, chattel and cash
And works like this
Those on top are standing on the backs of others
The worship of money, of things
The worship of the zero sum game
Where I can’t win unless you lose
This is the ultimate lie of so called success
Every farm in this country, was an entire village
Of people who had been here 15,000 years
Every cattle ranch, the land of entire tribes
While the capitalist monoculture of GMOs
Eradicates indigenous food as weeds

So, I’ll take subsistence over moral poverty
Still give the last dollar I have
While the comfortable class worry about capital gains
I’ll be fine with bridge toll and gas
I’ll be fine with art and poetry
I’ll be fine foraging and growing
My worth cannot be measured in gold