yeah, i guess i’m a little sad that someone like you who did her best to go to school like they said—to get ahead—instead, is hiding, decades later, from the loan sharks who swim the waters of opportunity. and me, too. both of us. we should have saved ourselves the trouble and skipped college, because what did it matter? you, with the big heart, the social worker who rescued me from the ash-caked winter highway in 2002, now working retail as you roll past 35…and i’m exhausted reeling left and right and clutching at whatever art jobs i can, and most days i can’t even afford a $3 day bus pass, let alone a bottle of the cheapest bourbon the store has.
between us we owe, what? 100,000 dollars for those fancy fucking degrees? maybe. something like that. might as well be a million. you play housekeeper to your family and still never buy yourself anything nice. i sell whatever i can, digging into my own closets every month like a sociopathic poacher of memories, an eBay pimp. the cop who accidentally blew his brains out two weeks later clued me into that auction site that helped me make rent last month, but then a five dollar charge for using the site bounced four times and the bank charged me over $100 for that, and now i won’t make rent this month because of those fees. life grinds you down like that. one bank shot fee at a time. shoves you three acres backward for every stagger step you make forward, and then sits you down and makes you watch scumbags on TV who own four houses and talk about how the rest of us need to learn sacrifice. shit! we know all we need to know about sacrifice. we know as much about sacrifice as a man in diapers knows about the smell of his own guts. what we need to learn is how to skin a talking head with a rejected credit card, and without leaving the living room.
some people life makes lords, and some, it makes prisoners. it doesn’t pay to take it personally. none of it is personal. greed has no soul, no memory, no face. blood commands gravity. ghouls on wall street rob billions, while you and i are hunted down for a five dollar bill. yeah, that makes me sad a little. for a second or two. and so does the fact that getting a tax return this year would bring you a whole lot of peace of mind, but you won’t get even that, because the IRS has already scooped it out of your check and handed it, winking, to the loan sharks instead; to the banks that already robbed us once. i know. i’ve already opened your mail. a few thousand dollars would change everything for you, but they don’t give a shit about that. even though such a small sum won’t even chip off the interest that has built up while you’ve been out trying to make a living.
to make it all worse, other poor people defend the politicians who drove the getaway car for the vampire banksters, and now me and my poor friends are barking at each other like contestants in a washed up celebrity puppet show death match, all of us shouting through broken teeth and ready to kill, ready to kill. and the soft-palmed psychopaths who have razed our dreams to the ground are busy hissing at personal trainers, raping their maids, sunning on their yachts, and rewriting campaign finance laws.
but that’s the cruel world, and it hasn’t changed since i first met it. i hardly notice the corruption and agony anymore. it’s a background patina. i might not summer in the Hamptons, but i’m a homeowner here in Hell. and those ghosts don’t get under my skin any more than the hail does.
what makes me sad, in the end, is that you and i can’t huddle together when dusk falls, and as we doze off, curse the powers that be, breathing in each other’s hair. because that’s the only thing that makes it better, yanno? that’s it. nothing else works. we’ll never win, and we’ll never have justice. we’ll die poor, never having accepted the lie, our bile become acid; our righteous outrage become ulcers and tumors and brain decay, and then, like dust, we’ll return to the wind and the sky. and the world won’t miss us much.
all that you can do is find someone to ride with you and hold at night. you’ll never stem the tide of injustice, but you can howl together. leaning over the abyss. spitting out stars, even as the horizon burns. and you won’t care that the gates are falling because tall gates were never what you needed. a hand to hold was what you needed. another voice next to you as it all goes up in flames. a nameless friend who found their heart in caring for yours.
but you and i can’t even do that because you and i don’t even have each other anymore. nor can we let go. we are like ghosts, breath taken by the maze of poisoned concrete, returning because the threshhold is not our friend. and instead of making love and laughing at death, or drinking cheap beer and watching a movie as the day darkens, we go to our separate corners of the town and yell at each other through our smartphones over bills that are past due. it sounds like tiny electric bugles, like victory trumpets echoing in a rich man’s porcelain toilet bowl.