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Shining Through the Poverty
Anjie Kokan



My poverty is a two-week late child support check,
a food stamp account in the form of a credit card,
and an SSI deposit for my son's autism. It's energy
assistance for gas and electric and a cell phone bill
for safety. My poverty is a possibility that I won't get
paid for the job I love because the funding isn't guaranteed,
but my poverty is faithful and keeps on working anyway.
It twists $5 from the nowhere of my arm because
my 10-year-old daughter's needs will be fulfilled,
she convinces me, with a cool shade of mahogany hair dye.
My poverty sparkles in the satin bluegrass eyes of my small
boy when the state food card buys him strawberry ice-cream.
It rattles everywhere we go in that cute, clunky car that runs
on prayers I sometimes forget to say. My poverty is backyard
lit by the flicker of the yellow finch feeding on the seeds
of the drooping lemon queen. I dress my poverty in a light
crocheted sweater from Good Will over a long, faded skirt
handed down from a friend of a friend of a friend. From the bargain
bin at Walgreen's, my poverty colors my mouth peasant pink,
and I say to the children, Smile with me, as I tilt their little faces past
the tomatoes and toward the camera. They are good children
and do as they are told, and we gloss over the secret most people
don't know because, damn, do we wear our poverty well.

This poem first appeared in Mamazine. 
Used with the author's permission.



Anjie Kokan is an internationally published and award-winning writer who enjoys life in the Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin with her two children and poet husband, Robert. Inspiration for her writing comes from those she loves. Her work has been featured in many publications including The Upper Room, Mezzo Cammin, and Mamazine. When she isn’t writing, growing sunflowers, or spending time with loved ones, Anjie teaches adult ESL and facilitates creative writing workshops. You can find out more about her here.

Post New Comment:
Thanks your kind words, everyone. I appreciate them.
Posted 08/08/2014 12:03 PM
Formidable. Wonderful tribute to human courage and ability to cope in tough circumstances. Congratulations! Ed Hujsak
Posted 08/07/2014 05:37 PM
Larry Schug:
This is the way to live--realize you're alive, be strong, be proud, care for those you love. thanks for putting it in such fine words.
Posted 08/07/2014 03:53 PM
Sometimes you just have to laugh or cry. Might as well laugh. A wonderful poem.
Posted 08/07/2014 02:47 PM
Oh I forgot how fantastic this poem is, your courage, your upbeat attitude and strength.
Posted 08/07/2014 02:06 PM
fantastic images
Posted 08/07/2014 09:23 AM
Outstanding piece. Unique approach gives it power.
Posted 08/07/2014 08:24 AM
You sure put a brave face on a hard problem. Thanks for your wealth of words.
Posted 08/07/2014 07:29 AM
Mama Bear:
Wonderful poem! You and I both look great in our poverty.
Posted 08/07/2014 07:16 AM
It should come as no surprise while poverty is an unwelcome visitor, many who are faced with it still have humor and love and most importantly uncommon survival skills in their lives. Anjie has captured this all brilliantly.
Posted 08/07/2014 07:06 AM
Your details ring true and instead of being complaining or dispirited, you present them in a positive, spunky voice. Thank you for this good poem!
Posted 08/07/2014 06:31 AM
Very creative thinking. Good poem!!
Posted 08/06/2014 11:58 PM
Janet Leahy:
A spirited poem,images are specific and delightful. The ending is perfect in tone. Thanks Anjie.
Posted 08/06/2014 11:47 PM
Donna Pflueger:
A poem moving to its own jazzy beat and singing out in a bold honest voice saying so much! Awesome, Anjie!
Posted 08/06/2014 11:28 PM

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