rows of scrapped up cardboard
and if you’re lucky, metal scraps,
covered (if you’re lucky)
with old, holey blankets that should
wrap up your babes,
stitch them together with clothes pins
in pretty patchwork jumbles
to keep you dry,
maybe just damp.
Go get your card stamped,
check in for work today,
Go back to your cave.
And don’t make waves.
Be good, you slovenly, filthy masses,
huddle together, no one else will have you:
shaming can bring virtue.
We’ll throw you
crumbs when available.
Your beds and chairs and whatever
you call furniture
are heaved upon the sidewalk,
get them, or they’ll be taken:
Your home’s doors are boarded up,
don’t think about crawling back in.
We’ll pour champagne from our windows,
open your mouths wide, if you’re good,
you can have some, too.
But don’t make waves.
Go back to your tin-cardboard-blankie caves.
Don’t worry, little people, we’re in control,
there’s always the street, bunch up some leaves
to cradle your head
when it’s time for bed.
Come for an interview,
there’s a job available,
but you need an address,
P.O. boxes, don’t apply. Oh, and shower, too.
You must look the part to
get the part,
if you can’t do that, stay home,
you’re on your own.
We’ll take your children from you,
if you won’t feed them, we’ll give them
to an orphanage,
and if they’re thirteen, we’ll employ them
as a part-time janitor,
or bathroom scrubber,
support them, because you won’t.
Now, there’s a job we’ve given your sons,
since you won’t care for your little ones.
Hunger in those young bellies,
that’s an atrocity, when
there’s bread and cake
at the half-price store,
that should sustain you until you
get up and work,
then you can have some more.
If you’re Union, don’t apply,
we’ll pay you pittance,
you want a job? Then take it.
Unless, you’re lazy, and you just don’t care.
Get up, get a job, come dressed for the part,
and have an address, too.
The banks are taking care of your homes,
if you work hard, you can have one too.
You got one once, you’re on your own,
no entitlements here for you.
Stay off the street, vacate the parks, there is
no place for you. Beggars are illegal,
so don’t loiter, keep moving, stay low,
’til Poof! You’re gone!
because we made you so,
we can just pretend you’re not there.
If you’re lucky, if you work hard
you can have some, too.
Pull yourselves up by those bootstraps,
oh, you have none? Get up,
get dressed for the part,
your tin cup,
buy some strings to
tie those shoes together.
But before applying, make sure
your pants are creased, you’re showered, too.
You’ve got to look the part,
to get the part, you know.
The banks and Wall Street, the great free market
will take care of everything, so go.
Where we can’t see you.
©Janet Mitchell, December 2011