It’s the third Wednesday of April.
Mom comes home with her monthly allowance.

What little is left after the government fees.
Prices rise as the allowance shrinks.

The line is long and slow at the food bank,
winding and lethargic like a river run dry.

It doesn’t buy enough, it never does,
and each month, the precious reserve shrinks.

Grandma’s roses are brown crumbles,
shriveled and dead.

The silver paint coating Dad’s truck
hasn’t seen the sun in years.

The cloying stench of sour sweat
stains even the foundation of the house.

Lips peel like sunburns. Tongues
scrape gums like sandpaper.

The Johnsons next door haven’t
paid their taxes.

The air thickens
when the Collectors come calling.

It’s dense enough to drown in.
Rain falls, pools in the gauge,


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