A homeless person's stash near Place de Madeleine, Paris, one of the city's wealthiest commercial districts.
In the Mississippi Delta
children go to bed hungry
as their parents despair.
Living on minimum wage,
just trying to survive
now the factory's shut
and the money's run out.
Forced to rely on charity
and the kindness of strangers.
Trying to hang on,
living hand to mouth:
society's forgotten class.
Struggling to make ends meet
as more government programs cut.
Hard-working, honest people
trying to keep a roof over their heads,
food in their bellies
and their children in school.
Praying nobody gets sick;
health insurance is a luxury
they simply can't afford.
The car went last week;
couldn't keep up the payments
after the mill was mothballed:
a silent brooding sentinel,
waiting for a brighter day.
A day that will never come for their neighbor,
who shot himself in the Wal-Mart parking lot,
unable to face the indignity
of the bailiffs arriving
to auction the family farm,
where four generations worked the land
and earned community respect and recognition.
Unable to weep at the funeral,
his brother put his fist through the wall
of the county clerk's office
raging at the injustice
as news cameras whirred, recording the drama:
an ordinary life under extraordinary pressure,
no one ever should have to bear.
Helpless and nearly invisible
in a society that rewards achievement,
while shoving aside the needs of the poor.
No longer able to provide basic necessities
in the richest country on earth
where the government once served the people
with responsibility and decency.
In New Orleans
Katrina took their homes and jobs;
two years later
government assistance still thin on the ground
and home is a cot in a cousin's house.
Barbara Bush should see them now.*
On a New Mexico reservation
a group of rusty trailers
heat like a furnace in the desert sun
and the nearest job is a half-tank of gas away.
In Michigan, production is shipped overseas
and entire families are out of work,
out of benefits,
out of time.
Hard to hang on
hard to trust
hard to believe
this is America.
*Barbara Bush famously said that those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina were "doing very well now" in shelters in Houston and other cities.
Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden have plans to assist the 37 million Americans currently living in poverty. Read their Blueprint for Change here.
Read other contributions to Blog Action Day here.