People I've Never Met

I grew up believing poor was a four letter word 
and that poverty was curable with a hard day's work;

that we waste good money on welfare programs,
which only breed generations of laziness,
people seeking the fruits of my business

And then I grew up.

I got a job like they told me, working nine to five,
I got a place of my own, thought it'd all work out fine,

but the bills kept coming.
 
So I worked another job, late into the night
trying to fight, trying to right my financial wrongs,

then got sick from overworking.
Suddenly, all my money went to doctors
and laboratories.

I'd wear clothes threadbare until they tore from my belly
merciless in their misshapen indifference to my Hell.

I'd walk holes in the soles of my shoes
and wear bags to stay dry.
In the stores, I'd cry. 

"I can replace these dead shoes on my feet
or I can eat this week."

Somehow, through all my hard work,
I had become poor.

All of my money went to 
people I've never met
in places I've never been.

While they loaded up on Audis and steak dinners,
I got thinner and thinner
and I wondered,

"What did I do wrong?"

What was so wrong in following my passions,
in working and rationing
that I can't pay my rent?

In following a budget
and trying to put
a few dollars aside
to have food next week,
what was my defeat?
Trying too hard?

Then somewhere in the interim
I lost my home.

My friends and family picked me up,
they took me in
and cleaned me up.

They enveloped me in love.

I still can't comprehend the kindness they showed
to a hermitic toad who cast them off years ago.

For the first time in years,
I could hear music
flowing from my soul,
write words I'd never thought before

and I knew I had to do something about this.

I might not be a mastermind,
or even have the business mind
to mine diamonds from coal,

but I have a soul
and I have a voice
and I'm using it to give you a choice:

You can think poor is a four letter word
and that this issue has no bearing on you,
but I know destitution of the heart
leads to prostitution of the soul

and it's only a matter of time before our humanity
is replaced by moral inanity.

I know that the cure for cancer could be stuck
in the mind of some kid in Kenya
who didn't go to school past the third grade

or that world hunger could be solved
by a mother who starved to death
trying to feed her children.

So I work everyday
helping people I've never met
in places I've never been

because you never know who you'll need
or when.

 

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