Food Stamps

You definitely don’t want to be behind
the lady in line at the grocery store with
a handful of food stamps. She whips the
bright yellow envelope from an overloaded
purse, and you think to yourself, “Oh for
the love! This is going to take forever.” Or
maybe you’re the patient person who doesn’t
mind at all, the one whose patience we all
admire. But today, YOU are the person in
line with the bright yellow envelope. Today,
YOU are the person who has to sign each
certificate one by one as the cashier swipes
your food items past the scanner like some
type of magician. When something doesn’t
register she fingers the keyboard expertly like
a saxophonist, perfectly manicured fingernails.
One gallon of 1% low fat milk; one container
of peanut butter 16­18 ounces; one box of cereal
not to exceed 36 ounces. This is what it has come
to. Aisles so colorful. Shelves overflowing with
food and drink. The people behind you roll their
eyes and click their elegant heels. Today, YOU
are the asshole in line disputing the cost of a lime.

Nathan Prince has studied writing all over Illinois. He lives and works near Chicago. Creative work has appeared most recently in Subtle Fiction, Permafrost and Euphony. He was the featured poet for Contemporary American Voices in July 2012. A novel, Burning Gardens, will be available on Amazon in May. He believes in the unfathomable possibilities of creativity. Visit his website at

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