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This poem was submitted for the "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" project and is reproduced here with permission from the author. All rights reserved. Poetry for the Mind's Joy is Poet Laureate Kay Ryan's project that includes a community college poetry contest administered by the Community College Humanities Association and a lively videoconference.

I, too, sing America.
I am the working mother.
You offer me glimpses of the “good life”
As I pass by your stores.
Well meaning, you show my child a wonderful time
Flaunting the fanciness I will never afford
Before dropping him off at my trailer door.
“Why don’t we have those things Mommy?”
“What happened that made US poor?”
This lot of poverty is looked on with disdain
As though this position is solely my blame.
Tomorrow,
You could be at my table
If your job was no more.
I would never offer you
the scraps off of my floor.
Then you will see how valuable I am
As the rich get richer on the backs of the poor.
And be ashamed that you thought I was just
Stupid, ignorant or a whore.
I, too, am America

 

Inspired by Langston Hughes’ “I Too”

Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, OR
Faculty Contact: Robin Havenick, English Faculty and Poetry Advisor