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Poem in response to No Poverty
January 2018
By Ilana Arougheti
CC Image courtesy of barnimages on Flickr
Author’s Note: The World Bank defines the International Poverty Line as existence on $1.90 a day or less.

            If you can’t face the fac(e)ts of the coin;

Even as lives flicker on its rim,

Each cent a greater weight, a line in the sand;



            You are what you have been,

And therein lies

A canyon of coins and comfort

Giving capital letters, cold distance

To worries experienced, to losses impossible

To know  best from suburbs’ warm beds.


            So see what you can, wrap it up in a frame;

For the price of a cup of coffee -

For the price of

Seven hundred and sixty seven million faces

One in ten hands, countless countries -

Life’s every concern compacts.


            For the price of a cup of coffee -

The worry of a choice between food and heat

The gravel of a night on a city street

The tang of tainted water, the dream of a schoolroom seat

The ache of glances thrown and chances lost -

Different sorts of bitter than a café blend.


            For the price of a cup of coffee -

The hollow of an empty medicine bottle

The planks of shelters never meant to stand for homes

The planes of a daughter’s protruding ribs

The bricks of a town too weak to be rebuilt -

Different sorts of roughness than a corrugated cup.


            Think, then, beyond the price of a cup of coffee -     

With kids given fairer shots at steady futures

With jobs to bring strong souls back into the fray

With teams of aid to help out forlorn neighbors

With mere slivers of cash influx redirected -

A hope for strength lies, stronger than caffeine.


            If we can handle coffee,

We can bridge the gap and face the facts.

We must unite

To drain the cup -

Donate, educate,

Share every drop -

Someday, stand level

And watch new roots

Sprout from the grounds.

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