Vacancy Line

I've been in this line
once, twice three times
before, ashamed
where dirty babies cry
and multiply,
where the strong, dumb
and fearful stand-
four-hour waiting room
before they call me up.

Mothers pregnant and
abandoned, tossed
in the abyss-
sons with guns under
their car seat,
running from the police.

Not an empty seat found,
cockroaches crawl up
thin walls,
and all I hear are tears,
teeth gnashing dark
against the cold-shoulder
caring workers behind
protective Plex glass-
treating me as third-world

Outside Ferrari's are
being driven,
paychecks are given
their world is green,
red lobster, orange
face sun rising east.

And here nobody
ever smiles in the
home of coal,
leaving a burnt taste
in my mouth-
a sinking sun follows
me always on my back.

Need is such a terrible
waste to live in,
and I tell myself I don't
belong here,
and that I'm better than
the gasoline spills
I'm surrounded by-
that dries and never ignites.

But I take my brick
of cheese they give,
food stamps, medical
in full-throttle living
in denial that I am
wearing what I've hung
in my closet over the years.

No better than the man
that stands before me,
the drunk behind
full of wine and empty
all of us with this flesh
and one
with souls starving
in a line that goes
twice around the world
and back to hell.

Toilet Paper

Another day unravels,
and no one wants to eat
the baked beans,
complaining it gives them
indigestion, an upset
stomach, as it sits in the pan
simmering on the community
and I sit
reading the newspaper
on the toilet bowl:
of stockbrokers embezzling
and clients losing everything,

how to make a cheesecake
twelve different ways
and how to eat it in three.
Two full pages of Obituaries
my eyes emptying over faces
I think I may have known,
and thankful it's not I

taking the hand
of Mary Dawson in the Marriage
section (her fifth scour
of divorce and a father
who tired himself of giving
her away to the flybys).

Scarce jobs of Employment
leaving starving people
to abandon,
their fingers dye with paper ink;
when they later end in the Life
section under investigation
and more fingerprints-
a drug deal gone bad,
double homicide, the quick
and easy street to survival
to serving a life term.

This is my day to day
community paper,
another town of moving
clouds, faces that appear
with deformation then
Prostitutes are picketing
their position on 28th today,
holding signs and the fifth-
amendment rights,
comparing themselves
as a waitress,
serving hungry customers
in and out they come,
leaving a satisfied tip
on the table.

Wished I would have noticed
before sitting down to do
my duty,
the empty roll of toilet paper
gone in the holder,
leaving myself no choice
to wipe with,
I rip apart the front page
of the newspaper,
the part where Hillary
wants to run for President 08,
crumbling, rolling into
a nice soft-like tissue
I wipe myself,
and flush away
today's events,
the fabric of lives behind
double-stitched into the world.

Anthony Liccione lives in Texas, but his heart resides in
NY. His poetry has appeared in Indite Circle, Gloom
Cupboard, Mastodon Dentist, Paper Wall, Locust Magazine,
Straight From the Fridge, Great Works, Lucid Rhythms,
Death Metal Poetry and others. His latest book
Please Pass Me, the Blood & Butter is available at Lulu.

2008 Underground Voices