Speak Softly and Carry a Big Purse

As a kid I got to pick three items
from the Taco Bell value menu
and my mother loaded hundreds
of hot sauce packets into her
heavy handbag. I don’t know
what they were used for, but mom
was good at seeing possibility
where there seemed none.

At Pizza Hut, she shoved a canister
of parmesan into her purse before paying.
Next time, she said, I’ll take the salt.
But I want spaghetti tomorrow.

At the dollar movies we bring a packed lunch
of candy left over from Halloween, crack cans
of generic diet soda. She sees no reason to play
by the rules. Grapes at the grocery are free
if you can eat them fast and not be noticed!

I’ve seen her complain when the water goes out
and her boss pays her late and the food stamps
decrease while nobody’s caring, so I know how easy
this game is for some of us.

Heather Dorn is the Director of the Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary non-profit that runs free poetry workshops, contests, readings, and anthology publication for local voices. She is graduating with her PhD in English, Creative Writing (Poetry) from Binghamton University in Spring 2016. Her work can be found in Festival Writer, Helen, Metonym, and the Paterson Literary Review.

This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Speak Softly and Carry a Big Purse

  1. Belinda Crane says:

    Loved this piece. It really made me smile.

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