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This poem recalls a time in my young family's life when we were barely getting by. There were times when we had to hock jewelry in order to have food on the table. Judging by the lives of many today, the same problem persists for many families in the United States.


“We have no milk,” you speak quietly in a tone reminiscent of another’s observation that wine had run out at a wedding feast. Miraculous transformation of wine or milk from pitchers of water seemingly absent from the church job description of educator and director of parish music, a deficit, in proportion to the yearly salary of nine thousand dollars for seven days work each week with two weeks off for good behavior. As there is no blood-letting from turnips, there is no milk-letting from music. Your milk-filled breasts have not enough milk for baby and cereal for two growing boys at the table. Evenings liqour store clerking and weddings and funerals cannot fill both refrigerator and bellies. Nine thousand dollars, before government expenses and other deductions, does not provide well for a family of five. Well below the income for a family of four, much less five, no food shelves yet conceived for the impoverished and hungry. Reaganomics mock the poor who fight for the crumbs from the richman’s table. Trickle down’s empty promises stab visciously at the hunger-panged stomachs of the poor. The class of ‘70 golden ring, the weight far too heavy for a musician’s right hand, would decorate finer the hand of another man. Perhaps, remolten into glimmering shimmering light, the golden reshaped circlet might hang from a chain adorning the neck of some young woman. The jeweler’s eye gauges carefully its worth, twenty dollars, no more no less, twenty dollars it is. There will be milk and bread on the table for another week. © 2015, Robert Charles Wagner. All rights reserved.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020

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