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We were sitting in a hotel suite in Sin City, the only two sober humans for miles
When Aunt Susan told me:
“My grandmother, during the Depression,
Her family would leave the door open every night
And if someone came to the door during dinner, she would let them in.
Her family didn't have much at all – they barely made enough to live on.
But people were hungry, and she had food, so she fed them.”
And as she said this I felt the almost unbearable weight of the
Trash-compacted bag of spoiled leftovers
I carried to the edge of the driveway on an early Tuesday morning.
And I heard the shiny gold lock click as my father turned it every night – for protection.
My middle-class suburban neighborhood in Grand Junction, Colorado, was not a safe place to be.
And later, I heard jobless suburban housewives “sipping red wine out of crystal glasses”
Complain that seasonal workers from Mexico
(who picked fruit from 6:00 to 6:00 every day during the summer and sent every cent back home)
Were hitching a ride on the back of their “hard work.”
After all, this is America, people, the land of opportunity: you have to choose to be poor.
I'm leaving the capital letters behind, no more Democrat, Republican, or Socialist.
Policy has no place in poetry.
I'm just saying that I'm seeing closed
Closed doors when the hungry are outside
And closed borders when the hungry are on the other side
And closed minds and closed hearts
And is this who we want to become, America?
Will we sit at our dinner table,
Holding hands as we pray to the country's designated God,
Eating so much that obesity is a leading cause of death in this nation,
And ignore the doorbell?
I almost regret that we were bailed out of our mess
Because I long for the empathy that widespread desperation brings.
But no, “We the People” cannot be inconvenienced by tragedy.
More people die in the United States of too much food than too little.
So why are people dying at all?