by Staff Writer
The Trouble with Poverty
After Billy Collins’ “The Trouble with Poetry”
By the Bronx Bomber aka Oscar Bermeo
The trouble with poverty, I realized
as I walked from Orchard Beach one night—
icy Bronx gravel under my sandals,
a show of skyscraper lights in the sky—
the trouble with poverty is
that it encourages the promotion of more poverty,
more cousins crowding a one bedroom apartment,
more babies making babies
hopping out of their mothers into the jobforce.
And how will it ever end?
Unless the end of the month arrives
and we have compared what little we have
to what we have been promised,
and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our overdrawn checkbooks
and sit with our hands folded over our stomachs.
Poverty fills me with joy
and I rise like a plastic bag in the wind.
Poverty fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a refrigerator in a landfill.
But mostly poverty fills me
with the urge to write about poverty,
to sit in the dark and wait for Con Edison
to appear at the tip of my stove.
And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poverty of others
with privilege and a badge.
And what a trifling crew we are,
identity thieves, white collar criminals,
I thought to myself
as a sharp hunger swirled in my poetry
and I, an American poet, view the City
as if through a window
which is an image I stole directly
from Billy Collins—
to be perfectly white for a moment—
the visiting poet of the Bronx
whose book of troublesome poetry
nips and retreats from the corners
of my mind as I stop and enjoy
the streets of my borough.