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Tuesday, December 13, 2011


by Rachel Kellum

I have been occupied, my friends,
by some American dream
from which I cannot wake, a mother
of three caught up in the bed sheets
of eighty grand, the price
I will have paid for the license to teach
thousands of students to fall asleep,
lulled by the cost of their shiny new minds,
banking on hopeful employability,
liberated by education, enslaved by debt,
while the rich take another vacation,
and unemployment lines lengthen.
I tell them: corporations are in bed
with your government. They giggle.
I ask them: what if, what if, you don’t
find work, what will make you rich?
I hand them a pen, a brush,
and say, you will only get rich
with this. They blink, don’t believe me.
They see my job as a beacon, but
I am only broken, caught up in the works,
a well-greased gear who can’t seem to shed
the Sisyphean machine long enough to stand
with you on Wall Street, on any street,
my own deserted Main Street.
Diffident internet activist,
I only read and click, click and read.
Forgive me. I’m occupied, my friends,
by an American dream I was sold
before I was old enough to know
what was at stake, or how
to tell a real dream from a fake.
In it, while I feverishly sleep
to feed my children, for my children, you
are shaking the dream
state awake.

Rachel Kellum lives on the eastern plains of Colorado where she teaches college writing, humanities and art. She stares at the sky a lot. Her poems have appeared in Barnwood Magazine, Blood Lotus, Slow Trains, The Telluride Watch, Four Corners Free Press, and other online venues.  She blogs at