ebt poems #1-10

I started working on this new series of poems a few weeks ago without thinking about it -- I simply had a need to write these things after thinking through them on my own for a long time. These things that so often make me feel like I've lost my mind, that if the everyday, systematic violence of this colonized world is as rational as it claims to be then I have to make myself be okay with it. Maybe you're familiar with this too. Maybe you've been stuck on the knife's edge between making a living and not, between being able to function well enough to survive and not, just as I have, In that case, these drafts might be able to offer you something. Not a political program, or even a set of instructions; it's more like a dream of all of us who've been discarded putting an end to unjust systems. We'll need nourishment for that, and we'll need arms. But "almost any object can be sharpened / into a weapon", so I think as long as we find each other and find ways to work together we'll be alright.

Attached is a free pdf of the first 10 poems, feel free to share it with your friends or print out a copy. I'll leave a few of the poems below as a preview:

ebt poem #1 / for the comrade fariha
róisín who mentioned having $2,000
in the bank, of whom I ask only half
of that amount / cashapp $cansadita

a person qualifies
for food stamps
by being paid so little
they'd starve without it

the maximum amount
an individual can receive
is $194 per month in PA
comrades, if I spend

more than six dollars
and forty six cents
on food in a day, the ebt
man at his computer, in his

cozy hole at the welfare office
will text me, "You're on
thin ice, bitch"
I tried to buy a

warm meal once
at fresh grocer:
the ebt man spoke
through the register

"You parasitic fuck.
Put that shit back."
I bought $7 sushi,
as a treat, eating it

with sticky hands on
the walk back, dined
on black tea and water
and slept for 24 hours.

that's ridiculous. but when
I buy a jar of raw honey for us
and my roommate buys twenty
pounds of rice and free 

bread makes it into our hands
it's happiness at last, dear god
let no one find the bodies
of your landlord or mine

ebt poem #2 / sonnet for my friends who will not survive another day without the insurrection

almost any object can be sharpened / into a weapon. there are four sides, four / corners to the ebt card. were I / to hone the plastic card's edge, how many / swipes would it take to sever the exposed / arteries of the cop in front of me? / life abounds with such mysteries, such a / wonder to swipe for tea and milk afterwards

ebt poem #3 / raise your hand if you knew biopolitics intimately before you'd ever heard the word

I slept ten hours yesterday and two this morning and felt the same both days: a wake. There's no difference between sunrise and sunset; there's no difference between the ebt man and the ebt woman and the ebt nonbinary person—the year can be 1990 or 2020 and every decision in the county assistance office is made by a machine with a list of rules, a slimy salad in the fridge, and the power to destroy miscreants. I almost learned discipline the time I almost lost my benefits between the first and second times I almost had no place to live in this city, but it was only that hunger almost hollowed out my insides and replaced them with a heavy stone, not that it happened—have I learned my lesson? In the beginning, it seemed to me there was a possibility that the ebt man, my case manager, the man managing the disaster of me (sorry!), was a person, but the man was interchangeable, his voice and name and level of condescension suddenly changed one day, and I understood he was a mask for a single tendril of a system that works when it saves one and damns ten others. There is a word for this. 

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