The Bronx Bomber

root - Posted on 17 July 2009

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.


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