Inspired by real childhood poverty in Las Vegas USA
by Saira Viola
art by Unitas
Her day was punched with silence
And shredded with hand me down promises
Only 10 summers young and already her dreams are splintered with hate.
Through the filmy curtain of her left eye
There is a coral ring of sadness it weeps across the school room desk
And scoops her into the arms of misery.
She ate cooked rat on Sunday
Her mamma told her it would be okay but the scabby hump of her intestines had
Already made her puke three times
Yellow chunks of phlegm glutting her tender craw.
In the canteen she copied Bernadette and jammed 18 free ketchup sachets into
Her pocket. She would mix it up later, add hot water and let her stomach rest
Up they called it hill-billy consommé. It left a sweetened trail of squalor in her
Home was a burnt out Lincoln; she was meant to be in heaven with her Barbie
Doll Casey J just another ghetto abortion statistic bloodying the sidewalk but
Her mama changed her mind.
Mr. Weezer let them use his trailer to wash up in exchange for favors and
Creepy dress up games,
He had a golf ball size cyst on his cheek she wanted to jab.
His breath smelt stale like warm beer pooled with cigarette butts and lard.
His lips were greased with evil.
She would sit alone at recess, rocking herself to sleep the chairs were comfy
And she avoided the fishbowl stares all the other kids hurled her way.
She had a make believe castle decked with pink balloons and Minnie Mouse
Dresses spotted with candy balls of glitter.
Her one friend Ellen got taken away by child services, Ellen was always
Capped with bruises on her arms her back and worse her eyes which were
Veined purple and green like trailing snapdragon. She missed her goofy laugh
And the way she drew white unicorns always with indigo-blue eyes.
More than anything she dreamt of a real dinner not pop top beeferoni but a sit
Down meal with soda and a Christmas tree. On Fridays she got her weekend
Snack pack from school but that didn’t stop her festering need for normality.
She is the canker sore of fetid greed a shameful scar on the landscape of red
Blue and white the banner hatred of the poor.
Is that the triumphant call of those stars and stripes that blister the tinsel beauty
Of the lonely Vegas night?