Sunday, May 22, 2011

Futility Bills

I will be the first to admit that I don't really pay anywhere near as much attention as I should to "the news". For those of you that have been following my blog, you know that I went through my own  personal Dark Ages that lasted 12 years or so. I suppose it was during that time that the problems of the world began to matter less to me. Even though I have emerged out of those times to a better, brighter world I still can't seem to obsess on watching news coverage every single day. In my defense, in the wired-in world we live in, any major event is unlikely to not be brought to my attention by some means in fairly short order. Stick with me here please. This IS leading to making a point I promise.

So, even though I'm not a big news hound I think it's fair to say that someone would have to be extremely detached from the world to not know how poorly the economy is faring these days.  Job growth is stagnan and layoffs or shutdowns continue for businesses all over the country.  Let's face it, times are tough. For many people, there are no fluffs left that they can cut out of their budgets.  Just paying their rent, food and basic needs is a challenge.

I wrote a poem concerning these very issues some time back. In any era of bad times, writers have always seen fit to exercise their right to address the situation. Some writers seek to instill hope. Some writers seek to rage against the machine. I saw fit to blend my personal experiences with the exercise of extreme measures that I never took.  You see, I empathize with the subject of today's poem I have been homeless before. Oh wait, I think the PC term these days is "dispossessed". Rather than wrestle with semantics, let me cut to the chase and say that living in a structure composed of plastic sheeting and cardboard sucks by any name. 

I came through that brief period of unpleasantness not much the worse for wear. My military traning prepared me for the experience of living outdoors with minimal amenities. I still had my vehicle and it was a stable time of year weather-wise.  This experience left me in a state that might have qualified as clinically depressed and so I can, most definitely, empathize with others in this plight. As I wind up this lead in to today's literary offering, I need to offer this disclaimer. While the actions taken by the subject of this poem are familiar and understandable to me, the poem should NOT be taken as either an endorsement or a condemnation by me of how someone might choose to deal with similar circumstances. Now, on to the poem:

Futility Bills

I haven't held a job worth squat since Boeing closed the plant.
I ought to pack my stuff and leave but, sadly, I just can't.
My car won't even make it to the highway underpass.
Assuming I'd somewhere to go or that the car had gas.

Bills are piled a half-foot deep upon the kitchen table.
Tuesday's when I think they take the phone or is it cable?
It really dI oesn't matter which, won't need it anymore.
I'm gonna be evicted from this place today by four.

I tried to phone my brother Dave. He wouldn't take my call.
I lost track of my sister when she moved away last fall.
The few friends that I had are in straits just as dire as me.
I think I'm learning just how bleak a life can come to be.

I guess the blame is partly mine for dropping outta State,
Not sure if doing college woulda saved me from this fate.
It doesn't really matter since there's no way I could know
How badly life could work out from a choice so long ago.

The plant was such a sure thing and the money was so sweet.
I was on the fast track to a home on Easy Street.
A home with every gadget that a man could ever buy.
And not a chance THAT money well was ever runnin' dry.

But then the contracts dried up when the airlines throttled down.
Wasn't long before the stores and cafes weren't around.
Between one week and next the life was sucked out of this place
And wasn't much but drinking left to fill the empty space.

Then came the past due notices and disconnection threats,
The nest eggs all got scrambled and were eaten up by debts.
The days of living high and mighty vanished in a wink,
And drugs were there to dull the pain left over by the drink.

Gracie left me 'bout that time, can't say it was a shock.
The things we hadn't lost by then were pretty deep in hock.
My self respect was gone by then. It didn't matter much.
I could tell, by then, how hard she tried to tolerate my touch.

So now I sit here by myself too numb to even care
I'm tired, I'm lost and I can't seem to find ME anywhere.
I've lost my worth. I've lost my things and surely lost my way.
For God's sake I'm so screwed by now, I've lost my will to pray.

So one last shot of Jack should serve to bolster up my will.
It's not the way I would have chose, it's not a magic pill.
Instead it is the product of two men both rich and great,
In short, it is the Smith & Wesson Special .38

The steel is cold, unwielding, much the way my life has been.
But things, in life, don't always end as kind as they begin.
And as the shot is burning and the tears flow down my face
It's time to end this circus and to move on from this place.



  1. Wow. Very thought provoking and emotional poem. And I'm sure you speak to many who are having hard times. And truthfully, those with college degrees don't seem to be faring much better these days.

    I'm glad that times have gotten much better for you. Your wife is a wonderful person that I've met recently. And I'm enjoying your writing as well!

    Very good. I will retweet!

  2. Well done, Jeffrey. (Do you go by Jeff?) I read the whole poem; I hardly make it through any blog post these days.