You see me there on the streets.
Down-trodden, in need of much needed care.
You don’t know how I got there, nor do you care.
As you see, I fought for your freedom in wars past,
When I returned from the latest mission,
My wife was gone, and so were my kids, as well as all the money.
The house was sold, and all I had was the clothes on my back.
Down the dwindling spiral of depression I sank.
I am now alone, looking for help from strangers whose freedom I fought for
You see me there at the checkout.
Short on change, so I have to put lunch items meant for my kids, when in school, back.
They cry as they watch me do it.
I hear your sighs of dismay, not knowing how it got this way.
You see, my husband left me for another woman.
Now I’m struggling to make ends meet.
Being a mother can be tough, even tougher when alone.
I can’t even afford childcare so I can find a job.
I go days without eating myself so my children can be fed.
You see me glaring through the window of the coffee shop.
Hoping I won’t be coming in looking like I haven’t showered in days.
I know you’ve noticed that worn down apartment building down the street.
I just so happen to live there.
The landlord is cheap with the repairs, and came in one night to my apartment and raped me.
I’m a runaway teen, I was physically and sexually abused by my older brother.
No one believed me because my brother said I was lying when he was confronted.
I feel dirty and ashamed on the inside for the things that were done to me.
I’m considering abortion of the child that resulted from the rape.
All I want is a coffee with the change I found to warm me, even if it’s temporary.
I see you give me dirty looks and evil glares.
Thinking I’m lazy and don’t want to work.
Before you judge, please take time to hear my story, you may be surprised.
No one chooses or deserves a life of poverty.
The circumstances that led to the unwanted situations are as unique as the individual.
Never think it can’t happen to you, because life can be unpredictable.
We’re all people who, at one point or another, are in need of a hand up instead of a hand out.
*This poem was written by a member of ALIV(e) who was willing to share this as a perspective piece of how some people potentially came to live in poverty. Her name is Melissa, and if links to her poetry are wanted, she will post them upon request.