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Friday, November 13, 2009


by Del Doughty

The guy who lives across the street
has got chapped hands and got sore feet.
Works all day for the D.O.T.
then pulls second shift at a factory.
It’s hard to get a good job in this town
so most folks hold three shit ones down.
My neighbor’s daughter, she waits tables.
Buys a full tank of gas when she’s able.
Ivy Tech, three more semesters—
it’s the cut in her aid that really tests her.
Her mother works as a legal secretary
for the firm of Curly, Moe, and Larry.

Just up the street there’s a mortgage broker.
He sees his job as a game of poker.
It doesn’t matter if he makes bad bets
when working-class folks will fade his debts.
If we played like that, we’d go straight to jail,
but his institution’s too big to fail.
All this talk about socialist specters!
While you fret about it, he’ll vivisect you:
he’ll take your chips and “loan” them to a friend,
who sells ‘em high then buys ‘em back again
when the price has dropped, ‘cause that’s what matters.
Someone else’s loss makes his wallet fatter.

Tonight at church, there’s a big fish fry
and afterwards, some coffee and pie.
My neighbors will go because it’s a good deal:
all you can eat for six bucks a meal.
Everybody there’s gonna get their fill
and the proceeds will pay someone’s doctor bills.
Then back at home, they’ll put up their feet,
sit on the couch and watch TV—
a reality show on their twelve-inch screen.
I hope it’s one that they haven’t seen.

Del Doughty has published two award-winning books of haiku, The Sound of Breathing (Saki Press, 2000) and Flow (Red Moon Press, 2004). He teaches English at Huntington University.