how poor are you ... really?

Downtown was *thick* with rough people, insane people and people emanating cautionary smells yesterday. Halloween excitement, I guess. It got me thinking about poor people, and specifically about how one measures their own poverty.

* * * * *

Sure, everyone *claims* to be poor, pretty much all the time. They say things like
We need to cut back.
We have no money left this month.
There's no way we can afford a vacation this year.
There's no way we can afford a vacation anywhere nice this year.
O my God, all my clothes are rags.
O my God, all my shoes are disgusting.
O my God, I can't wear these shoes on vacation.
This place is a crack house.
This place is a crack house unless we get a new couch and love seat.
and so on. But how do you know if you really *are* poor?

* * * * *

You ride everywhere on your bike but
you hate bike riding and
you don't give a shit about the environment.

Also, the bike was given to you
meaning stolen.

Crazy Glue is a viable dental option.

The Dollar Store is a destination.

You and everyone you know smokes
but you and everyone you know can't afford it.

You enjoy yelling things
in the street
while trying to smoke
at the same time.

You own a large dog
or several
and none of them are registered
because you don't really own them, all legal-like.

The way you dress, someone from another planet might think
you're a rap star
and then they might wonder
why rap stars sit in the street
yelling at people.
Less yelling, more rapping, they might advise
in that other-worldly way.

Your girlfriend is pregnant
all the time
but she's actually your brother's girlfriend
most of the time
so that's fine.

When you order something "juicy", you are not describing a steak.

People chase you sometimes.

Sometimes you chase people.

The police know you by name
and where you live
and who your friends are
only they call them associates.

You still live with your mom
but you don't feel bad about it
because you're not sure
if she's your mom anyway.

Old bag.

Blankets instead of curtains
or windows.

on your neck
or face.

The politics of your neighbourhood
are as complicated
and violent
as any Medici court.

You're always on the way
to get something.
These journeys that take all day
with detours all along
and never take you anywhere.


  1. I wrote something along these lines recently I am going to turn into a comic. About how we aren't really greedy but should be able to afford a bran muffin.


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