Originally posted 9/5/2011. Revised.
The rude elements
dressed your dirt-blessed hand.
Do not apologize for it.
Make the rich,
the distastefully clean,
shake it. Make them see you:
tired, aging too fast,
forearms threaded strong
from work. Force them
to see your clothes: how thin the fabric
on your jeans, the patches,
Give them a moment
to take it all in,
then smack them. Seize their throats
and impress upon them
the everlasting schedule
of your simplified days —
each day you rise, sup,
work, sup, work, sup,
a routine broken
only by the time you steal back
to make a home, make children,
bounce the baby on your greasy knee.
None of the dirt you carry makes you
unclean. All of it was borne to make them
what they are. You deserve this anger
as you count pennies,
You’re more glue
for this shiny cracked country
than any glitter-fed celebrity
or squinting dollar-breeding usurer;
make it known. Grab them one and all
by their hands and at the very least,
make them shake yours — show them
that honest tan under your grime.
If their fear is a likely result,
it may be the wedge
to open the doors
they’ve kept barred for so long.
Who better than you
to open them? Only your shoulder,
so long pressed to their wheels,
can possibly burst those locks.