We Are Miners

Every week has been the same,
the end of an ugly paper rainbow

of crumpled bills, each arc a different
shade of debt, shadowing places we

could once afford to go. Now our only
way out, the donut shop, with its fusion

of freshly brewed coffee and melting
chocolate tickling my senses like it

did when I was young, when rainbows
were fun and bills were on ducks, when

the donut sign was my favorite shade of red
and a donut cost a nickel.

Tonight, I crunch a couple of bucks in my fist
on the way to the donut shop. The silence is

fractured only by the steady, thick smack
of rain on asphalt and screech of wipers.

The door to donuts opens to the freshly baked
scents– and an overstuffed garbage bag slumped

on the floor, a green plastic suitcase of nomads,
nameless in a nation numb to the pain of the poor.

A man in frayed faded pants searches the bag like a miner
panning for gold while his wife smiles meekly, her teeth stained,

one missing. My teeth suddenly feel white as bleach,
my three bucks, a wad. I hold out the money to her

while her husband continues to excavate. “It’s ok.” I say
“I’m Donna,” she murmurs, whistling softly through her

gapped smile. “This is Jack,” and we hug.  The nameless
have become the named.  We are just miners on different

levels. Our drive home is silent. Our ugly rainbow
waits for us tonight in our safe, warm home.

Our sorrows are pocketed while we sleep.


Shelly Blankman and her husband are empty-nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland with their 4 cat rescues. They have two sons: Richard, 32, of New York, and Joshua, 30, of San Antonio. Her first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/journalism. Shelly’s poetry has been published by Whispers, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, Praxis Magazine Online, Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing and Visual Verse.

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